GIVE A LITTLE, SOCIAL, WATCH LIVEALITTLE.TV

We shined & we dined with great success!

It was certainly a night to remember and one to never forget. A night of glitz, glamour and sophistication, The Annual Shine & Dine 2014. Hundreds of beautiful guests, VIPs and celebrities  came together in support of one cause, Make-A-Wish. An incredible organisation that provides children who are facing life-threatening illnesses, an opportunity to have their wishes come true.

Doltone House was transformed into a black, gold and sparkly vision, with every table dotted with extravagant candelabras. It was just beautiful. We had spectacular live performances from Casey Burgess and Mis Joelle, a live and silent auction, a candle lighting ceremony and balloon popping. However the most beautiful moment of the evening (and what ultimately the whole night is about) was witnessing six-year-old Brianna Younie, receive her wish from wedding dress guru, Henry Roth, a stay in the Gold Coast to have fun at the theme parks. It was incredibly emotional, but also uplifting to be able to see exactly where the funds raised goes to. Brianna, I hope you have a spectacular time! As the red carpet interviewer, it was wonderful to meet and chat with major sponsors, celebrities and ambassadors who all positively impacted the event in one way or another. Many thanks to Field of Art Productions who put together all the videos. You can check out my interviews below with footie legend Beau Ryan who talks about his involvement with the Shine & Dine and returning guest – singer and song writer, Casey Burgess. I also got to catch up with celebrity chef and ambassador Massimo Mele. I also got to boogie on down with INXS rock legend Jon Fariss who tells me all about the incredible guitar that was donated for the night.

I had a lot of enquiries after the event about my dress. Perfect for the occasion, it curtainly shined. My gown was provided by the incredible Indian-Australian based designer, WANNI. I was dressed in a custom couture gown from Wanni’s ‘A Whimsical Evening’ S/S ’14/’14 Collection. The stunning neck piece, is painstakingly hand sewn over five long days. I also had a hand-made Indian head piece in the back of my hair. Many thanks to Lattouf Hair and Napoleon Perdis for my beautiful hair and makeup.

I want to also take the opportunity to congratulate Sharon Melhem from Kouture Productions, the brains and founder of the Shine and Dine on such a spectacular evening. Two months out from the event and still people are talking about it! I want to extend my congratulations and thanks to all the sponsors, donators and guests who made the night simply perfect. I cannot wait to see what the Shine and Dine 2015 has in store and I hope to see you all there next year!

GASTRONOMY

A taste of Southern Europe: Mordeo, Sydney

It’s wonderful to see so many new and exciting venues opening up in and around Sydney. As prospective diners, we are completely spoilt for choice. Now I am a sucker for European food – Spanish tapas, Greek dishes and beautiful Italian pastas – you name it, I’ll eat it. So when I attended the launch of Mordeo a couple of weeks ago, I was in foodie heaven. Located on the corner of Philip and Hunter in Sydney’s CBD, Mordeo is architectually stunning. Offering an inside-outside feel, with 15 metre high ceilings surrounding the bistro and bar. In the middle of Mordeo, as a key feature there are a number of architecturally designed lamp shades, giving the whole venue a sophisticated, city-slicker feel.

Despite being blown away by the surroundings, the Southern European inspired food was just as spectacular. Owner and Executive Chef Nicholas Aspros with Head Chef Marc Gehret designed a mouth-watering tasting menu for the 200 guests. Whilst being serenaded by the sounds of Ritmos Latinos and Greek Bouzouki player Telly Andrew, I dined on pork hock terrine with a fig chutney & pear salad, grilled quail with caramelised red onion salsa, pea risotto with sage & lberico Jamon, and chicken Ballotine with pearl barley. I also tried the spinach & a hazelnut salad, squid ink Gnocchi with truffle salumi, margherita mini pizza with basil and whitebait croquetas with a cauliflower mayonnaise. If that wasn’t enough, we were then treated to produce from artisan Spanish charcuteria La Boqueria by Nomad Distribution, and a buffet offering slow cooked octopus Carpaccio with split green beans and chorizo sausage, BBQ lamb ribs with Pedro Ximenez and two delicious desserts – catalana and loukoumadis.

With such an extensive menu, Mordeo matched this, and gave us a range of options to wash all the tasty food down with. There were three beautiful cocktails that were served on arrival, Red Wolf – White Wolf cream ale with Campari, Antica formula red vermouth & a blood orange foam; Jamon & chargrilled pineapple Sazerac with a Jamon & sage crisp – Jamon and Pedro Ximenez butter washed Hennessey VSOP with a chargrilled pineapple shrub, pechauds bitters; and Cold Drip Spiced Rum Old Fashioned – Kracken spiced rum, cold drip single origin coffee, cold drip syrup, angostura bitters with a twist of orange. Wine tasting stations by suppliers Fox Wine and Broadway Liquor Distributors offered guests a luxurious selection of reds and whites from Italy, Spain & France, staying true to the Southern European genre of the bistro, and beers included the venues own brew ‘White Wolf’ on tap.

Given Mordeo’s central location, it’s the perfect option for a mid-week office lunch and intimate dinner dates or post work Friday drinks with friends. It has a wonderful atmosphere, offering patrons not only a unique visual experience, but a delicious menu that will transport you temporarily to Southern Europe. So go on live a little and try MordeoI

Mordeo Bar & Bistro
126 Philip St
(On the corner of Philip & Hunter)
Sydney NSW

info@mordeo.com.au
02 9232 1306
Mordeo Bistro and Bar on Urbanspoon

The bright lights of Hong Kong: Where to stay?

Hong Kong – a bustling harbour-side city full of life, colour and action. Accessible around the clock, there are quite literally, hundreds of dining, shopping and hotel options to satisfy travellers, tourists and its 7 million residents. Deciding where to go, what to do and where to stay can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have limited time. Plus, after spending a few hours researching on the net, you can walk away from your computer exhausted and confused. Hong Kong can be extremely expensive, if you’re not careful. However, there are certain areas (in my case dining and hotels) where a little bit of luxury never goes astray. In fact, sophistication and glamour is certainly a given when it comes to Hong Kong. Luxury shopping, high-end hotels and fine dining restaurants are in the bucket loads across the city. I’ve put together a few posts, which you can consider as my Live a Little in Hong Kong plan, that is guaranteed to keep you busy and feel a little bit glam!

