Imagine….

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John Lennon was onto something extraordinary when he wrote Imagine, a song with a simple melody backed by a profound message of peace.

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Everyday we’re bombarded by tragic news headlines centred on terrorist acts, wars, murders and mass shootings. The 24/7 rolling coverage showing violent and horrific crimes headed by the worst of humanity are all aimed to generate anger, create fear and overwhelm us with despair.

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These racially charged attacks against innocent lives are further fuelling the simmering hatred and the growing tension between different ethnic groups, doing more to antagonise and divide people based on bigotry and race. Which leads me to the question, why can’t we all just get along?

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I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed. So, I won’t attempt to explore this subject matter with an in depth analysis. Instead, I’ll take a boofhead friendly approach in assessing this issue. Firstly, I’d like to use our canine companions as an example of tolerance. Dogs are oblivious to factors such as an individual’s gender, sexuality, heritage, religion or even the football team their owners’ follow. The truth is, dogs don’t care whether we’re black, white, rich, poor, young, old or where we stand on the social hierarchy. Instead, dogs look up to us like the sun shines out of our arses, without any form of prejudice.

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I’m not suggesting that we all bend down and sniff each other’s nether regions but dogs are unconditionally loyal. They love us just as we are, free of judgement or any preconceived notions based on our social, racial, ethnic or religious status. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the rest of humanity in a similar light?

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Let’s dig a little deeper with this topic. Is racism inherent in people or is racial intolerance a learned behaviour? Visit a crèche for toddlers (preferably in a multicultural setting as an added bonus)…..you’ll notice a childcare centre is like the United Nations, albeit, with a playground. I’m amazed at how young children form budding friendships with other rug rats without any hint of cultural or ethnic bias. These pre-schoolers can barely talk, let alone understand each other, but it doesn’t stop them from having fun and enjoying each other’s company. I truly believe that any form of discrimination is an action or conduct that’s taught or learned from what we see, hear and experience amongst the people we encounter.

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If we all took a step back and look into the eyes of our babies, young children or man’s best friend, with Lennon’s Imagine playing in the background (and a cheeky drink in hand), the world might actually learn a lesson or two about peace and love.

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Imagine a world without borders, where we didn’t have labels that defined our race, cultural background, religious beliefs, social status, our gender or sexual preferences, lifestyle etc. Instead, it was one planet where we assimilated with each other, did more to understand one another, found means to embrace our differences and accept diversity, and developed greater cohesion or mateships as oppose to attacking our neighbour.

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We’d soon recognise that we all have similar needs, desires, hopes and dreams. Regardless of who we are, where we come from or which side of the fence we sit on, we share the same fears, frustration, anger, sadness and despair…but it’s the barriers we build (whether geographical, physical or emotional) that divide us. It’s time to break the barriers and come together, right now, to unite as one.

Like Lennon, I may view the world through rose-coloured glasses, but I’m not the only one.

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Imagine

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world… You…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

LENNONS 25TH

References

Imagine
Writer(s): John Lennon
Producer(s): John Lennon Yoko Ono Phil Spector

 

Losing My Religion

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That’s me in the corner, that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion…

I’m lost, confused and disillusioned. Nothing makes sense to me about God or religion anymore. These days, I find myself questioning the very values and belief system that was once at the core of my existence.

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I’ve reached a crossroad in my life and now I sit on the fence when it comes to my faith. I’m probably more of a doubter than a believer and more agnostic than an atheist. I’m plagued by guilt and fear of going to hell (and my hair can’t stand the heat)! It’s the one principle stopping me from being more definitive about my opinion on whether God exists or not.

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I was raised a Catholic, attended church every Sunday, prayed most nights (to be a supermodel – never happened) and was surrounded by a devoutly Christian family. But the world, the people I’ve immersed myself with and personal experiences has taught me more about how to live a loving, positive life than the dogma that dominated my upbringing.

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Sadly, religion doesn’t always unite people. In a lot of instances, religious conviction divides families, communities, even nations around the world (more than a soccer game in the UEFA league). We witness every night on television the effects of hatred caused by extremist beliefs. Who’s to say one religion is more ‘right’ or ‘better’ than the other. At the end of the day, whatever floats your boat. But faith could be the biggest bunch of bollocks ever, up there with the Kardashians and Donald Trump.

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Every religion has elements of brainwashing or a cult like hold over its members. The moment you lose your right to freedom of choice as a result of religious persuasion is a violation to human rights. Life throws curve balls at you every day, therefore every individual has the right to make rational and logical decisions based on their own circumstance as oppose to the teachings of systematic indoctrination. Let’s face it, “the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some”.

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I’ve learned to keep an open mind, not to judge people based on whether they’re Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Scientologists, Pastafarians, Collingwood supporters etc It’s not your beliefs that make you a good person, it’s your actions and behaviour. You can go to church, a mosque, synagogue or temple as often as you like; read the Bible, the Torah or the Quran daily, but it doesn’t mean you’re more righteous or virtuous than a person who attends the footy every weekend. My theory is, how you’ve inspired and encouraged those around you, your integrity, kindness, generosity, patience, understanding and the love you’ve demonstrated will have a huge impact on others, and consequently will be your lasting legacy. Ultimately, it’s how you respect and treat people that matters.

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References

‘Losing My Religion’

Writer(s): Bill Berry Peter Buck Mike Mills Michael Stipe
Producer(s): Scott Litt R.E.M.

Giant Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Melbourne is a vibrant, urban metropolis of skyscrapers, giant structures towering upwards to dizzying heights. The heart and soul of the city is a concrete jungle of high-rise commercial and residential buildings constructed in a fusion of architectural styles, which suits Melbourne’s evolving cosmopolitan landscape.

Below are a selection of Melbourne’s most noted skyscrapers:

Eureka Towers

Standing at a height of 300 metres, Eureka Towers is one of the world’s tallest residential structures, consisting of 576 apartments in addition to office, retail and hospitality facilities.

120 Collins Street

Designed in collaboration with Hassell Architects and Daryl Jackson, this 53-storey landmark echoes characteristics of art deco architecture, including a central mast and setbacks similar to New York’s Empire State Building.

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Located at the ‘Paris’ end of Melbourne, 101 Collins is a monument epitomising style and class. The building facade is accentuated with glass buttresses, while the focal point within the interior are the travertine columns and…

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There’s No Joy in Darkness

 

Hello. It’s only me. Is there anybody out there? Can anyone hear me? I’m on the flip side of heaven, the other side of hell. I’m existing in no man’s land of purgatory, languishing in limbo, slowly wasting away the days through constant stormy weather. Suffering under dark clouds hovering over me, a downpour of rainy days and relentless winter blues.

 

Does someone else feel my pain or understand the fear and anxiety that tortures my head on a daily basis?  I pray to a God that I barely have faith in, in the faint hope that someone or something out there in the universe hears my cry for help. I simply just wish for my luck to change.

 

I’m sick of pretending to be in a happy place when in all honesty, I’m breaking down and falling apart on the inside. I’m lost and disillusioned. I’m losing the race and close to giving up. I have no strength to keep fighting this battle.

 

Life is passing me by at such lightning speed while my own tiny sphere has stalled. I don’t fit in within this ‘dog eat dog’ world. I want to scream, I want to shout, but there’s no one to turn to. I want to cry, but I’ve run out of tears. I’m running on empty and my soul is broken.

 

I wish things were different. I yearn for my life to finally head in the right direction. I’d love to get back on track, for my hopes to go to plan and for my dreams to come true. I miss that feeling that anything was possible…that I can conquer the world.

I just want to be happy….

Spiritual Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Have a little faith, this post is not focused on any religion. Instead, the post is a visual tour of some of Melbourne’s most architecturally acclaimed churches. Praised for their majestic design, these houses of worship will enlighten you with their grandness and history.

St Patrick’s Cathedral

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Designed by William Wilkinson Wardell, St Patrick’s Cathedral is a prime example of Gothic-Revival design. Located on the edge of the city grid, the structure is laid out in the style of a Latin cross, incorporating a nave with side aisles, transepts flanked by side aisles, a sanctuary including seven chapels positioned in a chevet around it, and sacristies.

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A cross six metres in height sits atop of the main spire. The pinnacles of the Cathedral tower upwards, representing heaven above, while the gargoyles perched around the church are trademark features befitting the Gothic aesthetic.

St Paul’s Cathedral

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St Paul’s Cathedral represents the signature style of ne0-Gothic transitional architecture. Designed by William Butterfield, the cathedral consists of three giant spires, with the…

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Iconic Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

Flinders Street Station

I love Melbourne, a city that is defined for its vibrant atmosphere, a passion for sport and a hub for fine food, wine and great coffee, often embraced through its cafe culture.

As a tourist destination and from an architectural perspective, what is quintessentially Melbourne? Nothing else epitomises Melbourne more than the following landmarks, which form the very fabric of this fine city: Flinders Street Station, the Shrine of Remembrance, the Rialto Towers, the GPO, the Arts Centre, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Luna Park and Melbourne Star.

Flinders Street Station

Built in 1910, Flinders Street Station is the heart of a comprehensive railway network in Melbourne. The facade of this iconic structure was a result of a worldwide design competition awarded in 1900 to JW Fawcett and HPC Ashworth.

Shrine of Remembrance 

Constructed between 1928-1934, the Shrine of Remembrance was built in honour of the men and women of Victoria who served in the First World War. The structure is…

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Heritage Marvels of Melbourne

The Design Statement

5efbb110-cee7-4119-b4b6-9f634af95ffc-2060x1236Like most cosmopolitan cities around the world, Melbourne is characterised for its concrete jungles, dominated by modern skyscrapers with shimmery glass facades. But scattered amongst these contemporary structures are buildings noted for their classic architecture.

The very fabric of Melbourne consists of heritage listed buildings, recognised for their historical, cultural and architectural significance. This post is a visual exploration of some of Melbourne’s most iconic landmarks including the Royal Exhibition Building, Parliament House, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court of Victoria, the Old Treasury Building, and the Melbourne Town Hall. Each of these structures have a common thread, the very essence of their construction is linked to their traditional charm and majestic designs.

state_library_of_victoria_-_right_sideThe majority of these landmarks (such as Parliament House, the State Library, Supreme Court and Old Treasury Building) were constructed during the Victorian era, a period that saw a renewed focus towards classical renaissance architecture. The classical  aesthetic is characterised for central pediments, a Corinthian style portico, Ionic columns and grand archways. 

The Royal…

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Deconstructing Gehry

The Design Statement

Frank Gehry is a trailblazer in contemporary design, often considered as one of the most highly acclaimed architects of the 20th century. An iconic genius in post-modern architecture, Gehry thrives in pushing the boundaries with his complex, avant garde concepts. Gehry’s bold structures rebels against the status quo, shifting away from the paradigm that ‘form follows function’.

As a proponent of the deconstructivsm movement, Gehry’s projects are defined for their striking profiles, mixed with undulating layers of elements, resulting in structural facades that are both complex and bold. His style of producing abstract constructions are combined with his use of malleable metal finishes juxtaposed against more traditional building components like concrete or bricks.

Gehry portfolio of projects are characterised for their use of unconventional materials, incorporating structural elements manipulated to produce rippled forms and irregular shapes. Although Gehry’s creative vision was inspired by the DeCon architectural style, the silhouettes of his spectrum of famous landmarks mixes a new age revival of cubism and futuristic aesthetics.

Below are a snapshot…

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If It’s Broke – Fixer Upper

The Design Statement

Who said country style was dated? Certainly not the hosts behind the hit lifestyle show Fixer Upper, featuring the husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines. The dynamic duo are the creative minds behind several major renovation overhauls.  They turn run down, dilapidated homes into farmhouse chic.

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Don’t judge a book by its cover. With Chip’s construction expertise and Joanna’s creative vision, they can upgrade any beat-up rickety old property into a home that exudes southern charm and comfort. The pair are bold enough to take on any property, regardless of its condition, and transform the house with a fresh facelift and an interior makeover. While most buyers would view such dwellings as a money pit and shy away from such projects, Chip and Joanna see nothing but potential.

Joanna’s aesthetic is characterized for its modern, country style chic. Her passion for vintage fixtures, unique flea-market pieces and up-cycled…

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Mildura – The Sunburnt Country

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A six hour drive north west of Melbourne is the regional town of Mildura. Positioned along the banks of the mighty Murray River, Mildura is renowned for its sunburned earth and sweeping scrub-land intertwined with native flora and fauna, typifying the Australian heartland.

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One of the highlights of the area are the paddle steamers that cruises leisurely down the Murray. Another attraction is The Botanical Gardens, an ideal setting to stop and smell the roses.

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Like many country towns, time ticks a wee bit slower in this region of Victoria. Mildura is a close knit community whereby people go out of their way to have a good yarn and say ‘G’day!’. The city embodies a laid back vibe which allows you to appreciate the beauty in the simple pleasures of life.

The Dark Stalker – Part III

At night, I would lie in bed wishing I was anyone but me, praying my life would end to avoid facing the following day. I couldn’t think straight and I felt there wasn’t a way out of my situation. The constant negativity at work mirrored the endless pessimism pounding my head. My spirit had been completely deflated to a point where I just wanted to run and hide from the rest of the world in an effort to numb the agony. The darkness that haunted me was now coupled with severe anxiety. I struggled sleeping, I’d often endure nightmares, waking up in a cold sweat, my chest tightening. Having to deal with work caused panic attacks, making breathing difficult. Yet, I had to hide my fear, meet and greet editors, publishers, graphic designers, copyrighters, photographers and clients with a forced smile on my face, knowing in my mind I was ready to break down and crumble.

Image Source: facebook.com ruok photos

The walls were closing in and the burden was increasingly too heavy to shoulder. In the end I quit. But the relief was only short lived when inevitably, I had to confront the reality of finding another job. I could barely function with the day-to-day routine of living. Getting changed, showering, brushing my hair, doing the groceries – simple tasks were all too hard. I avoided going out. I wanted to isolate myself from friends, family and the entire outside world. If I gathered enough courage to venture out, I would stare at the pavement and avoid any eye contact with other people. I didn’t want anyone to see right through me and the shame, embarrassment, or the failure that I felt I was. I internalised my fears, buried them deep within, trying in vain to erase the dark memories of the past in order to move forward.

After several months of being housebound, struggling silently in my own inner demons, I eventually garnered enough strength to return back into the workforce. The process took numerous therapy sessions, supplemented with medication, to manage my thought processes and to minimize the negativity controlling and dominating my mind. I was encouraged to exercise to force myself to step outside the home and practiced meditation in order to relax. After some contemplation, I opted for a simpler role with less responsibilities at an up and coming public relations firm, to help ease myself back into the corporate jungle. Despite the fact that the job doesn’t have the high-flyer status or the glamourous perks of my previous position, I am more content. Go figure!

Image Source: facebook.com/ruokday/photos

My saving grace is my current partner. If it wasn’t for him, my life would be empty. He’s supported me throughout this journey. His patience, kindness, generosity and love has carried me through the toughest of times. I take each day one step at a time. Every day is a mountain I climb and conquer. I sometimes have to write a ‘To Do’ list of basic chores which act as motivational steps to soldier on. My condition is still managed with daily medication and I cope with the ‘blues’ with the occasional therapy session. However, I am one of the lucky few. Sadly, there are many out there who suffer depression significantly worse under more severe circumstances than me and my heart goes out to them. The thing is, you’re not alone. One of the initial things to do is to acknowledge something is wrong, but harder still, is having the strength to seek immediate support and to keep moving forward and to battle through the daily demons. On a positive note, there is HELP out there.

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

The Dark Stalker – Part I

I’ve known Lisa since we were immature, pre-pubescent kids running amok in primary school. On the outside, Lisa is an articulate, bubbly girl who oozes confidence and charm. With her classic good looks and a glamorous job in advertising, she had what seemed to be an envious life that involved overseas trips and socialising and networking with high flyers of the corporate world. But her smile was a façade that hid a painful secret which she only recently revealed. Lisa suffers from depression. This is her journey….

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Depression is a dark shadow that stalks my everyday existence. The paralysing feeling of hopelessness is like a sombre mood that constantly lingers over me. From the time I was 16, I had noticed that I didn’t have the strength to cope with the curve balls that life threw my way. However, as the years passed, my inner struggles only worsened as I faced the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, pursuing a career in public relations, being hit with financial pressures and the heart ache of rocky relationships. I hit rock bottom in late 2001 and the depth of despair was beyond overwhelming.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Initially, I associated my mood swings with the highs and lows of growing pains during my teens. Unrequited love, peer pressure, the awkwardness of puberty, teenage angst and rebelliousness culminated in a roller coaster ride of emotions which I could usually dismiss and move on from. Yet, by the time I began university, the stress of perfection, exceeding parental expectations, my obsessive desire to succeed academically but never quite reaching my goals caused further strain on my already low self-esteem. It was the point when I first realised I needed professional help. But after two visits to a psychologist, the embarrassment was too much to stomach given the taboo linked with sufferers of mental illness.

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

Image Source: facebook.com/beyondblue/photos

** If you, or a loved one, is suffering from depression or mental illness, reach out to the following:

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.sane.org

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.ruok.org.au

www.lifeline.org.au

The Grand Design Challenge Part II – Coarse Lesson Learned

Over the course, we presented projects which pushed us to express our creativity in a tactile form, bringing concepts to life through layers of fabric, contrasting patterns, colours, materials, accessories, and integrating various elements of negative and positive space, silhouettes and contours. The combination of which aimed to connect with the heart and soul of its intended client. Each concept was backed by a narrative, a source of inspiration, turning a creative vision into reality.

The course challenged my mind. I was forced to think outside the square, to view the world at different angles, to see life through different perspectives. Each project we undertook was designed to engage individuals to see a deeper meaning behind colours, texture, contrast, lines, dots and shapes.

There were many occasions I wanted to quit. I dug deep and I worked my arse off. Slowly, I adjusted to the routine of university life, of lectures, tutorials, homework and assignments. I immersed myself in the world of Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Le Corbusier, Mies Van Der Rohe. I took a trip down the rabbit hole to discover the history behind styles ranging from Art Deco, Gothic, Renaissance, Art Nouveau, Baroque, Victorian, Edwardian, Queen Anne, Arts & Craft movement, Rococo, Neo Classic, Scandinavian genres. I learned that 5 Seconds of Summer was not a new-age, hipster term for a ‘quickie’ horizontal rhumba session. More importantly, world issues centred on Justin Bieber or One Direction according to the tween generation (One who??).

