Another big week on Instagram (and on my blog)! I shared a few snaps from Sophia’s 5th birthday on our family farm in the Southern Highlands – if you’ve got a Disney princess lover in your life check it out!
Also given it’s officially winter I’m sharing my new skincare routine. The cooler weather means I’m more focused on looking after my skin – nothing worse than a dry, damaged complexion so I’m employing a new beauty regimen.
It only seemed like yesterday that Sophia was born so it’s hard to imagine my little angel is now five! To mark such a milestone occasion we threw a party for Sophia at my parents’ farm in the Southern Highlands in NSW. We always like to host parties there as there’s plenty of room for the kids to play and run around.
This year the theme was pretty much what every five year old girl I know is into: Disney Princess! I love a themed party as it makes everything else easier from the cake to the entertainment as there’s a distinct theme to work around.
For food, we did a sausage sizzle which is something we’ve done a couple of times that works really well for feeding both adults and kids. That’s my number one piece of advice when throwing a kids’ party: don’t double cater. We also had a few fruit and cheese platters and sandwiches, whilst the kids had a few treats like popcorn and lollies. We had a Disney Princess cake by Sweet Mama Cupcakes and cupcakes by My Little Cupcake.
As far as entertainment went we had pony rides for the kids (always a crowd pleaser!) and a jumping castle. I also always hire a birthday fairy to help keep the kids entertained and in the one spot. The kids love it but as a parent it’s always good to know that all the little ones aren’t running off doing their own thing.
We had gorgeous weather for the party so it was a perfect day for Sophia to celebrate with all her friends. Until next year’s party!
When it comes to Mother’s Day I find that sometime it’s often nice to bypass the busy restaurants and cafes and host a great brunch or lunch at home. My mum and sister-in-law both live close by (my parents actually live in the same apartment building!) so it’s really great to get everyone together at home and put on a lovely spread. Whilst I love entertaining, I don’t like having a stressful time prepping for it so I’ve learned how to make the process a whole lot easier. Here are some of my tips.
I don’t like having to make a mad dash to the shops on the day of any event I’m hosting so I like to do things in advance. I’ll often buy all my groceries ahead of time so the fridge is stocked with everything I need so all I have to do is assemble everything on the day.
Go for a simple menu
I favour a simple menu whenever I’m entertaining. I’ve found that if I’m hosting a brunch or lunch that putting together platters of food is far easier than having to whip up an entire meal. I’ll often do a sweet and savoury platter, so lots of fresh fruit and a cheese platter. It’s also easy to serve up things like pastries or delicious gourmet sandwiches. I find you can still have a really abundant looking table this way but you’re not having to slave away in a kitchen for hours.
Ensure drinks are pre-chilled
It’s easy to forget to put drinks in the fridge on the day so I make a point of just popping everything in there the day before. I like to have both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks so I’ll always have juices and water and some beverages chilling. For any Mother’s Day event I always make a point of having something like rose, wine or champagne. I’ve worked with Sterling Vineyards in the past to throw a party and find their range to have some good options.
Dress the table
Part of any event is a really inviting table so I make sure that I put in the extra effort to dress it up. I’ll always have bunches of fresh flowers scattered on the table and also throughout the house. I also like to work with different types of flatware, dinnerware and glassware, mixing and matching pieces to work to a particular colour scheme or theme. I find having different platters of various shapes and sizes add an element of interest to the table. I think the aim is to always make the table look abundant so it’s inviting and pleasing to the eye.
Create a relaxing ambience
It’s always good to have a welcoming environment whenever you are entertaining and I’ve found a great way to do this is to have a beautiful scented candle burning. There’s just something about an inviting scent throughout the home that makes it a place people want to be. Also I like to have some relaxing music playing softly in the background to help lift the mood and add a fun vibe to the occasion. They’re easy and simple things to do but they can make all the difference.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner and it’s the perfect time to spoil your mum and show her just how much you appreciate her. In case you’re at a loss for what to get her this year, I’ve decided to share my favourite gift ideas — things I’ve got my own mum in the past and things I’ve received. These five things have always been a success on the gift front and I’m sure they’ll put a smile on your mum’s face too.
You’d be hard pressed to find a frazzled, busy mum who wouldn’t welcome being gifted a relaxing massage. I’ve always been really excited to be given a massage as a present as it means I can have a little time to myself. Plus not only is it usually something that most mums wouldn’t regularly purchase for themselves but it’s a luxe way for them to unwind.
Going to high tea is one of my favourite things to do, especially with my mum. I think it’s a lovely way to spend Mother’s Day and a great idea for a gift as you can enjoy a nice meal and spend some quality time together too.
