Sunday, 30 December 2012

Keeping It Real At Christmas

Let us let the little children have the fairies and the rest;
Let them keep the glad illusions of the years that are the best;
Let them know the joyous fancies of the mystic fairyland,
And the wonderful enchantments only they can understand-
For the years are coming to them when they’ll sigh, and softly grieve
That they left the realm of childhood and the Land of Make-Believe.

The Land of Make-Believe and Other Christmas Poems, Wilbur Nesbit

It seems the end of the world did not come about as predicted, so we forged ahead with the Holiday Season this year. I feel like even though every effort is made to to keep things a low key affair, without spending too much money on gifts and food and all the trimmings, the general energy leading up to Christmas Day is rushed and frenetic and stressed. Then all of a sudden, come Christmas Eve, everything just drops – the buzz quietens down as people get on with cooking and festivities, friends and family. And welcoming Santa Claus. 

For me Christmas is really all about the kids, and this one was the time that we had to lie outright to our 14 month old and start the whole 'Santa is real thing'. I was conflicted – just be straight from the start and tell him like it is? Treat him as an adult early on so he can mature to face the world around him? Or allow his imagination to be free to believe in the extraordinary, things not of this world? I figure the boy is only young and he will have plenty of time to deal with reality when his buddies break it to him in the school yard, or when he sees the gift we bought him and gets it in his stocking the next morning. I had taken him to sit on Santa's lap and he cried his eyes out. He will work it out in his own time that Santa is just some strange old man who gets paid to put on a smelly suit. Let him believe in the make-believe until that time comes.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Keepers and Chuckers

Pic Courtesty of 6 Minutes of Interesting Stuff for Doctors Today

I am fascinated by the extremes of the Human Condition.  I have been obsessed with the reality TV program "Hoarding: Buried Alive" on Foxtel's Bio channel. I can't get enough of it and I am really interested in the deeper rooted emotional and psychological issues that cause individuals to compulsively accumulate and hoard.

My friend Catherine Merchant has recently produced a program for ABC RadioNational - "Keepers and Chuckers". It deals with the very subject. Merchant explores the fine line between attachment to objects and hoarding. The show is about learning to get rid of things.

Our relationship with stuff is highly idiosyncratic. Some people like to hang on to everything they've ever acquired in a ramshackle and dishevelled style; others crave minimalism and bare spaces. Some say they are 'organised' hoarders; others like to keep everything for a while, then go on throw-away binges. And then there are those who believe ‘junk’ is something they will need a few days later, if they do get rid of it. For them, everything is a resource. No matter our style, 'stuff' is what we must deal withand it's everywhere. Keepers and Chuckers

Appartamento 57

Located on Queen Street, Woollahra, in a heritage apartment building, Appartamento 57 has recently opened and there is nothing like it in Sydney. This gem of a store oozes cool character, charm and sophisticated style. Owners Sharon and Damian Fisher showcase pre-loved, high-end international labels such as Lanvin, Dries Van Note, Erdem, Stella McCartney and Alberta Ferretti - amongst others brands - and the space is a mecca for luxury at an affordable price. New fashion pieces arrive weekly, so there is always something fresh. Amongst the fashion, Men's tees, art, Homewares and unique pieces make Appartamento 57 a mix of high-end class and cool street style. 

In store now - Celine, Louis Vuitton and Gucci handbags and a new shipment of Homewares and Furniture. 

39 Queen Street Woollahra Sydney

Store Hours: 
Monday-Saturday 10-6
Sunday Closed

Saturday, 17 November 2012

No Time Like The Present

When I contemplate how it is that I have ended up as a new Mum on a farm at the end of a dirt road with my crazy life amongst my family, the dogs, chickens, cows and horses and the unforgiving elements, I compare it to how busy I always was when I was working. In fashion retail you are always looking at least two seasons ahead, so it was sometimes hard to focus on the here and now. I always felt stressed and anxiety ridden. I was constantly on the go and forever scrambling to catch up with myself. 