Hotel of Choice: Langham Place Hotel, Mongkok
This is the third time I have stayed at the Langham Place Hotel and never have been disappointed. A little different to the other main hotel chains in both location and design, the five-star Langham Place is placed slap-bang in the middle of Mongkok, the most densely populated area in the world. I love being in the middle of the residential area, as you can step out and feel like you’re right in the heart of everything. Shopping, dining and day/night markets are all in walking distance. From a design perspective, the Langham Place is modern, unique and a little bit quirky. From it’s ‘Langham Pink” and grey colour scheme, to its modern Chinese art dotted around the hotel, the decor is intriguingly amazing. Everywhere you look, there is something to enjoy visually. There are a couple of bars, dining options, gym, high end spa and rooftop pool. Plus, the staff are extremely helpful, knowledgeable of Hong Kong and extremely well presented (the ladies uniforms are super cute!).

I stayed in a ‘Club L’ room, which are kept on the top six levels of the hotel. Not only are you given a separate check in area, club guests have access to a range of extra perks. Guests are treated to complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea, champagne and canapés and late night supper every day. The ‘Club L’ lounge is a gorgeous space, that offers floor to ceiling views of the Hong Kong cityscape. Additionally, guests automatically receive a late 2.00pm check out, complimentary wi-fi, access to board room, fax/copy/printing services, complimentary access to the gym, steam room, sauna and rooftop pool. In my eyes, it’s always worth paying a little extra to be in club rooms, as the privileges that you get in return, are so worth it!

The hotel rooms are just as beautiful and well maintained as the rest of the hotel – we were in room 3801, a corner room that had incredible views over looking parts of the Harbour and cityscapes. You have your normal room amenities, but they have upped it a notch – flat screen televisions, DVD players, high-tech phones, printers in the room, fully stocked mini bar and a wide selection of luxury teas/coffees. Plus, the Langham Place is known for its amazing bedding and pillow menu option, so if you prefer your pillow a little more firm, or you need something malleable and soft, then you can organise house keeping to bring up any pillow that suits your needs. Quirky touches just make your stay a little more special. As I mentioned before, the Langham Place prides its self offering an experience for the senses, and if you look around your room you’ll find rubix cubes, jelly beans and gel eye masks. Every night, you receive a little gift to make your sleeping a little easier too! The bathrooms are just gorgeous with mirrors and glass detailings everywhere.. The bathroom extras are top notch with nail and shaving kits on offer, cleansing pads, shampoo, bath salts, loofahs and much more on offer.

The Langham Place is the perfect setting and location for a top-notch getaway in Hong Kong. The hotel itself is:

– within walking distance of famous street markets such as Ladies’ Market, Temple Street Market and Jade Market
– a direct connection to Langham Place Shopping Mall and Mongkok MTR (subway) station
– 15 minutes to Central
– 35 minutes from Hong Kong International Airport.

Although there aren’t as many restaurants, bars and nightclubs in walking distance per say, the staff are more than happy to organise cabs and drivers for you. Taxis in Hong Kong are super cheap, so it’s not going to burn your wallet to get around the city. So don’t let the Mongkok location deter you at all! As per my first paragraph, I have stayed here three times and never been disappointed. The hotel calls itself a hotel that has ‘thought of everything’ – and they aren’t far off. Every aspect of a hotel stay has been catered for, whether you’re a business traveller, a family of four or after a girly trip away (in my case!).

I can’t wait to share with you some more of my dining, shopping and relaxing ideas for Hong Kong (so stay tuned), but for now, when it comes to accommodation, I hope I have got your brain spurring! After all, we all need to live a little, so next time you do, consider the magical city of Hong Kong!

GIVE A LITTLE

Get behind the CEO Sleepout 2014!

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“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up…” – John Holmes.

Right now, whilst we are all preparing our family dinners or perhaps heading home after a long day at work, or just settling in to watch out favourite TV series that have been pre-recorded for us, perhaps we should all take a second to think. To really think. Did you know that there are 100,000 people experiencing homelessness tonight, with 17,000 of these people being children under the age of 12? Can you believe it? We live in Australia, a modern, democratic and civilised society, where in my eyes, homelessness should not even exist!

I am so proud to announce once again, after being involved for four years, that my father, Phil Crenigan is generously raising money for St Vincent de Paul by sleeping out tomorrow night. You’ll find below him speaking so eloquently about the issue of homelessness and why he has been continuously getting involved from the CEO Sleepout 2013.


For those who aren’t aware, the CEO Sleepout is an initiative whereby CEOs, managers and high profile executives get together for one night and quite literally sleep out in order to raise funds for St Vincent de Paul. Last year, 5.3 million dollars was raised and the money has funded new projects, assisted with the provision of existing homeless services and allowed Vinnies homeless services to expand their programs.

With just 24 hours to go, please show your support to St Vincent de Paul as well as my Dad my aiding in his $11,000 target, of which he is so close to! If you wish to donate and be a part of such a worthy cause, then click here. I am so proud of my Dad and of all the CEOs who will be sleeping by his side tomorrow and have so generously given up their time for such a beautiful cause.

So tonight, when you’re wrapped up warm in your PJs and Ugg boots settling on the couch for the evening or out and about braving the cold for the Origin match, think of those 100,000 people who won’t have an opportunity to go home tonight. Despite me always telling you to live a little, giving a little can be just as satisfying.

GASTRONOMY, SOCIAL

Get Cosy at The Cottage

Is everyone starting to feel the winter chill? I must admit, this weekend certainly confirmed that winter is here! Temperatures are dropping, the sun is setting a lot earlier and its so tempting to want to stay indoors and hibernate until spring. However, winter is the perfect time to venture out! Crazy I know, but I can promise you, winter is where you can brave the cold, head out and try some new venues.