Yep, art and design is not black and white – there’s 50 shades of grey and a rainbow of other hues in between. Even today’s learning environment is a whole new world. Back in the late 90s when I was a pimply faced teenager attending Monash University, e-mail was still in its infancy and Facebook wasn’t even a blip on the radar! We’re talkin’ the days of dial-up, when you stared at the modem as it whirred to connect to the internet. Now I’m faced with terms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler and blogs. Floppy disks have been replaced by USB sticks and who needs a library of books when Google is at your fingertips?

Image Source: http://arcid.uclaextension.edu/miaprogram-2/

However old habits die hard. Despite my age and wisdom, some things just never change. The student lifestyle of two-minute noodles for dinner, leaving assignments to the last minute, staying up till 3am preparing for exams and losing work because your PC crashed – is still a trap for an old goose like myself!

After two years of highs and lows, the course culminated in a class exhibition attended by family, friends, teachers and noted designers and architects within industry. Achieving your dreams was never going to be easy – No guts, no glory. Fortunately the hard work paid off. There were definitely several tantrums, a few meltdowns and a number of sooki la la moments. But I survived. I even surprised myself with the results. I started from scratch with no artistic background, just a pipe dream from my childhood. But you’re never too old to learn something new.

The Grand Design Challenge Part I – Old School v Hipster Generation

Self-doubt is a bitch. It’s like an irritating rash or a pungent odour that won’t go away! Going back to university was met with apprehension. One week into my course in interior design, I was already having second thoughts.  Was I nuts pursuing a career change? Was I delusional chasing my dream of becoming a decorator? Had I made a foolish mistake? These questions pounded my head like a tonne of bricks!

The semester began in July 2013 and kicked off with a week of Orientation. I had butterflies in my stomach as I looked around the room, to be greeted by people half my age! During the ‘meet & greet’ period, one of the guys pointed out that he’d just returned from Hawaii. To break the ice, I started humming the Hawaii-5-O theme song and they stared at me blankly, with utter confusion. I could hear crickets sounding off in the background. I felt my face turn red with embarrassment. My attempt to act cool and bond with the youth of today was an epic fail and backfired dismally. Seriously, I felt like a senior citizen!

Our third day was a guided tour of the National Gallery of Victoria. The group stopped at various iconic collections and exhibits. One of them titled “The Angry Mask” appeared like a three year old smeared a spectrum of paint colours blind folded. I didn’t get it….how could this be considered art? A dog’s breakfast had more appeal than this.

Image Source: http://blogs.uclaextension.edu/Newsroom/photo-gallery/

At one point I was asked to describe what I saw in front of me. It was Mark Rothko’s work, aptly called ‘Untitled (Red)’, a massive rectangular canvas in three slightly varying shades of….wait for it….red. I was dumbfounded. After an awkward moment of silence, the curator rescued me from confusion. To her, the piece exhibited a rhythm of emotion in its rawest form – doom, tragedy and despair. Huh? Are you for real??? Watching paint dry would display more feeling than this. I was way in over my head!!!

Yep, it didn’t take me long to realise that I was totally behind the 8-ball. I jumped in the deep end and I was barely treading water. I initially thought that interior decorating was limited to styling a room with furniture and accessories.  I quickly discovered there’s critical thinking behind every design scheme.

Into the Wild – Where the Wild Things Are

Giraffes

In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight….Wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh, wimoweh I was in my own world happily singing this cute little ditty while the better half and I trekked off to Werribee Open Range Zoo on Australia Day. The lyrics played over and over in my head until the mere male asked me, “did you bring the tickets?”  Eeeeeeek! The light in my brain suddenly flicked back on. Bugger me!

Antelope

Camels

Of all the things to forget, it would have to be the admission vouchers! I slammed the breaks and begrudgingly hightailed it back home. Not quite the start I was expecting. What would The Lion King’s very own Timon and Pumbaa say if they were in a pickle like this? ‘Hakuna Matata’ of course, no worries! I looked on the bright side of the situation, we were only four kilometres into our one hour journey. It could’ve been a lot worse, so all was not lost.

Victoria’s own Werribee Open Range Zoo is a wildlife park and is the closest I’ll get to experiencing an African adventure. The ultimate way to traverse through the grounds and witness the menagerie of animals on the premises is to go on a safari tour.

Gorilla

Hippo

Hyenas

The bus tour lasts just under an hour and runs at regular 10-15 minute intervals. The mini sightseeing expedition enables you to get relatively close to Zebras, Camels, Giraffes, Hippos, and Rhinoceros just to name a few. During the short ride, the driver gives you an insight into the animal’s habitat, their quirky behaviours and basic facts and figures about the traits of each species.

Lion

Meerkat

Monkeys

As per the walking trail that meanders past each animal exhibit, the bus tour is convenient for young and old and provides ramps for greater accessibility – ideal for kids in strollers, or those with disabilities or in wheelchairs. For something a little more adventurous, some guided tours allows you access into more off-limit areas of the park, even the opportunity to feed or touch some animals under the guidance of keepers.

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It’s a wonderful facility that’s maintained to a high standard to ensure the animals’ safety and well-being. They aren’t kept in cramped enclosures, instead the animals roam freely within wide open fields similar to their natural habitats. One day is sufficient time to leisurely visit each animal exhibit. Although Melbourne Zoo has significantly more animals on display, its walking tracks are plotted out like a web and certainly aren’t as easy to navigate around as compared to the grounds of Werribee Zoo.

Rhino

Don’t forget to plan your day. Feeding time is the best opportunity to see the animals in action, you can get best vantage points in selected viewing areas. There is a canteen and kiosk, sheltered picnic areas and kids zones with playgrounds. It’s been 20 years since the last time I visited. It’s well worth seeing!!!

Zebras

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part III

Image Source: Popsugar

Each time I was single and ready to mingle, I was on a mission, I was out on the prowl, hovering over my prey. I use to go clubbing with work mates despite the fact that I could barely bust a move. It was a competition. Booze was a social lubricant – it made men brave and women loose. But we all know that a bad set of beer goggles can really fog up your senses. I remember one bloke performing the robot dance beside me, totally cramping my style – I thought I was just too good for him. Next!

I struggled to string an interesting funny articulate sentence together let alone chat up a guy.  I was awkward and socially inept. Ultimately, I felt so desperate that I fell for any guy who wanted my number – don’t get me wrong, they weren’t queuing up for me. I was a loser magnet. In the end, there is such a thing as karma. For every wonderful guy I casually dismissed, I had my heart broken and stomped on just as many times. For most, I was disposable, a notch on the belt. The way to a man’s heart wasn’t through his stomach. It was through cheap one night stands, a few bootie calls and zero commitment.

By the time I hit my flirty 30 years, I saw my friends get engaged, walk down the aisle and start families. I was doomed. It’s hard to go out when all your wingmen are stuck at home looking after their partners, living my dream. My biological clock was ticking louder than a supersonic jet. There’s a line in the flick Sleepless in Seattle that women over 40 have a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than finding a husband1. With my track record, I was set to prove this theory.

In hindsight, I was shallow and superficial. I was so consumed by a guy’s looks rather than their personality. Looks fade, but what a man shares from the heart lasts forever. You get what you give. I realised, the problems weren’t always with the guys, the problem was ME. I had no self-esteem, I lowered my standards so much that I compromised my own integrity. I validated my self-worth by having a guy who in all honesty, just screwed me over. I lost all respect for myself and in effect, I was attracting guys who didn’t respect me. Enough was enough!

Image Source: Popsugar

Love happens when you least expect it. It’s TRUE! I met my soulmate just over six years ago. He doesn’t look like Brad Pitt but he makes me laugh….everyday he makes me laugh! He loves my cooking even though I’m not a domestic goddess in the kitchen. He thinks I’m pretty even though I don’t scrub up as well as a Victoria’s Secret super model. It doesn’t bother him that I can’t hold a tune during Karaoke. He makes my life blissfully happy. Nothing else matters as long as he’s by my side. He’s my rock…I think he’s a keeper!

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part II

Image Source: Popsugar

When it comes to relationships and dating, is it quality over quantity or vice versa? According to a recent study, women will kiss 15 men on average before they settle for that ‘one great love’1. Based on those statistics, I should hang my head in shame. I can count with one hand the number of guys I’ve pashed, and this figure already includes the boy I forced to kiss me when we were 5 years old playing ‘mothers and fathers’! Eeek!

During my footloose and fancy free years, I had a set of criteria, a list as long as The Great Wall of China, and like Santa I checked it twice. If the guy didn’t reach my standards I fobbed them off like there was no tomorrow. I wanted sexy, suave, sophisticated, financially stable, ambitious, smart, caring, honest, romantic, sense of humour blah blah blah. My needs went on and on like a Celine Dion song. If there was no chemistry, too bad so sad, onto the next.  Nice guys came and went. Looking back, I was holding out for perfection….something that obviously does NOT exist.

In between short-lived flings, I experienced dry patches more barren than the Sahara Desert. At one point, I had my mother’s friends arranging dates with their sons. I think one of my friends felt so sorry for me, she tried to hook me up with every single guy she knew was on the market. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that one of the guys she lined me up with was ‘batting for the other team’. Bless her cotton socks – her intentions were good. I was so scared of becoming an old spinster, I knew something had to give. I resorted to drastic measures……I lowered my expectations.

**Keep an eye out for the conclusion of this tale in the next post!**

Citations

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2532213/No-one-said-finding-The-One-easy-The-average-women-kiss-FIFTEEN-men-enjoy-TWO-long-term-relationships-heart-broken-TWICE.html

Tales of a Desperate, Dateless Geek – Part I

Image Source: Popsugar

Finding true love is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I’m sure a few of us had to pash a few frogs before we captured our very own Prince Charming. I always dreamt of being swept off my feet but I confess, I met some toads along the journey before I found ‘The One’. The quest for true love is a rollercoaster ride and sadly not all relationships end happily ever after. Even fairy-tales are plagued with legends of rocky roads to romance – Snow White got poisoned, Sleeping Beauty was put to sleep and Cinderella lost one of her Jimmy Choo shoes (yikes!) – before each hooked up with their knight in shining armour. Let’s face it, love isn’t black and white, there’s 50 shades of grey in between!

One of our dearest friends recently announced his separation with his wife of over a year. I was rocked by the news. Apparently “Miss Cruella De Ville” had simply lost that loving feeling. I always thought she was hard work, a high maintenance, self-centred, pompous twat. How could this happen to such a lovely guy who catered to her every whim? The idea of ‘forever’ – is this somewhat of a myth in this day and age? It got me thinking, what if it happened to me? What if my better half woke up one morning to realise that only a crazy fool would be mad enough to put up with a drama queen like me?

It’s like one of those profound questions Carrie Bradshaw would ask at the beginning of each Sex In The City episode. To go through the journey again of finding that ‘one great love’ gave me goosebumps and sent shivers down my spine for all the wrong reasons. It’s hard enough trying to mend a broken heart but to hit the singles scene again – I’d be mortified!

Image Source: Popsugar

I’m still scarred by my dating history – or lack thereof. The list was short but the tears were many. Some experiences left me cringing with humiliation. To this day, I don’t think I’ve recovered! From the time I was young, I was never one to stand out in the crowd. Even my first crush at grade 3 ignored me for a red head with freckles. But he did dance with me at my primary school graduation – I was so nervous, I almost peed my pants!

Image Source: Popsugar

It only got worse in high school. For four years, I had the hots for ‘Mr. Wonderful’. He was handsome, funny and athletic. I’d stare longingly at him. But he didn’t know I existed. Whenever he’d strike up conversation with me I’d just stutter and turn into a blubbering idiot. I’d go weak at the knees wishing the world would swallow me up from embarrassment. Unrequited love is a bitch and it was the story of my existence throughout my teenage years.

Image Source: Popsugar

I was such a wallflower. What’s worse, I was painfully shy, with zero personality. I wasn’t a tall, sexy, blue-eyed blonde bombshell. In stark contrast, I was a geeky nerd who was never in the popular group and whose name no guy could remember. Yep, I was THAT girl in high school who never got asked out. By my late teens, I was destined to be the oldest virgin in the world who’d never been touched, kissed or oomphed!

Take a Risk, Take A Chance, Make a Change

Every journey starts with one step forward. I’ve been on a hiatus from the blogasphere for good reason. I’ve embarked on a new adventure along the road less travelled. But let’s rewind to the point of where my conundrum first began. Have you ever sat at work, staring blankly at your computer screen thinking “there’s gotta be more to life than this?”

Image Source: livelifehappy.com

I left my last job almost 2.5 years ago. After 7.5 years in a marketing role, I knew I had reached a dead end but I also longed for something different. After a three week trip to Egypt, I came back refreshed with every intention to look for another job. But as I searched and prepared for potential interviews, my heart wasn’t in it…..something felt so wrong. It hit me hard like a tonne of bricks…. I was lost and disillusioned.

I had reached a crossroads and for once in my life, I had no plan to fall back on! I’m a structured, organised person. I never just wing it and go by gut feel. I’ve always been a planner. So much so that when I travel, I bring my entire wardrobe, a range of clothes that could rival the entire Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter collection at David Jones or Bergdorf Goodman – it’s for those ‘just in case’ scenarios. I’ve had goals and ambitions and a deep desire to progress forward in my career. But I fell off the rails with a giant thud! Actually, I bizarrely hopped onto a different track; I took a random ride down an alternative route, with no clear idea where the journey would lead me. The question that loomed was ‘If you could be anything, what would you be?’

For years, I’ve yearned to be a journalist/writer, a fashion designer or an interior decorator. Those ambitions were never encouraged during my high school years.  Given my background, you either became a doctor or lawyer, and if you weren’t smart enough, you entered the corporate jungle. God forbid if I wanted to be a hairdresser, my family would have disowned me and kicked me to the curb.

So as I faced one of life’s major crossroads, I had two options: to follow the straight, narrow and predictable path or take a rough, bumpier ride along the road less travelled? My brain was loud and clear, ‘stick with the commercial wilderness!’. It made logical sense as the corporate world offered an abundance of marketing positions with a stable income. But my heart was adamant, ‘take a walk on the wild side!’. Do I follow my artistic ambitions? The idea of biting the bullet and opting for a career change scared the living daylight out of me.

But it was my better half that paved the way and let me see the light. He challenged and encouraged me to chase the impossible….to follow my dreams, take a chance and to pursue what I’m passionate about. It was an epiphany that was met with considerable hesitation…..but what if I fail????

The fact is….I DID FAIL!!!!  In the months that followed after quitting my job, at the suggestion of my partner in crime, I did a short course in “writing for children”. I’ve always had this aim to pen my own children’s picture book and someday have it published. I loved it! The course got the creative juices flowing. I created a handful of short stories aimed at 4-8 year old children. I even showed my friends’ kids to gain their feedback…ok…it was a bit hit and miss….but it was part of the learning curve. However, the low point was receiving one rejection letter after another from various publishers. That was a ‘jagged little pill1‘ to swallow. The bubble burst. The whole ‘delusional’ idea of becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Roald Dahl went down the drain faster than a sewer rat. I felt deflated! I lost my artistic mojo!

Again, it was my better half who pushed me to get back up…..to do what you love!

So the adventure continues. I’ve taken the plunge and decided to go back to University to follow my other goal of becoming an interior decorator. I’m completely overwhelmed and not quite treading water!!!! I’m giddy with excitement but nauseous at the same time.

The point is, I don’t want to live life with regrets. I don’t want to look back over the years and have those niggling thoughts at the back of my head…’ if only I did this’….’if only I did that’. I don’t want to sit there pondering and dreaming of what could have been, knowing I didn’t try.

It sounds so cliché but when it comes to achieving ‘the impossible’….if at first you don’t succeed dust yourself off and try again2. I have tried and failed and tried again. I’ve probably bought a little shame to the family and have left my parents feeling somewhat bewildered and mortified. Others may look at me as somewhat of an embarrassment. I know I do!

However, the difference between the ‘negative Nancys’ and the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey and the J.K. Rowlings of the world is that they turned a dream into a reality and never gave up! Regardless of the outcome, these people gave it a shot and turned the ‘Impossible’ into a ‘Possibility’!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all fun and games. I’ve eaten humble pie and it sucks! But over time it becomes an acquired taste (actually, I lie; I still choke on humble pie!). It’s been a tough, hard slog with many setbacks along the way. It’s rough on the self-esteem and this journey has beaten me and smacked me up. There have been many lessons learned over the past 2.5 years. I don’t know if it’s made me stronger and wiser….maybe just a little more thick skinned.

Never Give UpMore importantly, I have the love and support of a wonderful partner who has encouraged me throughout the process. I’ve suffered from so much self-doubt. But he’s believed in me more than I believe in myself. Even though I’ve made mistakes, I’ve stumbled and fallen and as I’ve struggled to get back up, he’s never given up or frowned and looked down upon me. And it makes a world of difference!

Aim high and chase that elusive goal. As per the Nike slogan, ‘Just Do It’! Take a risk, take a chance, make a change2 and give it a try. I’m finally turning things around and pursuing my dreams and following my own path….wherever it takes me. I’m bound to get lost along the way but that’s part of the adventure!

As Mother Theresa said: Life is a dream….Realize it!

Citations

1. Alanis Morissette, ‘Jagged Little Pill’, Producer: Glen Ballard, Label: Maverick, Reprise

2. Aaliyah, ‘Try Again’, Producer: Timbaland, Label: Blackground, Writers: Stephen Garrett, Timothy Mosley

3. Kelly Clarkson, ‘Breakaway’, Producer: John Shanks, Label: Walt Disney, RCA, Writers: Avril Lavigne, Bridget Benenate,Matthew Gerrard

Australia’s Great Ocean Road

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The road is long, with many a winding turn1. No, I won’t lead you astray with a rocking rendition of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. However, it’s a phrase that best sums up the spectacular Great Ocean Road that contours the south west coastline of Victoria. As you cruise along this iconic motorway, you’ll be captivated by the majestic beauty of some of Australia’s most picturesque shorelines.

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No matter how many times you travel along this roadway, you can’t help but be awestruck by the amazing scenery. For anyone visiting Melbourne, this journey is a must on the bucket list! It’s a 243km (151mi) stretch of road2 with more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie mystery. Beginning at the Victorian city of Torquay (just over an hour outside of Melbourne), the Great Ocean Road snakes its way through the charming coastal towns of Anglesea, Airey’s Inlet, Lorne, through to Apollo Bay, Port Campbell and finally ending at Allansford, close to Warnambool3.

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This is a full day road trip and has got to be one of Australia’s top tourist experiences. If you’re an eager beaver, start the journey early to appreciate the panoramic views, the smattering of observation lookouts and popular tourist landmarks dotted along the way. However, for something more leisurely, stay a few nights at Anglesea, Lorne or ApolloBay, to take in the tranquil, laid back atmosphere of Victoria’s southern coastal region. There is a variety of accommodation on offer, ranging from hotels, motels, to holiday homes, ideal for singles, couples to large groups alike, with options to suit any budget.

