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Lifestyle

My tips for taking good holiday pics

24th August, 2019
Mazzarò beach.

Mazzarò Beach in Taormina

When I am on a trip I always take a million photos and it’s one of my favourite things to do while I’m on holiday. It’s always a nice souvenir of the trip and now with a family, I love being able to capture all the special moments so we can look back on it in the years to come. So, what are my rules when it comes to taking good holiday snaps? Here’s what I do to ensure every image is Insta-worthy…

Taking Sophia to the church where we were married.

Consider your lighting

Lighting is the one thing that can take an image from good to great. I always try and use natural light when I’m taking pictures. I find this always results in the best quality photos and is the most flattering.

Mazzarò beach.

Nature is always an easy photo subject

When you’re on holiday you’ll often encounter lots of new places so your surroundings often make the best photo subjects. Think landscapes, beautiful vistas, blue skies, crystal clear water… Experiment with taking panoramic shots and close ups to really capture the scenery. Also play with different angles as sometimes you may be able to capture a really interesting shot by simply changing your point of view.

High Tea at Claridge's.

It’s all in the detail

I always love taking pictures of the details in anything I see. I will snap pics of interesting architecture but I’ll also focus on things like the beautiful tiles on the floor or a nice piece of antique furniture to really capture the moment. Sometimes it’s often the details that paint the clearest picture of a location.

Cruising in culottes.

Fashion vignettes

I love throwing fashion photos into the mix as I find when I’m on holidays I will tend to experiment a bit more with what I’m wearing whether it’s vibrant colours or exotic patterns and fabrics. Also sometimes it’s fun to take pics of the little trinkets I might pick up along the way such as a bracelet or ring to give a broader snapshot of my travels.

Bam Bar - best granita's in town!

Food, glorious food!

Let’s face it, being able to enjoy delicious food is often one of the best things about being on holiday. There’s a reason why food pictures are often one of the most popular images people post on Instagram. Take a picture of your surroundings, what’s on your plate, the people you’re with, often the experience of dining out makes one of the most interesting subjects you can photograph while on a trip.

Feeding the fish in Taormina's public gardens.

Be candid

The best photos often arise when people are just being themselves. I love taking candid snapshots of my family as it often has the best energy. People laughing, admiring their surroundings or simply looking thoughtful are a nice way to document moments without making it feel forced.

Fashion

My fave way to start a trip

15th August, 2019

There’s nothing like the feeling of going overseas and I’m of the frame of mind that there’s no harm starting that holiday feeling right on home soil. During a recent trip to New Zealand for a friend’s birthday, Luke and I decided head to Sydney Airport early. Not only do I hate the feeling of rushing to catch a flight but as it was a weekend away without the kids, we were in the mood to take our time at the airport, enjoy the new facilities and kick start our getaway a little ahead of schedule!

One of the big reasons we arrived at the airport early was that I wanted to sneak in a bit of window shopping beforehand. There are several designer stores to check out at the international terminal including Gucci, Fendi, Burberry and Ferragamo so I was able to compile a mental wish list before I’d even boarded our flight.

Along with the great boutiques, the beauty offering at the airpot is also top notch so I always stock up on any products I’m running low on. This time around though I made a point of popping into the La Praire pop-up beauty suite for a quick hand and arm massage. So luxe! If I had a little extra time I would have definitely booked myself in for an express facial. It’s a great way to prep the skin before boarding a plane, given flying can be so dehydrating. If you find yourself at the airport in the next few weeks definitely consider doing it.

There are several new restaurants, cafes and bars now at Sydney Airport so we were spoilt for choice. And as we were sans kids, we decided to enjoy a pre-flight drink at Heineken House. It was a great way to relax and get ourselves ready for a fun weekend ahead.

In the past I’ve always just transited through the airport, perhaps stopping to pick up a magazine or snack along the way. However with all that’s on offer now, whenever I fly these days, whether it’s by myself, with Luke or as a family, I think it’s worth arriving early for. Being able to enjoy the new amenities (especially squeezing in a spot of shopping) is a fun way to begin a holiday and something that definitely makes the whole travel experience all the better.

Strolling through beauty heaven
At the La Prairie pop-up beauty suite
Enjoying a luxurious hand massage pre-boarding
Hitting peak relaxation mode and we hadn’t even taken off yet!
Enjoying a drink pre-flight
Cheers! Hanging out at the Heineken House with Luke.