I recently attended the winter menu launch at the very quaint, yet very cool, The Cottage Bar & Kitchen in Balmain. If you have never been and not sure what to look out for, you’ll be greeted by quite literally, a cottage slap bang in the middle of Darling St. Fairy lights are dotted across the alfresco area out the front and once you enter the bar & kitchen, you’ll instantly feel warm, cosy and a little fuzzy inside. Cute vintage style knick-knacks and art works are placed all throughout the cottage, giving it a homely and inviting feel.

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So what about the food and drink? Well, we were treated to a brand new winter menu, designed by head chef Ellen Young. We feasted on some delicious dishes, including roasted cauliflower with pulled lamb shoulder, raisins and vinaigrette; maple & cider beef brisket with celeriac crisp and horseradish cream; arancini of tomato, smoked mozzarella and parmesan; mushrooms stuffed with barley, dried fruit, herbs and chevre; and Yellowfin tuna tartare with beetroot relish, apple, pickled fennel, dukkah. I was completely blown away by the never ending supply of freshly shucked oysters served at the oyster bar, which were the perfect starter. To finish, we nibbled on on an extensive selection of European cheeses.

Offering an extensive cocktail menu, The Cottage Bar & Kitchen is even the perfect venue to catch up with friends for a few drinks. We were presented with some brand new cocktails created by co-owner Osman Misirlizade, all of which used fresh ingredients and have impeccable presentation – there was the Speyside Sour which consists of Glenfiddich 12 year and ginger liqueur lengthened with lemon juice, honey water and finished with orange bitters; The Slow Cuban which is a twist on the mojito, including Plymouth sloe gin shaken with pressed mint and lime and charged with soda; and the Lemon & Basil Gimlet consisting of Citron vodka & limoncello shaken with fresh basil, lemon and lime. It certainly was a treat for the taste buds!

The Cottage Bar & Kitchen not only offers delicious food and cocktails, but is the perfect venue to explore during the winter months – whether you are on a romantic date for two or holding a big birthday bash with friends and family, you’ll certainly be catered for. It offers such a warm and friendly ambiance. After your first visit, you’ll see why it is such a hit amongst Balmain’s trendiest.

So next time you’re ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ about whether or not to venture out, put on a brave face (and your best winter coat) and live a little. summer will be here in no time, so we might as well make the best of it!

The Cottage Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

GASTRONOMY, SOCIAL

Sony QX – The bloggers dream!

One of the biggest perils of being a blogger is lugging around an SLR camera – I always want to provide my readers with top quality images, so it’s a necessity to have my Nikon on me at all times. However, it can be extremely invading, irritating to carry and near-on impossible to take subtle photographs without people thinking your a social photographer. Small digital cameras are fabulous, but there is an essence of quality when you use a SLR, and the photographic finish always looks so professional.

This week I was introduced to the solution at the very trendy So Cal, in Neutral Bay. Surrounded by fellow lifestyle and food bloggers, we were presented with the Sony QX. Whilst dining on a delicious Southern Cali menu, we got to have a play with our very own Sony QX. So Cal was the perfect place to snap away too. We were out in the courtyard, which was cosy, but still fun. With gorgeous wall detailing, coloured lights and pot plants, it really gave off a lovely vibe. We were lucky enough to witness one of the chefs doing a live demo, which was a wonderful photo opportunity. On inspection, the QX looks like a lens that you would attach to a camera, but actually is a mini camera in itself. I was amazed – the best thing about it, is that is can be operated completely through your smartphone to capture high quality, clear and beautiful images. All the pictures below were captured on my QX100.

So, for all my photography-savvy readers, you need to know the specs. The Cyber-shot DSC-QX100 features a large 1.0-type Exmor R CMOS sensor with 20.2 effective megapixels. You can enjoy sumptuous, ultra-low noise images – even indoors or at dusk when many cameras and camera phones seem to struggle. It’s simple to frame shots and tweak camera settings like aperture control and exposure compensation as well as photo/video record mode on your smartphone’s big touchscreen. You now get more creative control than ever before and more than you’d ever get with your phone’s regular camera enabling the user to capture beautifully background defocussed shots. Everything’s easily accessible, with extra dedicated keys for fingertip control of zoom and shutter release on the camera body. The DSC-QX100 is also teamed with a wide-aperture Carl Zeiss Vario- Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom with Optical SteadyShot giving all the picture quality you’d expect from a premium pocket camera. For those, who might be new to the photographic world, or want something a little less complicated, then you can try the QX10. Cost wise, for QX10, you’re looking at around $299.00 and for the QX100, $599.00 (Sony’s current prices).

The QX100 is a smart, pocket size answer to getting high quality images. If you’re wanting to capture the perfect selfie, the delicious meal you’ve had or beautiful holiday snaps, the QX100 can allow you to do so with ease. I must admit, it does take a while to get around using the lens and then your smartphone as the viewfinder, but once mastered, you won’t ever look back. This video, gives you a sense of how you can actually use your QX100 out and about.

I am so excited to share with you more photos and videos, where I can now use my QX100. It going to make blogging so much more exciting and a little easier. I would love to know if anyone out there has the QX100, and how they are finding it, or if they have any tips or tricks? If you’re looking for a new camera, then I would strongly suggest the QX range. Snap happy and live a little!

SOCIAL

The Annual Shine & Dine 2014

Shine&Dine_master_cmyk_MASTER I am super excited to announce that once again I am involved in The Annual Shine & Dine 2014, as their official red carpet presenter! Last year was truly a memorable evening. Hundreds of glamarous guests turned up to the very glitzy Doltone House to be treated to a beautiful three course meal, spectacular entertainment and an array of surprises, all whilst raising thousands of dollars, for Make-A-Wish Australia.  Here are some snaps from last year:

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The Annual Shine & Dine team have made a conscious effort to make the event, bigger and better than last year. We’re aiming to raise $100,000 on the night, doubling our efforts from 2013. Happening on Friday 13th June, from 7.00pm. Guests will be treated to a night of luxury. Hosted by radio and television personality Sami Lukis. You’ll be treated to a red carpet entrance, entertainment from talent including Casey Burgess and Mis Joelle, a decedent three course meal, a range of drinks, silent and live auctions, a few suprises and the chance to win a stunning 2.03 carat ring from sponsors House of K’Dor. How? By purchasing a ‘Wishing Key’ for $100.00 on the night. If you’re the lucky owner of the key than can unlock the box, then you will be the proud owner of the beautiful ring!

