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Lifestyle

My Hawaii travel guide

28th January, 2019
The gorgeous Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki

At the end of last year we headed to Hawaii for a family holiday and it was such a great getaway for many reasons. It was obviously great to be able to spend time with my family and parents but there was so much to see and do that we never ran short of activities and as such it made having the kids in tow so much easier. The trip to get there was also relatively straightforward in that we weren’t dealing with changing planes or gruelling long haul flights so by the time we arrived we were ready to hit the ground running and make the most of our time there. If you’re planning to head over there yourself here are my favourite places to stay, eat and shop.

Where to stay

We stayed in Waikiki in Oahu and there are hotels aplenty to choose from. We ended up staying at the Halekulani which was great. It’s in a convenient location, has easy access to the beach and the rooms and property are stunning.

You’re always never far from a water view in Waikiki

We also spent a few days at the Aulani Resort for the kids. It’s a Disney Resort & Spa so the girls absolutely loved it. There are characters like Mickey, Minnie and Moana walking around and whilst there are no rides there are plenty of pools and waterslides to keep little ones occupied. If you’re considering it, I’d recommend staying around 2-3 days.

With my gorgeous family and Mickey at the Aulani Resort
Where to eat and drink

Even if you don’t stay at the Halekulani make a point of going to House Without A Key, which is an outdoor bar/restaurant on site. It’s a great vantage point to watch the sunset with live entertainment such as Hawaiian music and traditional dance. We did this every evening as it was a good spot to enjoy a drink and it’s kid-friendly too. Also try the Sunday buffet at Orchids which is also located at the Halekulani. It’s a good place to enjoy the water views and the food’s top notch. Be sure to book a table next to the grass so the kids can play.

Getting ready to head out with the girls

Treat the kids one morning to the Disney Character Breakfast at the Aulani Resort. The Disney characters come out and sing around the tables so it will keep them entertained whilst you enjoy breakfast and a cup of coffee. ‘Ama’Ama which is also on site is also a nice restaurant option if you do decide to stay at the resort.

Located next door to the Aulani Resort is the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina and they’ve got a great selection of restaurants. The fish restaurant Mina’s Fish House is good for seafood lovers but if you’re in the mood to try local Hawaiian fare try La Hiki Kitchen.

Hawaii is definitely a great family-friendly holiday

For a casual drink check out Tommy Bahamas for Happy Hour or the Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Hawaiian. If you’re in Hawaii you definitely have to have at least one mai tai!

For a taste of home, head to Bills. We had brunch there nearly every day and it has the best coffee on the island. The atmosphere is really relaxed and the food is fantastic.

Senia was my favourite restaurant experience in Waikiki. It’s a 15 minute cab ride downtown so it’s a bit further out but the food was amazing and well worth the trip. There’s an a la carte menu but if you’re in the mood to indulge check out the degustation.

For a red meat fix, head to HY’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Bar. It’s had an old school feel with the waiters in tuxedos and the food is great. They also have live music on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday which is worth checking out.

Nobu is always a good spot for Japanese and it definitely didn’t disappoint. The restaurant has a great vibe and we definitely left with happy tummies.

Alan Wong’s is the spot to head for a taste of regional Hawaiian cuisine. The ingredients are sourced locally so everything is really tasty and fresh.

Sun, sand and relaxation – what more could you want?
Where to shop

Ala Moana Center is the place to head for a retail fix. It’s an outdoor style mall with everything from high end designers like Chanel and Gucci to US department stores like Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Neiman Marcus.

Along the main strip of Waikiki is Kalakaua Avenue and there’s store after store to check out including Tiffany & Co, Miu Miu and Saint Laurent. You’ll also find chain stores like Forever 21, Sephora and H&M so there’s a good mix to be found.

The Waikele Premium Outlets are a 30-minute drive from Honolulu and you can drive there or catch the bus, a taxi or book a seat on the shuttle bus. They have a range of outlet stores from different brands including Calvin Klein, Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren.

