Tuesday, 14 May 2013

love a mini-break

I have just returned from a fantastic mini-break in Canberra. Yes, you read that right - Canberra. Most people would ask why Canberra? 

Well, let me tell you what I discovered... 

Canberra's newest 4.5 star hotel, located in between Kingston and Manuka which is a hot spot for anyone that likes (needs) good food, very good coffee and great service. East Hotel can provide all of this on site at their restaurant OX Eatery and Incredible Bar - so you need not leave the hotel... 

Husbo had booked somewhere for a dinner date (more on that later), so we started the evening with a drink downstairs at Incredible Bar. With a name like that, we were expecting something special! They stock a huge range of spirits that decorate the amber-lit bar area, specialising in Gin and Scotch Whisky/Whiskey but there are plenty of wines by the glass, traditional cocktails and local/imported beers. 

With one G&T under our belt and some warm olives to stave off hunger pains, we threw on our winter coats and walked in complete darkness through the neighbourhood streets to Canberra's Best Restaurant for 2012 Aubergine. With the best seats in the house we kicked off proceedings with a beer for him and a bubbles for me, a lovely sparkling Rose by Lerida Estate

We enjoyed 3 beautiful courses of perfectly balanced, creative food that was matched with wines recommended by charismatic sommelier, Josh. We both agreed that Aubergine is well deserving of their two Hat status. Definitely one to put on the list. 

A foggy Canberra morning got us up and out of bed to take a couple of snaps en-route for a coffee stop on Lonsdale St, Braddon. The line up at Lonsdale Street Roasters was a good indication that we had come to the right place for our early morning caffeine hit. 

We drove back towards the hotel, stopping at Me & Mrs Jones for breakfast. Quick service, friendly staff and perfectly poached eggs - another winner. After a quick browse through the shops along Franklin St, Manuka we met the in-laws and hit the road towards our Mother's Day lunch destination.

Grazing at Gundaroo was well worth the 25 minute drive out of Canberra. The restaurant dining rooms are part of the original 1860's building at The Royal Hotel. Grazing was nothing short of spectacular - check out the menu here. The restaurant is flanked by a chef's garden, resident chooks and a cellar door for Capital Wines including a shop selling local treats, oils and jams.

It was time to bid farewell to our nation's capital and we hit the road back to Sydney. I have to say, we both left thinking how delightfully relaxing and laid back our weekend was. There's no place like home but Canberra, you really turned it on for us. Happy Centenary, I think you're getting better with age! 

Other places for your hit list: 

National Museum of Australia - we didn't have time to peruse the exhibitions, but they have a lovely cafe for lunch, drinks, coffee and a superb gift shop! 

Australian War Memorial - the in-laws loved it here and said they could have easily spent an entire day looking at everything. Having visited once before, I opted for a afternoon nap! 

National Arboretum - we drove past this beauty but didn't have time to stop. The green-thumb in me was desperate for a look but I'll keep it on the hit list for next time. 

Canberra really is a mecca for art galleries and museums - for more click here 

And if all that just makes you hungry/thirsty: 

Public Bar in Manuka 

Urban Pantry

Old Bus Depot food markets

All this and more info is available at the Visit Canberra website

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

love west elm

You have no doubt heard about the much anticipated opening of Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma and West Elm in Bondi Junction earlier this month. 

I managed to squeeze in a quick look during my lunch break - here's what I thought: 

Lots of fun stuff like Red Velvet cake mix, ruby-red Maraschino cherries and this taco rack. I found some cool kitchenware gadgets and cocktail/bar supplies but nothing I had to have then and there. I will be back for these cocktail picks and this adorable bitters bottle for my new bar cart! 

Pottery Barn
Some really nice, affordable furniture pieces - will have to go back with the Husbo for those purchases... 
This beautiful outdoor setting will be perfect once we complete our garden landscaping and it has been added to my Pinterest wishlist already! 

image via Pottery Barn

There has been lots of hype about the Pottery Barn kids range (I am not quite there yet!) but I have no doubt that there will be many baby nurseries decked out in this stuff around the Eastern Suburbs! 

I am also certain that I will be monogramming the sh*t out of some sheets and towels at some point! 

West Elm 
This is where I got excited. I exercised some serious restraint, but in the 30 minutes that I allowed myself in there I managed to pick up these little beauties...

image via West Elm

and this brilliant BIG bathmat for our bathroom!  

image via West Elm

Yes, we have a white, grey (and yellow) colour palette at home! 