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The stunning vistas along The Great Ocean Road are characterised by vivid landscapes and contrasting backdrops, from surf beaches with monster waves crashing against the limestone cliffs, to the stillness and serenity of the surrounding mountain ranges. You’ll wind your way past lush rainforests as the motorway navigates its way through the rolling hills of the GreatOtwayNational Park.

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Above all, you can’t traverse across The Great Ocean Road without stopping at the tourist attractions listed below. These are by far the highlights of the journey and what I consider unique gems of Australia.

The 12 Apostles – is roughly a 4 hour drive from Melbourne4. These massive, 45 metre high, limestone rock formations5 stand stoically, just off the edge of the shoreline. They appear to rise up from the ocean and have been shaped and sculpted by years of erosion. I’ve fondly named each one Hendrix, Springsteen, Lennon, Elton, Elvis, Jagger, Bono, Madonna, Jackson, Lady Gaga & Beyonce!

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

12 Apostles3

The 12 Apostles (approximately 45 metres in height)

The 12 Apostles (approximately 45 metres in height)

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

The 12 Apostles

London Bridge – was once shaped like a bridge, hence its name. It was connected to the mainland where visitors could walk across its full span. But it gained notoriety in 1990 when the archway collapsed, leaving two tourists stranded on the outer part until they were rescued by a helicopter6.

London Bridge

London Bridge

London Bridge

London Bridge

The Arch – This is a naturally sculpted bridge, or arch, and stands 8 metres in height7. You can view this attraction from a sealed walkway that leads to a viewing platform.

The Arch

The Arch

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The Arch

Loch Ard Gorge (& The Blowhole) – this is a site of historical significance. In 1878, the sailing boat, Loch Ard Gorge, ran aground and only two of its 54 passengers survived8. It was at this location that the two survivors were washed ashore, one of whom climbed the cliffs surrounding the gorge to find help. Within the gorge is a cavern known as The Blowhole. This cave is a tunnel that extends 100 metres inland that produces thunderous roars as waves crash through9.

Entrance to The Gorge & The Blowhole (on the right)

Entrance to The Gorge & The Blowhole (on the right)

The Blowhole

The Blowhole

The Gorge

The Gorge

The Grotto – again, the constant cycle of erosion has helped permeate and hollow out the limestone which in turn has formed a cavern framed by an archway10. There are steps that descend down towards a viewing platform that allows you to get close to the base of the Grotto.

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The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Grotto

The Razorback – the name came about due to its jagged edges that run along the peak of this rock stack. It’s characterised by deep rough grooves caused by constant wave action and salt laden wind11.

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The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Razorback

The Great Ocean Road is long and winding, as much as it is spectacular. The impressive coastal views will leaveyou mesmerized. “On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again” 12.

Citations

  1. ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, Bob Russell & Bobby Scott
  2. Wikipedia.com
  3. Wikipedia.com
  4. visitvictoria.com
  5. visitvictoria.com
  6. greatoceanroad.com
  7. greatoceanroad.com
  8. onlyinmelbourne.com.au
  9. Information Sign
  10. greatoceanroad.com
  11. Information Sign
  12. ‘On The Road Again’, Willie Nelson

Sources

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

On The Road Again

  • Writer(s): Willie Nelson
  • Producer(s): Willie Nelson

Top Deck-orators – The Designer All Stars

It’s true. I have a style obsession! I have an instinctive flair for all things fabulously chic, whether it’s fashion, photography, art to architecture. I’m a visual person. Comfort and functionality? Blah, blah, blah – boring! But if it’s eye catching, on trend, with a dash of wow, you’ll have me salivating – and I have no shame!

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: hgtv.com

On the flip side, I’m a space cadet with no artistic talent or skill to create my own masterpiece.  This applies to interior decorating. I know what I like, but I struggle at pulling together a look that has panache, you know, what the French call a little ‘je ne sais quoi’. Instead, I’m living my designer dreams through the growing number of home makeover programs that I’m highly fixated with.

Candice Olson – Contemporary Kitchen – Candice Tells All Image Source: hgtv.com

Where do I begin? Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House,  Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service), Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All), Samantha Pynn (Summer Home), Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve), Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential), Robert and Cortney Novogratz (9 By Design, Home By Novogratz). I also have to add Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) into the mix for some home grown Aussie talent. Overall, the list is long but distinguished. These people are all visionaries, who bring their ingenuity to life.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Image Source: hgtv.com

 Each of their respective programs gives you in depth look into the world of interior design, including the highs and lows of home renovations. With their extensive knowledge and creative talent, they rescue humble abodes from the depths of design distress to breathe new life into any type of home. Using innovative and contemporary solutions, they combine both function and beauty to reveal a room’s true potential. These designers have produced several awe-inspiring room transformations, converting a home from drab to fab, while incorporating the contrasting styles and requirements of their clients to achieve a balanced, cohesive look. No challenge is too big!

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Transitional Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

Below is an insight into the signature design aesthetic of the creative minds behind some of the most entertaining home makeover programs as screened on the Lifestyle Home network:

  • Candice Olson (Divine Design, Candice Tells All) – combines classic structural designs with modern furnishings and bold focal points to create a timeless and sophisticated look. She takes on a minimalist approach with a focus on understated glamour. Of all the designers, she uses symmetry the most in her renovations to add balance to a room. Her easy going personality and comedic sense of humour makes for light hearted viewing. She is by far my all time favourite designer.

Candice Olson – Candice Tells All – Eclectic Living Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Sarah Richardson (Design Inc, Sarah 101, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service) – of all the designers selected, she is the most prolific of interior decorators, dominating the TV screen with several home makeover series. Her vision balances traditional and contemporary design concepts with a touch of whimsy. She is environmentally conscious in her design approach, incorporating eco friendly materials, vintage pieces and where possible, giving existing furniture a new lease on life through the magic of re-upholstery.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah’s House – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

  • Robert & Cortney Novogratz – this design duo create dynamic looks that are ahead of their time. Their concepts are inspired by urban New York and are reflected in their innovative, dramatic, edgy room transformations. They’ve produced renovations that are far from conventional while integrating an eclectic mix of bold, dramatic accessories. They make their own rules and take an avant-garde approach to their home makeovers, often resulting with a mod chic feel.

Cortney & Bob Novogratz – Eclectic Kids Rooms – Image Source: hgtv.com

  • Samantha Pynn (Summer Home) – her designs are nature inspired, ideal for a casual, rustic glam look. Her ideas have a soulful, earthy vibe which comes from the heart. She loves the use of contemporary geometric patterns on various textural accessories including curtains, rugs, pillows or seat covers to add vibrancy to a room. She incorporates affordable accent pieces found in thrift shops or craft stores. Of all the designers, Samantha’s creations are easy to replicate and is ideal for the avid decorator DIYer.

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

  • Jane Lockhart (Colour Confidential) – produces looks that balance both form and functionality. Her room transformations have a vibe that is comfortable and inviting, similar to that of Candice Olson. However, Jane is not afraid to incorporate bold, contrasting colour schemes into her practical designs. Pops of colour is evident, from the walls, ceiling, flooring to textural elements such as curtains, floor rugs, pillows, furnishings and accent pieces.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/KYLEMORE_2012_022.jpg

  • Genevieve Gorder (Dear Genevieve) – doesn’t endorse ‘matchy matchy’ design schemes and is certainly not a fan of furniture pieces that come in a set. Like Sarah Richardson, Genevieve has the ability of combining a fusion of contrasting styles, particularly mixing old with new. Her designs have whimsical elements for the touch of the unexpected. She loves to layer through accessories and textural accents to add focal points and character to a space.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/genevieves-renovation/

  • Shaynna Blaze (Selling Houses Australia, The Block) – she can give a room a complete facelift on a budget! She incorporates practical solutions to any interior makeover but she never sacrifices on aesthetics. For Shaynna, vibrancy is paramount to any room transformation. Her creations are fresh and modern and have a cohesive, yet balanced look.

If money grew on trees, I’d love to incorporate their design concepts within my own humble abode. I can only dream to have any of these designers weave their magic and transform my home, with its modest décor, to one of sumptuous class and sophistication. I’d love to colour my world with their infinite ingenuity! It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Sarah Richardson – Sarah 101 – Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com

Summer Chic – Trash ‘N’ Treasure

Take me back to the sweet times
The hot nights
Everything is gonna be alright
In the summertime
Baby, in the summertime
That is where I’ll be1

Summer is the best season for outdoor entertaining. It’s the best time to host a barbeque with family and friends, sit under the pergola with a good book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, or to dine under the stars….alfresco style!

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Over the summer break, we were given an outdoor daybed, ideal for relaxing and kicking back while soaking in the sunshine in the backyard patio. However, the daybed was one of those unique finds off the streets, as part of hard rubbish collection. It’s what professional designers would refer to as ‘vintage’ furniture. But to the everyday wannabe decorator like myself, the daybed was a random piece of trash with the potential to be one’s treasure!

In a nutshell, the daybed required some ‘tszujing up’, a pompous way of saying….a makeover. It’s no secret. I have an appreciation for all things arty farty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with artistic genes and I have very minimal creative talent. But it hasn’t stopped me from trying!

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After watching several episodes of Summer Home (see post titled Summer Home – Rustic Glam), hosted by Samantha Pynn and screened on Australia’s Lifestyle Home network, I thought I’d try my hand at applying her simple techniques to updating dated old furnishings. Turning the daybed from drab to fab became my pet project and I was on a mission. I was a do-it-yourselfer (DIY-er) on a budget!

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First, buying a mattress was essential and probably the easiest step in the process. The next stage was to add a touch of summer chic.  In line with Samantha’s approach, I thought of creating a slip cover for the mattress to inject some visual glam. I chose a black fabric for durability and for $10 a metre, the fabric was a bargain! Black was also a versatile shade that mixes well with other colours. After several days of sketching, developing a pattern and marking it out on material, it was all systems go and I began sewing the slip cover together. Sewing isn’t my forte and it was a process of trial and error, but I eventually made a cover that fit the mattress snugly.

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A simple style tip that Samantha uses for greater visual impact is to accessorise with accent pieces. In this instance, I opted for several throw pillows. I managed to purchase six cushions for under $50. Although, each was a combination of different textures and patterns, together they had a cohesive look in terms of the colour palette, shape and size. A unified theme is vital for the overall look to gel together.

Ultimately, it’s possible to update tired, ordinary second hand furniture pieces with a fresh look using practical measures that won’t break the bank. Adding a splash of colour, pattern and texture can provide a touch of understated casual chic.

Now, it’s time to chill out on the daybed and enjoy the sunshine with that glass of wine.

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Citations

1. “In the Summertime” – Thisty Merc, ‘Thirsty Merc’, Warner Music Australia, Ray Thistlethwayte

Kuala Lumpur – A Sizzling Fling

Kuala Lumpur - central business district

Kuala Lumpur – central business district

Kuala Lumpur (KL) is hot, damn hot! As soon as I stepped off the plane, the humidity slapped me right in the face. But it’s not just the weather that’s scorching; it’s the food, the atmosphere and the shopping! After spending just over a week in Japan, I headed back to the land of Oz via KL, with a whirlwind five day rendezvous in this vibrant metropolis.

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From Osaka, I landed in Malaysia’s capital just after midnight. In a lame attempt at stepping out of my comfort zone, I didn’t bother organising transfers from the airport to my accommodation.  But gallivanting alone on a train or bus to my hotel, at such an ungodly hour, in a foreign country, was far from what this ‘precious princess’ was normally accustomed to. So I opted for the easiest mode of transport available, a taxi. I’m such a badass – NOT!

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Kuala Lumpur – Old Railway Station

Kuala Lumpur - Old Railway Station

Kuala Lumpur – Old Railway Station

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Kuala Lumpur – Independence Square

An hour later, I was dropped off at a Sheraton hotel, but NOT the Sheraton Imperial where I was actually booked in. Slightly seething, I embarked on a second cab ride and by 3am, I finally arrived at my accommodation. At that point, KL was sizzling, but not for the right reasons. I got my knickers in such a knot I was more than a little flustered! Ok, in hindsight, it’s not like I was ‘banged up abroad’ and the incident was far from the crazy shenanigans of a Lonely Planet episode, but it wasn’t quite the beginning I was expecting.

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Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian National Monument (Tugu Negara)

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Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian National Monument (Tugu Negara)

I’ve never travelled alone. I had every intention to spread my wings during this trip, to loosen up and be an ‘adventurous’ tourist. The aim was to immerse myself in the customs of Malaysia, get lost amongst the sights and sounds of the city, and the hustle and bustle of the crowds. However, after the initial setback upon my arrival, I settled for my usual habit of an organised city tour to explore KL. Oh, I know it’s a bit cowardice and anti climatic, but my obsessive compulsive tendencies steered me away from any impulsive meanderings. So much for winging it!

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Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian National Monument (Tugu Negara)

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Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian National Monument (Tugu Negara)

Regardless, the two city tours I did were an ideal way of experiencing the highlights of KL, or at least the tip of the iceberg. Both tours were great for first time visitors like myself. Each excursion was at a laid back, relaxing pace, just the way I like it, lasting 3-4hrs in duration. The first tour focused on the central business district (CBD) of KL, which revealed a patchwork of modern skyscrapers against the charm of historic buildings and landmarks. In fact, it reminded of home (i.e. Melbourne) in some ways, where the beauty of traditional architecture is blended together with contemporary structures.

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Kuala Lumpur – The Malaysian National Monument (Tugu Negara)

King's Palace

King’s Palace

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King’s Palace

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King’s Palace

The tour involved a quick stop and photo opportunity at the following sights and tourist attractions: Kings Palace, Central National Museum, Parliament House, National Monument, National Mosque, Old Railway Station, Independence Square, Sultan Abd, Samad Building and lastly the incredible Petronas Towers.

Royal Selangor Pewter Factory

Royal Selangor Pewter Factory

 The second tour included a visit to a Batik Handicraft Centre, the Royal Selangor Pewter Factory and a Chocolate Boutique for a chance to purchase locally produced souvenirs. BatuCave was the height of the day’s journey where I slowly ascended the steep 272 steps to the limestone caves, home to sacred idols and statues of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Despite walking at a snail’s pace, surely I got a work out that day! I was soaking in sweat, the heat was sweltering! Along the way, I passed several cute but cheeky monkeys scavenging for food. As you enter the caves, you’re greeted by a few snake charmers, who were more than enthusiastic at wrapping a snake around your shoulders for a pretty penny or two. Certainly not for the faint hearted!

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Petronas Towers

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Kuala Lumpur – National Mosque

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Kuala Lumpur – National Mosque

 Although the Sheraton Imperial is located on the outskirts of the CBD, it’s just a short monorail ride into the heart of the city. Luckily, the hotel is surrounded by major shopping strips which kept me occupied on my last day. KL is perfect for a little retail therapy. The best thing about the fashion is that the clothes fit me. Good things come in small packages (that’s what I keep telling myself). Pants, skirts, and tops were tailored to my short stumpy stature. Sadly, my shopping spree was limited to a handful of items as my suitcase was already jammed full. So much for going berserk and maxing out the credit card!

Batu Caves

Batu Caves

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Batu Caves

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I wasn’t brave enough to try Malaysian delicacies or food of the more exotic variety dished out by nearby restaurants or street vendors. I’m such a pansy at heart, but I can’t stomach an ordeal of ‘Delhi Belly’ or ‘Bali Belly’ or ‘Lumpur Belly’ in this instance. However, I did sample some local cuisine each night at the buffet dinner served by the hotel. Curries, laksas, tom yum soup and like the weather, the food was scorching hot!

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Central National Museum – Muzium Negara

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Central National Museum – Muzium Negara

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Central National Museum – Muzium Negara

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Central National Museum – Muzium Negara

During my downtime, if I wasn’t in the gym, I resorted to lazing about poolside. It was the only time I could tolerate the heat. It helped to have a boozy beverage in hand to cool me down. KL was a delightful escapade, yet all too brief. As I look back and reminisce, it was a short but sizzling fling!

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The Vibe 101 is now Friends with Facebook

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A big shout out to all our avid followers and new readers who have recently discovered this eclectic blog about anything and everything. We have great news – you can now follow The Vibe 101 via Facebook! To view The Vibe’s new Facebook site, simply go to our Home Page and near the top right hand corner, click The Vibe 101 Facebook link. Beneath this link, press the ‘Like’ button to jump onto The Vibe 101 bandwagon and keep up to date with our latest posts. Alternatively, click the ‘like’ button (designated by the ‘thumbs up’ symbol) on our Facebook page, situated below the cover photo on the right hand side.

 The Vibe 101 was created by a passionate writer (well, that’s how I see myself), who finally unleashed her creative spirit! Launched on August 14, 2012, the blog re-ignited my artistic mojo. I go through bursts of fervour, but once I’m in the zone, I can easily immerse myself in my writing and you’d struggle to snap me out of it.

As stated in an earlier post titled “Beautiful Blogger Award”, though I’m far from prolific, writing has always been a passion of mine. One of my goals was to publish a children’s picture book but after a year at trying, with a mix of silence and rejection from a number of publishers, the bubble burst. Though I had an airy-fairy dream to become the next J.K. Rowling, I landed on my face with a giant thud! I failed, but I haven’t given up on the idea completely.

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 It sounds so cliché but the moral is to have a go, give it your best, pick yourself up and try again….and again….and again…..maybe approach things differently? There are a myriad of paths to follow that could lead towards your hopes and aspirations. For me, I’ve continued to pursue my lofty ambition through this blog. It’s a pet project that comes from the heart and is crafted with a dash of enthusiasm. It’s what I love and what I enjoy!

 My ultimate goal is for GLOBAL DOMINATION of course! Ok, we’re far from meeting the giddy heights of this target. Ideally, I’d just like to connect with as many people as possible here in the land of Oz, or around the world. It’s such a thrill receiving positive comments from followers and knowing that others out there enjoy reading my quaint pieces. It’s as enjoyable as writing, developing and publishing each post. So don’t hesitate to continue spreading the love by sharing the pieces with your own family and friends and re-posting the articles through your WordPress blog or Facebook.

 In addition to the blogosphere, Facebook is a great medium to extend The Vibe’s own social network. The Vibe’s Facebook page will be a lot more fluid than the blog itself, allowing me to easily post inspirational quotes, thoughts of the day, catchy lyrics or amusing pictures. The blog will continue to focus on my reflections of quirky experiences, the simple pleasures in life and everything in between. Over time I’d love to broaden my writing skills and see The Vibe 101 evolve and reinvent itself to more sharp, witty, thought provoking posts, maybe a little hard hitting journalism? Till then, this new phase in The Vibes short existence will help keep the blog up to speed in the social savvy 21st century.