This post was produced in collaboration with Sydney airport

Lifestyle & Social

Grace’s 3rd Birthday Unicorn Party

12th August, 2019

Ever since Sophia had her fifth birthday Grace has been so badly wanting her own party. So when her 3rd birthday finally rolled around we got to planning her unicorn themed celebration!

We decided to host it at my parents’ farm again as there’s plenty of space to run around and there’s loads of ways to keep kids entertained. We had pony rides for the kids and a jumping castle and a birthday fairy so we ensured that Grace’s friends were always occupied with different activities. I think that’s always the key to hosting any kids’ party—plenty of entertainment!

We incorporated lots of colour throughout the day in keeping with the unicorn theme. We had colourful cupcakes, a unicorn cake with sprinkles and balloons and bunting in different colours. I think as with most birthday parties though, the cake (complete with unicorn topper) stole the show.

When it comes to food we always like to keep it simple. We had a sausage sizzle lunch and cheese and fruit platters for the kids and adults. There were also a few treats for the little ones like fairy bread and some lollies.

It was a lovely family day and it was nice for Grace to be able to spend it with so many of her friends. It’s safe to say the unicorn theme was a raging success and Grace had a thoroughly magical day.

The suppliers we used:

Photography: Amanda Wood

Cupcakes: My Little Cupcake

Cake: Birthday Fairy

Entertainment: Birthday Fairy

Balloons: Highlands Helium Balloons

Jumping Castle: Birthday Fairy

Lifestyle

How to style a bedroom that will grow with your child

27th July, 2019

Styling a beautiful, cosy nursery is often one of the things expecting parents love to do in preparation for the arrival of their little one. However as most mums and dads can attest babies grow very quickly into toddlers then school aged kids and in turn their once perfect space can become too young and need updating frequently. Designing a new room each time your child gets older can become a costly experience so it pays to instead start from the very beginning and create a space that can easily grow with him/her. With the help of Kristy Withers, founder of children’s furniture retailer Incy Interiors and Magdalene Liacopoulos, interiors stylist and founder of The Bebe Style Co, here’s how to design the perfect kids bedroom that will adapt with age…

Gather all your visual references for a kids bedroom

“The first step when designing a kids room is pulling together all your inspiration images and visual references of furniture and decorator pieces, as this will reveal the style and colour combinations you are drawn to,” says Magadalene. It is during this process that Magdalene says that it’s important to consider trends versus classic design, what is actually achievable in the space, and what will grow with your child and your family.

Invest in key features like furniture

The furniture in your child’s room should be able to grow with them so think beyond the baby stage and look for pieces that can grow with your little one. Kristy says, “it’s important to select versatile pieces of furniture that will adapt to each stage of development, such as Incy Interiors’ Teeny cots which features rounded corners and sturdy, removable sculptured side rails that can be transformed into a ‘big bed’ as baby grows.”

To avoid a cluttered space Magdalene says storage is always a sound investment. “Pick a set of drawers that can be used as a change table by adding a topper. Also think about whether these drawers can work in another area of the home if they need to be relocated down the track.”

Also don’t forget about the lighting in your child’s room. Magdalene says it’s important to be able to control lighting (nap time is one such occasion) so “splurging on the right window coverings for your space will be money well spent.”

Image: Incy Interiors

 

Avoid themes

A jungle-themed nursery might be a cute idea for the first few months but it has a limited shelf life. “Having a ‘themed’ kids bedroom will date quickly so select pieces that with a little rearrangement could easily transition onto the next phase in your child’s life,” says Magdalene. “For example opt for a simple wall shelf (my favourite are by H and G Designs) over a Batman-themed one, and create a ‘shelfie’ where items are interchangeable as your child’s tastes evolve.”

Keep it neutral

A room that will grow with your child should essentially be a blank canvas that can be updated with a few key components so Kristy says a neutral colour palette is advisable as “you can subtly or dramatically change the room by adding accessories like throws and pillows which will completely change the dynamic of the space.”

Most importantly a kids bedroom should be a conducive space for rest. Both Magdalene and Kristy agree that a clean, streamlined space is preferable to filling a room with lots of decorative elements or working with bold, bright colours or feature walls to avoid overstimulating children and provide them with a calm space to sleep.

Choose pieces that have a long lasting purpose

Your child will likely have an extensive book collection as he/she grows up so Magdalene says a set of bookshelves is something that can easily work in a space no matter how old they get. She suggests taking it up a notch and creating a dedicate reading nook. “By adding a seat or floor cushion (Australian brand Little Connoisseur  have a cute range of floor cushions) it will be a comfy spot for storytime before bed, and as your child grows, a space where he or she can have their own quiet time.”

