Saturday, 28 February 2015

Three days in Melbourne

Pants: Pierucci
Heels: Bally
Bag: Chloe

Right at this moment, I'm sitting in Qantas club at Melbourne airport waiting for my flight back to Brisbane. In the spirit of free wifi, I thought I'd post this while I'm waiting.

I haven't been switched on with this blog recently. It's like I've hit the beginning of the year and while life is taking off, blogging is falling by the wayside. Maybe that's what happens? Irrespective, it's not how I want things to be - this is an important creative outlet for me. I like writing, I enjoy creating a post and trying to put together visual highlights to go with it. Time is just getting eaten up by so many things at the moment - work, wedding prep, social life, family commitments, exercise, housekeeping. Blah, I know. It's boring me, I can imagine it's incredibly boring to anyone else.

So, if you've suffered this far, I apologise for the lack of organisation and priority on my blog. It needs a more focussed direction and I am going to do my absolute best to get it there :)

Back to my trip: I had to go to Melbourne for a conference on Friday and thought I'd stay until Sunday and hopefully see a few sights, have some relaxed time to myself and a little light socialising.  I haven't actually had a short work trip in a while and it was fun to bust out my carry-on case and plan a 'hand-luggage only' weekend away:

One particularly exciting aspect of this weekend is I tried on my official favourite pair of black trousers ever, a wool-silk blend wide leg pair by Pierucci AND THEY FIT! I haven't been able to wear these pants for about 5 years (actually probably longer than that if I think about it...) I can't describe how strongly I feel about these trousers - how I've carefully stored them and brought them with me for every house-move despite not fitting into them, thinking one day, one day - and it's happened! I feel so affirmed that all the healthy lifestyle changes M and I have brought into our lives over the past 8 months are really working - the weight loss is real, I feel better and I look better. What more can a girl ask for?

When packing for a short trip and particularly when not checking luggage, everything has to work well with everything else. I tend to rely heavily on slim trousers/jeans and 2 neat light tops for day, with usually one cocktail dress for going out. No matter what, you always need at least two pairs of shoes and I generally take three: a pair of work pumps that I will usually wear on the flight down as I'll head straight to the conference or meeting, a pair of smart flats for city sight-seeing and the flight home and a pair of dressy sandals for evenings. I don't waste precious space on sneakers/trainers - I take a pair of flip flops/thongs to pad around the hotel room/visit pool/head down to a yoga class and that's it.

One of the funniest things I find about travel/packing articles etc is the emphasis people put on dressing like a tourist. Sure, if you're off backpacking for 8 weeks, a money-belt, wash and wear fabrics and a strict 'flat shoes only' policy makes perfect sense. But for city breaks? Relax! I don't know about anyone else, but I spend plenty of my working days walking in heels with no problems. I don't wear 4-inch nightmares, certainly, but I don't wear ballet flats like a perpetual intern either.

If I sit on your stuff, you can't leave...
It's fair to say that fat dog knows when a suitcase comes out, something's up. He doesn't like either of his humans going away and does his best to trick us into staying. It's sweet and slightly unnerving at the same time...

I flew into Melbourne and headed to the Sofitel on Collins. After getting the work stuff out of the way, I spent Saturday afternoon and Sunday doing lots of walking around the city and particularly Fitzroy Gardens where I tried to get into Cook's Cottage but was a little too late :( Next time maybe.

This is a Bill Henson photograph at the Westin hotel on Collins St. I love Bill Henson pieces and always pop into the Westin for a quick peek when I'm in town.

Then it was on to food, natch:

I went to Collins Kitchen for a lovely luxe dinner on Saturday night and had seafood linguini and beautifully crisp crunchy chips. I also got a spot of sauce on my beautiful new top from MSGM, so that was a little less of what I was going for. Spilling food on myself is a bit of a personal trademark, so I've become a dab hand at laundering in hotel room sinks :)

Breakfast at the hotel was included in my booking and it was really lovely both days. I indulged with poached eggs and smoked salmon on Saturday and this morning elected for a slightly less calorific option with fresh fruit and a sweet little bircher muesli pot. Sidebar: how cute are these mini jar/pot things??! I want some immediately. Not exactly sure what for, but they're too awesome not to own some.

Overall, while I did have to travel for work, I really enjoyed the extra day spending some time doing nothing in particular. I wandered around some gardens and felt still and quiet in my thinking for the first time in a while. I was impressed with how well my hand-luggage packing skills have held up despite not doing a short trip in a while.

I hope everyone is having a relaxed Sunday, either lounging at home or heading that way :) xo

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Birthday celebrations and spare bedroom experiments

My beautiful M celebrated his birthday on Thursday and to celebrate, I took him and his mother to dinner at Restaurant II, the same restaurant M and I will be married at in May.  The chef remembered our names from our booking and kindly sent out these vanilla custard brandy snaps at the end of the meal, with his compliments.

