August 28, 2016

Father's Day Gift Guide 2016


Dads can be tricky creatures to buy for and my ex-hippie, all-softie stepdad is the perfect example!

If you follow me on social media, you might know him from such comments as 'Things and possessions won't make you happy', and 'Facebook is for people who have no friends'. Whatever.

However, I think one of my fave exchanges with him might have been when I was staying with my folks for a few weeks one September while waiting for our house settlement to come through...

Me (walks into kitchen, ready for a day of work at Lorna Jane): Happy Father's Day *kiss*
Dad: Thank you! What is on your face?
Me: My face is on my face.
Dad: No, all the makeup...!
Me: Yup, that's my face. When I go out, I put on makeup.
Dad: But... but you work at a sport store.
Me: Yup.
Dad: Oh. It looks like you're going somewhere fancy. Too much, Katy. Too much.

What is it with Dads who think we're all naturally beautiful and that any makeup is too much? It's actually the sweetest thing ever when you think about it.

Anyway, with Father's Day just around the corner next Sunday 4 September, I thought it was just the right time to put together a gift guide, chock-full of ideas for all the fathers in our lives.


For the dad who loves to kick back, this pair of eco-friendly pyjama pants from Good Spender are made from 100% certified woven organic cotton and screen printed by hand.
  

For the adventurous dad, or maybe the dad with a passion for photography, a trip up in the clouds with Floating Images would be a dream come true. They're Brisbane's closest hot air balloon company, which makes that 5am start a little easier to handle!


For any dad, this print would be a sweet reminder of their importance in your life. Find this and other sweet Father's Day prints at Turquoise Designs.


For the hirsute dad, keep him tidy with a beard grooming kit from the folks at Milkman. They really know their stuff, and this gift pack has everything the beginner beardie or expert-level grooming guy needs for the best lumberjack look in town!


For the dad who scrubs up alright, or perhaps the java-junkie coffee-loving dad, check out Sal Remedia's range of yummy body scrubs - my vote goes to the Daily Grind, a caffeinated treat for your old man's skin!


A Son's first hero, a Daughter's first love. Nawww.
For the first-time dad celebrating a new bub at Father's Day, this Daddy print from Coco & Ella Designs will make his mushy heart melt. Cue happy tears.


For the buff dad (not mine, but I'll be honest, I prefer him more Santa and less Thor), this muscle tee from Through the Milky Way will give him a chance to show off those guns when he takes the kids out for an active day at the park. Plus, it can be personalised with the 'established' year, so you can pop in the year he became a dad. Adorable much?



For the dad who has four-legged kids... my husband would adore these socks from our puppy Stevie, and with so many fur-kids out there, we really can't forget those kinds of special fathers! You can find these and other fun personalised socks from Alphs at Hard to Find, an online store packed with more nifty gifts than you can imagine!


Now to the really mushy stuff. My step-father has been a constant in my life since I was 15, and I can honestly say (and I tell him all the time) that if I could choose a father from any man on the planet, I would choose him.

His patience and love for our family, his supreme cooking skills, his willingness to drop everything and help my brother, husband and I at a moment's notice, his hilarious chuckle which makes the rest of the family laugh uncontrollably, all these qualities are just the ones I can put into words.

Mainly, he's just always been here for me. And isn't that what a Dad is for?

Love you Dad. Love you every day of the year. 

Got Father's Day sorted yet? 





August 10, 2016

What I Wore - Birdsnest for a Winter wedding

Toasty heaters, big steaming platters of roast meat and gravy, and snuggling into pashminas – who wouldn’t be excited for a Winter wedding?


When one of my favourite colleagues of ALL TIME popped an invite on my desk for her wedding, I did what most girls would do. Squeal a little bit, check the location out online, then start searching online for the perfect outfit.

Hidden in a working cattle property outside the Sunshine Coast town of Yandina is a contender for the most beautiful country wedding venue in the country. At Yandina Station, they've been playing host to beautiful events for years now, and BB and I even checked them out when we were searching for our perfect wedding venue. We ended up deciding to head north to Port Douglas to get hitched instead of staying local, but I can still say that it's one of my favourite wedding venues.

Living just up the road from the venue, I knew that Yandina Station on a July evening would be more than a little chilly, so started my search for a dress with sleeves on Birdnest. There were SO many to choose from, but I played it safe and chose the Off the Shoulder Dress because, well... this is me we're talking about, and I never pass up the chance to wear off the shoulder, duh!

For non-stylists like me, there are plenty (thousands) of styled outfits available to check out on the Birdsnest website, it's so easy to envisage how your whole outfit will look when worn together - genius!