Like if you Like The Vibe 101

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Dear Genevieve – Hugs & Kisses, From the Stylishly Challenged!

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-IKEA-KITCHEN-5.jpg

Oh dear Genevieve,

My humble abode is trapped in a 1970s time warp and is drowning in mission brown. Help!

There are days when I wish Genevieve Gorder was on speed dial. I can only dream to have her transform my quaint, dated home into a modern, timeless haven. Genevieve is the Fairy Godmother of interior decorating and is the ‘go to’ creative expert who converts drab and boring rooms into inviting, contemporary spaces. She weaves her magic with a fabulous sprinkle of style and pizzazz as the host of the entertaining home makeover program, Dear Genevieve.

Image Source: .genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-IKEA-KITCHEN-3.jpg

Genevieve’s signature design approach is similar to that of the ever prolific Sarah Richardson (of Design Inc, Sarah 101 fame). Both women balance traditional charm with contemporary design concepts when it comes to breathing new life into a room. Like Sarah, Genevieve’s vision rarely incorporates ‘matchy matchy’ furniture schemes. Instead, both designers often integrate an eclectic mix of new fixtures with vintage pieces.

Gorder isn’t afraid to use an array of contrasting elements, such as rustic pieces together with mid century modern furnishings, or geometric patterns against a neutral wall backdrop and allocating vignettes to a room through layers of textures and accessories. These techniques offer eye catching focal points and bold pops of colour, giving a space its own character, charm and identity. Genevieve effortlessly manages to pull together a look that is balanced and cohesive, despite the diverse fusion of design fundamentals.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-LITTLE-LUXE-2.jpg

What makes Dear Genevieve unique is that it’s one of a handful of programs where clients don’t have to relinquish full creative control to the lead designer. Instead, Genevieve plans together with her customers regarding the overall design direction –  finding out how home owners currently use the space, how they are stylistically, favourite colour schemes, the flow of traffic, what their objectives are with the room in terms of functionality and the mood they want to create. Gorder then provides a sketch of the structural layout for the space, outlining broad concepts on decor while being open to ideas and suggestions given by the clients.

Genevieve then embarks on a fact finding mission, along with the home owners, visiting various shops and suppliers to investigate options for lighting, flooring, textural elements like curtains, rugs, pillows as well as different accent pieces and accessories. It’s an opportunity for the clients to open their eyes to new ideas and to think ‘outside the square’ in order to bring out a room’s potential. In some cases, particularly in earlier series, the clients even get involved in the renovation process.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-CONNETICUT-CABOOSE-3.jpg

 In each episode, Genevieve plays different roles from designer therapist, style counsellor to decorator medic. Regardless of how challenging each project is, Genevieve’s vivacious, animated, positive personality is so engaging with viewers, along with her big smile and even infectious laugh! Her charm and ingenuity is reflected in the rooms she has revamped with a little wow factor.

If you’re desperately seeking a touch of style nirvana for your home, just ask Dear Genevieve for some design wisdom. She’s more than capable of rescuing an outdated room from the depths of the twilight zone and tzuj it back into the 21st century.

Image Source: genevievegorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/GG-SITE-CONNETICUT-CABOOSE-6.jpg

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Image Source: http://www.facebook.com/GenevieveGorder/photos

Love Your Sister – An Epic Journey

If someone told me they’re embarking on a 15,000 kilometre adventure while riding a unicycle across this great southern land we call Australia, I’d tell ‘em ‘ya dreamin!’. But that’s exactly what Australian actor Samuel Johnson has set out to achieve, all to honour his terminally ill sister Connie, who’s fighting a brave battle against breast cancer.

Sam and Connie’s story has been covered in recent episodes of The Project, an Aussie light entertainment television program that takes a humorous view on daily news, pop culture, current affairs and hot topics.

The journey is a year long charity ride, stopping at each capital city as well as some of Australia’s most remote towns and regions including Kalgoorlie, Alice Springs to Albany1. The ultimate aim of this epic mission is to raise $1 million in funding through the Garvan Institute for breast cancer research and to further highlight the importance of cancer awareness. In accomplishing this incredible endeavour, Samuel will also break the current Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled on a unicycle2.

As seen on The Project, the expedition began on February 15, when Samuel departed from Melbourne’s Federation Square. He was given a massive send-off in front of a large crowd headed by Connie herself, as well as other local celebrities who gathered to lend their support. “What started off as a joke in the kitchen turned into a promise”3 that Samuel is committed and determined to fulfil.

Image Source: loveyoursister.org/connies-bio

Connie’s life has been characterised by courage and strength. She was first diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of 114. When she was 22 years old, she suffered a second bout of cancer after a tumour was discovered in her womb5. Today, Connie has 6-12 months to live after being diagnosed with breast cancer that has spread to other parts of her body6.

 In Connie’s own words, she’s “determined not to let cancer define her”7. First and foremost, she is a mother to two young boys, a wife, daughter, sister and friend. Her final legacy is to prevent other women from enduring the physical pain and heartache of cancer, or worse, the knowledge of having to leave loved ones behind. According to Samuel, Connie is “as tough as nails with an indestructible spirit”8 despite the challenges she has faced. Connie continues to have a hunger for life and she’s driven to devote as much time to her family, which is her main motivation to keep fighting this disease.

Image Source: facebook.com/loveyoursister/photos

It’s an inspirational tale, an uplifting story that touched my heart, left me in tears, but made me want to hug the person I love to savour that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside all the more. These curve balls that the universe mysteriously throws at people make you realise to not take life for granted and to focus on what’s important…your loved ones. There’s nothing more significant in this world than family and friends, and Sam and Connie’s bond truly exemplifies this. It’s a simple notion that’s so cliché…..but oh so true.

Image Source: facebook.com/loveyoursister/photos

Thousands of families, including my own, have been touched by someone who’s experienced some form of cancer. My Aunty D died of cancer in 1995. After surviving cervical cancer two years earlier, the cancer had returned and had aggressively spread to her lungs and bones. Throughout her struggle against the disease, she managed a brave smile even during the toughest of days. She maintained a positive frame of mind with a ‘never give up’ attitude to the very end.

Like Samuel’s mission, the fight against cancer is an uphill battle. His journey continues to be chronicled on a weekly basis by The Project, with Friday night updates. For further information on how to donate and get involved in this incredible mission, please visit loveyoursister.org

Image Source: facebook.com/loveyoursister/photos

Sources

loveyoursister.org

The Project, Channel 10, February 11, 6.30pm

The Project, Channel 10, February 15, 6.30pm

Citations

  1. www.loveyoursiter.org Viewed February 12, 2013
  2. www.loveyoursiter.org Viewed February 12, 2013
  3. www.loveyoursiter.org Viewed February 12, 2013
  4. The Project, Channel 10, Screened February 11 2013, 6.30pm
  5. The Project, Channel 10, Screened February 11 2013, 6.30pm
  6. The Project, Channel 10, Screened February 11 2013, 6.30pm
  7. The Project, Channel 10, Screened February 11 2013, 6.30pm
  8. The Project, Channel 10, Screened February 11 2013, 6.30pm

Oliver’s Twist on Fabulous Food

I have a soft spot for Jamie Oliver. His enthusiasm and passion for cooking is so infectious! The acclaimed British chef, with an affable, easy going charm, has a laid back attitude that’s reflected in his down to earth approach to everyday cooking.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

In an earlier post titled “Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen”, I pointed out that cooking had never been my speciality. In fact, cooking and I go together like chalk ‘n’ cheese, we just don’t gel. Eating on the other hand is my forte. I love food. But, it’s more than comical that I have a tendency of scorching, nuking and spoiling the most simple of meals like scrambled eggs or even the humble toast. I’ve experienced more misses than hits when preparing food that’s fit for human consumption. Consequently, I have a ‘can’t cook, won’t cook’ mind-set to whipping up a gastronomic smorgasbord.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

 Often cooking programs focus on complicated feasts, and not surprisingly, I find such recipes way too challenging to even attempt given my limited culinary skills. What’s worse is that you need a myriad of gadgets which I don’t own, just to slice, dice, chop, julienne, mix, mash or boil the ingredients. Otherwise, the recipe consists of exotic components you’ve never heard of, or elements you’d rarely use in other meals and your local store doesn’t carry in any case. To top it off, I don’t have the time, not only to prepare the dish, but to clean up the mess afterwards. It’s all too hard and puts me off from bringing my A-Game to the kitchen.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

On the other hand, Jamie’s signature style to preparing a meal makes cooking accessible to the masses, boofhead friendly and idiot proof! He’s recognised that cooking fabulous food isn’t just for elite professionals or experienced cooks. Let’s face it, we don’t always need to prepare Michelin awarded meals for everyday cooking. Jamie’s recipes aren’t pompous or pretentious. When it comes to casual dining, precision isn’t paramount and presentation doesn’t always require the perfection that’s demanded in 5-star restaurants. Instead, Jamie’s twist on a delectable dish centres on simplicity and big bursts of flavour, colour and texture. His meals have a rustic, organic quality, using fresh, seasonal and/or everyday ingredients commonly found in your pantry. Convenience and ease is the key, but taste isn’t sacrificed.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

 Best of all, Jamie Oliver is a chef with a heart of gold and a conscience for social issues. He takes on causes and challenges close to his heart. Jamie’s highlighted the rising levels of obesity amongst young children and has campaigned tirelessly for healthier menus in school canteens. He opened Fifteen, a not-for-profit training restaurant that empowers young adults from underprivileged backgrounds with an opportunity for a better future1. The initiative offers disenfranchised youths with an apprenticeship and first hand experience in hospitality2.  He promotes a healthy lifestyle through the magic of food, with recipes emphasising the importance of affordable, well balanced meals. Through his cook books and various television programs, he has inspired families to get back to basics with home cooking, to source and use locally produced goods and to opt for freshly prepared meals rather than the fast food alternative.

Image Source: facebook.com/jamieoliver/photos

 What’s refreshing about each of Jamie’s television cooking series is that they don’t rely on his experience and celebrity profile to humiliate and break down aspiring chefs or avid cooks like a drill sergeant, a la Gordon Ramsay. Mainstream television is flooded by reality based competitions, where amateur cooks and professional chefs are under pressure cooker conditions and consequently ridiculed for their errors or critiqued on trivial criteria as a form of entertainment.

 Instead, Jamie’s shows have a casual, light hearted vibe that centres on what cooking programs should focus on – creating practical, well balanced, hearty culinary delights; comforting meals made with enthusiasm and love.

Sources: http://www.jamieoliver.com/  Viewed February 19, 2013

Citations: http://www.jamieoliver.com/  Viewed February 19, 2013

Summer Home – Rustic Glam

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

For my avid readers, you’ll know that I have a penchant for interior decorating programs. To fuel my addiction, Summer Home is the latest series I’ve added to my growing list of favourite home makeover shows. What makes this series unique is its focus on renovating summer homes – or holiday homes as we call them here in Australia. In each episode, host Samantha Pynn, aims to update rundown retreats trapped in a time warp, and transform them from boring to delightful getaways.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/9

 The program has a laid back vibe that’s reflected in Samantha’s signature style. I have an affinity for her refreshing approach to decorating; it’s what I define as casual chic. With Samantha, you won’t find ostentatious fixtures, opulent or ornate focal points and quirky decorating concepts. Instead, Samantha’s creations are bright, cosy and inviting. Her designs are based on restrained elegance, understated rustic glam. She combines country with a classic, timeless comfort, yet modern feel.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/15

Samantha provides practical solutions to breathing new life into a home. Where possible, she retains existing furniture to minimise costs but refreshes the pieces with new slip covers or re-upholstering. In addition to custom fixtures, Samantha also favours vintage accessories found in local thrift stores or antique shops to maintain a cottage charm.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/19

As the homes of her clients are often located along rivers, lakes or set amongst wooded areas, her designs are often nature inspired, so as not to divert from the character of the house. To keep the look fresh, she uses pops of colour with visual elements such as pillows, throw blankets, rugs and ornaments with soft colour pallets, floral prints mixed with muted geometric patterns and delicate textures.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/32

In some episodes, Samantha’s major challenge is maximising areas with limited space, creating a room that is both functional and flexible in terms of their layout, purpose and usage. She often achieves this with a splash of paint, new flooring, re-positioning furniture, adding fixtures with sleek minimalist features, dismantling walls or building cabinetry upwards instead of outwards – all to create the illusion of space.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/40

In summary, Samantha manages to combine both function and form, transforming rooms that once lacked any artistic direction, and injecting a dash of glam that is visually eye catching yet comfortable and casually stylish.

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Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

Me, Public Speaking? I’d Rather Go Nude!

One of my greatest fears in life is public speaking. I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Recently, my little sister asked me to make the customary ‘family member’ speech at her engagement party. I was deeply touched and honored that she considered me, but at the same time I wanted to wet my pants (and throttle her)! Deep down, I secretly thought this was payback for all the times I threatened to flush her down the toilet when we were younger. My stomach began to churn and twist in knots. I had two months to come up with a speech and the pressure was on!

Image Source: publicspeakingtraining.biz/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Suit-guy-infront-of-big-corp-audience-iStock-CROPPED.jpg

Some people are gifted speakers, me….not so much. As a student, at the end of each term, my report card read – “C is a conscientious student but needs to participate in class discussion”. It was a recurrent theme throughout primary school and high school, much to the disappointment of my parents! Despite the many lectures from both my teachers and the folks, it was a lesson never learned and haunts me to this day.

 I can’t recall the source or quote the exact statistic, but according to a survey conducted, a significant number of people would rather die than engage in public speaking. OK, it’s a tad extreme but I can more than empathize with the thought.

I’m painfully shy! I liken myself to an awkward, country church mouse with hermit tendencies. I was the wallflower in high school that never got asked out because I was socially inept with zero personality. Men weren’t exactly queuing up for a date during my footloose and fancy free twenties because I couldn’t chat any guy up (it didn’t  help that I tried to save myself for Brad Pitt)!

Image Source: publicrelationssydney.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Microphone-at-conference.jpg

I’d still be single, desperate and dateless today if the better half hadn’t have made the first move. He was brave enough to introduce himself when we first met. I think he felt sorry for the loner in the tight skirt and knee high boots leaning up against the bar with vodka in hand.

Some people love the sound of their own voice; you know the ones who could talk under water? I’m in awe of those who can dominate conversations over the dinner table or board room meetings. I envy people who are gifted speakers, the best of which can mesmerize and captivate an audience. It does help if you ooze a little charm, personality and charisma. Personally, I believe you’re born with it, it’s an innate talent.

By contrast, talking is my weakness, my Achilles heal. Place me in front of a group of people and this weakness is elevated ten fold and I’m overcome with paralyzing fear! I start to quiver, sweat uncontrollably and I turn into a jibbering idiot. My mind freezes up and turns blank; I struggle to articulate what’s in my head (which isn’t much). Don’t get me wrong, I love attention. I don’t mind walking into a room, wearing something glam with a touch of bling and turning heads. However, when I open my mouth, I struggle to come up with something sharp, witty or profound to say. It’s a challenge to convey a message in a succinct, articulate manner – instead, I fall flat on my face (I guess this explains why writing is my escape).

Image Source: speechmattersaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/public-speaking.jpg

My saving grace has always been my writing. Whenever I had to conduct presentations or meetings at work, I had notes prepared for my own sense of security. So, that’s where my mission began. I began to draft my speech until I realized I had no idea what to write! The avid blogger was suffering from writer’s block! I had to get down to the basics. Like with any good story, you need a captivating introduction, a memorable plot with a middle section that takes the audience on a joyride and a conclusion to tie up the yarn.  I channelled in my marketing experience and similar to a sales pitch, you need to have key objectives and an understanding of your target audience and what they’re after. Research is the key – a broad knowledge and understanding of what you’re talking about!

My ultimate goal was to create a light hearted message about my sister’s road to romantic bliss while hoping the audience didn’t suffer through sheer boredom, and the means to achieve this was to add some humor to the speech. I didn’t want to go down the path of the boring mushy lovey dovey clichés that you find in a Hallmark card – love is a journey not a destination, love is patient, love is kind – Blah! Blah! Blah! What a crock! That makes me gag. Instead, I wanted DIRT, that is, the crazy shenanigans that the youth of today get up to (ideal for my young audience). So I contacted close family and my sister’s friends to dig up some gossip which would form the bulk of my speech.

I certainly didn’t want to write a thesis. I wanted to keep the speech short and sweet – the less time I have to spend talking…the better! Once the speech was written up, the next stage was to practice, because practice makes perfect! I began to rehearse, I’d pace up and down the hallway rehearsing, varying my tone of voice and ensuring the delivery of each joke was perfect. On several occasions I even sat in front of Winston the Wonder Dog and read through my lines. After several rounds, eventually my own dog got bored! He’d look at me perplexed before dozing off. It got to a point where he’d walk the opposite direction as soon as he saw me approaching him. The paw thing, even my own dog got sick of the speech. That wasn’t a good sign!

As the date of the engagement party loomed, I couldn’t sleep. I began to get hives! Even as I slept, my mind raced through what I was going to say. On the day of the soiree, I needed a calming mechanism…..booze! Copious amounts of alcohol helps…it’s the best social lubricant….as they say, booze make men brave and women loose! After a few glasses of vodka, Bacardi and gin – I was rockin’!!!

Image Source: openspeaking.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/public-speaking-coaching.jpg

With paper in hand, I began the speech. I started off strongly, despite the fact my hands were trembling. If I could measure the amount of quivering, it would be off the Richter scale. I lost my spot once but quickly brushed the mistake off. Once the audience laughed at a few comical gags, I knew I was on fire. To my sister’s relief, I didn’t disgrace myself!

In summary, I survived! Woo hooo! Would I ever volunteer or yearn to be nominated for any future public speaking events? Well, like I said earlier, I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Christmas Greetings! With Love, Melbourne

Flinders Street Station Image Source: The Vibe 101

Flinders Street Station Image Source: The Vibe 101

There’s nothing like summer in Melbourne, especially as Christmas approaches. The city’s lively atmosphere steps up a gear and comes to life even further as the festive season kicks in. Christmas brings such a spirited, vibrant buzz in town. The garlands are hung, decorations adorn street lamps and shop windows are decked out with glistening ornaments and flickering party lights.

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

The Block Arcade Image Source: The Vibe 101

The Block Arcade Image Source: The Vibe 101

The mood around the CBD is laid back, yet pulsating and infectious. As you stroll along the city streets, you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of the large crowds of people, some of whom have taken to the festive spirit by donning reindeer antlers or Santa hats. It’s hard not to be captivated by the light entertainment performed by an eclectic mix of buskers and carollers scattered on the corner of busy intersections or positioned outside retail department stores.