   Not only are you going to have a night to remember, every dollar raised on the night goes to Make-A-Wish Australia, a wonderful charity granting wishes and providing hope and joy to children and families who are need. You will also get to witness the efforts of Make-A-Wish Australia on the night. Six year old Brianna, pictured below has been diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukaemia. The beautiful Brianna and her family will be attending The Annual Shine & Dine this year and on this very special night, she will have her wish, of having a holiday on the Gold Coast to visit the theme parks, granted. It will certainly be a magical moment.

Beautiful Brianna.

Beautiful Brianna.

I am truly blessed to be involved in such a wonderful cause, so please please please come along – I will be interviewing guests on the red carpet, so make sure you come and say hi! The perfect excuse for you to get glammed up and enjoy a wonderful night out, whilst changing peoples lives. Let’s make a difference together.

DETAILS: 13TH OF JUNE 2014. 7PM CHAMPAGNE ARRIVAL FOR A 7:45PM START AND WILL CONCLUDE AT 11:30PM VENUE: HERITAGE WHARF ROOM JONES BAY WHARF, DOLTONE HOUSE. PIERS 19-21, UPPER DECK, 26-32 PIRRAMA ROAD, PYRMONT NSW 2009 AGENDA: 3-COURSE DINNER ACCOMPANIED BY SELECTED ALCOHOL, FOLLOWED BY DECADENT CANDY BAR. SPECIAL PERFORMANCES FROM CASEY BURGESS & MIS JOELLE. HOSTED BY AUSTRALIAN TELEVISION AND RADIO PERSONALITY SAMI LUKIS.
ATTIRE: BLACK TIE AFTER PARTY: VIP HUGO’S LOUNGE, 33 BAYSWATER ROAD KINGS CROSS PARKING: DISCOUNTED WILSON PARKING STATION FOR ALL GUESTS OPPOSITE THE VENUE
TICKETS: $230 + BF TABLE OF TEN: $2000 + BF SPONSORSHIP PACKAGES ALSO AVAILABLE
GASTRONOMY

uTaste – the gourmet deliverers!

How wonderful is cooking? Actually, let me rephrase that – once you’ve done all the cooking, how wonderful is eating? I have been entertaining quite a lot recently and love to provide my guests with delicious meals and snacks. I love to be able to support local businesses and producers, so when I do go shopping, I am always on the hunt for ethically produced, great tasting food, that I am and my guests are going to love..

If you’re a foodie like me, then you will squeal with delight at what I have stumbled across. I was recently introduced to uTaste, a monthly delivery service that connects you with delicious gourmet food products. From gourmet producers of chocolates, wines, macarons, coffee, teas, savory snacks, sauces and whatever else, your uTaste box will be beautifully packaged up and sent to you each month for just $29.00 (plus $5.50 for shipping).

I was sent my first ever uTaste box and was so excited to open it up and see what was inside!

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Baylies of Strathalbyn | Rosemary Lavash
Situated in the idylic country setting of rural South Australia, Baylies of Strathalbyn produce quality gourmet products using the finest fruit, flour, wine and brandy South Australia has to offer. Partner these traditional Southern European crackers with cheese and dip.

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Gourmet Lovers | EVOO & Balsamic Vinegar
Gourmet Lovers provide premium quality Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). This product has an aromatic flavour with a sweet taste and is perfect served with fresh crusty bread or a delicious and easy salad dressing!

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Padre Coffee | Honduras Jose Marel Portillo
Padre Coffee was born in Brunswick back in 2008. This blend, named for the farmer that produces it, the Jose Marel is a sweet, well-balanced and complex cup with notes of honey and florals. Clean acidity and a creamy body lead to a caramel finish.

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Morish | Savoury Nibbles
Hand crafted confectionary, produced to a traditional family recipe, using premium Australian produce. The Savoury Nibbles include dry roasted Australian macadamias and cashews dusted with organically farmed salt, blended with oven baked pretzels. Ideal with your favourite drink! 

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Aurelio | Basilico Pasta Sauce
The Basilico Pasta by Aurelio combines traditional Italian ingredients to ensure a classic rich Italian taste. Delicious with pasta or perfect for a bolognese sauce.

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Melbourne City Rooftop Honey | Honey Test Tube ‘Stinger’ 
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey are bee keepers with the vision of bringing bees back to the city and suburbs of Melbourne. These test tube ‘stingers’ are the perfect taster of their delicious honey.

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How gorgeous does all the products look? I cannot wait to tuck into them! And I bet you’re asking, how do I get my hands on a uTaste box? Well, firstly you need to head to www.good44.com, a website that allows you to shop for beautiful products and decide when you want it delivered (weekly or monthly). The uTaste box, is under Food or you can find it here. Then all you need to do, is sit back, relax and wait for your delivery! Easy peasy! You can also organise a special gift for friends and family through Good 44 too.

So go on, live a little and live gourmet! Bon appetit!

BEAUTY + WELLBEING

It’s time to get real with Carefree

Periods and vaginas. Two words that make most of us squirm. Yet, when you think about it, there are nearly 12 million females living in Australia alone, that either will be getting, are having or have had their own experience with their period. Despite it being one of the most natural bodily functions for women across the globe, it still seems to be frustratingly taboo. Why is this though? Why do we as women, feel ashamed by something that we cannot change?

Just over a week ago, I attended an all womens breakfast, hosted by Carefree Australia and the ever amazing Dr Ginni Mansberg. I was lucky enough to meet Dr Mansberg at another health event, where we discussed the taboo of ‘sex’. You can read about it here. Dr Mansberg is an incredible figure, who you would most notably recognise as the female doctor for the Embarrassing Bodies Down Under series. She is a practicing GP and in particular, womens health. It was wonderful to hear her speak again and shed some light on the many misconceptions that women have around their period.