Laying out everything early in the morning makes for a much quicker prep time, especially for a weekday wedding!
Clockwise: Birdsnest Off the Shoulder Dress*, Samantha Wills turquoise ring and earrings (similar here), Raybans because I cry at weddings, YSL lippie, vintage hat borrowed from Trainee Mama, Marc Daniels Blue Cypress Blonde Leave-In Toner (this is my new fave hair product, gives such sparkly highlights and shine - currently available at Woolies), Trix block heels from Spendless, borrowed pashmina from Mum, Sussan sequin clutch (similar here).


The happy couple... wait, no! Another happy couple!

This dress was possibly the most comfortable style I've ever worn to an occasion... and you don't need to just believe me! The Birdsnest webswite is super-easy to both navigate and to leave reviews, so when I saw it had a 100% Excellent rating, and comments like these, there's no way I could not share the love of this fine frock!

Lyndall, size 14: The dress is slimline without being clingy. It gives a beautiful shape to my hourglass figure. Sleeve length is classy and the gorgeous neckline is really pretty. Really happy with this purchase. It will be a great dress for travelling too, as the material isn't likely to crush.
Yes, I would recommend this item.

Michelle, size 16: Purchased size 16 and fits beautifully - very flattering dress. Was for a date so felt very sexy and confident. Thank you!!
Yes, I would recommend this item.

Rebecca, size 10: If you want to feel sexy and elegant at the same time, or need something for a special occasion then you definitely need this dress in your life. It is a perfect weight, has no horrible zippers that snag or buttons to wrestle with. It holds off the shoulder without slipping. It is a flattering length to the knee.It will travel well without too much fuss or ironing needed. Believe me this dress will turn heads. I just love it. Thanks Birdsnest girls!!!
Yes, I would recommend this item.


Hot potato croquettes on a brisk evening? Don't go ANYWHERE with that tray, my young waiter friend.

We did have a few romantic moments together, imaging what it might have been like to get married at this gorgeous venue.

I love love LOVE me a good wedding, and this one was superb. The groom cried a little when saying his vows, and we all know how adorable that is. 

To Stacey and Jason, our biggest congratulations to a beautiful couple who make each other so happy. BB and I wish you a wonderful journey as you build your new life together. Hugs forevs.

Do you have a favourite season for attending weddings? I love them all!

*Birdsnest dress super-awesomely gifted. You should really know by now that I won't wear anything I don't love, so consider this piece fantastic, and I'll be wearing it years from now!




August 02, 2016

6 life lessons from Empire Records (advice for teens who didn't get to live through the 90's)


I was involved in a long Empire Records 'quote-off' with Brooke of Blonde Ambition last night (you know, where you riff back and forward with quotes from - usually - a cult movie), and it got me thinking that 1995, when Empire Records was released, was a pretty intense year for me.

I was 14, and in my second year of high school at one of the more exclusive private schools on the Sunshine Coast. My father had just left my mum, brother and I, to live a jaunty life of new women and weekday yacht sailing. I wore a back brace all day every day (thanks scoliosis), had a very small group of friends, wasn't invited to many parties, and whilst I had discovered boys... they had not yet discovered me.

I struggled to express myself verbally, so when Empire Records hit the screen, with all the angst that only the 90's could offer, I felt like I'd found characters who were as messed up as I was. (Disclaimer: in hindsight, I had a pretty good life. Thanks Mum.)

Working in a high school now, watching teenage girls struggle with all the same kinds of dramas that my friends and I went through - but with the added stresses of technology and early sexualisation - I wonder how teens these days manage to express themselves without such killer lines as 'We mustn't dwell... no, not today. We CAN'T. Not on Rex Manning Day.'

Here are my top life lessons for teens, as taught by the indie kids of Empire Records.

AJ: I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren.

Sometimes we just need to do something that other people don't get. Whether it's creative or enterprenerial, teens these days have so many avenues open to them, and I know that a lot of adults in their lives will question some crazy decisions. I can pretty much guarantee that this generation of youngsters will all own businesses and be creating cool stuff WAY before we ever got around to that!


Gina: Well, Sinead O'Rebellion. Shock me, shock me, shock me with that deviant behaviour.

We've all been there. But I REALLY want to impart one of my most important life lessons with young girls... do NOT cut your hair after a break-up or massive change in life circumstances. Just don't. Take a month, then go crazy. There's nothing worse than missing a boy and missing your locks and not looking like yourself, at the same time.


Joe: Gina, you'd better go home.
Gina: Am I fired?
Joe: Have I fired anyone today? No. Why would I start with you?

Kids, remember this - sometimes you'll mess up. Sometimes you'll mess up real bad, and it'll hurt the people who care about you the most. The thing about being a teenager is that usually, those people who you hurt, won't make snap decisions about the rest of your future. They'll still love and accept you, and want to help you through this awful hormonal time.


Corey: So this how your life's gonna be now, hey? You're just gonna screw every 'has-been' until your tits fall down and they don't want you anymore?

For me, the dynamic between good-girl Corey and fun-loving free spirit Gina is my favourite part of Empire Records. They secretly love each other in a weird 'I wanna be you' kind of way, and the movie ends with both girls understanding and appreciating some of those differences.

