Sydney’s Chinese Garden of Friendship <3

IMG_8504Most people who know me personally, know that I am a step-mum. At 27 the prospect seemed quite overwhelming, but when I met my Husband to be I knew that whether he had 1 or 15 children, I was in.

Given our proximity to the kids and living inter-state, I have not had too many opportunities to bond with the kids or get to know them beyond my bi-annual trips down to Sydney or when we are able to bring the kids up here for holidays.

For this trip, it had been a long time since I had seen the kids and I was both nervous and excited. Like I mentioned above, it is a different situation to your standard shared-custody, week-on / week-off arrangement. It just is not always fiscally possible for me to visit with the kids whenever my Husband does.

So when there was an opportunity to spend an afternoon with my step-daughter during our trip, I was over the moon. Little C is only 11 years old but she is wise beyond her years. She is her fathers daughter in every way possible and these children will be the older brother and sister of any children which we may have in the future. As an example of who C is in character, she was singing songs at 18 months old, has written beautiful letters since she was six years old and at our wedding, she sat one of my girlfriends down and asked her what she wanted in her life (long-term!).

IMG_8478After our incredible visit to the Australian Maritime Museum, the boys headed off to the new Star Wars movie and little C and I ventured down the street, picked up a couple of girl drinks (coffee and milkshakes) and walked our way down to the Chinese Garden of Friendship.

This place is so wonderful and provides such a unique respite from the pulse of the Sydney CBD. Rather than set out like any manicured garden, it is arranged to reflect the wild uniqueness of a traditional Chinese garden. It was created out of respect and in recognition of the city of Guangzhou in China and its friendship with the city of Sydney.

There are lakes, weeping willows, temples, beautiful shaded areas and pebbled paths. Some of the largest and fattest looking koi carp floating along in the lakes and fountains. It is a photographers dream. I was taken back to my childhood book-favourites such as the Secret Garden and felt quite giddy walking around the area, so I can only imagine what it must have looked like through the eyes of an 11 year old!

C and I spent an hour and a half walking around the gardens slowly, taking pictures and talking, Getting to know each other better, talking about my job and her transition into high-school this year. We discussed our love for our family members, our favourite foods and also discussed our love for one another and how thankful we were that we were able to spend some time together.

IMG_8424I am under no disillusion that being a part of a blended family is tough, especially given the distance between the kids and us. We have transitioned the best we have been able to given our relationships with one another and I am so thankful that she is one of the smartest, kindest, most intuitive young women I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

The kids have two wonderful parents who love and provide for them greatly, they have great families on both sides and a wonderful outlook on the world. They are going places and I will support them as well as I can, not only as their Step-Mother but as their friend, if they wish that to be the case.

The feeling of tranquility, peace, mindfulness and appreciation for all that we have which you get when visiting the gardens is something which will stay with me for quite some time.

IMG_8457After our walks around the gardens, we headed home, grabbed some snacks and pink lemonade, picked a romantic-comedy to watch and did hair/feet/face masks and also did our nails. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day – our peace only broken when the boys which we had missed for the afternoon came bursting through the doors on their Star Wars high! We made sure to greet them at the door with our hilarious bubble-cloud face masks on. I highly recommend you give this a go, if only for a laugh!

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You can visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship any day of the week between 9.30am-5pm and an Adult ticket is $6, a child ticket is $3 and a family can enter for $15.

Are you from a blended family? What have your struggles and rewards been? Has it been harder or easier than you expected it to be?

x C x

Australian Maritime Museum Explorations with the family :)

On 27 December 2017 we were all feeling the obscene amounts of food and drink we had consumed over the past week and so we knew it was to be a walking day!

With our very Irish-Australian complexions, it was 50+ suncream all around, hats, backpacks, bottles of water and packed snacks. The kids were pumped, they didn’t know what they were in for as they had never been to the Australian Maritime Museum, I hadn’t been in around 10 years and my Husband had not been since he was a kid.

As luck would have it, we must have gone just before the crowds arrived, we seemed to be ahead of the crowds of people for most of the day – which was unheard of for Sydney!

Opened in 1991, the Australian Maritime Museum is in prime position at the harbour-side of the centre of Sydney and it remains the Australian government’s most visible national cultural institution in Sydney (http://www.anmm.gov.au/About-Us/Our-History). Not only are there hundreds of artefacts but there are several floating historical vessels to explore. There are many wonderful volunteers/staff offering their time, dedication and passion into sharing the history of these vessels with the 520,000+ visitors annually.

The museum has one of the largest floating historical vessel collections in the world and with a replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour, the former Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire, former Naval patrol boat HMAS Advance and the former Navy submarine HMAS Onslow – there is something absolutely exhilarating about getting onto the vessels and getting a real feel for life aboard!

We had an absolutely lovely gentleman by the name of Bob show us the history of the James Craig, which we were lucky enough to see as it was in-port at the time of our visit. The James Craig was built in 1874 and is Sydney’s only 19th Century Tall Ship. Her restoration cost approximately $30 million dollars and took over 40 years after she was rescued from Recherche Bay in southern Tasmania. The James Craig regularly sails with up to 80 passengers and is available for charter and functions. The kids had an absolute ball, G and I explored every nook and cranny and I would love the opportunity to sail on the James Craig if it was ever possible!

Sydney 30.12.17-5We next explored the HMAS Onslow – an amazing 295 ft submarine, which was launched in 1968. The Onslow is still very close to operational condition so the alarms and all remain in function. I really enjoyed exploring this vessel but I must admit, I did start to feel pretty claustrophobic rather quickly! The HMAS Onslow has a proud history in serving Australia for nearly 30 years, venturing around the world more than 16 times! The kids loved using the periscopes, as did we!

We last visited the HMAS Vampire, a Destroyer which was the last of the Big Gun ships, as after this Australia’s fighting ships were equipped with missile weaponry. My favourite part of this ship were the 3 twin turrets housing with the 6 x 4.5-inch guns nd the 2 single-gun and 2 twin-gun Bofors anti-aircraft guns which you are able to get up close and personal to.

The Australian Maritime Museum is a fantastic adventure whether you are solo, with your partner, with your family and at any age at all. Kids do need to be at least 90cm high and need to be accompanied by an adult. You need to ensure you are wearing flat shoes and as it does involve climbing crouching and navigating confined spaces – it’s important to have a good level of physical ability.