Have you been to Hawaii? What are some of your fave spots?

Fashion

My week on Instagram

20th January, 2019

The new year is well and truly in full swing now. This week I was lucky enough to attend a launch party for the Australian Open at Melbourne’s Crown Casino whilst getting to spend some time catching up with good friends like fellow blogger, Nadia Fairfax.

I was also able to channel one of the most iconic movie characters of all time, by embracing Emily Blunt’s polished, practically perfect wardrobe in Mary Poppins Returns (if you haven’t seen it yet, definitely do).

And in the midst of it all I managed to make the most of the Sydney sunshine by taking a quick dip.

Wishing you all a great week ahead!

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Summer days ☀️

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Fashion

My week on Instagram

6th January, 2019

Welcome to the week that was. I like to hit pause on everything and just relax and make the most of time with my family at this time of year not surprisingly my Instagram account has been a little quiet.

I think the below photos sum up the last week or so though—just chilling out and enjoying time with my great loves. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things though and seeing what exciting things 2019 has in store. I hope the new year is treating you all well!

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Merry Christmas ❤️

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Sydney Harbour ❤️ #sydney

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Fashion, Lifestyle

What I pack for a day at the beach

3rd January, 2019

I can be found at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach most days in summer and it’s one of my favourite ways to spend a day out with my family. I always make sure that I come to the beach well stocked and prepared for the day ahead. Here’s what I often take with me…

A big tote

I always carry a nice roomy tote to the beach as it’s perfect for throwing everyone’s things in it. There are so many gorgeous beach bags out now whether it’s made of canvas or straw so shop around and find one that perfectly suits your lifestyle.

Beach towel

The bigger the better! I like a nice, big fluffy beach towel. I always need to be able to spread out my things and I like being able to lay down without having my feet hanging off into the sand so space is a necessity.

Sunglasses

I usually opt for a pair that has larger lenses so I can be guaranteed extra coverage throughout the day. I’m quite militant about wearing sunglasses to protect my eyes in summer so I always invest in the best quality I can.

Sunscreen

Believe it or not I bring three different kinds! One for the body, one specifically for the face and a kids’ sunscreen for the girls.

Lipgloss with SPF

I like a multitasking lip gloss with a built in SPF. The sun can be quite dehydrating so I like one that I can use as a moisturiser but can protect me at the same time.

A wide brimmed hat

I am all about protecting my face from the sun’s rays so I definitely always pack a wide brimmed hat in my beach tote. A beautiful straw hat is my go-to.

Plain one piece or bikini

My swimsuits tend to be in plain block colours a lot of the time as I’m not really into wearing too many prints. I go for navy as it’s classic but I’ve also got swimmers in black, khaki and cream.

Waterproof watch

I’m a watch girl so I always wear a watch to the beach. The only mandatory is that it be waterproof. There are so many great, inexpensive watches out there now so I’ve found some great options that will survive a day in the sun.

Sandals

I like to take a pair of sandals that I can slip on and off quite easily. I hate having to deal with multiple straps when I know I’ll have to be in and out of them the whole day.

Sarong

I always bring a cover up of some sort so I can pop it on really quickly if I need to grab lunch or a drink for the girls. I like anything lightweight (linen is good!), airy and really uncomplicated – I just need to be able to take it on and off quite easily.

What are some of your beach essentials?

 

 

Lifestyle

How to talk to anyone

29th December, 2018

My job often requires attendance at a lot of different functions – some will be full of people that I know, others I won’t know anyone at all which is why I’ve learnt how to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. And whether it’s a networking event, a dinner party or a wedding where you’re flying solo there are some tricks that I’ve learnt that will have you chatting up a storm with virtually anyone.