Here on our property amongst the flora, fauna and the natural landscape, everything just takes a more simple, organic and much quieter course. Time really slows down in the country and instead of racing from appointment to office to stores and travelling overseas up to four times a year for buying, my days are now punctuated by our son's naps, cooking, washing and endless walks through the paddocks with him and our dogs. Some days I am feeding him in his high chair and as I gaze out the window at our Arcadia with the cows and horses casually grazing in the 100 degree scorching heat, all I want to do is scream. I have resisted and been dragged kicking, so as not to slip into the seemingly borderline banal passing of time - until I recently realised that this is my chapter to learn to be in the present moment. To just breathe, as the breath is the only thing that connects us to the present. I say this as I take shallow breaths from my upper chest. 

Having a child also forces you to get down to the basics and just drop back the pace a little. When I am cursing my monotonous days of washing and cleaning up and feeding the kid and animals, alone and isolated whilst my partner is at work, I try to remind myself that had I not moved to our property, but had kept on with my career in Sydney, I would never have had the opportunity to really strip back to live a much quieter existence and learnt to let go of a lot of things that really don't matter. Having said that, I still fantasise about being in a photo shoot feeding the chickens, wearing my Hunter Wellington Boots and my Nina Ricci ostrich feather sweater - aka. the one worn by Carrie in Sex And the City. So when I beat myself up for not getting to my yoga classes - only a picnic and a thermos away - I figure that I shouldn't be so hard on myself and that this is my yoga - be like Buddha and just live in the now. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ellie's Fail-Proof Chocolate Sponge Cake

It was our Son’s first birthday a couple of weeks ago and we had a party for 50 of our nearest and dearest. Not confident enough in my cake baking skills I ordered a dinosaur themed cake and cupcakes from My Little Cupcake.

We had an intimate party a few days before with the Grandmas, and I was determined to try at least to bake a cake for his first birthday. My partner loves a chocolate sponge cake, and as it’s all about him, I thought I would give it a go. I can bake cupcakes and muffins and cookies, however my forte has never been a cake. I tried a Chocolate Sponge from a recipe I found online. The result was so bad that even the horses wouldn't eat it. I didn't want to resort to packet mix so I asked my partner’s Mum. She gave me this one from her neighbors Nana, Ellie. I didn’t end up serving mine, but this is a good and easy recipe, and edible even made by a novice like me. Apparently packet mix is the way to go and it is all about the icing. 

2 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 cup castor sugar
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large or 2 small eggs
1/3 cup soft butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients into large bowl. Add sugar, butter, milk, vanilla and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. 

Bake in preheated oven 180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes.

Monday, 29 October 2012


Pics Courtesy of

Halloween is my one of my favourite celebrations, next to Thanksgiving. It was one part of living in the USA that rubbed off on me. In the States they live it large at Halloween. I love the costumes, the 'hallowedness', the bonfires and the ghouls. Not to mention the sweets. It is my Son's first Halloween and I am going to carve pumpkins. I bought him a vampire mask to put on for a photo opportunity. Not sure if a 1 year old will be into that, I guess I will find out. 

Here are some inspirations for home style Halloween decoration from Martha Stewart.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Another Time Another Place

All those years I was travelling to Paris and Milan to buy for my stores arida and attic, I didn't think it was going to end. It was such a busy and stressful time, despite being rewarding and inspiring in many ways. The fashion industry felt like a wonderful, fabulous and scary merry go round that you couldn't get off. It was a fun ride.

Recently I sold both stores. It feels like the end of an era. It has been bittersweet making such a big change but I am crazy about things to come - launching an e-tail business, being a mother and Domestic Executive and living on our farm. I now can look back at the last two decades of experience through the romance of rose coloured glasses. Here are some of my personal photographic mementos.