Magdalene say other elements that can work as your child gets older are things like baskets which are great for housing everything from nappies and toys to dirty laundry and will transition easily through the infant to toddler phase. Art prints (especially illustrations) are also an inexpensive way to decorate and are a classic and timeless addition to any bedroom.

Think beyond the room

It may be hard to imagine now but further down the track your child will want to decorate their own space so it’s important that things like furniture are able to be rehoused elsewhere in the home. Kristy highlights the new Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker [below] as a great example of a piece that can be repurposed. “[It] features a clean silhouette and squared sofa shape that is a drastic departure from the traditional wingback nursing chair commonly associated with nursery rooms,” she says. “Available in blush or navy it features tapered legs in shiny rose gold to help create a modern day nursing chair with a design sophistication that will eventually grow up and out of the baby’s room to join you in the lounge.”

Incy x Hobbe Blush Rocker (RRP is $1,299).

 

 

 

Fashion

On a budget…activewear

24th July, 2019

When it comes to exercise, sometimes just having a cute workout look can help motivate you to go to that gym class or pound the pavement and go for that run. And whilst nice exercise gear is great, there’s no doubt that sometimes activewear can end up costing a fortune once you start adding up everything from leggings to a sports bra and shoes. So if you’re not a Khloe Kardashian with enough cash to spare that you have your very own closet just for your sneakers, how can you still look great without spending a fortune? Here are some great ways to do it.

Stock up at sale time

As with most things in our wardrobes, sale time is probably the best time to replenish any items as you’ll often save a whole lot given most things are discounted. So it’s the ideal time to snap up any workout gear you might need. Hit the sale section of your fave sites for activewear and pay a visit in store to see what might be sitting on the sale racks. You should also take advantage of deals that offer an extra discount on sale items or spend and save deals where the more you buy the bigger the reduction.

Shop the chain stores

You don’t always have to buy activewear from an activewear brand. These days chain stores such as H&M, Seed and Cotton On, and even Target and K-Mart are now doing their own exercise gear from leggings to tees and socks, and the quality is arguably as good as what you’ll find from more expensive brands.

Shop the clearance section

Hit up your fave activewear brand’s clearance section online. For example Lululemon have a ‘We Made Too Much’ section on their site which sells surplus stock at heavily discounted prices. You’ll be able to snap up pieces from a top brand but with a smaller price tag.

Spend up but only on certain things

In an ideal world you’d have a matching top to toe workout look every time you hit the gym but your bank account may not agree. One way to get around this is to invest in the truly important things such as a sports bra which is crucial for giving support during a training session and quality sneakers which you’ll need if you’re regularly exercising. When it comes to other things such as tees, socks and even leggings however, you can afford to go with the cheaper option which can help extend your activewear dollars further.

Lifestyle, Lifestyle & Social

An easy family beach getaway that you don’t have to leave Australia for

11th July, 2019
Going on a walk around the resort with Sophia and Grace

As most parents will attest, the words ‘holiday’, ‘easy’ and ‘kids’ don’t always go hand in hand. From the mammoth packing challenge ahead of you to travelling to your destination and finding enough family-friendly things to do, there’s a little more effort involved compared to just going on holiday sans little ones. So when you find a place that’s ideal for a getaway with kids it’s your public duty to let parents everywhere know…and that’s exactly what I’m doing! We recently spent some time at the newly renovated Daydream Island and it was such a great vacation with kids and here’s why.

1. It’s easy to get to

I always take travel logistics into consideration whenever we’re going on a family holiday and Daydream Island definitely ticked that box. You can fly straight into Hamilton Island and then get a 30-minute ferry ride to Daydream Island.

2. There’s lots of entertainment for kids

A holiday with children requires loads of entertainment so we were quite pleased with the facilities available. There were several pools for the girls to play in plus we could also go to the beach. Not only that they had an aquarium where kids can play with sea creatures and a living reef where you could watch the stingrays and baby sharks go past as you ate breakfast. Also there’s a marine biologist on site who the kids could direct all their questions to about the animals. We also did an additional activity where Sophia and Grace were able to feed the baby stingrays. And there’s also a great kids’ club on site which is ideal for days of inclement weather or you just want to spend a few hours doing other activities like water sports or relaxing by the pool and reading a book.