Also, safe-sex lessons. There are plenty of safe-sex cautionary tales in this sarcasm-fuelled relationship.


Lucas: Warren, look what you took. (flicks through the CD's that Warren stole from the store) Rap, metal, rap, metal... and Whitney Houston.

The recalcitrant shoplifter Warren is a kooky kid with some eclectic taste in CDs, and I guess his message to the youth of the 90's is that you should love what you love. If you like weird ukelele music from Eastern Europe, like it hard. Don't let anyone tell you that you shouldn't like it. Same goes for fashion and style, do your own thing, try something that your friends aren't trying. We're not all meant to be clones... even as teenagers searching for our clique.


A.J.: ...you know, I got to tell her that I, uh, well, you know, that I uh...
Joe: love her.
A.J.: Yeah, now how do I do that?
Joe: You say I love you. What do you want, written instructions?

Here you go, the love story we all wanted to be a part of. The shy from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks artist boy loves sweet super-smart rich girl Corey, but doesn't know how to tell her.

His tough-love boss Joe is here to tell him that it doesn't need to be hard. It really doesn't. Sometimes we (and I clearly mean ME) overthink things to the point that they can't be said, and unless we have written instructions, the words never come out.

Be your own tough-love boss, and make yourself say the things you feel. Even if they come out awkward (and they 99% will come out awkward, move on).

Which 90's movie coaxed you through the awkwardness and pain of your teen years? Any of your fave Empire Records quotes that I missed?

July 15, 2016

A list of things I'll eat at Regional Flavours, Brisbane

You may remember that I recently spent a weekend gorging myself on the best produce, meals and drinks that Brisbane and the Lockyer Valley have to offer, all in the name of research for the Regional Flavours event, held at Southbank Parklands in Brisbane.

I am pleased to say that the festival is this weekend, and I will be in Brisbane from this Friday evening until Sunday - ostensibly to attend an industry dinner with my husband and to celebrate my birthday week - but we all know it's to eat my way through Regional Flavours, right?

Here's a little list of deliciousness that I'm planning on eating and drinking at Regional Flavours 2016:

QLD pork belly and black garlic dumplings with XO sauce from Stokehouse at River Quay

Crumbed Mozzarella with local thyme-infused honey from Popolo at River Quay

Chocolate macarons from Aquitaine Brasserie at River Quay


Fresh pumpkin dishes fresh from the Lockyer Valley at The Picnic Patch



The very freshest fruit, vegetables and condiments from the Producer Showcase - berry me up!

And of course, a flight (or three) of excellent James Squire beers at The Hunting Club

If that little taster (see what I did there?!) has whet your whistle for a weekend of amazing food and drink - as well as celebrity chef features, edible garden treats food trucks galore and just a really supportive environment for people who like to eat their way through life - pop over to the Regional Flavours website (here) to check out the final program and plan your visit and if you see me hanging suspiciously around near the Food Trucks, come say hello. My mate Brooke of Blonde Ambition will also be cruising through Regional Flavours, so there's a red hot chance you'll find us both entertaining a crowd with some top-notch karaoke at The Hunting Club at some point!

Regional Flavours is on this Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 July 2016 from 10am to 5pm at Southbank Parklands, Brisbane. The Hunting Club will open 4pm to 7pm on Friday, 15 July and 10am to 7pm on 16 and 17 July. Parking in the area will be limited so your best bet is to catch a train, bus or CityCat.


July 01, 2016

Sunshine Coast Cafe - Bohemian Bungalow, Eumundi

A recent birthday celebration for my aunt had the extended family coming from across the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane to one of my favourite Coast towns, Eumundi for a long leisurely lunch together. Some of these uncles and aunts hadn't seen me since I was a teen, so I had a lot of fun surprising them!



Bohemian Bungalow has become quite the institution already, with a famous Sunday session featuring an ever-changing roster of bands, duos and single artists from 2pm to wind down your weekend; and a gorgeously eclectic decor which will have you going for a stroll around the restaurant to check out their treasures.

I wore a favourite Passion Q split-sleeve dress from Whitehaven Emporium - these guys do the best boho-style prints ever - with Spendless Shoes Wisdom boots, an old French Connection belt and tassel necklace from Whitehaven Emporium. 


Such a cute and colourful place to catch up with friends or family


How adorable is my dad here, catching up with his nieces. He's the cutest guy around. #biased

Even high above the kitchen, there are little vignettes to find - this race of handpainted horses was so quirky.

I know a certain BFF of mine who would've liked me to snaffle some of those antique biscuit and cake tins.

What's a birthday creme brulee without a scoop of vanilla bean icecream and a candle?

We had such a lovely lunch here, the birthday girl has even popped back a few more times since then to enjoy the atmosphere.

Do you like your cafes quirky and unique? Any other eclectic places in South East Queensland worth a try?