Sunday, 7 October 2012

Berry Beats 'N Bowls

If you think lawn bowls was just for old folks think again. Berry has the bowling green spinning with DJ Nana Blade and Guests. If you are day tripping or living local check out the barefoot beats on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month from 2pm. 
Berry Bowling Club, 140 Princes Highway, Berry NSW. Visit Berry Beats 'n Bowls for more details and links to old school Hip Hop masters such as De La Soul and Grandmaster Flash. Launches Sunday 21 October 2012.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Farm Hands

pic courtesy of Aaron Joel Santos

Obsessed with how dry and aged my hands have become lately, in my despair I took to an online search for miracle creams to buy. On my travels I came across this site The Hands of a Farmer: The Story of American Agriculture Through the Hands of Farmers

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Nobody Told Me There Would Be Days Like These

Today I........
  • Woke at 6am to feed our son scrambled eggs. He played with them and fed them to the dogs.
  • Cleaned the house for the cleaner.
  • Caught our horse to assist the vet mend her hoof abscess.
  • Climbed the electric fence to feed the chickens and collect eggs whilst on lookout for Diamond Python in coop.
  • Drove an hour with son to pick up chainsaw attachment for wipper snipper.
  • Helped cleaner/maintenance man work out how to attach chainsaw to wipper snipper to cut brush around house so snakes could not hide and kill baby and/or dogs.
  • Took son and dogs for walk only to accidentally let cows through gate to house paddock when they thought son in pram was wheelbarrow of hay.
  • Helped cleaner/maintenance man chase cows back into main paddock with lure of food.
  • Pushed son in Mountain Buggy through paddocks for afternoon walk with stick to fight off sunning snakes.
  • Put on 1,000,000th load of washing for the day.
  • Met with local fire volunteer at home to discuss bush fire plan in case of emergency.
  • Called farrier.
  • Organised water cartage to fill our tanks so I could do 1,000,001th load of washing for the day.
  • Fed chicken and leek pasta dinner to our son. He played with it and fed it to the dogs.
  • Waited desperately until 6pm for glass of wine.
  • Went to bed at 9.30pm with dog while partner watched sport on tv.

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Suicide and mental health are issues close to my heart. My father took his life after suffering depression. I have suffered bouts of depression through my teenage and adult years and experienced mild Post Natal Depression soon after my son was born. I have friends who have suffered depression. I follow the work of Black Dog Institute and beyondblue and have always thought that there needed to be a foundation that was current, relevant and dedicated specifically to educating and campaigning against the prevention of suicide, as well as supporting positive mental health. It turns out there is.

R U OK? is an independent, non-profit organisation committed to providing national focus and leadership on suicide prevention. It encourages people to have open and honest conversations to build a more connected community who support each other through life's ups and downs. 

R U OK?Day was launched in Parliament in 2009 and only an estimated 58% of the population know about the national day. I am part of that statistic as I have only just stumbled across the organisation recently, despite doing my research (I know I live on a farm, but that is no excuse...) R U OK?Day is a national day of action to empower people from all walks of life to ask each other R U OK? Despite being a prevalent issue the subject of mental health is still quite taboo and needs more open discussion and exposure. So reach out. Thursday 13 September 2012 is R U OK?Day. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

It Used To Be So Simple

It was my partner's birthday recently and as I drove down to Sydney to meet him to see a movie together, I considered this fact. You see, in the car I had my son, one dog in the back seat with him, the other dog (who vomits) in the boot area (so she would vomit only on the plastic flooring and I could hose it down), the pram, my bags, my son's bags, my son's food and the dog beds. It had taken me the better part of the day getting everyone organized and the car packed. We were staying at my partner's parents place and they were babysitting the dogs and baby. It had been planned a week before. It had become a military operation. No longer can I leave home with just my cell phone and wallet. It used to be so simple.  

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

It's The Little Things

That I miss about living in the city. I wouldn' t change my life on the farm for anything, and I get all claustrophobic after too much time in town. However, when I stay in Sydney I am reminded of the small things I forget about, being on a property. The sound of a car late into the night, a siren waking you up as it screams by. Signs of human life. Stepping out for a coffee. People. Seeing friends without having to arrange it weeks in advance. People. Cafes. Restaurants. Stores. The energy of the city. The hum. The grit. The smells. The angst. The rattle of a train in the distance. Just knowing that there are people around. Culture. The ease and convenience. Did I mention people? 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Weekend Chores

We spent the best part of Saturday vacuuming the paddock. That's right. A paddock vacuum. Think your Miele on steroids. Greystone MaxiVac. Electric Blue. It sits attached to the back of the ATV and sucks up horse and cow manure. Someone must have thought it a good alternative to shoveling. Never thought I would find it so satisfying. Fun for the whole family.