At the breakfast, we were encouraged to discuss openly any issues or questions we had about periods, menstrual health, vaginas or even tampon use. It was so refreshing to be able to speak so freely about a topic that I find even sharing with friends, can be an uncomfortable experience. What shocked me was that women described their friends as ‘vulgar’, ‘crude’, ’embarrassing’ and even ‘weird’ that spoke with them about their period (based on Carefree’s research). These words have such a negative connotation, despite the fact that we, as women, share the exact same experience, every single month.

Another area that was shocking, was the many misconceptions around tampon use. 26% of women still believe that a tampon can get lost inside you and 47% women believe that you can only wear a tampon for four hours – wrong, they can be worn unto 8! And finally, 75% of women choose not to wear a tampon at night for fear of Toxic Shock Sydnrome. Dr Mansberg explains, “It is a condition, but extremely rare. Despite an enormous amount of research, there have been no studies which have shown that wearing tampons for up to eight hours – day or night – raises the risk of TSS”.

In response to this, Carefree have done two things, they launched their night time claim with their existing ‘Flexia Tampon’ and  recently launched their ‘Be Real’ campaign. I never thought I would be sharing my thoughts on tampons on the blog, but hey ho, there is always a first! The ‘Flexia’ has been designed to be able to be worn at night, and as we learnt that many women didn’t know that they even could! What is fantastic about the ‘Flexia’, is the winged design. Carefree had added innovative SoftFold® wings technology to their tampon design meaning they draw fluid into the core, catching fluid that other tampons miss, so there’s less likelihood of a leakage. So you can have a restful nights sleep with out a worry.

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As a mentioned before, Carefree also launched their ‘Be Real’ campaign, shedding a light on the issue of periods, putting it out there in the open and encouraging women to speak freely about their experiences. As I’ve learnt, so many women have misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to their periods and especially tampon usage. I am sure you have seen their recent television commercial (which is certainly causing a stir). If you haven’t seen it, view it below:

What do you think? As a female viewer, can you relate, or do you think it’s pushing the boat too far? Perhaps you’re a male viewer, so what are your thoughts? The main aim by Carefree is to open up the conversation and ‘get real’ about periods, do you think this could ignite the conversation? Carefree are encouraging conversation beyond the television ad, especially on their Facebook page. But obviously many women are still very embarrassed, so for those women out there, who are a little more private, if you have any questions about your period, you can ask them here and they will be answered by a professional.

Do you think this sort of campaign is a game changer? Can we break down those barriers? Can we alter the statistics? Menstrual health is something that has been so badly marketed in the past, that we have created these misconceptions and misunderstandings. In some religious societies to this day, women who have their period are considered ‘unclean’ and are marked, so the whole of their social circle know. We need a ‘earthquake shaking’ shift surrounding the issue of periods – and not just amongst women. Men, boys, perhaps even children need to be educated. It’s about getting real about the situation. And I think that Carefree are doing a fantastic job about getting the topic out there in the open and starting the shift. But realistically, the education needs to go beyond women, to the whole of society, before we start to see really start to see a momentous change. Period (don’t mind the pun).

#bereal #becarefree
www.carefree.com.au
www.facebook.com/CarefreeAustralia

The Bali Diaries: Part Three – Villa Love

I am finally back online.. After coming home after Bali and literally moving in that day, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Between juggling work and uni, it’s been insane. I’ve finally been linked up with my Internet!

What a perfect time to be reminiscing about my incredible trip to the Indonesian island of Bali? It’s such a beautiful place with so much culture, atmosphere and colour. One of the hardest and most difficult decisions to make, is where to stay. With so many beautiful resorts, hotels and accommodation options, it can be a little overwhelming. Whilst I was in Bali, I stayed in a few different places, which gave me scope to try out some different accommodation. One of the most popular forms of holidaying, especially in South East Asia, is the private villa. I guess the main difference is the privacy. Unlike hotels, you are left to your own style of holidaying. Many private villas come with their own pools, meaning that you don’t even have to step outside of your own complex. Plus, you often get your own kitchen area, meaning you can cook your own meals and eat at your own leisure. Many of the villas offer a butler/chef service, so at any point in time, you can have delicious meals cooked just for you. Whilst I was in Bali, I stayed in three private villas – all were extremely different with their service.

1. The Seiryu Villas, Seminyak
Jalan Drupadi, Kuta, Bandung, Bali 80361
www.seiryvillas.com

Pros:
1. Loved the privacy – we were rarely disturbed and basically could have holidayed in the villa.
2. The bathroom door that opened out to the pool was amazing.
3. Loved the quirky decor that was dotted around the villa.
4. Service of food was fantastic – meals would be cooked outside of your room and brought to you. However, if you did want a chef to come in, that could also be arranged.

Cons:
1. Whilst we were staying there, across the road there was a severe amount of construction going on and we had floodlights streaming into our villa until 11.00pm and banging and rattling until the early hours of the morning.
2. There is no ‘communal’ area – so if you like to meet people that you’re holidaying with, then this set up wouldn’t work. It’s very much designed for couples and honeymooners that want to relax.
3. The outside isn’t particularly wowing, so don’t judge a book by its cover!

 

2. The Elysian, Seminyak
Jalan Sari Dewi 18, Seminyak
www.theelysian.com

Pros:
1. The Elysian was a bit more of a hotel set up – there was a restaurant, bar conference room, communal pool area and spa.
2. We spent Valentines Day night there, and the staff went above and beyond to make it a special experience for us. They really do want to make your stay magical.
3. Loved the food. Breakfast in the morning was divine.
4. Had a bus service that could take you into town whenever you needed.

Cons:
1. It’s really hard to find! It’s down lots of teeny tiny weeny streets. You can walk to Seminyak town, but it is a bit of a way.
2. It’s extremely expensive to stay at The Elysian and I felt that it was no more luxurious than the Seiryu, yet there was at least a $200.00 a night difference between the two.
3. If they are marketing themselves as more of a hotel, they could add a gymnasium, sauna and spa to justify the high villa rates.
4. You can’t cook your own meals in your villa – you can have a chef, dine in the restaurant or head out into town.