Sophia and I walking around the resort
Sophia and Luke at breakfast

3. Wildlife aplenty

My kids are five and three and just love animals so they were excited that as soon as we got to the island there was a wallaby just hanging out! Not only that, it wasn’t uncommon to see a kangaroo hopping past as you walked to breakfast, not to mention all the sea creatures in the aquarium and the living reef.

4. You can easily island hop

It’s really easy to check out the neighbouring islands. Hamilton Island is close by if you want to check it out. We decided to go on a helicopter ride to beautiful Whitehaven Beach and were able to have a picnic there with the kids.

With the girls on Whitehaven Beach
Seeing the sights in the air

5. The climate’s great

It was 25 degrees in the middle of winter when we were there so you can expect the temperature to be alright most of the year. If you wait till later in the year however, I imagine the weather will be gorgeous and balmy and perfect beach temperatures.

6. A range of activities for adults

It’s not just about the kids! One day we popped the girls into kids’ club and decided to go on a jet skiing tour of the nearby islands. The girls were able to enjoy themselves and Luke and I were able to take a little break which was a win-win situation for everyone when you’re on a family holiday.

Happy parents!
Fashion, Shop, What I Wore

What I Wore: Daydream Island Launch

25th June, 2019

Attending the official opening of Daydream Island called for something fun, vibrant and bright! Enter this amazing co-ord set by Toni Maticevski. The gorgeous chartreuse shade was the ideal option for such an event as not only was it a nod to the sunshine and tropical weather of the location but it’s the perfect punchy colour that’s just made for party dressing. I’ve worn designs by Maticevski before and the one thing I love about them is that everything is guaranteed to have a knock out feature. In this instance the cascading ruffles on the skirt and the asymmetrical statement sleeve on the crop top.

For a look that’s already so bold I didn’t really need to go overboard with accessories. I opted for a simple, minimalist nude heels and a white statement clutch with embellishment for a bit of fun. As I was wearing my hair in a side swept style with accompanying florals, it was the perfect opportunity to show off some great statement baubles. These pearl drop earrings by Reliquia were just the thing and so perfect for the event.

Arriving at the event with Luke
Myself with Lincoln Lewis and Phoebe Burgess
With Phoebe Burgess
Enjoying the evening with Luke

Shop the Look:

Top: Flaunt Sleeve Bodice in Chartreuse Yellow, Maticevski

Skirt: Basque Ruffle Skirt in Chartreuse Yellow, Maticevski

Shoes: Kosumi Milk Denver Heels, Tony Bianco

Earrings: Cocoon Earrings, Reliquia Jewellery

Fashion

My week on Instagram

23rd June, 2019

Escaping the cold Sydney weather to Daydream Island has been such a great trip for Luke, Sophia, Grace and I. The girls have absolutely loved exploring the resort and everything has been so family-friendly too. Checking out the Living Reef where the girls were able to feed the stingrays was a definite highlight for the kids and so educational too.

If you’re looking for a little beauty inspo, don’t forget to check out my post sharing all my looks from Fashion Week. One of my fave makeup artists Michael Brown did all my makeup for the week and has shared how he achieved each look and what products he used.

Hope you all have a great week!

https://www.instagram.com/p/ByuSbGXAJdr/
https://www.instagram.com/p/Byy18Xzp6Se/
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https://www.instagram.com/p/By41bfxpItO/
https://www.instagram.com/p/By6rqbUpdKo/
Lifestyle & Social, Shop

My favourite children’s cookbooks

13th June, 2019

Cooking is an activity that Sophia and Grace really enjoying helping with. We baked a cake for Sophia’s birthday a few weeks ago and with the girls helping out with little things like stirring the batter and cracking the eggs into the mixture. This is why I’m always out on the look out for cookbooks that contain recipes that are not only kid-friendly but something they can easily assist with. There are so many books available out there but these are the books I really rate for their easy to follow recipes that are tasty and guaranteed to please even the fussiest eater.

Mandy Sacher is a paediatric nutritionist and definitely knows a thing or two about recipes that are easy, but also jam packed with nutrients to satisfy any growing child’s needs. I love the fact that this turns familiar kid favourites such as muffins and mac and cheese and gives it a healthy spin. Also she’s got plenty of dishes that are ideal for fussy eaters and also perfect for meals for the entire family.