Make the first move

It can be daunting walking into a room and realising there are no familiar faces. And whilst it’s tempting to hide away in the corner and scroll through your phone, it does pay to introduce yourself to at least one person. Often this introduction will lead to meeting another person and so forth. Set yourself the challenge of saying hello to at least one person. My general fallback line is to introduce myself then explain my connection to the person or event and ask them in turn about what brings them to the event.

Remember someone’s name

Always make a point of remembering someone’s name and using it in conversation. This is courteous, respectful and is a way of recognising the person you’re talking to and will generally result in someone being more likely to open up to you. If you have trouble with remembering names try and associate their name with someone you already know – this is one of my tricks!

Pay attention

My Date with Kate columns often require me to sit down for a meal with a complete stranger for over two hours and build a rapport. To do this it’s important to genuinely pay attention to what the person is saying (resist the temptation to think of the question you’re going to ask next). By giving them your full attention you’ll often set the person at ease which will make them more comfortable to chat. Plus you’ll be able to pick up on a topic you may have in common and where to steer the conversation.

Ask questions

There’s a fine line between asking questions out of general interest and interrogating someone! Ask questions about their work, what brought them to the event or what they did on the weekend but make sure to steer clear of touchy subjects such as religion or politics.

Watch your body language

Seeming closed off and uninterested in chatting will result in conversation fizzling out. Also actions like folding your arms or looking around as if trying to find someone else to talk to is a guaranteed conversation killer. When I’m talking to someone I try and remain open with my responses, smile a lot, and remain present. Generally these simple things will mean someone will is more likely to want to chat to you in return.

Lifestyle

My Christmas entertaining tips

24th December, 2018

I try and make this time of year as stress free as possible so my summer entertaining usually involves a lot of BBQs, really easy salads, fresh fruit and cheese platters. I’d rather be spending time with my nearest and dearest than hanging out in the kitchen so as much as possible I do lots of my prep beforehand or just pick really simple things to make. Here’s what I do when it comes to managing festive gatherings….

Stock the fridge

As I said I am a very casual entertainer so I always make sure to have the fridge stocked up with fresh ingredients. I always do a big online shop to get my supplies in order. I usually go on the Harris Farm website and order all my fruit and veg, cheeses and everything I need before the weekend so it’s always on hand in case I unexpectedly have people pop in. I think great produce is always key so you can make really simple, easy things that will still be a hit with guests.

Prep platters

I’m all about a great platter as I think it’s a great shortcut when you’re busy or low on time. Whether it’s pastries or fruit platters in the morning or it’s prosciutto and cheeses or ham for lunch they’re great for being able to lay on a spread quickly.

Whenever I have people over I always have a selection of cheeses, various types of dips and crackers ready to go as I like to make sure people are fed as soon as they walk through the door. And you never know when people are just going to pop in. We live close to the beach so we get lots of people dropping by all the time and platters are something you can put together really quickly if you have everything in the fridge (this is why the first step is so important!).

Take advantage of Christmas hampers

One of my little tricks is to use the contents of Christmas hampers whenever I’m entertaining. They’re stocked with such a variety of different condiments or nibblies that it’s great for putting together an interesting platter of goodies that are just slightly more special in nature.

Have drinks on hand

As it’s so hot I like having drinks that are really refreshing. I’ll stock up on bottles of champagne, beer for the boys or have the ingredients for a quick cocktail or mocktail ready to go such as peach juice in case I want to make a peach bellini. Aperol spritzes and mojitos are also a favourite during summer as they’re so refreshing. I always make sure to have some sparkling water in the fridge to serve to guests. I think overall the most crucial thing to remember is to keep everything as simple as possible so you can get onto more important things, and that’s spending time with friends and family.

What are some of your favourite Christmas entertaining tips?

Beauty, Fashion, Lifestyle

My top packing tips and what I always carry with me when I travel

15th December, 2018

I’ve been lucky enough to go on a few trips this year and each time I try and streamline my packing even more. When I travel I try and keep my luggage as light as possible. I stick to one bag so I have to be really strategic in what I pack and how I pack so I can take all my essentials with me without having to deal with excess baggage. It’s about being practical and also a bit ruthless when deciding what to cull and keep as I want to know that I’ll be able to wear all the pieces I take and not have any that are just taking up unnecessary space.