 

The Puri Sunia Resort
Ubud, Bali.
www.purisuniaresort.com 

 

Pros:
1. The surroundings are gorgeous – you feel like you’re in a jungle. Ubud as an area is much more relaxing, it’s a lot greener and lusher. If that’s the type of holiday you’re after, then Ubud is the spot to go to.
2. The villas are much more traditional in design – thatched roofs, wooden furnishings and a canopy bed with mosquito net!
3. A beautiful outdoor bathroom adds to that jungle feel.
4. As a resort, the overall feeling is much more tranquil, offering walks, cycling and yoga.

Cons:
1. If you do want to head into town, you have to take a 15 minute bus. The resort is quite a way out of Ubud Town Centre.
2. There is only one restaurant, so you’re limited with your dining options.
3. If you’re not very good with bugs – be careful! Ants come into your room at the sniff of food and there are creepy crawlies all in the garden. Mosquitos galore too. So be mindful!

 

If you’re looking for a personalised service, holidaying flexibility and a little bit more privacy, then the villa is the perfect option. I would suggest that the villa set up would suit couples, honeymooners or single travellers. Less confronting than the big chain hotels, you can certainly have a memorable getaway.

Live a little and book your next trip to Bali!

 

 

FOR THE CAT LOVERS

The Bali Diaries: Part Two – Villa Kitty

As you all know, I am completely and utterly mad for cats. Perhaps you could call it an obsession, but I don’t like coming across too crazy. They are my favourite animal in the entire world. Not only am I passionate about them as a pet, I am also passionate about their welfare. Cats are beautiful creatures that offer potential owners a wonderful companionship – they offer affection, loyalty and love and unlike some other pets, like dogs, require less daily attention. They are happy to be left alone (bot not for too long) and can often amuse themselves. For anyone that is living in a townhouse or apartment environment, cats are the perfection option. So for me, any opportunity to be involved with projects or programs that look after cats around the world is a given for me.

I was walking down the main street in Ubud, when I stumbled across a car parked. What drew me in was the magnetic sign on the sign of the car which read ‘Villa Kitty’, paired with a picture of a cat. I literally jumped and squealed in delight (my boyfriend Pete can definitely confirm that one!) and I immediately wanted to know more. As soon as I got back to the hotel room, I found out that ‘Villa Kitty’, located on the outskirts of Ubud, is a not-for-profit organisation solely focused on rescuing Bali’s abandoned kittens and cats and finding them suitable homes.

Founded by fellow cat lover and Australian, Elizabeth Henzell back in 2009, ‘Villa Kitty’ originally was a “Cats and Kittens Section” in another shelter in Lodtunduh. Elizabeth was asked to look after three tiny kittens, but simply didn’t have the time. Instead, she employed two of her friends, who were looking for work at the time to look after them. From humble beginnings, with just three care takers, two vet assistants and Elizabeth, ‘Villa Kitty’ has grown enormously, with now, twenty three staff. The ‘Villa Kitty’ veterinarian team is led by one of Bali’s most respected vet surgeons, Drh Karnata, with Drh Isa and Drh Sinta caring for all their beautiful cats and kittens.

I was so excited to head down to ‘Villa Kitty’, meet the team and of course, meet the beautiful cats and kittens house there. All in all, there are currently 113 furry friends being looked after. I was in complete and utter kitty heaven.

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There are so many wonderful people who are involved in the success and running of ‘Villa Kitty’, from vet assistants, to food preppers, a chef, cleaners, care takers, gardeners, security.. The list goes on. There is even a dog trainer, who feeds and trains the ‘Villa Kitty’ dogs (yes, dogs, even kitties need protection sometimes too!). It makes me so incredibly happy to see other people from around the world, passionate about providing the right care, attention and love to abandoned animals.

Elizabeth, whilst providing a safe and protective environment for all the felines, also runs successfully community projects. ‘Every Child Deserves a Kittten’, was a projected started in 2013. ‘Villa Kitty’ in partnership with SOS Children’s Village, placed 14 desexed and vaccinated kittens into eight different homes so the children and their foster mothers can have the opportunity to look after their own kitten. Additionally, Elizabeth has started a reading group for children, using the ‘Villa Kitty’ as a base – children are also welcome to ‘Villa Kitty’ every Wednesday from 10am – 12pm, where they can assist the staff with looking after the felines.

If you’re a cat lover like me and you’re in Bali, live a little, and do yourself a favour and drop in to ‘Villa Kitty’! The staff are incredibly friendly and you are more than welcome to meet all the feline residents. The cats and kittens loved it when Pete and I walked in – they are extremely curious and want to play!

As ‘Villa Kitty’ is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, support, where possible is always graciously received. If you would like to offer support, you can email Elizabeth directly at elizabeth@villakittybali.com. 

Villa Kitty
Jalan Ambarawati,
Banjar Tengah Lodtunduh
Ubud, Bali

The Bali Diaries: Part One

The Indonesian island of Bali is a must visit for all Australians – considering where we are, hopping on a 5 hour flight to get to paradise doesn’t seem too difficult. With plenty of flights offered by an array of airlines, getting to Bali has never been easier. This time around I flew with Virgin Australia return for less than $600.00.

Having been in Bali a few times, there are certain areas that I have fallen in love with more so than others. It’s really important to outline exactly what you want from your trip, because Bali first timers can be thrown. Kuta is perfect for party lovers – think nightclubs, bucket drinks, lots of markets and plenty of people about. It is full of hustle and bustle, has an eclectic nightlife and can be a little overwhelming. On the other hand, Ubud (where I am writing from now) is a little less shall we say ‘in your face’ and provides a much more relaxing, peaceful environment. It’s an area that is great for nature lovers, as many of the hotels and villas are surrounded by jungle, greenery and rice paddies. It’s a little bit more ‘spiritual’ with plenty of yoga retreats and health and wellness spas. Then there are plenty of spots in between – Sanur, Seminyak and Legian just to name a few.