Firstly, if you don’t have a Thermomix, this book is also available in a version that uses conventional cooking. But if you do, this is a great one to have on hand. Louise Fulton Keats hails from one of Australia’s most well known cooking families with her grandmother Margaret Fulton a cooking icon. As a qualified childhood nutritionist, Louise has pulled together a collection of recipes that are perfect for both toddlers and babies, and also super easy, so busy parents will definitely find it a handy tome to refer to whenever they’re stuck for what to cook.

Donna Hay is without a doubt one of Australia’s most well known names in cooking and now she’s turned her hand at writing a cookbook that’s made entirely for kids. What I liked about this book is that all the recipes are easy to follow and also something that the girls and I can cook together. I’ve referred to a Donna Hay recipe or two in the past and this book delivers the same style she has adopted for her other cookbooks: accessible, appetising and with dishes that you’ll come back to time and again.

Fashion

A girls’ trip in Orange: what to eat, see and shop

6th June, 2019
Private tour and wine tasting at Ross Hill Wines

I always love a road trip out of Sydney as it’s a great way to relax and have a change of scenery. This time around I went on a girls’ getaway with my friends Nadia Fairfax and Yan Yan Chan. We were lucky enough to be invited by Destination NSW and the city of Orange to experience everything this lovely regional city has to offer. After a busy few days at Fashion Week last month we decided to take them up on their offer and head off for a few days of rest and relaxation and some girl time. Orange is around a 3.5 – 4 hour drive out of Sydney so we all jumped in my car and headed off on a Tuesday morning. We definitely could have used more than three days enjoying the city but here’s my list of the best places to see, eat and shop.

Where we stayed

We stayed at The White Place House which is a gorgeous heritage cottage within walking distance to the Orange CBD. It’s always good to be in such close proximity to the action so we loved how central our accommodation was. Whenever I rent a house when I’m travelling I always inevitably see something whether it be a beautiful trinket or a luxe blanket that I really want to take home, so I was rather pleased to find that The White Place House has a store which sold an edit of the furnishings in our cottage. I may have taken home a souvenir…

The dreamy interiors inside The White Place House
SO much interiors inspo

Where to eat

It was my first time to visit Orange and one of the great things I discovered is that they’ve got a thriving food scene so we were really spoilt for choice as far as restaurants and cafes went. We checked out Orange’s hot new restaurant Charred Kitchen & Bar which uses local produce and cooks everything up in a wood and charcoal oven (their wine list also won an award from Gourmet Traveller Wine) and Mr Lim Korean and Chinese Diner where we enjoyed a great dinner and even better cocktails. I always like to scope out a good cafe whenever I arrive in a new town and we particularly rated Groundstone which is a Scandi-inspired cafe with good food and the coffee was awesome. Also Byng Street Local Store is a fave of locals (always a good sign) and we enjoyed a lovely breakfast there one morning. If picturesque surrounds are your thing make a point of sitting down to lunch at Racine Restaurant—it overlooks a vineyard and view is to die for.

Dinner at Charred Kitchen & Bar
Drinks at Mr Lim
Breakfast at Groundstone

What to do

If you’re into wine Orange is definitely the place to be as they have so many incredible vineyards. We enjoyed a private wine tour and tasting at Ross Hill Wines which is always a nice way to while away a few hours. Also we paid a visit to Heifer Station Wines where we were able to ride bikes and prune the vines and also sit down for a relaxing cheese and charcuterie picnic. Another spot I’d highly recommend is Swinging Bridge Wine where we also enjoyed a wine tasting and Rowlee Wines where we were lucky enough to enjoy a private tour of the estate. And don’t miss grabbing a drink at Ferment in the Orange Wine Centre which is both a wine store and tasting room.

If you’re in the mood for something active do the bushwalk to Federal Falls. It’s a 4km loop track that starts and ends at Federal Falls campground. You’ll pass through lots of tranquil scenery but the enormous rock faces we saw were a definite highlight. Get up early then reward yourself with a delicious breakfast at one of the local cafes for all that exercise!

Picnic at Heifer Station Wines
Pre-dinner drinks at Ferment
Making friends at Rowlee Wines

Where to shop

The girls and I had to check out the local shopping scene of course, and stumbled across a few gems. The Sonic is a must if you’re after beautiful, unique homewares, they also have a good edit of clothing that’s worth checking out. We also popped into Angus Barrett Saddlery & Leather Goods which has some amazing hand-crafted leather goods such as belts and bags. Hawkes General Store was another spot we liked, they had a great selection of clothes, shoes and accessories and really cute kids’ clothes.

Nothing better than a girls’ trip

This post was produced in collaboration with Destination NSW and Orange360