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

The smorgasbord of bars, cafes and restaurants is the heart and soul of Melbourne. Personally, it’s a great city to wine, dine and ultimately to relax as you gear up for Christmas celebrations. The tantalising aromas wafting through the air from some of Melbourne’s finest eateries combined with the large number of funky pubs and clubs only adds to the sizzling energy and ambiance of this great city.

Burke Street Mall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Burke Street Mall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Myer (Melbourne's equivalent to Macy's, Selfridges or SM Department Stores) Image Source: The Vibe 101

Myer (Melbourne’s equivalent to Macy’s, Selfridges or SM Department Stores) Image Source: The Vibe 101

The hedonistic fusion of awesome music, delectable food, cocktail of drinks and great company is hypnotic to the senses and further intensifies the joy and merriment one would experience at this time of the year. Melbourne certainly knows how to turn on the charm to build up a cheerful party vibe full of reverie. You’ll wish to soak it in and bottle it up

I love Christmas, especially in Melbourne!

Pic 21 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 20 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 19 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 8 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Hardware Lane, worth visiting for a bite to eat
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 3 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 5 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 7 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Image Source: The Vibe 1o1

Pic 12 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s equivalent to New York’s Grand Central Station or The Tube in London
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 9 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Burke Street Mall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 10 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

The GPO at Melbourne
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 6 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Apocalypse Now!

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end. It’s already tomorrow in AUSTRALIA!!!!” Charles M. Schulz

Image Source: Facebook mamagenerator.net

 

Image Source: HeraldSun.com.au
Picture: Pierre-Philippe Marcou

Image Source: HeraldSun.com.au Picture: Johan Ordonez

Image Source: HeraldSun.com.au Picture: Matt Dunham

Image Source: HeraldSun.com.au Picture: Marko Drobnjakovic

Image Source: HeraldSun.com.au Picture: Hector Retamal

Image Source: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/world/amazingly-world-survives-maya-apocalypse/story-fnd134gw-1226542199000

The Sunshine Award

Image Source: Google.com

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey!”

I could whistle that tune all day. It’s such a whimsical and uplifting little ditty. It was the first thing I did when I found out that itchyfeetme nominated The Vibe 101 for the Sunshine Award. It’s The Vibe’s fourth nomination, and I always get a buzz whenever my site is recognised by my fabulous fellow bloggers.

HOW IT WORKS:

1)      Include the Sunshine Award Logo(s) in a post or in your blog.

2)      Share the love and thank the person who nominated you and in your post provide the link or name of their blog and comment what their site is about.

3)      Answer 10 questions about your self from the person/blog that nominated you.

4)      Nominate 10 to 12 other fabulous bloggers and ask them 10 questions.

5)      You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!

6)      Link your nominees’ blog/site names to your post and let them know they are nominated via their blog.

itchyfeetme has a passion and wanderlust to discover the world around her. You’ll be taken on a journey as you read her adventures and experiences from the Philippines, Vietnam, France to Armenia and the United Arab Emirates! Check out her blog on itchyfeetme.wordpress.com

Image Source: itchyfeetme.files.wordpress.com

10 QUESTIONS ABOUT ME:

  • Favorite Color: Red, it’s such a vibrant, sultry and sexy colour! Sort of like myself….in a wallflower, country church mouse kind of way. I’m full of contradictions!
  • Favorite time of the year: my birthday, Christmas, Spring , whenever there’s a merchandise stocktake sale.
  • Favorite Number: 4, I don’t know why, but I’ve always been drawn to this number. Maybe it’s the fact that I feel it’s evenly balanced.
  • Favorite Non Alcoholic Drink: Coke, but I’ve cut down because it’s probably corroding my insides!
  • Favorite Cuisine: Korean, Japanese, Italian – I start to salivate just thinking about it. Yum! Yum! Yum!
  • My Passion : Anything artistic – writing, reading, decorating, listening to music, going to the movies – it gets the creative juices flowing!
  • Dream destination: South America, Africa, Maldives, Tahiti, mainland US – I could go on. So much to do. So much to see and still tick off my bucket list.
  • Nicest place been so far : Vienna, Paris, Monaco, Egypt, Rome, Salzburg, Florence, Venice, Phuket.
  • FB or Twitter : Can you believe I don’t have a twitter account? Blimey.
  • Mantra : Carpe Diem…..Seize the Day!

MY NOMINEES:

I’ve nominated the following blogs for the Sunshine Award. I have a weakness for travel and food blogs, or any blog with great photography. Their posts are fascinating to read and the images featured on their sites are amazing! I hope the nominations spread a few positive vibes. Share the love peoples!

http://thewanderlustgene.wordpress.com

http://thebucketlust.com

http://moniquesantiago.wordpress.com

http://timelessdifference.com/

http://onegirlsquestforperfection.wordpress.com

http://travellingtonito.wordpress.com

http://eatlivetravelblog.wordpress.com

http://sh0werstorm.wordpress.com

http://notanothertravelsite.wordpress.com

virginiasite.wordpress.com

thetravellingcardigan.wordpress.com

QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEES

  1. If you had one day to play God, what would you do?
  2. If you could turn back time, what would you change in this world?
  3. If you found $10,000 in an alleyway, what would you do?
  4. Which movie character can you most relate to and why?
  5. Who is the best world leader of all time and why?
  6. What is the best movie of all time and why?
  7. Where is the best city to live and why?
  8. What’s the next gadget that should be invented e.g. flying car, money that grows on trees?
  9. What is the root of all evil?
  10. If you weren’t on a diet and there was no risk to your health, what would you eat?

You are my Sunshine! (Image Source: Google.com)

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD

I always experience a rush of excitement when I’m recognised by my fabulous fellow bloggers. A big shout out goes to theeclecticeccentricshopaholic, who’s nominated The Vibe 101 once again, this time for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. It’s one tiny step closer to a Pulitzer Prize. Ok, not quite, but we’re heading in the right direction!

RULES for the VERY INSPIRING BLOG AWARD. PLEASE FOLLOW CAREFULLY:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

The Eclectic Eccentric Shopaholic is a prolific writer with the skill to post daily about her own reflections and experiences on life in the Philippines. She’s an avid participant in the daily prompt, haiku and short story challenges. Check out the blog on theeclecticeccentricshopaholic.wordpress.com It’s a fascinating read!

 

7 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME

  1. I was the nerdy girl in high school who never got asked out. I’d love to say I was the ugly duckling who eventually blossomed into a beautiful swan (i.e. Victoria’s Secret model), sadly that’s not the case.
  2. If I could change a few things about myself, I’d want to be prettier, smarter, and more gregarious. I gotta grow some balls – BIG ONES!
  3. If I could be anyone but myself, I’d be Angelina Jolie – she’s gorgeous, talented, and articulate and she has a whole lotta chutzpah (i.e. she’s brazen, bold & beautiful)!
  4. If I ever met God, I’d thank him for letting me re-sit my economics test without any penalties. I got my exam schedule mixed up and arrived late for my final assessment. Oops!
  5. My biggest regret is that I didn’t follow my dreams to become a journalist, fashion designer or interior decorator. But I’m finally turning things around and creating my own path….wherever it takes me. I’m bound to get lost along the way!
  6. If I could eat anything (and not have to worry about my weight and figure), I’d eat copious amounts of Krispy Kremes, Pringles, Cheezels and Pavlovas – that would just be for appetisers to wet the palette.
  7. The movie character that most reflects who I am would be Josie ‘Grosie’ Geller from the film Never Been Kissed, and played by the bubbly Drew Barrymore. I’m an ever fumbling geek to the core!

 

MY NOMINEES

For my regular readers, you’ve probably figured out that there’s a common theme to the blogs I love to read. Yes, I have a weakness for travel and food blogs, or sites that feature captivating photography. Congratulations to the following blogs as you have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Share the love and pay it forward.

http://julieriso.wordpress.com

http://traveller2006.wordpress.com

http://travelphotosfoodandlife.wordpress.com

http://mlitvinskasphotography.wordpress.com

http://cocomoke.wordpress.com

http://randomizer144.wordpress.com

http://alittlethingcalledmetime.wordpress.com

http://eagleborn2fly.wordpress.com

Image Source:

Angelina Jolie,  Never Been Kissed image sourced from  Google

Blogger images were sourced from respective WordPress sites

The Tale of a Wonder Dog!

Pic1

You can’t argue with the saying that canines are “a man’s best friend” (and equally a woman’s). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the bond shared between people and their dogs is special. I can knowingly say this based on the unconditional love we’ve experienced with our four legged buddy – Winston the Wonder Dog!

 Cover Shot

Winston is our nine year old Chihuahua x Pomeranian, who oozes personality, spunk and charisma. But Winston is more than just a pretty face. For a canine he exudes impeccable taste in quality TV programming. In fact, one of his favourite pastimes is cuddling up beside me on the couch to watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Keeping up With The Kardashians or The Bold & The Beautiful together. It’s fair to say that we’ve bonded over our love of talk shows, reality TV series and daytime soaps. Despite what my better half thinks, Winston would rather watch grass grow than sit through a season of football or cricket on TV!

 Pic2

Winston’s other passion is to keep people company. He has the ability to put a smile on my face when I’m feeling a little ho hum. He’ll roll on his back with his paws up in the air for a tummy rub, or curl up at my feet and keep my tootsies toasty warm. If I’m struggling for inspiration, he’ll often nestle up against me while I’m working on the laptop and just his presence will perk me up. Eventually the cheekiness kicks in. He’ll interrupt my train of thought by nudging his head under my hand as a reminder to scratch under his chin. Alternatively, he’ll walk all over the keyboard just for a smidge of attention.

 Pic3

Winston loves attention. I may be bias but I reckon he’s a star in the making. Deep down, I think my better half enjoys walking him for the simple reason that Winston is such a chick magnet. Let’s face it, Winston’s a people dog! People are naturally drawn to him and he always laps up the affection he receives from random strangers. He’d never make a great guard dog.  Guests at our humble abode are generally licked to death and if you dangle food in front of him, Win would be putty in your hands!

Pic6

In addition to his playfulness, Winston also has a protective nature, similar to the way a mother watches over her brood. He exhibits what I refer to as ‘grandmother tendencies’, where he waits for us by the front window until we come home from work, a night out, or even a short trip to the supermarket. Whenever I hear the pitter patter of his paws on the wooden floorboards, I know he’s following me like my shadow around the house. On one occasion, I organised for my parents to babysit him during a weekend escape. According to my folks, Winston waited in the hallway in vain, hoping that my partner and I would come home, demonstrating how loyal he is towards us. Winston won’t sleep until the two of us are in bed, at which time he finally clocks off for the evening.

Pic5

He greets me each morning by standing on his short hind legs and tapping his front paws onto my side of the bed until I pat him in response. If I choose to ignore him, he’ll start moaning with worry. In fact, Winston has an instinct for sensing when I’m in pain. A few months ago, I stubbed my toe on the coffee table and groaned in agony. Just recently, I had a serious coughing fit where I was in tears.  In both instances Winston rushed towards me with such an alarmed, concerned look on his face as if to say ‘Are you OK mum?’

Pic4

In retrospect, I was never a big animal lover. When I was young, like all kids I enjoyed the idea of owning a pet, while not fully understanding the responsibility involved in looking after them. However, since meeting the better half, I knew I had to broaden my mind. Basically, for the relationship to work, the choice was – him and me, or, – him, me and a dog. And the dog will always win hands down when it comes to my partner. So, I sucked it up….and I’m glad I did!

Pic7

Ultimately, the best moment is when Winston stretches his neck, looks upwards and stares longingly at us with his adoring eyes while his tail wags with enthusiasm.  Even when he smells of some strange pungent odour, you just want to cuddle him. Winston’s at his happiest snuggled between my better half and me.

Pic8

In the past two years I’ve learned how much joy a dog can bring into your life. It’s their unconditional love, unwavering loyalty and the strong bond that they share with us that melts my heart. In a nutshell it’s the simple pleasures that make adopting a dog (or any pet) oh so precious.

Liebster Blog Award

Image Source: Google

What does Liebster mean? Or should I be asking, who is Liebster, when is Liebster, where is Liebster? Do I want to be Liebstered? Sounds like a game of Jeopardy. Either way, I’m certain it’s a great award and I’m very thankful to be nominated. In fact, I’m over the moon! A big shout out goes to theeclecticeccentricshopaholic for nominating The Vibe 101.

The Eclectic Eccentric Shopaholic

HOW IT WORKS:

  • When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
  • Pass the award onto 11 other blogs (make sure you tell them you nominated them!) and ask them 11 questions.
  • You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you!” (You can google the image, there are plenty of them!)
  • PS: Make sure the blogs you chose have 200 or LESS followers

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

  1. I had hopes of becoming an accountant but my debits and credits never balanced
  2. Someone told me that the word ‘gullible’ was taken out of the dictionary – I believed them!
  3. My favourite drink is a vodka lemon and lime.
  4. I like to bust a few dance moves after a few vodka lemon and limes (it really doesn’t take much).
  5. I’ve travelled to 19 countries outside of Australia – Egypt, Malaysia, Japan, Croatia, Thailand, US (Hawaii), Fiji, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Philippines, Singapore, China, Belgium – I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg of what this world has to offer. There are several more destinations to tick off my bucket list.
  6. I’ve got former teenage tennis sensation and world number one, Martina Hingis’ autograph. If only I knew where I put it.
  7. When I was younger, I use to have imaginary friends called Brenda and Alan (we’re not in contact anymore)!
  8. There’s only one woman I’d turn for ….. Angelina Jolie. Enough said!
  9. If I could have a dinner party with anyone dead or alive, I would dine with….Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and Mahatma Gandhi – icons of peace.
  10. If I knew I couldn’t fail, I’d be a fashion designer, an interior decorator, a journalist and an artist.
  11. I used to collect all my school lunches and keep them under my bed until they got mouldy. I didn’t always like the sandwiches mum prepared (sorry mum!) but I felt too guilty to throw them in the bin….go figure!

QUESTION TIME:
1) What’s the best part about being you?

My lips! They’re pouty, not quite Jagger lips, but still very kissable!

2) What’s the worst part about being you?

I’m painfully shy and socially inept until I have a few vodka lemon and limes.

3) What do you wanna be when you grow up?

My ultimate dream has always been to become a fashion designer.

4) If you’re about to have your last meal, what would it be?

I’d ditch the diet and have an all you can eat smorgasbord of junk food twice over….Krispy Kremes is the first thing that comes to mind!

5) Most influential person in your life?

Beside my wonderful mum, I always wanted to be like my Aunty B. Aunty B was confident, feisty and had a great sense of style

6) Favourite book.

I can’t decide, The Kite Runner ,The Bronze Horseman, The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo….Ok I admit…The Twilight Series

7) So I invented a time machine. ^^ What time and place would you like to visit?

1950s Paris – a period of timeless chic, elegance, class and pure charm.

8) Your idea of paradise is…

a tropical oasis, reading a good book with a cocktail and a smorgasbord of junk food…including copious amounts of Krispy Kremes.

9) Favourite thing in your closet.

My cocktail dresses and my ruby red lipstick.

10) If you can have one superpower what would it be?

I’d love to be both invisible and have the ability to fly – I like the sense of freedom this power brings.

11) Can’t leave the house without your…

house keys and underwear

MY NOMINEES:

I’ve nominated the following blogs for the Liebester Award. I have a soft spot for blogs with a travel theme and/or blogs with captivating photography. Their posts are fascinating to read and the images featured are amazing! I hope the nomination spreads a few positive vibes.

http://gracekimpai.wordpress.com

http://freelancewanderer.com

http://naturaleuphoria.com

http://christineestima.wordpress.com/

http://introvertlybubbly.wordpress.com/

http://jasssanderson.wordpress.com/

http://bellabagnidilucca.com/

http://sueannm66.wordpress.com

http://runawaykiwi.com/

http://fotodivivi.wordpress.com/

http://looneyatoms.com/

MY QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

  1. If you had one day left to live, what would you do?
  2. If you could have dinner with anybody, who would you dine with?
  3. If you were given the task to achieve world peace, how would you achieve this objective?
  4. If there is a God, what would be the first thing you would say to him/her?
  5. What would you change about yourself and why?
  6. If you could be anyone but yourself, who would it be and why?
  7. If an alien knocked on your front door, what would you do?
  8. If you won $1 million in lotto, how would you spend it?
  9. What’s your biggest regret?
  10. If you were given three wishes, what would you wish for?
  11. If your favourite movie star asked you out on a date, where would you take them?

Image Source:

Wikipedia (Angelina Jolie, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Martina Hingis)

Wikimedia (The Kite Runner, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)

paullinasimons.com (The Bronze Horseman)

The Shenanigans of a Wonder Dog!

Winston the Wonder Dog was adopted from the RSPCA over two years ago. From the moment we spotted him, Winston charmed his way into our lives and we were putty in his paws! However, it didn’t take long to discover that Winston wasn’t the sharpest dog in the kennel; he’s more cute than smart, and we say that with love!

Winston wasn’t toilet trained when we brought him into our humble abode, much to my chagrin! Let’s just say there were puddles left behind and ‘bombing raids’ dumped throughout the house during the day and night, which made my obsessive compulsive cleaning tendencies rock into overdrive. I’m even more mortified with his habit of leaving a trail of No. 2s whenever we’re inside the vet’s clinic. You’d think he was laying cables! My partner and I would joke that Winston could churn out turd like a Mr. Whippy Ice Cream Van!

Well, after two years, and many treats later, Winston’s only just managed to learn to sit; even staying on the spot is a challenge. Forget dropping, rolling over or fetching. He may not know the basics of dog etiquette 101, but Winston certainly knows how to fly! Secretly, he must have a pair of magical wings stashed somewhere in the garden. My better half and I spent many weekends and hundreds of dollars fixing up the back picket fence that stops Winston from wandering into the garage and front yard. He’s surprised us on the odd occasion with his Houdini act, as we’ve found him waiting in the garage and poking his face from under the roller doors as we head up the driveway. He must pole vault his way over the fence because Win wouldn’t have the brains to dig under the barrier.

What he lacks in tricks he makes up for in appetite, for a dog so small he has a bottomless pit for a stomach! When I’m preparing dinner, he’ll hover around the kitchen like a vulture, and with his eagle eye, he’ll zone in on any crumbs that end up on the floor. He ploughs through food like a vacuum. I once found Winston inside our pantry scoffing down whatever he could reach given his short stumpy legs; even the threat of me shutting the cupboard door didn’t faze him at all.