A Big Ticket will give you access to everything open on the day of your visit – a family pass will cost $79 and adult tickets are $32. You can book here :).

Thank you Australian Maritime Museum for such a wonderful visit and special thanks to Bob for so passionately showing us around the James Craig and answering all of our boys questions  – we know he had a lot!

x C x

 

 

 

Boxing Day – Exploring the Eastern Suburbs <3

Boxing Day was one of those days where we could have opted to stay in bed and sleep the day away, or hit the day and hit it hard.

So…we decided to get dressed, hit to road and walk the 8km from Darlinghurst to Nielsen’s Point, to watch the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Sensible heads prevailed though and instead we caught an Uber to Rose Bay and walked the rest of the way to Nielsen’s Park. The walk took an hour or a so, but it was up hill the entire way. So any food and/or drinks from Christmas were quickly sweated out!

Watching the start of the race was so much fun and I was able to test out my new 24mm Canon pancake lens, it is going to take some getting used to but I definitely like it!

The walk was phenomenal but the difference in $$$ in terms of suburbs in Sydney was amazing! The Eastern Suburbs are something else! Have you ever seen a BMW Police Car? I have and I have to tell you it is one of the strangest out-of-this-world things I have ever witnessed!

Boxing Day-4G and I walked all the way along the Hermitage path back to Rose Bay – which was one hell of a walk! A LOT of stairs but so many absolutely beautiful spots to stop and try my new 24mm pancake lens!

After our walk we caught an Uber back to Darlinghurst and G went out to pick the kids up after their day with the other side of the family. I had every intention of doing some blogging but instead I found myself being woken up at 7pm by G and the kids – I had been asleep for nearly four hours!

Boxing Day-7I am not normally a big sleeper but I think when you are on holiday, the year catches up with you and you just need to wind down and rest!

We spent a lovely night together catching up and talking about Christmas and just enjoying each others company. Sydney is so beautiful, there is so much to do!

How did you spend Boxing Day? What is your tradition for the day?

x C x

Christmas in Sydney!

Christmas morning we woke up to the madness that is Santa and present deliveries, lollies and excitement in deciding which of Santa’s goodies will be making it to Grandma’s for Christmas day!DSC08075

We had the car packed and a fresh bag of fancy croissants and were on the road by 9am and heading out to the western suburbs. Once we got to our destination it was time for celebratory drinks and cuddles and putting the family gifts under the Christmas tree.

I had the excellent idea to have matching Christmas t-shirts, which quite frankly has to be one of my better ideas to date! 🙂

Christmas was filled with far too much food, amazing drinks, a sea of Christmas paper and presents for days!

As I was away from my family for the day, I needed to have a bit of my families Christmas tradition and so I decided to cook my annual Christmas ham.

IMG_8086Quite a bit of pressure to pull of the perfect Christmas ham in front of 16 members of another family!

Thankfully it worked out beautifully and even though my sister has referred to me as a #hamwhore – I truly believe it was worth the risk ;).

IMG_8223Christmas went off without a hitch – the kids came home with a truck load of presents, I scored a new 24mm pancake camera lens for my Canon and G loved his new GoPro!

A wonderful day and a reminder that Christmas is about each other and good times and we cannot afford to forget the reason for the season :).

I don’t think there is anything in this world quite as cute as my husband with his Grandma Ivy – just gorgeous ❤ x

x C x

Christmas Eve in Sydney!

Day Three – Christmas Eve in Sydney.

This morning we decided to explore Hyde Park – we forgot to check the weather and the four of us were basically dripping balls of sweat in 36+ degree heat for the morning. Which, considering the Christmas feed we intended on eating over the course of the next few days!

Hyde Park is one of Australia’s oldest public playgrounds and covers 40 acres. It is famed for it’s amazing fig-lined avenues and on a 36 degree day, the shade from these beauties was well appreciated! The efforts which has gone into the manicured gardens and the perfect rows of flowers shows the dedication Sydney has towards preserving the garden and their public areas.

We wandered around the park for an hour or so and then we grabbed coffee and watched a gorgeous elderly man playing chess on the oversized chess board in the park. We then walked back to our apartment and got ready to prepare for Christmas Eve!

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St Mary’s Cathedral had some absolutely beautiful Christmas Carols outside the front of the church during several different sessions. There was a pretty scary looking set of clouds coming on over but it was amazingly cool – which was a delightful break from the heat we had all day!

After the carols I wanted to try and see the church service, as it is something I do with my family each year, normally on Christmas morning. No luck there, far too many people (obviously!) – so we headed into the back of the room and listened to the first part and then headed home.

Once home it was Christmas carols, lollies and shortbread biscuits, getting ready for Santa with the kids, drinking adorable little apple juice shots on the rooftop looking at the sky and of course singing Christmas carols, drinking ginger beer/chocolate milk out of wine glasses and then having a midnight bedtime.

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When we woke up in the morning….look who had visited us?

Merry Christmas everyone!

x C x

It is the season to sparkle! Day 2 – Sydney :)

Good morning everyone!

Yesterday morning we flew down to Sydney, how lucky we are to only have an hour and a bit to fly to Sydney! As we were heading to the airport, we realised we had left something at home and had to turn around (whoops!). Thanks to our amazing Uber driver who drove us all the way home to pick it up and head back to the airport!

Our flight was amazing, thanks Qantas for the delicious yoghurt and snacks and thanks to G who once again gave me the window seat (even though it was his 🙂 – that’s love <3.

IMG_7909We were welcomed by the most amazing Uber driver Ross, who took us in to Darlinghurst, excited to talk about his city and it’s Christmas pride :). Sydney has absolutely turned on the weather! It is gorgeous!

I spent the morning walking around Darlinghurst and admiring all of the amazing big and beautiful trees and wide streets. I then went to the Green Park Tavern and waited for G to return with a car. I did spot the Four Pillars Christmas gin which I am keen to try as well! Hopefully sometime this trip I can!IMG_7872

Our Air BnB has an amazing view and is right near King’s Cross – it’s large and my MIL has given us a Christmas tree and decorations so we can get a jump on decorating the place for the kids!