So here are my golden rules for holiday packing…

Mix and match

It’s all about bringing separates and mixing and matching that way I can take a few items and just rework them for different looks. For example I’ll take a leather skirt which I can then wear with a nice black evening top and it’s fine to go out for night or I can wear it with a white t-shirt and sandals, sneakers or slides and I can wear it throughout the day. It’s all about finding items that are versatile.

Take one versatile LBD

I always take a little black dress because it can be worn with a pair of great flats but can be dressed up in the evening with a pair of heels so it has versatility. Bringing items that are versatile and can be worn more than one way is key to avoiding overpacking too many things.

Limit the number of shoes you take

As for shoes, I pack a pair of sneakers which I can wear while sightseeing and I also take one or two statement heels that can be mixed and matched with different outfits. If you’re going on a tropical holiday obviously  a great pair of sandals is a must.

Pack flat

When I’m packing I lay everything flat as I find it takes up less room. And I stick to only one bag. This is especially true when I’m travelling with the kids and they end up having to take so many things with them—I want to take the least amount with me as possible to make it easier.

Minimise beauty products

As far as beauty goes I definitely always take a great sunscreen, a bronzer, cleanser, a good lip balm, mascara, and makeup remover. And I go with nude nails so I don’t have to keep worrying about them while I’m away.

Always take spare clothes

Having lost my luggage too many times to count I take a change of clothes in case my luggage gets lost and I take items that I can’t lose in my carry-on bag. I also always take my makeup with me just in case.

Go for comfort

Comfort is key on the plane and my fave plane outfit is skinny leg jeans, a pair of loafers or sneakers, a loose v-neck white tee and a leather jacket and my favourite Louis Vuitton wrap scarf in case it gets cold. Plus I always take a nice roomy tote carry all my essentials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lifestyle, Shop

How to be a great gift giver

11th December, 2018

This time of year can be quite challenging in that coming up with present ideas for friends and family all at the same time can be quite an arduous task. Thinking of the ideal gift for one person is tough let alone a lengthy list of loved ones. We all want to select a present that the recipient will actually really love and enjoy but it will involve being a little strategic. So how can you become great at choosing gifts for others? Here are some tips to remember.

Don’t shop at the last minute

Tempting as it may be to leave everything to Christmas Eve it’s probably not going to result in finding great presents for everyone. It could also end up quite an expensive retail excursion as you start to panic that time is running out and just end up buying whatever gift you think will do. The best thing to do is start as early as you can.

Consider what they buy for themselves

What someone chooses to spend their own money on is a great indication of what they’re into and thus a great insight into what kind of gift they’d appreciate. Pay attention to the things they’re passionate about and that should point you in the right direction.

Check out their social media channels

Generally people post on their social channels the things that they’re into so it’s often a great clue provider for the ideal gift. Whether they’re constantly posting about books they’ve read, or pictures of dishes they’ve cooked or restaurants they’ve eaten at, what people reveal about themselves online is often a good insight into the things they love.

Ask around

Usually people will reveal to those closet to them what they’ve been wanting or needing so if you can, hit that inner circle up for some clues. A quick enquiry will often yield plenty of ideas and will avoid you doubling up on something they’ve already got.

Gift an experience

Often experiences are a lovely choice for a Christmas gift. Think of what the person likes doing in their spare time and try and gift them an experience that ties into it. If for example your bestie’s been going through a crazy home renovation, consider giving them a massage to ease stress. If your dad loves to cook, why not give him a voucher to a cooking class of a type of cuisine he really likes.

Pay attention

Take a moment to really think about the person you’re buying a gift for. Do they always chat about their fave bands? Have they spoken about how much they’d really like to learn to garden? These are little clues that can often provide great insight into what will make for the perfect gift for them.