I really enjoy M's mother's company and I was hoping that we would spend the three-day weekend relaxing at the beach but the seasonal cyclones delivered heavy rains over the full weekend. Friday actually brought a number of problems at my work with several leaks which I had to coordinate fixes for all the while trying to be social and spend time with M and his mum. They're kind enough to know I was trying my best and not think me too rude, even though I spent hours on my mobile!

One of the things I've enjoyed about this weekend is testing out our spare room. We use our guest room as a TV room/study and have the Kind Furniture Houdini sofa, which turns into a couple of different modules but can be put together as a bed. We put M's mother in our room and tried the spare couch-bed:

Overall, we've been quite impressed with the comfort and feel that we can probably have guests without any problems.

We're definitely getting close to the wedding now and preparation is well and truly underway. I viewed my maid of honour's dress this afternoon and it is divine, sheer navy midi-length perfection from Scanlan Theodore. I also collected our wedding invitations from the printers this week and thought the rainy Sunday afternoon would be a good opportunity to write up our guests' names onto the individual invites:

They're safely tucked up in my bag to take into work tomorrow, ready to be posted off. 

Now it's time for a glass of wine and a relax on the couch, watching a Sunday night movie :) xo

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Tuesdays - something old, new and blue

Ballet flats because I'm doing lots of walking. Birkin because...Birkin.

I kind of love Tuesdays. Mondays are usually a bit hectic but by Tuesday, you've put out whatever small fires may have arisen over the weekend as well as delegated tasks to colleagues as necessary, the remainder of the week is settling down and you know what you have to do and have a timeframe for you and your team to clear everything by Friday.

The weather is still quite warm and I'm doing a lot of running around at work at the moment, so I thought I'd pair some slim-line print pants with an ivory tank and black peplum jacket:

Top: Witchery
Pants: Country Road
Jacket: Ralph Lauren
Heels: Jimmy Choo
Bag: Hermes
Eagle-eyes may have spotted that we have a new addition: I have to introduce my new-to-me 2006 Hermes Birkin 35 in beautiful Blue Jean clemence leather with palladium (silver) hardware. Sigh. The beauty, no?

I went to Hermes a little while ago to discuss bags and the store manager mentioned that they are discontinuing the colour Blue Jean. It's a very classic Hermes colour and I have always wanted something in it that is iconic of the design house. I find it to be more relaxed than the black, which is absolutely a work bag and always looks like one to me. The blue seems potentially more transitional, able to move more seamlessly to weekend outfits and occasions.

Coincidentally, I spotted this bag in a lovely consignment store about a few weeks later and after a couple of lengthy inspections and some thought, I decided I would buy it. It was a very good price, in superb condition and of course, entirely authentic. I'm loving her with my work outfits so far, it's nice to have that pop of colour against the basic blacks and neutrals that make up such a large part of my wardrobe. I'm looking forward to taking her to the beach at the weekend - assuming the weather isn't awful.

While I do buy new bags etc, I am by no means snobbish about pre-loved purchases when the quality and price is right. My father always taught me that most items (cars, clothes, bags, watches) lose at least 50% of their value the moment they walk out the shop door. So there is a huge mark-up that we pay just for the retail experience. I also love the idea of giving new life to a bag or piece of jewellery that someone has grown tired of. It's kind of romantic to me, recycling in the chicest sense :)

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Things I'm looking forward to: belated February

Hello gorgeous...

Ok, so we're halfway through February already and this post is quite late. I whined yesterday, job demands, so busy, poor me, sob...

I say, there's still some of February to go and there's stuff I'm looking forward to so this post is happening anyway.

1. Valentine's Day

So officially, it's happened, it's over, I get how time works. But it was something I was totally looking forward to and on the day itself, I really enjoyed it. Given how rarely experiences live up to expectations, I count this as a definite win.

2. M's birthday

M is having a birthday this month and I am taking him and his lovely mother to dinner to celebrate. We're actually going to the restaurant where we're having the wedding and I'm so excited to take M and his mum so she can see it before the actual day and feel a little bit familiar.  I am looking forward to dressing up and treating my favourite man and his mum to a fancy night out. I still have to pick up his actual birthday present but this year he's been helpful and nominated an iPhone cover and some new aftershave. We have a couple of days at the beach planned for the weekend and I'm looking forward to a little bit of time away from the daily routine.

3. Office reboots and shiny new things

A couple of delicious things happened this month, including the plum Chanel flap pictured above. I love a new handbag as much as the next girl and this baby sang to me on the internet before finding her way to my wardrobe where she fits right in. It's nice to have a bit of a break from my usual black or beige accessories as well. I adore the Chanel flap for weekends when I want to feel that little bit fancier - natch.