This time around, my iteniry consists of Seminyak and Jimbaran Bay. I was meant to fly into Yogakarta in Java, however Mother Nature put her foot down by erupting Mount Kelud. I am not sure what sort of coverage this event has been getting back home, but from the press here in Bali, I’ve learnt that many people have been displaced from their homes and sadly there have been a small number of fatalities. So my thoughts and prayers go out to all the people affected. Hence why I am now writing from Ubud. Since my flights were cancelled, I had three days to fill. Funnily it was a blessing in disguise, as I never intended to stay in Ubud.

Here’s a few snaps of what I’ve been unto over the past few days, to give you a little insight:

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be doing a few posts about my adventures in Bali – from accommodation ideas, to my favourite spots to dine, to a very special kitty post! It is a rich and colourful country with so much to offer, so keep your eyes peeled! In the mean time, stay happy, stay safe and don’t forget to live a little!

 

GASTRONOMY

You’ll ‘ooh and ahh’ when you check out the Crow Bar!

There are certainly a lot of wine bars, small bars and tapas bars cropping up around Sydney. But what exactly is the formula for success? In quite a competitive market, how do these establishments stand out from the crowd, so that we, the all important ‘customer’ always go back. I have tried a lot of small bars in the past – some have been themed, some offer a very extensive menu, some focus just on international wines and some have been quite obviously a rushed start up.

All of them certainly offer an interesting experience in one way or another, but I always seem to walk away thinking, there was ‘something’ missing, food could have been a bit better, the menu was a little pricey, the atmosphere was dead or decor was unfinished.

I stumbled across ‘The Crow Bar‘ one evening as I was trying to find somewhere to have a bite to eat. I noticed that it was new, and as you all know, I love trying new venues out. Located on the corner of Willoughby Lane and Burlington Street, ‘The Crow Bar’ is in prime position. Opposite the Crows Nest carpark, you’ll walk out and see it straight away. I was instantly drawn in by the soft lighting and warm ambiance and could see that there was certainly an atmosphere. On arrival, people were laughing, there was a mixture of old time crooners and modern hits playing in the background and everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. There was a mixture of groups, couples intimately dining and people dropping by for a quick drink.

For me, welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly staff is a must for a small bar. Poor service and lack of customer understanding is simply not acceptable. If you’re planning on offering a dining experience in a smaller space, it should be a given – no excuses. Now, John Cantle, part owner of ‘The Crow Bar’ is a absolute rockstar at this. He made an effort to speak to everyone the evening I was there, discussed the menu, made sure my table was properly fed and hydrated, and believe it or not, had a bit chat with me! And after looking at other reviews online, John and his team are now known for their welcoming and hospitable service. Not only is he friendly, engaging and passionate, he really does know his stuff. After chatting, I found out that he and his partners Tracy Cantle (his wife) and Kerry Hewitt (sister in law) have been in the industry for many years, and they themselves have been on the same quest as me – finding the perfect small bar. However, they went one step further and started one themselves and I am pretty thankful that they did.

John describes his cocktail list and food menu as ‘simple and sexy’. The head chef, Anna Borna has put together a menu that is diverse, but not complicated. What you read, is quite literally what you get. This is something I noticed straight away with ‘The Crow Bar’, every single ingredient that was listed in the menu items, you could taste. Many dining establishments will attempt to get away with not having all the ingredients listed in their meals – and it’s very frustrating. But to put it simply, the food at ‘The Crow Bar’ is delicious and some of the best small bar share plates I’ve ever eaten. It’s flavoursome, interesting and presented beautifully. John and his team know their menu inside out, which shows an air of professionalism. If you’re unsure of what to pick, they’ll be more than happy to aid in your decision making.

Luke Hovatta, the bar manager and his bar tending team made up of Maxwell Thompson and Jamie Muscat also represent the concept of ‘simple and stylish’ in the cocktail list. There is an extensive list of classics cocktails, but I would be encouraging you to try the signature cocktails exclusively designed by Luke for ‘The Crow Bar’. Once again, all the cocktails I witnessed being made were presented beautifully and were full of personality, texture and colour. I was made the ‘Gay Jay’, a delightfully refreshing, delicate and light cocktail – just divine! It’s really obvious that the bar staff are truly passionate and highly experienced. It was an experience in itself watching them magically create the cocktails. The boys were happy to offer suggestions based on what you normally drink, or really keen for you try something new. Alongside a stunning cocktail list, there is premium beers, wines and spirits, all hand picked by the staff.

The decor and interiors of ‘The Crow Bar’ are just gorgeous. Modern, simple and stylish. Split into two parts, the front bar is where most of the action is. Surrounded by big glass windows, the space is airy and light. There is plenty of seating, made up of bar stools and tables, which are are dotted around the main feature of the room – the stunning backlight bar. Down a corridor, you enter another bar area, that is slightly more enclosed and a little quieter. This part of the bar can be hired for private functions, and right at the back has a small room with sliding doors – offering guests privacy when needed. Without being over the top, there are touches of luxury everywhere; from the velour detailing in the wall, dark oak furniture, crystal chandeliers and beautiful leather couches. It’s the perfect mix of contemporary and opulence.

It’s really obvious that John, Tracey and Kerry have put a lot of thought and effort into ‘The Crow Bar’. Even down to the name and logo itself. John jokingly explained that each of the three crows, represent the three owners. John in the middle, being badgered by his wife on the right and his sister in law being distracted by them on the left. I  really love these sorts of touches of personality, which you’ll find dotted around the bar, in the decor, the menu and artwork. It adds flair to the venue and is a great starting point for conversation.

Going back to my original question, what makes a successful small bar? What is the formula? Well, in a way John already answered it when I asked him how he would describe his bar. Simple and stylish. That’s it. Simplicity is the key. I find if everything is too complicated, over the top or even rushed, the whole point of dining in a small bar environment is lost. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I’d imagine as customers we wan’t to eat beautiful food and drink delicious cocktails in a pleasant environment, feel that we’re coughing up a reasonable amount for the service and finally, we want to be looked after. John, Tracey, Kerry and ‘The Crow Bar’ team offer this, not sometimes, all the time. The formula is simple and it’s exactly why people keep going back.