 

Lifestyle

My fave places to hang out in summer

8th December, 2018

One of my fave haunts is The Boat House at Balmoral Beach

Summer is the perfect time to get out and about as the weather is so great and everyone is in the mood to socialise. I have a list of regular haunts in my local area in Sydney but also have some die hard faves that I will make a special trip to visit. Here’s where you’re likely to find me…

Balmoral Beach

This is the number one place you will find me in summer as it’s so close to where I live. It’s my favourite beach as it’s ideal for kids as there are no waves. I take the girls here all the time and we love spending a day out there as a family.

The Boat House

I love going out for breakfast and this spot is located in Balmoral Beach and is right next to the water. The food and coffee is amazing. Be warned though: lunchtimes are ridiculously busy, especially if the weather is great. The menu is full of great options that I always find it hard to choose what to order.

Bathers’ Pavilion

We’ll sometimes go to Bathers’ for breakfast or to grab an early family dinner. It’s got great views and has a relaxed vibe that’s just perfect for summer.

Bistro Moncur

I am a fan of the original Bistro Moncur in Sydney’s Woollahra so I was pleased when they opened up a second location in Mosman. The menu is French meets modern Australian so there’s everything from sirloin with buttery Café de Paris sauce to pan friend barramundi fillet. Amazing.

Fratelli Paradiso

I love Italian food so can’t go past this restaurant in Potts Point. It’s cosy, the food is super hearty and is perfect when I just want to experience a touch of Italy.

Apollo

Also located in Potts Point, Apollo serves up modern Greek food that’s unbelievably delicious. The main dining room is light and airy is one of my fave spots for a long, relaxing lunch.

Bondi Icebergs

When the weather is warm Bondi Icebergs is a definitely must. The view can’t be beat and the vibe perfectly encapsulates the special atmosphere during an Aussie summer.

What are some of your favourite summer haunts?

 

Fashion, Lifestyle

Kicking off Spring Racing Carnival

17th October, 2018

Last night I hosted a special dinner at the gorgeous Nobu restaurant at the Crown Resort in Melbourne to celebrate the launch of the Spring Racing Carnival. This is one of my favourite times of the year so I was thrilled to be able to kick it off in such a fun way.

I flew down to Melbourne early in the day and spent the rest of the afternoon prepping and getting ready at my hotel (not a hard ask considering the impressive rooms at the Crown Melbourne). My good friend Nadia Fairfax was also attending the dinner and staying at the hotel so we had a great time getting ready together for the event. My outfit for the evening was classic meets daring, comprising of a crisp white shirt, worked back with a Maticevski skirt that can only be described as a wearable piece of art and Off White heels.

Nobu is one of my favourite restaurants in Melbourne so it was exciting to be hosting a dinner there. It was a small event — I’d invited just 30 people, a mixture of friends, family and a few media people. This was great as it gave me the opportunity to catch up with everyone before the craziness of spring racing commences.

As you would expect the food we had was incredible. We were served a Japanese inspired menu of three courses and dessert featuring some truly delicious sushi and sashimi paired with amazing wine. I was in heaven and judging from my guests’ reactions, they were too.

Having my friends and family there, including mum and dad, made the night even better. We had a thoroughly great evening and it has made me more excited to throw myself into spring racing season.

Check out a few snaps of the evening below.

With my parents

Rebecca Vallance-Gasan and Elliot Garnaut

Lindy Rama-Ellis and husband, Adam Ellis

Melissa Singer and Brooke Meredith

Suzy Eskander and Sally Crinis

Nadia Fairfax

Actor Tim Kano and Mavournee Hazel

With Nadia Fairfax and Elliot Garnaut

The chic table setting

Our delicious menu for the evening

One of the amazing dishes of the evening

Beautiful florals set the scene

My guests relaxing and having a great time

Photography: Carly Ravenhall