Strangers used to mistake him for a corgi due to his podginess. I was shocked when our local pizza guy called my dog the ‘F’ word…..FAT!!!…F – A – T ….FAT!! I desperately tried to convince myself Winston was just big boned, full figured, a healthy plus size…it took a good six months of exercise and a controlled diet to shed some of his weight.

On a more embarrassing note, like all dogs, Winston gets a kick out of humping peoples’ legs and sniffing their butts, in no specific order. He’s not discriminatory in his choices either. Everyone’s fair game, from tradespeople, guests or even my own mother! What’s worse is the challenge of prying him off the person’s calf. Another one of Winston’s more comedic gestures is to grab a shoe (usually mine!) if my partner or I are on the phone. He’ll pick up the shoe with his mouth and carry it into the living room, even though all the shoes are almost as big as him! It’s Win’s way of saying, ‘Hey, get off the phone, look at me and show me some love!’

Yes, on the odd occasion, Win does show a little too much attitude. He once made a German shepherd cowl into the corner of the reception area at the vet’s clinic with his barking. Let’s face it, it’s the Chihuahua in him that brings out his feistiness and spunk. But deep down, Winston suffers from small dog’s syndrome. He thinks he’s tough, but he’s a pansy at heart. Winston wouldn’t want the other dogs in the neighbourhood to know, but he’s actually quite dainty…he hates to get his paws dirty and loathes getting his fur wet in the rain.

Despite his shenanigans, we wouldn’t want Winston any other way. He makes us laugh. These classic moments are what make him special. We love him, just the way he is.

Beautiful Blogger Award

Writing has always been a passion of mine. But it was a hobby that I only recently started up after my better half suggested that I take part in a short course in children’s writing. The course got the creative juices flowing and motivated me to pursue my lifelong dream of publishing a children’s picture book. I loved it and thoroughly enjoyed the process of putting my ideas onto paper and seeing the words come to life. Fast forward seven months later, the bubble burst. SPLAT! – Right in my face! After submitting three manuscripts across a handful of publishers, I was dealt with one rejection letter after another. I lost my artistic mojo.

Feeling somewhat disheartened, I stopped writing altogether and shelved my plans of becoming the next J.K. Rowling, Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl. However, when a friend recommended that I try out to become an official Chadstone Blogger for the Spring/Summer Fashion 2012 season, the spark was re-ignited. Although I didn’t try out for the competition, it was the catalyst that inspired me to continue writing and opened my eyes to a whole new world – the Blogosphere!

I no longer needed the affirmation of a publisher to have my work produced for the world to see and enjoy. I have full creative control and I discovered that blogging was a different medium where I could express my ideas, thoughts and reflections.

My posts will never win a Pulitzer Prize. My articles will never be hard hitting journalism, or sharp, witty, thought provoking pieces. I’m a long way off to being a prolific writer; I guess that’s why it took me by surprise when I was nominated for the Beautiful Blogger Award by A tale or two to tell…...

A Tale or Two to Tell…(emmahicks76.wordpress.com)

As far as I’m aware, my parents are the only ones who religiously view my posts everyday, just so my stats improve (thank you mum and papa! I know you’re reading this. Surprise!). I shouldn’t forget to mention my beautiful friend T, who can even quote lines from some of the stories I’ve posted. And an honourable mention goes to DH for the encouragement.

Hence, I was stoked and thrilled to bits knowing that other people actually read my blog, and hopefully enjoy my regular musings. Thank you A tale or two to tell….. for the nomination, you made my day!

Please check out A tale or two to tell….. …. on her blog: emmahicks76.wordpress.com

Beautiful Blogger Award Rules:

The idea behind the Beautiful Blogger Award is to recognize some of the blogger we read for their hard work and inspiration.

  1. Copy the Beautiful Blogger Award logo and place it in your post.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  3. Tell 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 7 other bloggers for their own Beautiful Blogger Award, and comment on their blogs to let them know.

7 Things About Myself:

  1. I would rather parachute out of a plane in my underwear than do public speaking
  2. I wanted to marry Jon Bon Jovi since I was 10 years old
  3. If I could turn back time, I’d become a fashion designer
  4. I sat near the Oscar winning actor Geoffrey Rush on a train all the way into the city of Melbourne (I’ve been amongst greatness!)
  5. I wrote a letter to Fat Cat when I was 7 years old and the schmuck never wrote back. Where’s the love? I’m still scarred. (Fat Cat is Australia’s equivalent to Big Bird, Barney the Dinosaur or a Telly Tubby!). All you Aussies who are old enough to remember this TV character, you’ll understand how jibbed I feel!
  6. I was always the last person picked on a team during P.E. classes. I couldn’t run, catch, throw or kick to save myself….I am such a klutz and completely uncoordinated!
  7. I love karaoke!

Now to pay it forward. I have nominated the following blogs for the Beautiful Blogger Award. You’ll notice I have a soft spot for blogs with a travel and/or photography focus. I hope we can all continue to motivate, recognise and appreciate the wonderful work of each other.

1. theeclecticeccentricshopaholic.wordpress.com

2. …musings of Tonya LaTorre – tonyalatorre.wordpress.com

3. thirdeyemom.wordpress.com

4. theworldinsideapictureframe.wordpress.com

5. Wanderful Escapades – leemajors78.wordpress.com

6. globalcitizensam.wordpress.com

7. thehungrybackpackers.wordpress.com

Malala Yousafzai – A Symbol Of Courage

According to Jimi Hendrix, “When the power of LOVE overcomes the love of POWER, the world will know PEACE.” – such humble words underpinning a compelling, hopeful message. Words, no matter how simple, can speak volumes. Words can inspire. Words can be the catalyst for change.

This brings me to the story of Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old Pakistani girl, described as a peace activist, who was shot in the head by Taliban extremists, merely for fighting for what should be every child’s right – to be educated.

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/10/10/article-2215132-1570969B000005DC-424_634x387.jpg

Since 2007, Malala’s hometown of Swat has been infiltrated by the Taliban regime, which has set about imposing their will on residents through the use of fear and intimidation1. Under Taliban rule, “men have been forced to grow beards, opponents of their beliefs are beheaded and women are prevented from going to the market”2. Furthermore, “schools have been blown up, the majority of which are for girls”3, as “girls should be kept at home and barred from education”4 based on Taliban teachings.

At the age of 11, Malala, “whose name means grief stricken”5, began a campaign to expose these atrocities through “a blog for the BBC’s Urdu service website under the pseudonym Gul Makai (or ‘face like a flower’)”6. Malala championed the importance of education for girls and was a strong advocate for children’s rights. “Recently she had spoken of her desire to set up her own political party and a vocational institute for marginalised girls in her area”7.

Malala’s crusade was even recognised by then prime minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, “who awarded her the country’s first National Peace Award and a reward of about $US5300 after she missed out on winning the International Children’s Peace Prize for which she was nominated in 2011”8.

Sadly, her views were considered as an act of defiance “and earned her the enmity of Taliban leaders”9. Consequently, Malala and her family were targeted by Taliban militants and threatened for her outspokenness, ultimately resulting in her shooting.

Committing this act of violence on an innocent child is nothing short of barbaric. In fact, using such savagery against a young girl is cowardly; a young girl who was merely promoting a simple message of hope and equality. I struggle to understand countries, cultures or traditions who continue to suppress women and their right to equality. I am neither a Muslim nor an expert on the Islamic religion or its principles. However, as stated by clerics from the Sunni Ittehad Council, “Islam doesn’t prohibit women from getting an education”10. The attempt on Malala’s life was declared “un-Islamic and the individuals responsible for this attack transgressed the Islamic Hudood [doctrines]”11.

Furthermore, many Muslims have condemned this horrific incident. “Hundreds of Pakistani women rallied together in Karachi in support of Malala, whose struggle resonated with tens of thousands of girls denied an education by Islamist militants”12.

Malala is a symbol of courage, an icon of peace. It takes strength to stand up and fight for one’s beliefs, especially under cultures where women are suppressed and forced into subjugation by men. Her bold determination in exposing “the scourge of terrorism the Taliban regime has conducted towards her community”13, particularly to women, further exemplifies her bravery. Despite the risk to her life, Malala was a voice for young women and her plight has captivated the attention of politicians and celebrities alike including Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Madonna and Angelina Jolie.

Malala’s push for girls’ education was both compelling and inspiring. Education, which we take for granted in the western world, is all the more vital in developing nations, where poverty is rampant. Knowledge is power. Educating men and women is the basic foundation to help individuals become employable, self-sustaining and generate an income to provide for families, to build a better life for future generations as well as supporting the wider community.

The fact is “32 million girls in Pakistan are not going to school”14. One can only hope that Malala’s message, and the violence inflicted upon her, can act as a catalyst for change that “spurs the Pakistan nation to come together and fight this mind set which attacked an innocent harmless girl”15. The assault against Malala is a call to action. Action creates momentum and this incident can be a turning point that “strengthens the resolve of the Pakistan military to undertake a long-awaited offensive against Taliban reign”16.

As quoted by Edmund Burke, “All that is required for evil to flourish in this world is for good men to do nothing”. The Taliban cannot prevent all independent voices or advocates of peace and equality through the force of bullets17. To ensure that Malala’s struggle and suffering isn’t in vain the Pakistan people need to come together in solidarity. People Power is at its strongest when people stand in unity to achieve a single goal.

It takes one person to turn a dream into reality. It takes one person to start a movement for change; it takes a village to make it happen.

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217445/Malala-Yousafzai-We-WILL-defy-Taliban-school-says-Shazia-Ramzan.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2216836/Malala-Yousafzai-Which-Malala-She-punished-The-horrific-moment-teenage-female-education-activist-critically-injured-Taliban-gunman-school-bus.html

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2215132/Taliban-attack-teenage-Pakistani-girl-Malala-Yousafzai-way-school.html

http://www.theage.com.au/world/pakistani-girls-family-defiant-after-attack-20121011-27e85.html

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/malala-an-icon-of-courage-who-sets-us-all-a-challenge-20121012-27idh.html

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217786/British-help-girl-shot-Taliban-Medical-team-flies-Pakistan-aid-treatment.html

Photos: Courtesy of

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217445/Malala-Yousafzai-We-WILL-defy-Taliban-school-says-Shazia-Ramzan.html

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2216836/Malala-Yousafzai-Which-Malala-She-punished-The-horrific-moment-teenage-female-education-activist-critically-injured-Taliban-gunman-school-bus.htm4

lwww.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2215132/Taliban-attack-teenage-Pakistani-girl-Malala-Yousafzai-way-school.html

 http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/malala-an-icon-of-courage-who-sets-us-all-a-challenge-20121012-27idh.html

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217786/British-help-girl-shot-Taliban-Medical-team-flies-Pakistan-aid-treatment.html

 Citations on Request

The MOD Squad – Novogratz Style

The Novogratz

I’m addicted to interior decorating shows. I simply can’t get enough of them! Divine Design, Candice Tells All, Colour Confidential, Sarah’s Design Inc…I could go on. They’re all part of my daily diet of renovation programs. But for something more daring and left of centre, you need to get a taste of the distinct Novogratz style.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Home By Novogratz is screened daily on the LifeStyle Home network and is hosted by the husband and wife team, Robert and Cortney Novogratz. It took me a while to jump on board the program. The signature Novogratz aesthetic is an acquired palette comprising of contemporary, ultra modern themes with a retro vibe.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Their design concepts are targeted at the brave, for those seeking a look that is vibrant, innovative and unique. If you’re after interior décor that’s traditional, conservative and on the safe side of the spectrum, run the other way! It’s time to step out of your comfort zone.

The dynamic duo (whose inspirations are drawn from downtown New York) makes their own rules, anything goes, and there is no limit to their infinite creativity. Their process for renovating each space is intuitive, there is very little that is methodical about their vision. The designers allow their ideas to evolve by combining flea-market or vintage finds with high-end focal points; or bringing together an eclectic mix of furniture and accent pieces to create a layered effect with different elements of texture, colour and accessories. Ultimately, a dull boring room is transformed and used as a canvas to showcase their funky design sensibility.

Image Source: hgtv.com

For maximum impact, Robert and Cortney like to mix a fusion of strong contrasting artistic themes and concepts that expresses the home owners’ individuality while delivering a room that’s bold, with a quirky charm and a character that is totally original. The final look of each project can polarise some people and may not necessarily float everyone’s boat, but the ultimate result still has a ‘wow’ factor that’s daring, hip and inspiring.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Image Source: hgtv.com

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/44/country-home-design_5.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/91/Kitchen-web.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/100/01_DYL-42.jpg

Image Source: thenovogratz.com/assets/images/galleries/17/gramercy-apartment_2.jpg

Photos: Courtesy of HGTV.COM

You Are What You Eat – That Would Make Me Sweet Junk

They say love is a journey, not a destination. I guess I could use the same analysis for losing weight. In fact, if shedding the pounds is a journey, I wish there was an accompanying road map with a direct route to the ultimate hour glass figure, with regular pit stops at all you can eat venues, while bypassing the gym!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/22/139760C2000005DC-3300942-image-a-10_1446502158463.jpg

My campaign to transform into a ‘Victoria’s Secret supermodel’ has been a hard slog so far and there is no end in sight. Previous half hearted attempts at fighting the flab only resulted in a measly two kilos being shed over a twelve month period! The worst part, I quickly regained the weight, and managed to pile on a few extra pounds.  Based on my progress so far, the quest to trim down will be nothing short of a saga, longer than the Biggest Loser series. Queue the violins!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/22/25551BA100000578-3300942-image-m-5_1446502081810.jpg

According to Carol Montgomery, “married people don’t have to exercise because our attitude is, ‘They’ve seen us naked already, and they like it’”1. I can relate to this view. Ever since I found a wonderful man to share my life with, I have managed to gain some excess baggage. It was as if finding relationship bliss was a green light to letting my figure go like the Goodyear blimp. It doesn’t help that I too now share in my partner’s passion for all things sweet, especially dessert. That’s in addition to my addiction to greasy fast food. It’s enough to clog up the arteries. No wonder I’ve got so much junk in my trunk (sadly my booty is nothing like Kim Kardashian’s)!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/13/2E0A3E9600000578-3300156-image-a-57_1446469237206.jpg

Luckily the better half loves to exercise – me…not so much! Since we’ve met, my weight has fluctuated as much as the Australian dollar, and continues to rise or fall as I go through spurts of dieting and exercising. Each time I reach my goal weight I become complacent and fall back on old habits by cutting back on work outs and spoiling myself by raiding the pantry and snacking on chips, chocolate, donuts, cakes, biscuit slices – hence, the never ending vicious cycle.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/15/2E0AF48000000578-0-image-a-9_1446477256220.jpg

Despite my newfound commitment to running, according to the scales, the fat hasn’t budged. We live in a world where we’re driven by instant results, but in this instance, a positive outcome hasn’t been forthcoming which is disheartening. It doesn’t help that running builds up my appetite and all I want to do is head towards the Maccas drive through for a chocolate sundae after a jog. This raises another issue, I want ready to eat healthy food (or at least easy to prepare food) that tastes good – it comes down to convenience.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/14/2E0A8D3600000578-3296417-image-a-41_1446474496891.jpg

Everyday I’m bombarded on television by one stop diet solutions that claim to slim down your figure and melt the tummy fat away without the need to hit the gym. I’m sceptical of these so-called ‘comprehensive weight loss systems’ including diet shakes, supplements and pills. Besides, I don’t want to deprive myself of one of life’s most simple pleasures….food!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/01/23/2E05121E00000578-0-image-m-2_1446419270894.jpg

So what do I do??? My plan is to continue to jog and work up a sweat; it’s a medium intensity work out that I’m beginning to enjoy. The next stage for me is to do a complete overhaul on what I eat and how much I consume. The aim is to cover the five food groups, eating more fruit and vegetables and taking focus away from the food positioned at the top of the food pyramid – goodbye Coke, Krispy Kremes, baked New York cheesecakes, sticky date puddings, burgers, pizzas (truthfully, it’s enough to make me cry, but it’s got to be done!).

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/03/01/006607E200000258-2974716-image-m-30_1425249418142.jpg

I’m realistic about my goal. I’m well aware that losing weight is hard work and will involve regular exercise and striking a balanced diet with the aim of eating healthier food that tastes great (which is my idea of a ‘happy meal’). This adjustment won’t happen overnight and will require changing a lifetime of bad eating habits and routines. The cravings will continue and I’ll be honest, I’ll still have weak moments but it’s about exhibiting some self-control and discipline over what and how much I consume going forward.  I can feel it in my waters, the path to getting in shape will be a long and winding one. The journey is a lifestyle change!

Source: McMeel, A “Wild words from wild women”, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, 2009 (2009 Calendar)

Citation: McMeel, A “Wild words from wild women”, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, 2009 (2009 Calendar)

The Singing Budgie Continues to Soar – I Should Be So Lucky

I have no shame in confessing that the first ever single I bought was Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. I admit…..it was even on vinyl! The year was 1987 when perms, acid washed jeans and legwarmers were all the rage. I was young, impressionable and it was the monumental stage in my life when I finally discovered music!

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite6-1024×1024.jpg

But wait, there’s more, I’ll go one step further and say that I jumped on the Kylie bandwagon well before Locomotion hit the music charts. Prior to her foray into a singing career, it was Kylie’s successful role on Neighbours starring as Charlene Mitchell that first catapulted her to fame. Jason Donovan (who played Scott Robinson, the residential heartthrob on the highly rated program), was Kylie’s on and off screen partner at the time. The duo was my generation’s equivalent to RPatz and KStew’s ‘Bella and Edward’ of Twilight fame. The chemistry between Kylie and Jason set pulses racing and the pairing of Scott and Charlene was nothing short of genius, renowned as two of Australia’s most beloved characters in television soap history.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovers1-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie’s popularity on Neighbours resulted in her winning five Logie Awards (Australia’s version of an Emmy statuette in the United States), four of which were awarded in 1988; the most any entertainer has won in a single year1. Since her departure from Neighbours, Kylie hasn’t looked back. Her road to success has been nothing but an onwards and upwards climb to superstardom for the pop diva.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/gq1-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie Minogue was instrumental in introducing me into the wonderful world of pop. Locomotion was Kylie’s breakthrough single, which topped the Australian music charts for seven weeks2. Her follow up single, I Should be So Lucky, also peaked at number one, along with Got To Be Certain. Additional songs were launched including Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi and Especially For you (her duet with Jason), both of which were smash hits in Australia. These ‘classic’ tracks, featured in Kylie’s eponymously titled debut album, defined my childhood!