We hit the shops for food and some drinks and then two of my amazing girlfriends came over for some rooftop drinks. Far too many wheels of cheese, salmon, prosciutto and dips was consumed – and now we are solid Aldi converts! I think Natalie should probably get some of your shares though because she sold it!

IMG_7874By the end of the night we had the speaker on the roof, dancing to Apple’s ‘Party Hit’s and then singing along to Chicken Fried and there were some Spice Girls. At the end of the day, I spent my youth in the 90’s, with what I believe was some of the BEST music for basic white girl shenanigans on top of a roof, over looking somewhere amazing and drinking Rosé ;).

This morning we are doing last minute present wrapping, waiting to go do a K-Mart run for the rest of our Santa pressies (just to help the guy out, you know?) and then we pick the kids up!

Tonight we are going to the Sydney Observatory Night Tour and I am SOOOO excited! It is a two hour tour and we will be able to enjoy our beautiful Southern Sky, visit the planetarium and do a dome tour. I think it is going to be absolutely brilliant!

IMG_7908I hope to take the new camera out and really get a feel for it – new cameras are always hard for me to wrap my head around!

Wishing you all a lovely day, I hope you are all preparing for your Christmas and you have finally finished work for the week!

x C x

Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve…and we are off to Sydney!

Good morning! Happy Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve!!! So I woke up and thought I would get a jump on my phone back up/last minute packing/trying not to stress about leaving my house for a week…..annnnd my Husband has just come out and told me that 5:30am is not awake time and I should go back to bed…

IMG_6681Anyways (I won’t be going back to bed) – I am sooo excited because today – we finally leave for our Christmas holiday/vacation! We are going inter-state for my Husband’s side of the families Christmas. My family and G and I live up in Queensland and his family lives in New South Wales…so it means many inter-state trips to Sydney etc., (and who could possibly be made about that?!).

IMG_6714Our trip this time is a little different and much more Christmas-on-steroids, because we will be sharing Christmas day with a very enthusiastic and kind 11 year old and a curious and sweet 9 year old. We have a few different things planned for them for the next week and I thought I would share them!

I had a bit of an incident with ‘Betty’, my beloved Canon 550D – the incident being she just stopped turning on (after I spent $80 on a brand new battery charger – of course). It was going to cost $200-$400 to have someone look at her to see what was wrong, but given she is nearly 8 years old and I could buy the same model for around $400-$500, sadly it just does not seem financially reasonable.

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So…my plans to purchase a new camera ahead of our Scandi-trip next year have been brought forward and I am now the proud owner of Dorothy (‘Dotty) – my new Canon 80D. Look I will be honest, Dotty and I haven’t quite worked each other out yet (in the words of Mariah ‘I don’t know her’), but I plan on becoming her BFFF over this next week (watch this space…).

Packing has been somewhat of a nightmare, honestly my own personal set of luggage scales has been an absolute life-changer!

We have some really cool things planned for Sydney, I cannot wait to share them with you. This trip is going to be really different because we are doing it as a family – so cannot wait to see how that goes in terms of activities and lines etc.,

Our flight leaves in a couple of hours, we will get into Sydney around lunch time and then we can make our way to Darlinghurst to check into our amazing lookingIMG_7816 Air BnB – its then time to Christmas the apartment up, before the little ones arrive tomorrow :).

Wising you all a wonderful December 22 – cannot wait to hear what you are all up to over Christmas!

x C x

 

What to pack for Norway?!

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^ Do you see how cold I am? That’s because it was winter in New York and I had packed jackets I wear here in Brisbane during “”winter””. That was dumb. Please help me 🙂

Hi guys & gals!

It is currently 30+ degrees here in Brisbane, I have had the air con on for the past 24 hours and cannot stop drinking icy cold water and wondering why I live where I live …when I am not really one for the heat!

I am all for gorgeous beach days and posts in the sun and summer dresses and cool cocktails, but I am way happier in the cool air at the change of season, enjoying cups of tea and being able to wear boots and scarfs….

Which brings me to my next point 🙂 !

I need some help from all of you lovely travellers / Northern Hemisphere locals in preparing for our trip next year. It is still ages down the track but with budgets and preparing for the trip, I would rather not leave it until the last minute to start purchasing what I need…

We are leaving end of September and will be gone through til the end of October next year. We are heading to London – Paris – Copenhagen – the Faroe Islands – Norway and Scotland…so far on my list I have…

  • Waterproof hiking shoes
  • Waterproof / all weather jacket
  • Thermal tops
  • Fleece lined leggings
  • Other shoes
  • Beanie
  • Scarf
  • Gloves
  • Trail socks

I would love to hear about any brands you like and trust? I really have no baseline to start from!

Happy Sunday x

P&O Comedy Cruise on the Pacific Dawn

For Christmas I was not too sure what to buy my Husband as his present. We had recently celebrated our amazing wedding and honeymoon only a couple of months before. So we had agreed to take it relatively easy on the present-giving. Except we both broke that promise and G bought me a brand new camera and I bought him (us) a three-night comedy cruise!

 

We had sailed with P&O Cruises last year for my 30th on the Pacific Aria, our three-night cruise was on the Pacific Dawn over the Anzac Day weekend. Luckily for us, the Dawn had a face lift before we were on her. All of the recreation areas had been done up and were looking beautiful. We had a balcony room because the ocean view rooms had all sold out and I 100% was not going to handle any sea-sickness in an interior room!

 

Our ship took off much later than expected due to technical issues but that really is not a problem because A) you are on holiday regardless if the ship is moving; and B) the bar is open whether or not the ship is moving ;). A three night cruise is completely different to a week long cruise (no, not just because of the timeframe), because you don’t feel as though you have to rush and take advantage of every activity on-board! You don’t need to feel guilty if you sleep-in, have day-naps, eat too much food and drink too many cocktails. This is the equivalent of a three-night weekend – but at sea and with no cleaning/cooking! Hooray!

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The Dawn is one of P&O’s older ships and has 11 guest decks, all of the new eatery options, waterslides (fun!), retail choices and also the P&O Edge Adventure Park. The beauty of cruises is once you pay for your tickets – you’ve covered your food, board and most of the activities. The additional costs you need to budget for is alcohol, bingo, whiskey tasting. wine classes, or if you wish to eat at Salt which has a cover-charge. In saying this, it is an inexpensive cover-charge for what you get! Dinner is only $49 per adult and that is unlimited sides, starters, your main and dessert. This is food by Luke Magnan – it is delicious!