If you’re still not small bar satisfied and on the hunt for the perfect venue, then I encourage you to live a little and head straight down to  ‘The Crow Bar’, you won’t be disappointed and you will definitely be back.

Website: www.thecrowbar.com.au  Facebook: www.facebook.com/thecrowbar
Twitter: @crowbarperch  Phone: 02 9439 7888

Hours of Operation:
Mon: Closed
Tue: 3pm to Midnight
Wed: 3pm to Midnight
Thu: 3pm to Midnight
Fri: 3pm to Midnight
Sat: 3pm to Midnight
Sun: 3pm to 10pm

The Crow Bar on Urbanspoon

Tropical Travel Essentials

I am off to Bali in a week and I have already started the packing process. I always like to pack well in advance for holidays. I know it seems a bit excessive, but I have in the past, suffered from ‘last minute packing stress’ – which I am sure many of you out there can relate to. You know, when left to the last minute, we have a mini anxiety attack, throwing every single piece of clothing and shoes that we own into a suitcase, aggressively trying to zip it up (usually whilst sitting on it) and then collapsing into a heap on the floor after dealing with the physical struggle. Then you realise that you’re only allowed 24 kilos on the flight, so you attempt to weigh your suitcase (which seems to weigh like an elephant anyway) on your bathroom scales, praying that you don’t have to open that darned suitcase again.

That moment of craziness only hits us once we arrive at our destination, when we open up our suitcase and realise that we packed 5 white singlets (which all look the same), a pair of Ugg boots, despite the fact we’re holidaying in Thailand, not enough undies, and as always, realising that our toothbrush and iPhone charger are still at home.

You know what I’ve learnt? Only pack the essentials. Sounds easier than it looks, but when it comes to tropical holidaying, you really don’t need a lot of ‘stuff’. I’ve put together a few tips that I’ve found has helped me enormously when I’ve travelled.

1. Put together a re-useable wardrobe.
Pack pieces that can be easily dressed up or down, that could be worn during the day and during the night and also together. When you pack your suitcase and you look at your wardrobe try and match the colours and prints. A printed maxi dress could be worn during the day by the pool, but can also be jazzed up for night with some jewellery, heels and a little clutch bag. Another tip – pack clothing that doesn’t need much maintenance. For example, linen crushes really easily, so make sure you have access to an iron or laundry facilities at your hotel if you are going to pack clothing that needs TLC.

2. Never fill your suitcase.
Always leave some room when you’re departing on your trip – you are going to find some amazing pieces, accessories and jewlery on your travels. As I mentioned before, always consider the baggage limit. You don’t want to be hit with that sneaky fee, if your suitcase tips the scales by a couple of kilos. Unfortunately in my experience airlines don’t budge, if you’re over, you’re over – even by a kilo or so!

3. Have a spare bag handy.
In the front pocket of your suitcase, always pack a really lightweight expandable bag that could pass as ‘carry on’ luggage. This tip (taught to me by my mum) is really great for those out there that would classify themselves as a bit of a shopaholic. If you go a little crazy on the souvenir shopping on your travels, then you do have an extra bag to pop all your purchases in, without going over your baggage limit.

4. Think tight when it comes to toiletries.
When I say ‘tight’ – I mean it in two ways, be limited with what you put in your beauty case and also how you pack your products. Be realistic about what you need. Is it essential to bring your volumising 2 litre hairspray can and every single foundation that you own under the sun? Probably not. I find when I am on holiday, I wear less makeup and care less about my hair – I usually want to give it a once over with some shine spray. Also, pack travel size – toothpaste, shampoos, conditioners, not only it is a legal requirement with your carry on luggage now, but you can chuck toiletries away at the end of your trip, instead of lugging them back home. Finally, in your beauty case, line it with a plastic bag, to avoid spillage and leakage (which has happened to me on numerous occasions).

5. Make copies of everything.
This tip isn’t particularly about ‘packing’ as such, but still is super important. Make sure you photocopy your passport, drivers licence consulate and hotel information at least twice. Keep a copy in your suitcase and keep a copy in your handbag. Whilst you are overseas, utilise the safe in your room and lock away all valuables. There is nothing worse then having your passport stolen, so having multiple copies in reach is always good – just in case you find yourself in a spot of bother.

As I mentioned before I have already started packing. Inspired by luxury, the tropics and everything ‘islandy’ These are my top travel essentials that I’ll be taking along with me to Bali next week.

My 'Bali Basics'

Starting from the bottom left:

My Sportsgirl tortoiseshell ‘cat style’ (of course!) sunnies.

My beautiful leather travel journal that was given to me by my godfather, so I can write my thoughts, ideas and inspirations whilst I am away.

My favourite hair product right now, the Kevin Murphy repairing shine mist, which actually has flecks of of gold in it. Not only does it give my hair protection from the elements, but adds a gorgeous no fuss shine.

My ‘Imperialis’ face moisturiser by my all time favourite beauty brand Lush to keep my skin hydrated on the plane, on the beach and in the tropics.

My favourite nail polish right now by Sportsgirl and so on trend – the whitest of white! The best thing about this polish, is that it is scented! In the name of the Balinese paradise, appropriately scented too – coconut! Delicious!

Finally, my splurge purchase. My brand new Camilla ‘Jaguar Multi String’ Bikini.. So beautiful!

So there you have it – packing 101 and my personal picks. I will definitely be doing a few posts from the beautiful island of Bali. It’s a colourful, exciting and dazzling place to visit. I can’t wait to get over there and explore. So keep your eye on my Bali posts giving you some fashion, beauty and travel and accommodation inspiration.

In the meantime, start dreaming about your next adventure and live a little!

SOCIAL

Happy Australia Day!

Wishing all my followers, family and friends a wonderful Australia Day! Whatever you are doing today to mark the occasion, I hope you’re are happy, relaxed and having a wonderful time.

Leo and I are going to spending the afternoon listening to Triple J’s top 100 countdown, enjoying a cocktail (or two) and having a beautiful cooked dinner with family and friends.

Be safe and enjoy yourselves today and remember, as always, don’t forget to live a little!