I also rebooted my office decor and the results are fabulous. I shall post more details shortly :)

4. Melbourne Trip

I'm heading to Melbourne for a conference at the end of February and I'm excited about trying a couple of new restaurants, hitting some galleries and generally just chilling out for a weekend without laundry or other chores to do. I'm planning outfits now and I think my new bag might feature quite a bit :)


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Here's to love

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

I know I've been very tardy on this blog over the past month. It's the old excuse: I've been completely absorbed by work. I got a significant promotion at the end of last year and I'm now responsible for not only formulating company strategy but implementing it too, which means making sure people are delivering to the instruction brief and time frames. In the past month, we've placed 3 new staff, undergone accreditation renewal, completed quarterly reporting, confirmed advertising for the 9 months from March and are midway through a renegotiation of one of our leases and a full logo redesign and rebrand. I also did some minor redecorations to my office - I figured since I'm spending so much time there it might as well look super pretty - pics to come :)

Not to mention, there's a kind of special day coming up in May and it turns out there are so many more decisions that I hadn't thought about but all the 'wedding people' keep helpfully bringing up. Flowers! Hair! Hen's! Suits!

It's exhausting.

Anyway, I'm feeling slightly more on top of things this weekend so I thought I share a quick break down of how Valentine's Day 2015 unfolded:

Pancakes. Before they look like pancakes.

An indulgent weekend breakfast is one of my favourite things and we're particularly fond of blueberry pancakes in our house.

Then it was on to one of the oldest, most timeless expressions of love between a couple: DIY!

I love our apartment. I bought it about 6 months before I met M and naturally, once we made the commitment to each other, this was it, no more questions, we had to decide where we would live together. Apartment living is culturally a little different in Australia when compared to the rest of the world: because we have so much space and such a comparatively small population, housing density hasn't ever been such an issue for city planners here (although it is becoming more of a consideration). Most Australians will probably live in an apartment at some point but aspire ultimately to own a house with a yard.

For myself, I prize my time over any other limited personal resource, so the choice to buy an apartment as my first home was motivated largely by the fact it was within 3 minutes of the Brisbane CBD.  Coming from living in a mix of apartments and houses, it took a little time to convince M that in fact, we can commit to live in an apartment long term with a dog and two people and (maybe) a little person down the track. We simply have to become really efficient in how we use the available space. I take a lot of inspiration from the New York Times real estate section (especially The Hunt column about New Yorkers finding their abodes). People get so much more inventive when space is at a premium and that's something I really admire.

Which brings me neatly to our weekend project: hanging laundry bags!

Up until this point, the laundry cupboard (honestly, it is pretty much a cupboard with a sliding door to close it off from the kitchen) has always been a bit crowded with clothes hampers on the floor, a stand-up vac and any other 'crap' that wasn't really destined for permanent space in the apartment but was just taking up lodgings until we moved it to the storage space downstairs or threw it out.

It's probably hard to understand, but having hanging bags that leaves the floor completely free, makes such an incredible difference. It looks neat, I can access the cupboards under the laundry sink and it just thrills me to bits any time we get a bit of DIY done around our place.

Home jobs achieved and feeling quite proud of ourselves, we then went out for coffee with a friend we haven't seen in a while and also to get groceries for the week:

Dress: Cacharel
Sandals: Country Road
Bag: Chloe

I love this dress by Cacharel.  I've lost quite a bit of weight over the past 4-5 months and I'm really starting to notice the difference. It's bringing my confidence back in a big way and I thought, it's Valentine's Day, it's summer, it's hot, I am getting myself out in a dress this afternoon! The red print on the navy background just looks gorgeous and I loved pairing it with ivory/cream accessories.

After that, it was time for another timeless expression of love: roast lamb!

I love my oven and my roasting pans. And my manicure is looking splendid!

Valentine's Day has a lot of detractors who see it as nothing more than a blatant commercially-hyped cash grab.  Frankly, I think it's as good an opportunity for people to express love, kindness and affection to important people in their lives (friends, family, lovers) as any other day of the year.  M and I went for a lovely long walk with the fat dog while dinner was cooking and there were so many loved up couples and families picnicking in the park, holding hands, drinking wine and watching the afternoon become evening. It made my heart feel lighter as we headed back to our home (guided by the delicious scent of lamb and roast pumpkin!) I'm feeling full of love and affection as we approach our wedding and Valentine's Day 2015 was just a lovely, low-key moment to celebrate.

I hope everyone gave and received some love in some form today :) xo

PS: I am informed there will be a cheeky delivery to my office on Monday. Something red, apparently. So there might have been a bit of shameless commercial indulgence for the sake of Valentine's Day ;)