I have a weakness for beautiful fragrances so I’m always thrilled to receive a new addition to my perfume wardrobe. The great thing about being gifted perfume is that every time you wear it you’re reminded of the person who gave it to you. I’m sure any mum would be happy to receive a lovely new scent this Mother’s Day.
I always enjoy looking for books to give to my mum and I myself love receiving new tomes to add to my collection. I’m a fan of biographies so I always gravitate towards that genre, and I’m particularly keen to read Michelle Obama’s book Becoming.
Adding a personal touch to a present is always a guaranteed way to ensure any gift is a success. I think creating a crafty gift is always lovely when you’ve got younger kids, and they really enjoy making it too. And given we all have so many memories stored on our phones I think anything photo related is always such a beautiful present, especially these days when it’s so easy to print or create something special with just a few clicks on your mobile.
Every year I’m faced with planning a birthday party for Sophia and Grace’s birthdays. And as any parent who has planned a birthday party of any sort can attest it can be a stressful experience trying to pull an event together for several children. To avoid stressing myself out every year I’ve managed to hone my party planning down into a simple strategy that will enable me to get a party off the ground without too much drama. Here are some of my tips.
Keep it simple
I’m not one to throw a huge party. Often the girls’ parties will include just close family and friends so it’s a manageable guest list. Also we will streamline things so we’re not dealing with a lot of decorating or multiple activities or an over the top menu that will require hours to be spent in the kitchen.
Have a theme
I’ve found theming a party to be a great way to provide some parameters to work within for the party. So I’ll often have a particular theme and then just base any decorations, activities and food around it. I’ve found this makes it easier as without it, there are just far too many options which can be stressful in itself.
Incorporate some entertainment
Having some form of entertainment for the kids is crucial for keeping them happy and occupied. In the past we’ve had games and I’ve hired a birthday fairy who does everything from singing songs to providing activities at the girls’ parties. If you can hire someone or have a friend or relative who you can rope in to entertain the kids, definitely do it as you don’t have to worry about what the kids are doing and where they’re running off to on the day.
I pre-prep everything and tend to buy all the groceries I’ll need to cater online. This way it just shows up on my doorstep and I don’t have to deal with the supermarket on top of everything else. I’ve also found that buying everything else online like party supplies and decorations is great as it means I don’t have to hit the shops and therefore it cuts down the time I have to spend on party prep.
Don’t get fussy with the menu
Try not to double cater if you can and just have one menu for both adults and kids. I avoid anything fancy and just stick to finger foods or we’ve had a BBQ in the past. This gets around having to spend a ton of time in the kitchen and more time just enjoying the party with your little one.
What are some of your tips for throwing a kids’ party?
Usually packing to go overseas can be quite frantic as I try and get my entire family packed up for a holiday but my recent work trip to Paris was a different story. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the global launch of the new Huawei P30 in the City of Light so it was the perfect excuse to pull together a few outfits incorporating some of my favourite new season pieces from my go-to Aussie designers.
Whenever I’m in Paris, everyone looks so chic so my packing was a little more considered, not to mention I had a few events in my schedule that I would be attending. Here’s a little breakdown of every outfit from my Parisian sojourn…
I’m really into suits at the moment and I love the cut of this one by Rebecca Vallance. I opted to wear this as a two-piece set and dress it down and make it sightseeing appropriate by pairing it with baby pink Chanel sneakers. When it comes to suits I’m really into double breasted jackets as I find they’ve got a modern sensibility to them. The cropped trousers also add a more relaxed feel to the outfit. The great thing about this look is that I could easily dress it up by simple swapping sneakers for heels.
For breakfast at the insanely beautiful Peninsula Paris, I wanted a look that was casual yet polished. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with the classic pairing of a white shirt with jeans. These Camilla and Marc jeans have been so versatile and are just the perfect cut and as such I’ve been wearing them constantly. The white shirt with its slightly billowy sleeves made for a dressy companion for denim, and paired with my new go-to Chanel sneakers, it was an on trend look that still maintained a dressy feel. My new Prada bag was also great for the trip as I was able to pair it with virtually all of my outfits and I could carry it via the handle or strap, making it perfect for sightseeing.