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Salt restaurant also has a high-tea during the day, again at a very inexpensive cover charge ($20 I think it cost us) and is the ultimate day-date. A decent trade for the whiskey-tasting for G :).

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I love cruises, I call them my in-between holidays. When going overseas on a big holiday is not an option. They are so affordable – once you pay your deposit you can pay off your holiday over many years. You can now even load spending money onto your onboard account over the course of months/years – so you can plan ahead!

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My tip? Don’t pay full price. Wait for the sales which P&O have several times a year. Sometimes it is for additional on-board credit. sometimes it is free drink packages and sometimes you have the ability to upgrade your room for a small cost.

P&O Cruises– They’re having their Premium Drinks Package sale again now – so jump on it!

There are plenty of places to grab a drink, different shows and live music and of course daily trivia and games! We have been on three cruises with P&O now and I could quite happily go on a cruise every year!

Enjoy!

x C x

Coffs Harbour – Our Roadtrip <3

Coffs Harbour, famous for its Big Banana, coastal resorts, mild climate and fishing – is located about five hours from Brisbane and six hours from Sydney. It is the perfect overnight stop on a road-trip journey from capital to capital.

G and I took off from Brisbane mid-morning on our journey down to Sydney for the week. Unfortunately, this was when the M1/Pacific Highway was still being road-worked and so our journey took 7 or so hours. THANKFULLY we are firm believers in multiple car snacks, singing to ridiculous music (okay that one is just me, not G) and enjoying the scenery as you go!

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We stayed at the Breakfree Aanukua Beach Resort on the very beautiful Diggers Beach (not to be confused with Little Diggers beach – the nude beach!). This tropical little resort is located 3km from Coffs’ centre and is a nice little break from the mayhem. We stayed in a garden room to save costs, ate at the resort and enjoyed roaming around the resort.

On our second day at the resort the weather was amazing, we watched a fantastic storm roll in across the ocean – check out these pics!

Coffs Harbour 2IMG_4463We went to the Big Banana the morning we were heading off to finish our journey to Sydney – it is great for families and has a stack of things to do, but we were pretty time-poor and it was school holidays, so it wasn’t a long stop!

We also made our way up to the Sealy Lookout / Forest Sky Pier, which has a phenomenal lookout over the Coffs Coast (it’s 15m high!).

IMG_0493On our way out of Coffs’ we (thankfully) came across The Clog Barn – which is described as ‘a little piece of Holland’ –  hello dutch pancakes and amazing scones! There is also a miniature town out the back and a shop full of delightful knick-knacks!

Coffs Harbour is a nice location on the coast, you have the Dorrigo National Park on your back doorstep, beautiful water activities on the front and banana’s galore! Bushwalks for days, a heap of food choices and a good excuse to take a break in your driving for 1-2 nights :).

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Where is your favourite overnight stop on a road-trip?

x C x

My Melbourne in-a-day trip <3

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That’s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place” – Elite Daily

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One of my absolute nearest and dearest was having her baby shower about a month and a half ago, in Melbourne and there was no way I was going to be missing that! Unfortunately I was a bit time and $ poor, so couldn’t afford to go down and stay down. Luckily I found some pretty affordable flights, with the catch of it being a flight down to Melbourne at around 10am and a flight home around 7pm.IMG_2859

Can it be done? Absolutely First of all, you don’t need to pack anthing except your handbag, you don’t even need to pack make-up, because really – what you are wearing in the morning should really still be on your face by the time you leave to come home again!

Secondly, you can score a window seat. If, like me – you don’t need to get up to use the bathroom on the plane for a 2 hour flight then the window is perfect. Get your app going on your phone so you can watch complete nonsense mid-flight, read a book, have a nap – do whatever you like.

Thirdly, it is not too early to have a champagne on the plane, when heading to your first very best girlfriend’s babyshower, you celebrate with champagne! Champagne is also required, when you have been dieting like a mad-woman and spoil yourself with a  ham and cheese croissant ($10 thanks Brissie airport), which comes out as though its been involved in a bushfire. I still ate it though, it’s cheese and ham!IMG_2935

I saved time because my beautiful and very-pregnant gf picked me up with her gorgeous sister from the airport – laughing at my Queensland idiocy because it had been warm when I left home and was freezing when I made it to Melbourne!

K, L and I made our way to an amazing hot-chocolate coffee shop before the baby-shower…can you even imagine having a hot-chocolate store in Brisbane? It wouldn’t last! Yet Melbourne has 10+ chocolate and hot-chocolate specific places! We went to Mörk Chocolate Brew House, in North Melbourne. This place is divine! We had a little bit of a wait, but it was well worth it to experience the ‘Campfire’ – 70% dark hot chocolate served with Beechwood smoke (seriously, actual smoke in a glass), charcoal salt & toasted house-made marshmallow. It was delicious!

7752A7E4-E0B0-4FE0-9D01-9B1B8E03FBCCWe headed back to my gf’s house and it was nice to spend some time together just talking and getting excited about new bub’s impending arrival. When we made it to the baby shower, it was so beautiful seeing such an outpouring of love and generosity for my friend and her Husband – they are two of the most amazing people I have ever met and being so far away from them hurts. Knowing they are surrounded by so many incredible people and family members make it okay <3.

The baby shower was so beautiful, this was my first very close girlfriend to be welcoming a baby, which is a little unusual being we are in our 30’s – so it was such a blessing to be part of such a wonderful celebration. The food (catered by family members) was incredible, the company was amazing and the energy was pure love and happiness!

The baby shower was incredible, but before we knew it – it was time for me to head back to the airport, I panicked the entire way, I thought I had left it too late – however, I breezed through security, had time for another champagne and was on the plane heading back to my Husband, feeling a bit clucky mind-you!

Where is somewhere you have travelled just for a day?

P.S – My beautiful friend and her Husband welcomed a gorgeous little girl only a couple of weeks later. Welcome to the world little one!

x C x

Riverfire, Brisbane

Brisbane Riverfire is absolutely one of my favourite nights in the CBD, I like Riverfire much more than I like New Years Eve (way too much pressure to have a good night…).