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/abbeyroad2-1024×1024.jpg

Her second album, Enjoy Yourself, was released in 1989 and achieved similar success churning out singles like Tears on My Pillow, Hand On Your Heart, Wouldn’t Change A Thing and Never Too Late3. I’m having a flashback moment…dancing around in the living room wearing my frilly ra ra skirt, with crimped hair, listening to these tracks repeatedly on my tape deck, holding a brush to my mouth as if it was a microphone. Oh the memories! At the tender age of twelve, I could feel it in my waters that Kylie was destined for greatness. Sadly, critics thought differently.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/balmain-kylie-tw7-2.jpg

Commercial radio stations refused to play her singles. Kylie was caned for her sugary, bubble gum pop style of music and even worse, her lack of vocal range. Minogue was branded “The Singing Budgie” by local and international media, she wasn’t considered credible by experts in the music industry and at that early stage in her career, Kylie didn’t command the respect or recognition that she’s famous for today.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite5-1024×1024.jpg

However, by 1990, my world was shattered when Kylie moved on from Jason Donovan to rock star Michael Hutchence (the news was almost as profound as when the KStew cheating scandal leaked!). I didn’t quite understand the attraction to the scruffy INXS frontman versus the boy next door charm of Jason Donovan. But it also marked a pivotal moment in Kylie’s career, when she began to shed her innocence and express her sexier side. When her third studio album Rhythm of Love was released, Kylie was on the fast track to transitioning from her squeaky clean image to a racier persona. This was reflective in her more sexually charged music and video clips including Better The Devil You Know, Step Back in Time, What Do I Have to Do and Shocked.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/aphodite8-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie was evolving, she was pushing the boundaries with her lyrics, fashion and identity, and the change was extreme. Well before Kylie launched her fourth and fifth album, Let’s Get To It and Kylie Minogue respectively, I had already jumped off the Kylie bandwagon with a thud! As much as I loved the sultry hits Confide In Me and Put Yourself In My Place, I wasn’t a fan of the over the top, trashy sex bomb Kylie had become. In hindsight, I was naïve. We see time and time again, from the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus – pop stars who achieve phenomenal success at a young age often take the giant leap towards an edgier, more adult persona to tap into a wider audience (or for shock value). Transitioning is all part of the creative process. Artists are like chameleons, developing their craft along with their image, whether it’s for publicity or to reach a broader market – evolution is part of the artistic journey.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/lovers2-1024×1024.jpg

Kylie’s sixth album Impossible Princess, was released in 1998 featuring the singles Some Kind of Bliss, Did It Again and Breathe4. The tracks exuded a more mature side to the singer, a rebellious vibe vastly different to the teenage poppy sounds of the Stock Aitken and Watermen era of the 80s. Although I didn’t have a strong connection to the music, my self-imposed Kylie snub began to wane. In 2000, the album Light Years was launched, generating a huge buzz with hits like Spinning Around, On a Night Like This and Kids (a duet with Robbie Williams)5.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Flower0-1024×1024.jpg

It sparked a new awakening, a Kylie revival, the hype was reaching fever pitch and I was hooked – once again! Kylie’s follow up album, aptly titled Fever, was a phenomenal success with edgy dance tracks like Love At First Sight, Can’t Get You Out of My Head, In Your Eyes and Come Into My World, which continued with the pop, disco and house sounds of Light Years6. By this time, even the critics of the 80s finally embraced her music. Since 2003, Kylie has released a further three albums, Body Language, X and Aphrodite, all to critical acclaim.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/abbeyroad3-1024×1024.jpg

“2012 marks Kylie’s 25th year in the music industry, but her career has spanned more than 33 years in the entertainment business. Kylie has launched eleven studio albums, two live CDs, eight live concert DVD’s, plus her Greatest Hits and the Ultimate Kylie double album and multiple video packages. This is of course in addition to over 50 singles released internationally. She’s received countless gold and platinum discs; she’s been honoured with numerous prestigious awards, sold-out nine record breaking world tours and in 2000 closed the Sydney Olympics. Kylie was also inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association’s Hall of Fame by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Julia Gillard, she was also named as an Australian National Living Treasure”7.

Image Source: kylie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/KylieChrstimas1.jpg

Looking back, I was in grade four when the class was given a project to write about Famous Australians. While most students chose traditional iconic Aussies such as Dame Nellie Melba, Sir Donald Bradman, Ned Kelly, I decided to focus on a modern contemporary artist …Kylie Minogue. The class sniggered with my selection and my teacher, I’m certain, was a little mortified. But I chose Kylie because she was a talented star, a star who continues to shine to this day. ‘The Singing Budgie’ ceases to spread her wings.

Source: http://www.kylie.com/about/

Image Source: kylie.com

The Age of Beige is Over!

What do you get when you combine a couple with opposing design aesthetics, a single room in their house in desperate need of a makeover and a colour wheel – you get a vibrant episode of Colour Confidential!

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-family-03.jpg

The crux of the program centres on each couple moving away from the standard builder beige and making a giant leap towards adding a splash of colour to what is a boring room. The homeowners then face the tough task of determining three colours that ultimately form the basis of their room’s colour scheme, using everyday objects that inspire them. These objects (which could range from red strawberries or blue earrings to violet flowers) are systematically placed around the show’s secret weapon, the colour wheel. The colour wheel consists of 12 shades covering primary colours through to varying shades of secondary colours (including warmer tones and cooler shades).

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-living-10.jpg

Jane Lockhart, who’s the designer and host of Colour Confidential (screened during weekdays on the LifeStyle Home channel), guides each couple during the decision process, after which she is then presented with the difficult challenge of pulling all three colours together, decorating and transforming the room with some va va va voom!

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-dining-05.jpg

What three colours would you pick? The first colour selected is the dominant shade used on each wall. The second colour chosen is generally painted on a feature wall, ceiling or trims and in some instances, influences the type of flooring installed (including tiles, carpet or timber floorboards). The third colour choice is used as the inspiration behind accent pieces such as area rugs, curtains, pillows, furniture or other focal points.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-kitchen-02.jpg

Like certain couples on the program, I have a slight reluctance to painting a mixture of bright, bold colours (that don’t generally co-ordinate or blend well together) in one room. The formula behind the program could spell a recipe for a renovation disaster. However, Jane provides tips and advice on what colour combination to run with, while often acting as a mediator or designer therapist for the participants involved.  It’s interesting to see the dynamics of each couple, as they negotiate between themselves, you witness how far each participant is willing to compromise with their partner, or ultimately, which individual has the domineering personality.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-bedroom-07.jpg

The final result is nothing short of spectacular. Jane manages to exhibit exceptional prowess in bringing together contrasting, or not so complimentary shades, and creating a harmonious theme for a room. Jane has the skill of unifying bold vibrant colours on the opposite ends of the spectrum and surprisingly develops a look that is functional, contemporary and elegantly stylish using textures and layers of accent pieces.

Image Source: janelockhart.com/portfolio/images/photo-home-office-03.jpg

The approach is innovative and unique. It proves that if you’re willing to move away from boring neutral tones towards adopting splashes of colour, you can dramatically transform a room and add some character and personality to a space. Like most people, I just need to make that giant leap and finally step out of my age of beige comfort zone.

Jane Lockhart

Image Source: janelockhart.com

Let’s Get Physical – Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

I’ll be the first to admit that exercising is a bitch (a bitch I’m more than willing to have a fight with). However, a recent comment by trainer Michelle Bridges  published in The Age – Daily Life in which she stated “You don’t have to be motivated to exercise, you just have to turn up and do it”1 spurned me to get off my podgy ass in my quest against the battle of the bulge.

Michelle continued with the punches saying “This whole ‘I can’t get motivated thing’ is a crock.”2 which was a further eye opening slap in the face that got my pulse racing. But to her credit, Bridges does offer up some sound advice to get me (or you) out of the exercise slump.

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

According to Bridges, be sure to choose an exercise that suits3. I hate exercising. I try to avoid it as much as Superman stays away from kryptonite. Unfortunately, my waistline went missing in action five years ago and I’ve recently embarked on a mission to locate it. Pilates, Zumba, Tai Bo – are just not my thing. Organising a gym membership is too costly, especially with my lack of commitment. So, I’ve decided to take my outdoor exercise regimen more seriously and commit to my running sessions. This routine gets me out of the house into the sunshine (which I enjoy) while I burn some calories jogging.

Michelle believes that exercising should be part of a regular routine and to exercise at any given opportunity4. Lifting up the remote and changing the channels on the TV is the extent of my fitness regime. Yet, Michelle points out that, “You can exercise while watching television”5. So whilst I salivate over the dishes featured on Masterchef, or scowl at the girls on Australia’s Next Top Model, or envy Kim’s curvaceous body on Keeping Up With the Kardashians – I’m in front of the TV screen working up a sweat in my daggy tracksuit performing squats and lunges (I do like to throw in a little Macarena or Gangnam-Style dance moves into the mix as well).

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Bridges advocates that varying your training is the key to maintaining motivation6. My better half bought me a bike which later became a decorative focal point in the garage. It gathered dust and cobwebs faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries. However, with the warmer months looming, he’s encouraged me to ride my bike along the nearby track overlooking the ocean (see, the better half isn’t just a pretty face, he does come up with a few wise ideas). There’s nothing more soothing than a bike ride along the shoreline. I’ve got yoga mats that are lost somewhere in the depths of my cupboards which I need to locate. I need to continue with some much needed push-ups and stomach crunches to say goodbye to my muffin top.

Another tip from Michelle is to set yourself realistic goals7. During a half-hearted sprint session, I once tried to run 100m, Usain Bolt style, in 9.63 seconds…not even close. I was overtaken by a five year old! (At that point, I thought of trying another Olympic sport altogether, like curling. I’d blitz the field and sweep everyone off their feet!).  OK, so the bar was set too high. But, when I first began my jogging sessions, my initial goal was to jog 500m without passing out and it progressed from there – 500m without stopping to catch a breath – 1000m at a slow jogging pace, pausing only twice. I just have to improve on that momentum.

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Bridges recommends finding a training partner8. I must admit, I’ve trained once before with the better half and it was motivating having him with me. Seeing him lap me several times on an athletics track adds a little fuel to the fire, to push myself to jog further and faster. We’ve vowed to make this a routine every Sunday so that we can both improve on our fitness level.

Lastly, Michelle suggests to make firm exercise appointments and not to let exercise slip in the winter months9. Sadly for me, my loathing for training doesn’t begin or end at winter; it’s an on going drama regardless of what season. Even the thought of exercising is so exasperating it tires me out. I spend hours psyching myself up to put the trainers on, but it’s one excuse after another, ‘it’s too hot’, ‘it’s too cold’, ‘it’s raining’, ‘I’m having a bad hair day!’ Bottom line is, I have all the time in the world to exercise. I have no excuse not to! It goes back to Bridges’ original comment ‘you just have to turn up and do it!’.

So, with this in mind, I think there is still hope for me to become a Victoria’s Secret model – it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!

For further information, check out Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation website on http://www.12wbt.com/

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Source:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/photogallery/health-and-fitness/dl-fitness/michelle-bridges-top-workout-tips-20120920-26890.html

Image Source: Google

Citations On Request

The Holy Trinity of Fashion – Season 2012

Image Source: popsugar.com/celebrity/MTV-Movie-Awards-Red-Carpet-Show-Pictures-2012-23403562#photo-23412649

If you’re a devout follower of fashion, there are three key trends being preached by designers and stylists alike this season: Colour Blocking, Peplums and Ruching – these are the hottest looks currently rocking the red carpet and fashion runways, and some of Hollywood’s most glamorous, fashion forward celebrities are a testament to these latest style phenomena.

Colour Blocking

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2001222/Fashions-coolest-clash-How-orange-purple-colours-season.html

If you want to stand out and love a splash of colour in your Spring/Summer ensemble, colour blocking is the way to go. According to Paula Joye (fashion and style columnist for The Age), colour blocking is defined as ‘an outfit made up of ‘blocks’ of solid colour’1. This look is for the confident and the brave, not for the faint hearted – it’s ideal for mixing and matching separate pieces (from tops, jackets, skirts or pants) in vibrant, intense shades. The focus is to combine bold colours on the opposite ends of the colour spectrum, for example, orange and purple, or pink and green (traditionally considered to clash when teamed together).

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1356231/Jennifer-Lopez-shows-tiny-waist-stomach-baring-low-cut-top.html

If you prefer a more subdued, toned down look, ‘use shades within the same family’, that is, colours closer to each other on the colour wheel for example, blue and purple, or black and grey2. However, don’t go overboard and exude some restraint when choosing your wardrobe; avoid mixing contrasting patterns including spots with stripes, or coordinating floral designs with abstract prints. To do so will result in a major fashion faux pas.

Peplums

Image Source: realstylenetwork.com/fashion-and-style/2012/02/jennifer-aniston-wows-in-tom-ford-at-wanderlust-premiere/

Peplums are back with a vengeance! Peplums haven’t dominated fashion since the 1980s, when Dynasty, shoulder pads and perms were at the height of their popularity. The growing resurgence of the flouncy flirtatious ruffle around the waistline of a jacket, blouse, dress or skirt has been pushed by the world’s leading designers and is a significant trend strutting down fashion runways.

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According to Anna Byrne of the Herald Sun, the peplum design is ideal for the hourglass silhouette and with the right fit, it is also flattering for women who embrace their curves, as it helps to minimise the waistline3. To accentuate the look, team up your peplum ensemble with a belt, to cinch up the waist and define your sexy hips even further.

Image Source: popsugar.com.au/fashion/Pictures-Top-Ten-Best-Dressed-Celebrities-Week-Jessica-Alba-Olivia-Palermo-Alexa-Chung-Diane-Kruger-More-21505339#photo-21506025

Ruching

Image Source: dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2192894/Ashley-Greene-channels-old-Hollywood-backless-gown-sparkles-The-Apparition-premiere.html

Ruching is a perennial style favourite amongst designers and is a look that comes in waves season after season. However, most fashion collections this year have taken the ruching trend and given it a modern twist with softer gathering of pleats and ruffles on skirts and dresses.

The beauty about the ruching technique is that it helps camouflage our muffin tops and the unwanted flab or flaws around the waistline.

Image Source: popsugar.com/celebrity/Highlights-From-Ben-Affleck-Jennifer-Garner-2012-26073011#photo-26102120

Ultimately, regardless of what style trend is strutting down the catwalk, the key is to understand what works for your particular body shape, accentuate your best physical features and feel confident.

Sources:

http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/how-to-colour-block-pop-and-tone-20110901-1jnk4.html#ixzz26mwwcrfU Viewed Sept 18, 2012

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/hip-pop-dont-be-afraid-to-show-off-your-curves/story-fn6bfkm6-1226308714837 Viewed Sept 18, 2012

Citations on Request

Are You Looking for Love – Adopt A Pet!

Are You Looking for Love - Adopt A Pet!

Winston the Wonder Dog was adopted from the RSPCA over two years ago and he’s touched and enriched our lives immensely, as a loyal and loving furry four-legged member of the family. Giving Winston a new life in a new home was one of the best gifts we could have provided to a wonderful dog, who was reluctantly given up for adoption by his original, but elderly owner.

I will never forget cautioning my partner and reassuring him not to become too emotional that day. However, as soon as we entered the RSPCA and witnessed the row of kennels that sheltered numerous homeless dogs, I was the one who was flooded with tears, almost overwhelmed by seeing the number of dogs requiring re-housing and the difficult process in deciding which dog to take with us.

We both initially had our eyes set on a one year old Beagle named Buddy. But after some discussions with the helpful RSPCA staff members, we were rightfully informed that Buddy wouldn’t fit within our busy schedules. We stood in the office a little disheartened before deciding to continue our search.

Some of the dogs were too large and our home couldn’t accommodate their size and energy, others required significant attention and training (but given our careers, we weren’t able to provide such constant care) and other dogs were too temperamental. We were close to coming home empty handed that day. Luckily, we persevered to the very last kennel in the block. To our delight, we saw a handsome eight year old Chihuahua x Pomeranian proudly prance towards us. As soon as we saw him, we were putty in his paws.

My partner was adamant on adopting a pet through an animal shelter, for various reasons. First and foremost, he wanted to give an animal a much deserved second chance at life. Secondly, we were after advice and assistance in determining which pet would suit our personal needs and lifestyle requirements, and this was achieved through the pet-to-owner matching program that is offered by most animal shelters including the RSPCA.

A staff member at the RSPCA looked into our lifestyle, the hours we worked, whether we had existing pets or kids at home, how large our yard was, how much time and training we could offer and when – these factors were taken into consideration in recommending a dog suitable for us. When we found Winston, we were then given the opportunity to bond with him, spending time walking him around the RSPCA compound.

A third benefit of adopting a pet through an animal shelter is the educational information regarding responsible pet ownership which is available to help you along the pre and post animal adoption journey. Furthermore, all shelter animals have undergone vigorous health and temperament checks to ensure their suitability as pets, often de-sexed, vaccinated, microchipped and wormed. Lastly, animals up for adoption are very reasonably priced. The fee barely covers the cost of de-sexing, vaccinating, worming and micro-chipping the animals prior to adoption.

For further information, visit:

www.adoptapet.com.au to view animals available for adoption at RSPCA shelters across Australia.

www.dogshome.com to view animals available for adoption at Lost Dogs Home shelters

www.lortsmith.com to view animals available for adoption at Lort Smith Animal Hospital

If you’re after a loyal, loving companion – adopt a pet! There are many adorable animals available for adoption at an animal shelter near you.  If you don’t have an RSPCA facility near you, there are other great organisations that exist to re-house abandoned animals including the Lost Dogs Home or The Lort Smith Shelter. Ultimately, these animals deserve a second chance. They deserve it!

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. If you’ve been similarly touched by the adoption of a pet, please help spread the message via one of the social media links below.

Stars Go Nude & Shimmer

Kate Hudson, Naomi Watts and Paris Hilton sizzled in their gorgeous frocks, while rocking the hottest trend of the season – going Nude!

Kate Hudson made a stunning red carpet appearance at the launch of the 69th Venice Film Festival wearing a gorgeous nude Atelier Versace gown which she teamed with Fabergé jewellery and topped off with an ultra glam Venetian Goddess updo1.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

The near-strapless, embroidered lace, figure hugging number accentuated Kate’s shapely curves2.  Accompanying Kate to the event was fiancé and Muse frontman, Matthew Bellamy, who rocked a classic tuxedo ensemble with black sunglasses3. The couple is in Italy to promote Kate’s new film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist4.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

Australia’s own Naomi Watts also attended the premiere to support her partner, Liev Schreiber, who stars along side Kate in the movie. Naomi took centre stage posing for photographers in a similar nude Marchesa gown, albeit, subtly more demure with lace overlay panels and fishtail detail5.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/30/article-2195419-14BD922F000005DC-102_634x910.jpg

‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist, based on the novel of the same name by Mohsin Hamid, tells the story of a Pakistani-born high flyer who takes a job at a Wall Street firm but turns his back on the US and returns to his native Lahore after the events of 9/11’6.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/29/article-2195419-14BD9C45000005DC-26_634x830.jpg

‘Kate turns brunette for her role as a photographer named Erica – the primary love interest in the film. Liev, meanwhile, takes on the role of a U.S. reporter in the movie and looked smart in a tuxedo as he posed alongside Naomi’7.