Shop the look:
Shirt: by Camilla & Marc (currently not available)
Pants: Margot Cropped Straight Leg Jean by Camilla & Marc
For a trip to Versailles I wanted to dress up a bit but also wanted to remain comfortable so a dress seemed the perfect choice. I love the print and silhouette of this Camilla and Marc mini dress, but wanted to give it a little extra shape so I decided to cinch it in with one of my favourite belts by Isabel Marant. It was still slightly chilly during my time in Paris, so I decided to go for over the knee flat boots by Stuart Weitzman and a red faux fur coat to snuggle up in. My pink Bulgari bag allowed me to carry all my essentials but minus the fuss of actually having to carry a large bag. Also I was able to use the same bag when I was going out to dinner so it was a really versatile piece to take with me on my trip.
For one of my first strolls around Paris I opted for a great checked belted dress by Dion Lee. Given it was still a little chilly outside I layered it over a long sleeved white tee and paired it with my grey over the knee boots. When you’re travelling and have to dress for trans-seasonal weather I think boots are always a great option as they keep you warm but if it starts to get a little hotter you’re not left sweltering. My Prada bucket bag once again made an outing as it’s the perfect size for sightseeing and is easily converted into a slightly dressier option by carrying it as a top handle bag. I think one of the golden rules of packing for a trip is to ensure that whatever is in your suitcase can be worn in myriad ways so you don’t end up having to take your entire wardrobe with you.
We went out for dinner one night and I wanted to wear something dressy so it was the perfect opportunity to wear this chartreuse midi dress by Camilla and Marc. I love the simple and elegant silhouette of this particular dress but in such a striking colour it becomes a showstopper piece. It was a little cool to be wearing heels so black boots helped ground the look whilst still keeping me nice and toasty.
I brought this Rebecca Vallance suit along as I was able to wear it as separates with the jacket or pants paired with something else or as a set. Black suiting is always a classic option and it was the ideal outfit to wear out to dinner at a local restaurant. An all-black look when you’re travelling is a failsafe choice as it’s guaranteed to look chic and doesn’t require much fussing around. I kept my look quite simple, opting for black pumps and simple jewellery to channel a minimalist Parisian vibe.
Juggling a busy schedule, I always like to schedule weekends away to help recharge my batteries. Often we’ll head away as a family to our farm in the Southern Highlands, but sometimes Luke and I will head somewhere together for a little quality time. It’s always such an effective way to re-energise and recalibrate myself for the busyness to come. If you’re planning a long weekend here are my tips for making the most of some time away:
Pack something special
I always make sure that I pack something which is easy to wear but also something that makes me feel special. For me, going away is a time to experience new places and do something I wouldn’t usually do at home and this means wearing things I wouldn’t normally get to wear on a day to day basis.
So many times I have splashed out on an amazing dress for a special event and not known when to wear it again. A weekend away, is the perfect opportunity to re-wear these amazing pieces in a different environment.
My TOME shirt and skirt are a perfect set to take away because it is lightweight and easy to travel in for the car trip. Plus as they’re separates it’s easy to mix and match them with other pieces which means less to pack.
Stick to neutrals
The classic blue and white makes this outfit a winner to take away because it is easy to accessorise. Accessories are a must for short trips because it lets you change up the outfit depending on how the plans unfold. Switching between flats, heels and even sneakers allows an entirely new look for what I am wearing.
Try before you pack
It is important to try on the outfits before you go away to make sure that you pack a really tight edit of outfits. The more you plan, the less you have to pack as you won’t bring any unnecessary items. I always check that my outfit options will work with accessories such as the sunglasses and hats I pack to make sure I can wear things in multiple ways.
Bring a book
For most of us, time at home doesn’t lend itself to a lot of time spent reading because we’re all so busy. This is why I always pack a good book when I’m going away for the weekend as there is nothing better than lying in the sun with a book and getting lost in the pages.
Do your beauty prep before you go
I always make sure I have my hair done and nails painted if I am going away to ensure I’m beauty-ready for any occasion that may come up. My picks at the moment are OPI’S ‘Lost on Lombard’ and Bobbi Brown lipgloss.
When you get away, it is the perfect time to also indulge and pamper yourself and this includes catching up on beauty treatments. I have been using the KORA organics skin care range, which leaves my skin feeling so refreshed.
Pick an easy location
Luke and I pack the car early in the morning with the girls in tow and enjoy an easy ride to our getaway destination. From Sydney, one of my favourite short trips is to the Southern Highlands. It is a perfect way to escape a busy week and have a relaxing weekend.
Luke, Sophia, Grace and I like to make the most of weekends by doing something different and creating special memories together.
I was in between meetings this week when I found the most gorgeous petal chair at furniture store Matt Blatt. Needless to say it was one of those pieces that was totally Insta-worthy and I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics. What do you think? Do I need this chair in my life?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?