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Brisbane has an annual Riverfire decorates and enraptures the spirit of Brisbane for the better part of the month of September each year. The city explodes into colour, joy and celebration & Riverfire is the final night fireworks display – which has a different theme each year and lights up the sky beautifully.

I have spent Riverfire out at Southbank, watching it from New Farm Park. I’ve watched it from the top of a street in Camp Hill whilst scarfing down Cold Rock ice-cream shamefully in my car. We have watched it from Riverfire at Kangaroo Point (highly recommend!!) and we have also watched it from the top of Oaks Aurora in Brisbane city.

I have gone quite a few times, it is one of my Mother’s favourite events and to be honest, mine as well. When you live in Brisbane, it isn’t such an arduous task getting into the CBD to watch the fireworks. My Husband is originally from Sydney, so he finds it hilarious that I can become frustrated waiting in traffic for half an hour to get from our house to the city :).

 

IMG_0038These pictures were taken from Oaks Aurora and you will see the view was amazing! We were eye-level with the Army helicopters and RAAF Super Hornets (AMAZING!!), could watch the river fill up with boats ready for the show and also enjoy the fireworks, from above. All in the comfort of our own unit, with snacks and drinks and not needing to wear shoes (always a solid plus for me!).

Also – the views look like this! If I had any photoshopping skills, I would remove the balcony, but I don’t and I couldn’t get the tripod any closer…so there it is!

IMG_0051_2_8961My best spots to watch Riverfire from (plenty of time to prepare for 2018…):

  • South Bank
  • Kangaroo Point Cliffs
  • Wilson’s Lookout
  • City Riverwalk
  • Riverside / Eagle Street
  • Riverlife (you can buy their drinks and dinner package which is affordable and has a great environment, as well as breezy location on the river); and
  • If you are after the fireworks only and not too fussed about how close you are to the action – then find a high vantage point anywhere within 10km of the city and you will be able to enjoy the show!

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Where is your favourite place to see Fireworks?

x C x

#SnapBrisbane – Brisbane’s 24 Hours of (increased) Insta-Fame <3

It’s no surprise to anyone how much I love Brisbane. I love, love, LOVE Brisbane. This is my home, I live here, wild-horses could not drag me to a new place to live. Ever. So when I remembered #snapbrisbane was coming up again – I knew I had to get out there and pound the pavement and get some new photos of the city I love so much!

My Insta: https://www.instagram.com/redhead_novaturient/

I started with about 18 pictures from the weekend (down from about 40), but that seemed a little excessive. I try not to post too many pictures on IG in any one day, but when there is a 24 hour IG event, I can’t help myself? Let’s showcase our girl! So, I settled on 9, G helped me cull (*crying because I had to say no to several of them*).

So here they are, the selected 9 – I hope you enjoy!

jacarandas again

Jacaranda Trees- ‘purple rain’ all through Brisbane from late September through to late November ❤

Courtney Gaye Kookaburra Queen Flowers

A sweet little view of the Kookaburra Queen, behind Mr and Mrs G bar down at Eagle Street/Riverside 🙂

the mansions

The Mansions, up on George Street in the CBD. Built in 1889, in gorgeous Victorian architecture style.

brick wall

This gorgeous brick wall, is located up the top of Beatrice Lane (off of Margaret Street) – the Former Watsons Brothers building was built in 1887 – the original stables are now used as a city Wilson’s carpark!

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Margaret Street has a sassy little red-door which commands attention! This is she….say hello!

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As we venture along the ‘Reflections on the River’ heritage walk, there was a road shut, so we couldn’t get to Queens Wharf Road, so as we kept along George Street – we then popped up this alleyway….look how cute it is!

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Jacaranda Trees will always be my favourite and they have been in Brisbane since 1864!

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South Bank in Brisbane is one of my favourite places and has been since I was a little girl – you cannot beat the beautiful archways with their buganvilia flowers :).

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The cutest little bee in some flowers, in a Coles car parking lot I took this morning (armed with shopping bags of course!!).

Well there you go, 9 pictures of my beloved Brisbane which I submitted as part of the #snapbrisbane event.

If you would like to see more – follow the below link! I heard today that one of my pictures is going to be published in the newspaper (my Kookaburra Queen picture!) – so I am unbelievably excited!

http://www.couriermail.com.au/questnews/snapbrisbane

Thank for reading, have a fantastic end of your week!

x C x

Moreton Island Magic

Living in South-East Queensland puts us in the most amazing position to access the gateway to many magical places. Moreton Island is one of these, it is a beautiful 37km long sand island located in Moreton Bay – off the coast off of SE Queensland. It is 95^ National Park, declared as such in 1986 (my birth year – yay!).

The Cape Moreton Conservation Park was declared in 2000 and it protects unique vegetation, wildlife, freshwater lakes and streams and the famous sand dunes along the coast. It has a wonderful history – with early aboriginal history and tragically it was also Queensland’s only whaling station from 1952 to 1962 (devastating fact).

The Cape Moreton Lighthouse was the very first lighthouse to be built off the Queensland Coast in 1857. It was built by tradesmen and convicts and was built to cope with the shipping movements along the northern coast of Australia. There is one of Queensland’s oldest grave sites up at the lighthouse as well.

Moreton Island is famous for its beaches, the Bulwer Beaches have clear and calm blue waters, sandy beaches and decent fishing near the Bulwer Wrecks. There are three wrecks which were placed along the beach in the 1930’s by a guy named Robert Alexander Gow, who had them placed there to shelter an area for him to unload/load his boat. They’ve all bust rusted away now – so you have a great place to explore – just be careful of the sharp edges!

Tangalooma Beach is very well known in this area, with a very popular tourist resort with dolphin feeding and access to the Tangalooma wrecks. These beautiful shipwrecks were placed in the area on purpose in order to create a wreck dive and snorkelling site. They are a result of 1963 lobbying by local boat owners for safe anchorage.

Moreton Island was also one of Australia’s major coastal defence bases during the world wars and there are some pretty amazing remains of military buildings, forts, gun placements and a naval base with jetty.

We spent Father’s Day over on Moreton Island, Mum had made a stack of food, I went in my little brother’s 4WD with my best mate and my parents went in their 4WD. Moreton Island is not able to be visited without a 4WD (if you want to venture beyond the resort itself). It was raining on and off but to be honest it made for the most beautiful scenery and the photos show the moodiness of the day.