Image Source: Getty/Popsugar

Keeping in line with the nude colour palette was Paris Hilton, who was spotted wearing a willowy beige and white two tone maxi dress8. According to the Daily Mail UK, ‘Paris was the picture of serenity as she glided from her car and through the airport. The heiress cut a stylish figure as she boarded her private jet at LAX, heading for China, covering her flowing blonde locks with a wide brimmed sun hat and donning her trademark dark sunglasses from her own range’9.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/08/29/article-2195106-14BA7111000005DC-850_634x895.jpg

Source:

Popsugar.com

http://www.popsugar.com.au/Kate-Hudson-Atelier-Versace-Pictures-Matthew-Bellamy-2012-Venice-Film-Festival-24661245 Viewed 30 August, 2012

Dailymail.co.uk

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2195419/Kate-Hudson-Naomi-Watts-shimmer-ordinated-nude-gowns-hit-red-carpet-Venice-Film-festival.html#ixzz24z249PpQ Viewed 30 August, 2012

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2195106/Paris-Hilton-makes-glamorous-exit-boards-private-jet-LAX-China.html#ixzz24zBGf4Eo Viewed 30 August, 2012

Citations on Request

Domestic Goddess Sizzles in the Kitchen

According to the Daily Mail UK, Nigella Lawson has been dubbed “the queen of food porn”, a comment attributed to her flirtatious manner in presenting her popular cooking programs1. To her credit, Lawson has proven to be more than just a pretty face with a sensual charm and wit. Nigella is a critically acclaimed writer of several bestselling cook books, achieving over 1.5million in global sales and was voted author of the year at the British Book Awards in 20012. With a dedicated and growing audience worldwide, Lawson has also gained international recognition as a television personality and host of Nigella Express, Nigella Feasts and Nigella Kitchen3.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

In addition, Lawson has earned a ‘degree in Medieval and Modern Languages from Oxford, then went on to pursue a successful career in journalism, becoming Deputy Literary Editor of The Sunday Times. This was followed by a successful freelance career writing for a range of publications, from The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Times Magazine in the UK to Gourmet and Bon Appetit in the USA’4.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson

Cooking has never been my forte. I have managed to burn boiling water, make glue from preparing steamed rice (even with the use of a rice cooker!), churned out a batch of rubbery pancakes and turned steak into slate tiles  When I first moved out of home, 2-minute noodles (accompanied by a cheeky glass of chardonnay) was the extent of my cooking repertoire.  What I lack in skill and talent, I make up for in appetite and a passion for eating!

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/posts/

This is where Nigella serves up some sweet inspiration. Lawson is neither a trained chef nor cook, which gives me a glimmer of hope that one day, I too can become a domestic goddess who sizzles in the kitchen while whipping up a feast as delectable as she can (it won’t happen over night, but it will happen!). Despite the absence of professional qualifications or training5, it’s evident in her programs that Nigella has a love and natural flair for cooking, with a broad knowledge of recipes including international cuisines, an in depth understanding of flavour combinations and ultimately, plating up with a little razzle dazzle.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

I have an affinity for her laid back, fuss free approach to cooking, empowering viewers with the confidence that you don’t need to be Michelin star chefs to prepare mouth watering dishes. ‘Nigella’s kitchen mantra is “minimum effort with maximum effect”’6; it’s a back to basics style to food preparation and entertaining. Simplicity is the key, without compromising on taste or wow factor, a common theme Lawson applies to everyday meals to late suppers, picnics, special celebrations or even afternoon snacks.

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Lawson delivers her message with her signature articulate, engaging charm and flirtatious smile. Nigella’s programs have an intimate vibe, that is, it’s almost conversational as she opens up about tips and ideas on time saving solutions to preparing meals7. The principle centres around uncomplicated, stress-less cooking and entertaining. You don’t need exotic ingredients to whip up a great dish, take advantage of what’s inside your pantry! Lawson even confesses to using ready-made salad packets and sauces bought off the counter – let’s face it, today’s modern family (with their busy schedules and lifestyle) needs convenient short cuts to save time.

As someone who’s better at scorching, nuking, scalding and spoiling meals, but has an insatiable appetite for scrumptious food, for me, Nigella makes cooking look effortless while bringing sexy back into the kitchen!

Image Source: facebook.com/NigellaLawson/photos

Sources

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2071324/Nigella-Lawson-Erotic-Ms-Lawson-furiously-denies-dishes-food-porn.html  Viewed Sep 2, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/chefs/nigellalawson/  Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-express/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-feasts/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

http://www.lifestylefood.com.au/shows/nigella-kitchen/ Viewed Sept 1, 2012

Citations on Request

Design Inc – Sarah Richardson 101

Image Source: sarahrichardsondesign.com/files/styles/layout_row_full_width/public/hero/Living_VerA-029-LowRes.png?itok=vHX3IpZ3

If you think too much publicity and overexposure on our television screens is a bad marketing strategy, don’t tell Sarah Richardson and her design team. Sarah Richardson is a guru of interior decorating and design and is the host of uber chic renovation programs such as Design Inc, Sarah’s House, Sarah’s Cottage, Room Service and Sarah 101, as seen on the Lifestyle-Home channel. In fact, the Lifestyle-Home channel should be re-positioned as the Sarah Richardson Network!

Image Source: hgtv.com

“Sarah Richardson started her career in lifestyle television 15 years ago as a behind-the-scenes prop stylist and set decorator. Within a year, Sarah found herself in high demand as an on screen personality and quickly realised that she could carve a niche in the emerging world of design TV by sharing her practical, endearing and inspiring approach to interior design with viewers”1.

Image Source: hgtv.com

I’m a one trick pony with my “Matchy Matchy” decorating solutions. On the other hand, balance and symmetry is certainly not Sarah’s trademark design aesthetic. Sarah has the innate talent of putting together an eclectic mix of accessories and pieces, contrasting patterns and vibrant colours, combining contemporary with traditional themes, and making the concept look cohesive. Overall, there is a sense of whimsy that resonates in her signature home transformations, which I define as a fusion of modern sophistication with a French provincial edge.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Richardson has a flair for blending vintage pieces into her interior makeovers and is also renowned for recycling old ‘trash’ and transforming it into one’s treasure, that is, revamping dated, worn out furniture with the pizzazz of re-upholstery, or by touching up with a splash of paint. Sarah’s other passion is incorporating antiques into her designs as they maintain their value long term, which is ideal for clients sourcing investment pieces for their homes.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Sarah, along with her main partner in crime, Tommy Smythe, is not afraid to get her hands dirty and isn’t scared to take control of a power drill or hand tool, especially when installing flat pack cabinetry and other furniture items. Richardson is also an avid do-it-yourselfer (DIYer), giving viewers first hand lessons on a range of DIY projects from floral arrangements, sewing your own pillow covers or valances, to demonstrating innovative ways to revamping table lamps with ribbons or jazzing up walls using China plates or framed shells or buttons as decor!

Image Source: hgtv.com

I’m sometimes sceptical about her ideas of mixing and matching ornate vintage items with contemporary accents. Yet, she manages to prove me wrong with her approach to decorating. The final result of each home makeover she designs is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Sarah never ceases to amaze me with how she executes her unique vision on dated and dreary interiors, transforming them into sophisticated and functional abodes with timeless appeal.

Sarah Richardson

Citation

1. http://www.sarahrichardsondesign.com/sarah/about  Viewed 29 August 2012

Image Source: hgtv.com

Good Girls go to Heaven. Bad Girls go Everywhere!

Good Girls go to Heaven. Bad Girls go Everywhere!

Before the character Carrie Bradshaw and her posse of hip, sexy, vivacious and smart gal pals struck a cord with women around the world, there was Helen Gurley Brown, who embodied the original strong, independent, free spirited woman portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex & The City. Helen was ahead of her time and paved the way for future generations of women to pursue a career and embrace their independence, financial freedom and sexuality.

In 1962, she penned the bestseller Sex and the Single Girl before taking control of Cosmopolitan magazine, where she sat at the helm as editor in chief from 1965 to 1997. She transformed the languishing magazine into the ultimate Bible of female empowerment, with the publication of smart, bold, feisty articles aimed at women and the use of titillating headlines and topics charged with sexual overtones.

In doing so, Helen revolutionised the publishing industry and the face of journalism. She was an outspoken advocate that women could have it all – money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity. She was a strong believer that self-sufficiency was a woman’s greatest asset.

Helen was a true pioneer, pivotal in highlighting women’s sexual freedom and bringing the feminist movement to the forefront of modern culture. She gave women a voice, and used the magazine as a vehicle for women to address their hopes, passions and ambitions.

According to Bonnie Fuller of hollywoodlife.com, ‘[Helen] preached the positive power of achieving through career building in the pages of Cosmo. “Cosmo girls” (the readers of her magazine) didn’t have to be born rich, beautiful or hugely talented. [Helen] believed that if you just got up every day and worked hard enough, you could achieve success. [Helen] was a tremendous believer in the power of hard work and common sense.

Helen Gurley Brown died August 13, 2012 aged 90. “Good things will happen if you get up every day and work at it. What you have to do is work with the raw material you have, namely you, and never let up.”

The Fab Five – Icons of Fashion

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There is a long distinguished list of women who have left an indelible mark on the fashion world with their unique sense of style and sophistication. From a personal perspective, I have narrowed this list down to a small, but acclaimed group of women I refer to as the Fab Five, who were the ultimate ‘It’ girls of their time, but who continue to be admired by future generations. Their signature looks have captivated fashion editors, designers, photographers and stylists alike. Let me introduce to you, in no specific order, The Fab Five:

  • Grace Kelly, Her Serene Highness, Princess of Monaco
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis
  • Diana, Princess of Wales

Grace Kelly – Her Serene Highness, Princess of Monaco

Image Source: wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Grace_Kelly_MGM_photo.jpg

Grace Kelly was a screen goddess who embodied a regal sophistication. Her magnetism and allure intensified exponentially through her marriage to Prince Ranier of Monaco. Starring in iconic Alfred Hitchcock classics such as Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief, Kelly further established her status as Tinseltown elite with her Oscar winning Best Actress performance in Country Girl1.

Image Source: http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/349818/slide_349818_3746661_free.jpg

Her trademark demure look was characterised by classic and willowy silhouettes. ‘She did not flaunt. Even as a star, she would wear figure-hugging evening frocks but avoided overly revealing clothes. The waists were cinched, the skirts often full, the shoulders either bare or wispy with chiffon’2.

‘The leading costume designers of the time, including Edith Head (To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, and Dial M for Murder) and Helen Rose (High Society), played an integral role in developing the ”Grace Kelly Look” that swept across the globe in the mid-1950s’3.

 

Image Source: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/09/15/article-2203606-1505280F000005DC-591_470x581.jpg

Audrey Hepburn

Image Source: http://i.huffpost.com/gadgets/slideshows/295617/slide_295617_2410525_free.jpg

Audrey Hepburn first captured the world’s attention with her breakout performance in Roman Holiday, which scored her the Best Actress Oscar4. Subsequent roles in Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and Breakfast at Tiffany’s further cemented her status as one of Hollywood’s finest5.

Hepburn was gamine and boyishly slender. Her distinct facial structure, including the square jaw line, high cheekbones and immense doe-like brown eyes, epitomised a waif-like glamour and elfin beauty6.

 French designer Givenchy (to whom Audrey would become a muse) was influential in defining her professional and personal style7. Like Grace Kelly, Audrey’s trademark identity can be defined as understated, minimalist but elegant.

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In fact, the Givenchy gown worn by Audrey’s character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s has been voted the greatest outfit of all time, based on a survey conducted by Lovefilm8. In addition, the long white dress, hat and parasol costume Hepburn’s character Eliza Doolittle wore in My Fair Lady came in at number six9.

   

Marilyn Monroe

 

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Marilyn Monroe is regarded as one of Hollywood’s ultimate femme fatales. As a star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, Some Like it Hot and The Seven Year Itch, Monroe oozed sexuality with a heady combination of sensual vulnerability.

marilyn_monroe2c_photoplay_1953

Marilyn had a flirtatious smile with her pouty voluptuous lips, hypnotic eyes and a curvaceous body to match. However, behind the seductive, sultry, enigmatic façade, was an insecure individual10. Her public persona as the dumb blonde contrasted her true nature as an articulate, well read woman with a sharp wit, which only adds to her complex mystique11.

monroe_1953_publicity

From a fashion perspective, Monroe preferred figure hugging attire that accentuated her hour-glass silhouette. ‘Her favourite costume designer was William Travilla, who created the iconic white billowing dress of The Seven Year Itch and the pink gown from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In a time of Peter Pan collars and poodle skirts, Marilyn’s style was considered risqué for her generation. This was exemplified by her tight dresses and suits, which flattered her shapely body and fitted like a glove’12.

Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis

 

Image Source: vogue.com/868959/style-legend-jacqueline-kennedy-onassiss-looks-from-the-white-house-years-and-beyond/#1

Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis was literally the First Lady to bring elegance and sophistication to the White House. From the moment John F. Kennedy was sworn in as President of the United States, the “Jackie Look” swept across America, and subsequently the world13.

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Image Source: jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/KBdLKUhpeEuBx9m9_75t-g.aspx

Jackie’s statuesque physique stood out along with her streamlined coats, A-Line dresses, pill box hats, white gloves and trademark bouffant hairdo.  ‘Oleg Cassini, a foremost fashion designer of the time, made the First Lady one of the best-dressed women in the world’ as the brains behind the “Jackie look”’14.

 

Image Source: http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Media-Gallery.aspx

In Cassini’s own words, ‘I wanted to dress her cleanly, architecturally, in style. I would use the most sumptuous fabrics in the purest interpretations’15. Her charm and intelligence, only added to her iconic persona. According to Cassini, ‘despite Jackie’s shy public presence and her whispery voice, privately she had a strong personality. Jackie’s taste was very simple – she liked only the very best’16.

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Diana, Princess of Wales

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At the height of her popularity, Diana, Princess of Wales, was the epitome of elegance and a jewel in the crown so to speak. Her impeccable poise, sophisticated regal ensembles, combined with her ability to break down barriers between aristocracy and the common man, set her apart from other royal members with their stand-offish formality.

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Diana’s style transformation began during her ‘shy Di’ phase and continually evolved through to the final years of her life when she was crowned ‘the People’s Princess’, which reflected her ever increasing self-assurance and growing independence.

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As Diana’s confidence bloomed, she took greater risks and became more experimental, making striking and bold fashion choices19. Diana’s wardrobe in her latter years was more daring, while maintaining a demure gracefulness. Furthermore, the heels got higher, clothes got edgier and skirts got shorter, both streamlined and flattering, while emphasising her figure. To further express her individuality, Diana favoured effortless minimal chic, which resonated in well structured and tailored shift dresses and pencil skirts, while gowns accentuated her slender and statuesque physique.

Image Source: m.nydailynews.com/entertainment/princess-diana-years-gallery-1.2278420

For fifteen years, designer Catherine Walker played a significant role in developing Diana’s style identity20. Catherine understood that clothes were Diana’s mechanism to communicate the highs and lows of her life21. ‘Catherine found new ways for the Princess to win sympathy and support through her choice of clothes’22. ‘Dress by dress, look by look, phase by phase, Diana illustrated the story of her life’23.

The Fab Five were fashion forward trendsetters, who occasionally broke the rules to create their own signature look that reflected their individuality and own personality. Poise, elegance, glamour, classic and timeless beauty are terms synonymous with each of these women. Each still possess something inspirational to women of today, as the French would say – je ne sais quois. A distinct, intangible quality is the source of their enduring appeal. Their ultimate legacy is one of beauty, grace and charm. Even years after their death, we will continue to be captivated by their elusive mystique.

Citation Reference List – On Request

Image Sources: google.com

Divine Intervention

One of my daily guilty pleasures is viewing home makeover programs that transform bland passé interiors into contemporary, or traditional but sophisticated, masterpieces. My particular vice is back to back episodes of Divine Design and Candice Tells All, as featured on the Style and LifeStyle Home channels respectively. The creative force behind both programs is host, interior designer and decorator extraordinaire, Candice Olson.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Olson is the Fairy Godmother for home makeovers. Along with her colourful sidekicks of contractors, electricians, builders, painters and stylists, Olson weaves her magic on the most undesirable rooms and ‘delivers awe-inspiring design transformations’. Your home is her canvas, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living areas, attics or basements; no job is too great or too small, but like most renovations, Olson’s main constraints are time and budget.

Image Source: hgtv.com

In each episode, Candice takes you on a journey in ‘solving her clientele’s interior design and décor dilemmas’. Her aesthetically challenged clients relinquish all artistic control to Olson’s infinite creativity and vision. Each project begins with structural and layout sketches and then proceeds with Olson exploring paint colours; assessing tile, carpet, floor and cabinetry samples; selecting appliances as well as fabric swatches (where patterns and textures are often used as jumping off points for the overall design concept).  The following stage generally involves Candice embarking on shopping expeditions for furniture, accent pieces and accessories, at which point I start to salivate.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Throughout the process, Candice manages to entertain her team and viewers alike with her endearing charm, positive energy and self deprecating sense of humour, as you witness the highs and lows of interior renovation. What transpires is a radical home facelift and concludes with before and after shots of the final design transformation. Olson’s signature look is combining functionality with a timeless elegance, mixed with a luxurious, sumptuous theme that reflects the owner’s personality and practical needs. The end result elicits an array of reactions from clients ranging from amazement, elation to ‘occasional tears of joy’.

Image Source: hgtv.com

Behind the scenes, Candice is a savvy business woman. In addition to her uber-popular TV shows, and a widely syndicated newspaper column, Olson also set up her own residential and commercial design practice, Candice Olson Design. Furthermore, she designs a swath of home products under the umbrella of the Candice Olson Collection and is the author of several books in which she shares design secrets and offers up smart tips and practical advice to help readers plan and execute successful room makeovers.

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With each new series of Divine Design or Candice Tells All, my home décor ‘to do’ list expands with new terms such as ikat, paisleys, damask, wainscoting, chair rails, cornices, trims, sectionals, focal points etc – enough to make my better half shake his head side to side and roll his eyes in despair at my futile attempts at being anointed the Queen of Renovations. One can only hope and dream of a little Divine Intervention at jazzing up the humble abode from Candice herself, with her unique touch of style and creative magic.