For me, West Elm was the most impressive and had the most to offer. It is a nicer, bigger layout and has a variety of accessories for living room, kitchen, laundry and bathroom. I am lusting after a number of pieces that unfortunately have no place in my current home!  

Overall, the stores are quite small (compared to the USA) so you may be slightly underwhelmed - but the fit-out is amazing and the styling is spot-on. The service was friendly and helpful and the sales assistants wear those cool ear-pieces! 

If you are not planning a trip to Sydney anytime soon, shopping online is definitely the way to go to as you will find everything and anything you desire - word of warning though, you will get carried away! 

On the upside, shipping is FREE!  

Get involved people! 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

love op shops

I have always loved vintage and secondhand shopping. Something about the thrill of finding an old treasure or unique piece of jewellery, a cute bowl or some fantastic one-off furniture piece is so exciting!  

Recently, I've been inspired by Peep My Style and my personal passion for op shops has been reignited! I love reading Claudia's blog posts about op shopping and seeing the absolute gems that she posts on Instagram! Talk about shopping envy!

Last weekend, I took the Husbo for a browse through Sydney Antique Centre which has been a very successful shopping destination for us in the past. We have purchased a number of fabulous pieces from there and I just love looking at all the beautiful stalls and walking through to discover hidden treasure. 

The same can be said for a random Vinnies trip during a quick trip to Oxford St. I popped in for a quick look and found some great little things! A Country Road jug (we have the larger version in yellow so it seemed destined to come home with me!), a wooden tray in desperate need of a refurb (I will post about that soon!), a lovely silver cake stand for displaying trinkets and a cute little dish that I will find a use for, somewhere! The prize was an art-deco inspired ring that was sitting on the counter amongst an assortment of other $5 rings. I am a bit of a magpie and can't resist shiny, pretty bling - so it was mine!  

Here are a couple of pieces that I recently came across in my travels. I cannot wait to hit up a few more local Vinnies shops over the weekend and I'm really excited about the DIY project bringing that sad, old tray back to life! 

Don't have room for these gorgeous lamp bases yet, but they are MINE! 

There is a special place for you in this house, little dish!

Cute plate I liked (but didn't LOVE) so it was left behind 

Vinnies haul - and all in a lunch break. Total spend $40! 

Pretty lamp base (not crazy about pink shade!) but now I am more interested in the gold mirror. Thinking I need to go back this weekend... 

- love to shop 
Sydney Antique Centre, 531 South Dowling St, Surry Hills
Find your local Vinnies 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

love(ly) to be back

It has certainly been a while between posts. Let me explain.

This happened...

Soon after my last post (May 2012!), we found out that our wedding venue had gone into liquidation. WTF! A mad scramble followed. I contacted almost every wedding venue I had ever considered to see if they had availability. No luck. I was starting to worry (understatement).  

While I was away for work one day, my Husband took it upon himself to check out a potential option he had discovered. He loved it. It was perfect, he said.

So I went to check this place out for myself. He was right. It was perfect.
Call me crazy, but I enjoyed the opportunity to plan 'another wedding'.

It was without a doubt, the best day of our lives.

So, as per the title of my post - it is lovely to be back.

I've been filing away lots of ideas and I am excited about getting stuck into this little blog of mine. Again.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

love the gym (learning to)

I will start this post with a caveat. I have never been a gym person. Nor do I think I ever will become a gym person. But I am learning to enjoy getting fit and at the moment, that involves a gym. 

I reluctantly joined a gym that is located less than 3 minutes from my place of work (one of the draw cards - in addition to a sweet deal that was too good to refuse!) In the past, I would join a gym, go maybe once a week and end up trying to work my way out of the membership because I found myself on the couch more nights than at the gym. 

One of the main factors that is getting me off my butt and into the gym is the fact that my wedding date that is fast approaching (5 months and counting!) I don't have some massive weight loss target or anything crazy, but I just want to tone up and feel fit, happy and healthy on the day. 

In an effort to get a head start, I have been seeing a personal trainer twice a week, however this has dropped back to one session a week due to daylight savings. It gets dark around 5pm now and it's far too dangerous to be out in the park when it's pitch black. Enter: gym membership. 