Unfortunately my little brother refused to pose for a photo (kind of his thing…) but there were hundreds of starfish along the beach as we drove back to the ferry :).

An amazing day out if you have a 4WD, if you are on foot (visit the resort) or join a tour – for somewhere which is so close to Brisbane – it really is an excellent day out and one to mark off your SE QLD Bucket-List!

IMG_0100For more info on Moreton Island: http://www.visitmoretonisland.com/comeonover/gettinghere

Moreton Island is only 40km from Brisbane and you can get there by ferry, barge or boat. The ferries run daily and you don’t need a car to use the ferry. There are several different ferry companies, we caught the Micat with our vehicles and it cost around $100 for each vehicle and one person and it costs $18-$28 per passenger.

I hope you enjoy Moreton if you get there, have you travelled to any of the islands in Moreton Bay?

Enjoy your day and thanks for reading!

x C x

Great Ocean Road Valentine’s Escape <3

Melbourne FoodBuying Christmas presents become harder and harder, so my Husband and I have learnt that although gifts are great (as in physical gifts), well thought-out escapes, dinners and date ideas are even better. Thanks to Tigerair Australia really sprucing their two-for-one flights, Brisbane to Melbourne flights over the Valentine’s Day weekend popped up at a price which just could not be beaten! It was also our first getaway since our New York trip so we were beyond excited to be travelling again!

So – the tricky thing was we only had three nights to spare – if there is anything I have learned – you can absolutely see what you want to see in three days, never listen to the naysayers!

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My girlfriend picked us up when we flew in (we had three nights in Melbourne all up, so knew we needed to make it count!) and took us to the most delicious place in Richmond – Top Paddock for brunch. Excellent coffee and amazing brunch (picture above!).

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We then had a personalised tour of Brighton Beach, saw the famous Brighton beach huts, drove passed the Luna Park in St Kilda and then headed back to Toorak. We then went out to an amazing BBQ restaurant and had an amazing dinner with our friends. It is such a pain in the bum, being so far away from people you love – but when you have the fortune of having such amazing quality friends, then it makes it completely okay. At one point we thought we had accidentally lost our friends cat, panic ensued but thankfully he turned up. Otherwise we probably would have been declared worst house guests ever!

Early start, we woke up nice and early for a delicious breakfast and more amazing coffee (well done Melbourne on your coffee!). We made our way into town for our V-Day stay overnight in the city – ate an incredible lunch of Chinese food, ordered off an iPad – drank a stack of imported beers in celebration (and to try to fight the intense chilli burn we were not prepared for!). We stayed pretty inner-city, I think it was somewhere on Burke Street but cannot be sure (we got the room last minute at a pretty good price, so we weren’t too choosy on where we went!). G had booked us a Chinese Banquet in China-Town, it was my first crack at duck pancakes! Like I have said before, and like anyone from the city will tell you ‘Melbourne has great food’ 😉 and they really do, so it’s a fair comment!I honestly thought G was going to walk straight out of a coffee shop when he went to put sugar in his coffee and saw the above label on the jar. With good food and coffee – comes hipsters ha-ha. IMG_9439 (1)We spent the night in our hotel and then when we woke up, raided a local bakery and consumed our weight in coffee (our 4am start on the Friday was really catching up to us!). We then took a bus out to the Airport to pick up our rental car. After an incredibly long and arduous process (not sure why this continues to happen, even though you have booked online and already selected all of your options?!), we realised G’s license had expired and I had just undergone a knee surgery 2 weeks before our trip! Regardless, it was Great Ocean Road time!!! So it was a tentative drive for the first couple of hours, but then it was completely fine!

We had an amazingly beautiful, sunny day so the drive was phenomenal! Driving from Melbourne Airport out to the Great Ocean Road, depending on where you are driving to (as in how far up the road) can take anywhere from 2.5-3 hours to get the trip going. We drove west to east along the road, we spent most of the day stopping in at various headlands and were not disappointed – the views were incredible! We had picked a Sunday though, so it was a bit manic traffic wise.

Making it to the ’12’ Apostles is one of those more travel-defining moments, we have all seen them on postcards and in my case – I had poured through my parents’ old photographs of them. The Twelve Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks along the shor of the Great Ocean Road, nearest Port Campbell National Park. Currently there are 7-8 Apostles left and even though there are many missing, it is their proximity to each other which has made the site a popular tourist attraction.

They were formed by erosion, the extreme weather conditions of the Southern Ocean would have gradually eroded the soft limestone, forming caves in the cliffs, which have then became arches, which have collapsed – leaving rock stacks up to 50m high (the Apostles). They will continue to collapse as the years go on – one thing you will notice when you are in the area, is the power of the ocean down South!

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There is so much to do in the area, unfortunately we were only driving along the coastline briefly and for the day, so it was in and out for us – but you can see more options on the following link: – https://visit12apostles.com.au/attractions/

IMG_9467We actually drove much further than we had anticipated in the day – originally we had thought to stay in Port Campbell (about 240km from the Melbourne airport). We kept driving however and ended up stopping at Camperdown, which was another 60km inland. We spent the night in an adorable little cabin at the Lakes and Craters Holiday Park which was inexpensive, in a beautiful location and pretty comfortable. Also it had views for days!

Sure enough, the time on our express Great Ocean Road/Melbourne trip had come to an end and it was time to get back to Brisbane. The journey from Camperdown back to Melbourne airport only took a few hours, with a stop in Geelong for delicious pies :).

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It is entirely possible to visit parts of Australia just over a weekend, you won’t necessarily see everything, but it is enough to get out of the house and feel like you have had a mini-break!

Tell me, where is the best 2/3 day trip you have taken and why?

Have an amazing day!

x C x

Luxury Rainforest Getaway – The Mouses House

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We live in a concrete jungle, well – that’s probably a little over-dramatic. It’s hardly New York, Beijing or Sydney….we do live 9km away from the CBD in a pretty densely populated (but very beautiful!) suburb in the inner-east Brisbane area.

We both have pretty demanding full-time jobs, with G working over and above his typical working hours as well, given the nature of his job. We work hard and save hard and with work, the gym, usual every-day life commitments, sometimes we don’t get a lot of alone time together.

IMG_7571SO! When we do, we like to make it special! We first went to the Mouses House Rainforest Retreat after our six week absence from one another whilst I was running around South America and G was working and studying up in Northern Queensland.

The Mouses House is only an hour and a half from Brisbane and it has won so many tourism awards, the most recent being the 2017 Recognition of Excellence by Hotels Combined, with a score of 9.9. I am not at all surprised by this rating, the place is gorgeous and it really is not that far away from the highway.It is also set in the Springbrook National Park and is designed to be environmentally sustainable.

The next time we went was when we really needed a break and quiet weekend ahead of our Wedding. We took the weekend to work on our wedding music playlist, eat all of the cheese and whiskey and wine our way through a beautifully rainy and romantic weekend <3.

Both times we have arrived, we have actually felt peace fall over us as we have driven into the driveway. There are 14 chalets on-site, birds, running water, a shed to collect your firewood, trees galore and complete privacy – even though you have neighbours near by.

The chalets have all been so beautifully designed, it is honestly like staying in a Fairy Tale, which is quite apt given the adorable names of the original eight chalet’s, take from Walt Disney’s Snow White and the seven dwarfs. There is also the Wicked Witch, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and King Louie chalet’s.

Mouses House

If you are after a quiet place to spend sometime with your loved one, Wi-Fi, movies on demand, fireplaces, spa baths, a comfortable bed, high ceilings and the option to order breakfast/lunch/dinner baskets – then give the Mouses House a try – you will not be disappointed :).

You can stop at the Shopping Centre about half an hour away to stock up on food for the weekend (…and alcohol 😉 ) – failing that – you don’t even need to buy food! You can order amazingly thoughtful, generous and delicious gift baskets. G made us an amazing breakfast each morning on the Weber Q on the front porch and the BBQ dinner was amazing!

If you have been or do go, let me know! All I know, is that after we have stayed at Mouses House, experiencing the amazing hospitality of the owners – we are on Cloud-9, driving back down that mountain – ready for a new week!

The Mouses House  (*This is not a sponsored post, I just absolutely adore the Mouses House and could not recommend it more highly to you all to try out!)

x C x

Our Cheeky Sydney Trip in 48 hours.

IMG_0036_2 (1)The beauty of having amazing friends up and down the Eastern seaboard and overseas is that sometimes a regular birthday weekend catch-up can result in an express inter-state/overseas weekend!

Sydney is only an hour and a half by plane from Brisbane, so it makes it super easy to catch up with friends….if you can afford the airfares. Gone are our $79 one-way flights BNE-SYD, but if you book far enough ahead you can normally get flights for $99-$129 each way.

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So, you ask – how can you spend 48 hours in Sydney? The answer, in many MANY MANY different ways. For me, my priorities are normally: seeing friends, enjoying some drinks, visiting the botanical gardens, soaking in the Opera House and Sydney harbour with my eyes and catching the Manly Ferry across to Manly for ice-cream :).

5pm – fly into Sydney from Brisbane, head out to Air BnB organised earlier…realise cannot check into Air BnB for some time as it is being cleaned, settle at pub – Coco Cubano down the street and enjoy happy hour drinks until BFFFF from Christchurch flies in. See Kochie (of Sunrise fame)…boyfriend shakes head in embarrassment at your fan-girl moment.

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6.30pm – meet up with BFFFF, check into awkward Air BnB, where lady smoking charges $150 cash as a ‘cleaning fee’ and then puts you and your friends through the third degree about how many people are ‘really’ staying at the place for one night. Rude Air BnB host of rank little location (which is clearly filthy and not being cleaned to $150 quality after each stay) finally leaves after quizzing us all and after our other friend assures her that no, she won’t be sleeping there overnight and in fact, lives up the road. Just about kill yourselves using sh*t stairs of Air BnB and becoming stuck in the door ^^.

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8pm – go out for overpriced drinks at Darling Harbour and then make excellent decision to go ten pin bowling. Get rowdy, drink far too much. Once again, forget that Friday was meant to be casual and in-fact, Saturday was meant to be the wild night out for friends birthday.

9am – wake up in Air BnB, pack bags – avoid shower because it looks like you might actually catch something from it. Amazing man has already been out and rescues Jem and I with coffee and pastries.

IMG_129510am – Follow partner on express walking tour around Sydney. You are hungover. Dreadful decision. Walk from Air BnB all the way through Kings Cross, admire iconic Coca Cola sign, walk to Mrs Macquarie’s chair, head towards Wooly Bay Hotel. Enjoy delicious dirty-street-pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. Walk through Botanical Gardens and all the way down to the Opera House.

2pm – Beg partner to go on the Manly ferry – although he is a fierce anti-Northern beaches Sydney kinda guy. Win battle, take ferry – become horrendously sunburnt – walk to Ben & Jerry’s, enjoy mass-amounts of ice-cream. Be aggressively attacked by stupid seagulls whilst trying to take romantic picture with partner. Ge the sh*ts and-commence journey back to Darlinghurst.IMG_1314

4pm – Collect bags from Air BnB – attempt to avoid very weird, very strange, very odd Air BnB host. Grab taxi, race to Central Station, come across very odd street performance, man fighting a police officer with a thong and avoid people trying to scab smokes from you (you don’t have cigarettes), have minor thong blow out yourself – panic – fix thong. Make it to train on-time.

IMG_13095-6pm – Catch train from Central up to Hornsby – feel bad for the young couple with their brand new puppy (in secure puppy carrier) who are shamed via radio, by the train driver, through entire carriage and bullied off the carriage. Wish the drunken yobo at the front of the train making racist remarks and sneaking sips of beer was also kicked off train.

7pm – Arrive Hornby, enjoy amazing shower, get ready, have drinks and get ready to celebrate girlfriend’s 30th. Get to 30th, have mild sunstroke so abuse the bar-tab more than you should. Partner somehow ends up centre stage with girlfriend’s family members during celebration. Eat too many little cupcakes.

11pm – Catch taxi back to girlfriends house, partner forgets girlfriend’s parents are in taxi…long story short. Make it home.

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1pm – Wake up, enjoy hungover snacks and drinks on deck of girlfriend’s house. The catch train back into Kings Cross. Follow boyfriend to Una’s Restaurant so he can get his Schnitzel and German beer fix.