On the plus side, my gym is relatively quiet - the most I've seen is maybe 5 or 6 people at the gym at any one time. The muscle-men are always downstairs near the weights, pumping iron and looking at themselves in the mirror. Perfect, because I don't want to be anywhere near them! I pop straight upstairs and jump on the treadmill for 30/40mins, followed by 20mins on the bike. With iPod blasting and a few game shows to watch on the tele, the time flies and my workout is done. 

I am trying to get my cardio fitness up. I've never enjoyed running, but I desperately want to be able to run - it looks so effortless and clearly, it's a great way to tone up and get fit. But I find it the most awkward and uncoordinated thing in the world. But I'm trying to turn that around. I'm slowly building up my running on the treadmill. Nothing like running in real life, but it's a start. 

I am really good at talking myself out of going to the gym. "I'm too tired", "I need to go to the shops", "I just want a quiet night" - but when I found these words of inspiration, I realised how insignificant those excuses are. I'll leave work on time, my workout will be finished by the time I would normally start packing up my desk. I'll sweat it out, listen to some of my favourite tunes, clear my head and re-energise. After all, it's only 4% of my day. 

~ love tips 
Please share your fitness tips with me - I need all the help I can get!

~ love new music 
Always on the lookout for new music to keep my pace going on the treadmill! Currently I'm loving Prince! 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

love eyebrows

I've been in rehab. Brow rehab. It's taken me about 2 years, but I have finally quit plucking! 

I'd had enough of my thin, un-even brows and decided it was time to do something about it so I paid a visit to the girls at Benefit Brow Bar. After years of over-plucking, I had made quite a mess of my poor little brows. 

The Benefit girls explained the issues I had with my brows in their current state (thin, un-even, too far apart) and showed me the brow shape that I needed to work towards. They tidied them up and sent me on my way with strict instructions NO PLUCKING. I had to come back in 4 weeks and show them the progress... 

It didn't happen overnight, but I am happy to say that brow rehab was one of the best things I ever did! I now have fuller, thicker brows that frame my face and enhance my eyes. I love my brows! 

These days, I maintain them with threading every 4 weeks. I'm not going to lie, threading hurts me just as much as waxing (but I do have sensitive skin so it goes red and ouch-ey). I love the result from threading and I have found a really great lady that does a damn fine job in Bondi Junction!

I also get my brows tinted every 4 weeks (2 shades darker than my hair colour) and I turn to my brow zings set from Benefit, which is brilliant for closing the gaps in between tints. 

~ love these tricks
speed brow and brow zings from Benefit 

~ love tidy brows

Monday, 30 April 2012

love coffee

Flat White @ Flat White

I've always been a "one a day" coffee drinker. Flat White. Soy. The stronger the better. 
But I went off coffee for about 2 years. Major withdrawals - yes, followed by a long and pleasant love affair with tea (and tea cups). 

Like every addict, I eventually got back on it. In London of all places. Not exactly the coffee capital of the world. But I was lucky, as I knew where to get my hit as soon as the cravings hit. Soho. 

Many years ago, I visited this coffee shop called Flat White
Best. Coffee. In. London.
One cup and I was hooked. Again. 

I tried to fight it, but I could't resist. I Googled "best coffee in London". Found some other options closer to home. My daily grind was from Coffee Plant - always cranking dance music despite the time of day. Excellent coffee. Always a few crazy characters in there that probably haven't been home yet. 

Another great spot was Kensington Square Kitchen. I had great coffee and a brilliant hangover cure breakfast there too.

Now I'm back home in Sydney, I had the opportunity to acquaint myself with a few new cafes that popped up while I was away. I mentioned some of my favourites here, but there is an ever-growing number of new cafes that open in Bondi. It's my mission to try them all, one weekend at a time.

But from Monday to Friday my need for a caffeine hit actually gets me out of bed and off to work! Our office was given a Nespresso machine at Christmas and although I was reluctant to get on board at first, I've actually jumped ship. After trial and error, I've finally found my match in those little pods of goodness. While I know the coffee purists wouldn't approve, I'm going with it - mostly because I resent paying anything over $3.50 for a coffee (don't penalise me because I can't drink normal milk and have to opt for soy). 

~ love London
best coffee in London via Time Out

~ new coffee love
Double Roasters, Marrickville 
Bondi Picnic, Bondi