3pm – Visit Gelato Messina. Visit heaven briefly.

5pm – Make journey back to airport – fly home.

8pm – Walk through front door, have shower – go to bed. Realise you are back at work in less than 12 hours.

DONE – Satisfying yet small trip to Sydney in a weekend!

What is your must-do when you go to Sydney?

x C x

Daydreaming on Daydream Island <3

CoastWhat do you do, when you have enough frequent flyer points to take a random, last minute trip up to the Whitsunday Islands? What a ridiculous question, you go to the Whitsunday Islands (bank balance starts crying…).

The poor Whitsunday’s and Daydream Island in particular were really slammed with Cyclone Debbie in April, 2017. Currently they are rebuilding but the damage was vast and a $65million refurbishment is in process currently. Our visit to Daydream was before the destruction of Debbie.

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My best friend’s little sister was married on Daydream Island, it is an absolutely breathtaking little resort island, it measures 1km in length and 400m in its widest spot. It is not an island you go to for exploring, it is an island you go to for relaxation, a few cocktails and a swim. You can stay on the island but you don’t need to. You can take a ferry from anyone of the other islands, or even from Airlie Beach for around $50 return.

It isn’t open at the moment, due to the cyclone damage so not sure of the exact price anymore. There was a living reef on the island and the resort was very popular for weddings, which it will be again once she has been restored.IMG_9922 (1)

We travelled to Daydream Island last minute for our Easter Sunday because quite frankly, we needed some sun, needed a swim and had been watching far too many episodes of the Walking Dead.

Our ferry ride was excellent, anytime you can sit with the one you love, cruise through the beautiful Whitsunday’s and have a few beverages on the way to your destination, is a good day in my books!

We managed to score a perfect set-up right on the water, drank our cocktails and enjoyed our last day together (this was when G was up north for work and we were long-distance for a long while).

I think my favourite part about Daydream Island were the beautiful sirens out in the water, who doesn’t love a good mermaid? Unfortunately Cyclone Debbie washed them away during her fury, which, in terms of the catastrophic life-altering damage Debbie caused, is not overly serious. However it shows the magnitude of the Cyclone.

As a Whitsunday lover, I wish only the best to the area for its recovery from the Cyclone, I hope the recovery is successful, without our beautiful destinations – it has really hurt our tourism industry. Not just the industry, but many individual lives have been affected.

If there is anything I know for sure, it is that the spirit and heart of the Queenslander’s, particular of the Whitsunday coast is strong and dedicated. Debbie really hurt them and they rely on community and Government support to re-build. A lot of heart and dedication is shown by Queenslander’s and if you can support the tourism industry in anyway, please do!

Daydream Island may not be back up just yet, but the larger Islands in the Whitsunday’s, Airlie Beach and Bowen all have plenty on offer ⇊

http://www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au/

x C x

Pure Awkwardness

On one of our travel days in the mid-west we were driving from Madison/Milwaukee through to Sioux Falls, South Dakota – which is around a 6-7 hour drive. We had visited the Harley-Davidson Museum that morning so figured we had a decent drive ahead of us to get to Sioux Falls.

Unfortunately, around Chippewa Falls, our bus blew a tyre. So we had to pull over into the nearest car park. Which just so happened to be that of the Pure Pleasure Adult Entertainment Store (no, I sh*t you not).

We spent over three hours, in the carpark and out in the backlog of the adult store – waiting for the tyre to be fixed. It was hilarious. Who knew throwing pebbles onto a roof could turn into such an interesting way to pass time? Some people went inside and some of us stayed the hell out!

Travel….where sometimes the unexpected turns out to be some of the more memorable days.

All I know is once we got to Sioux Falls we had all had enough sun and mayhem to last a lifetime. Drinking games. Rising plastic cattle and consumption of pints of Ben & Jerry’s in a little college town 🙃.

XCX

You’ve always been beautiful – now you’re just deciding to be healthier, fitter, faster & stronger <3

stretchSomething a little different today, because we aren’t always travelling – sometimes we are saving, exercising, working and waiting for our next escape! This can get monotonous and boring though and it can be all too easy to slip into bad habits!

Women’s Health Australia performed a longitudinal study on Women’s Health starting in 1995 and assessing over 58,000 women around Australia. The study was performed via surveys every three-years and it looked at chronic disease, health service use and systems, social factors in health and well-being, health in rural and remote areas, women and mental health, roles and relationships, intergenerational issues, tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, weight, nutrition and physical activity, mental health, ageing, health service usage, formal and informal work patterns and work-family balance, caring and reproductive health. The study is ongoing and the results have really spot-lighted the gaps in Australia for women’s health.

happy I thought I would try to summarise what I know to be key points for women in their 30’s to build a foundation of good health. We are all so unique and individual – but these are what I have heard time and time again. At a quick summary – here are the basics…

  • We need to maintain a healthy weight
  • We need to keep our skin looking fresh and youthful
  • If we have any reproductive issues – anything from getting pregnant – or not – to dining appropriate and effective birth control
  • We need to prevent bone loss; and
  • We need to reduce stress.

foodIt is not that simple though – we also require bi-yearly (and sometimes annual) pap-smear checks, we perform our own breast checks, we need to monitor our energy and iron levels. We run homes, have careers, maintain our relationships and attempt to have a social life – as well as be there as a carer, counsellor, lover, partner, parent, finance controller and admin assistant in every avenue of our lives.

Oh – and our metabolism slows – so its an uphill battle with an exercise program and diet. PLUS we have wrinkles, thanks to our skin cells now forming slower – so don’t forget the proper cleansing process twice a day.

sunIf, like me, you have not yet had children yet – then you start to feel the pressure from those around us, the media and medical information. Too bad if you are aiming for good health, want to be financially secure and possibly be established in your career/relationship and self; because guess what? Your eggs are going one by one and that clock is a-ticking!

fertilityWatch your teeth, your diabetes risk, your eyes, your pelvis your breasts, your blood pressure, your sexual health, your thyroid, your skin (skin cancer risk), your weight, your immunisations, try to avoid the flu and make sure you are getting enough sleep.

So – lovely women of the world – what are your tips? How do you manage? What is your best advice? Lay it on me, I want to draw from your knowledge and experience!

Have a lovely day,

x C x