Category: relax

How to Pack for Vietnam.

How to Pack for Vietnam.

Packing for holiday is easy. Just read on for insider tips. There might be the odd swear word: this is an honest account.

savvy content au

Day Minus 10

You are such a capable, organised woman. So on top of things. Today you set aside five lightweight tops that will take you seamlessly from the streets to the cocktail bar.

You even put them in the delicate cycle and ironed them yourself. Tick! Well done, you.

Day Minus 7

Thank goodness you have those five tops done, it will be a cinch to add the rest. Plenty of time.

Day Minus 6

With such a strong start (those five tops) you will now be thinking about cooking some meals and freezing lunchbox items that your husband and kids will just adore. Each time they grab a pre-packed lunch out of the freezer on the way to school/work, they will take a moment to remember how amazing you are and how lucky they are to have you.

You make a list of ingredients including takeaway containers.

Day Minus 4

Taking only hand luggage could be an option! You have those five light-weight tops and once you add thoughtfully chosen shoes, knickers and pants, you’re done.

Day Minus 3

You now only wear your uncomfortable underwear. You want to keep the decent stuff for the trip.

So clever. So prepared. You think you might be the right person to start a travel prep blog.

Day Minus 2

Time to pack! Time to cook and freeze! But first a proper list so you don’t miss anything. Being a woman of the 21st century, you use Notes on the computer. You open the computer and notice Bassike is having a flash sale.

Seven hours later you realise you have no list yet, but your time online wasn’t wasted – you know now why Cara Delavigne shaved her head and how to use apple cider vinegar to solve every problem in your life.

Day Minus 1

It’s fine. Really. You’re just not the type to panic about silly little things like not having finished packing (you have five beautifully laundered versatile tops already, you legend!).

It will take mere minutes, and then you can slow-roast that beef you bought and make exciting little meals for the family. First things first though: time to make use of that handy new feature on Netflix that lets you download. You need a few eps of Grace and Frankie for the plane. Mad Men catches your eye. You secretly know Jon Hamm would fall in love with you instantly if he met you. Maybe just five minutes of that first wonderful episode…

But you are focused. Strong. Not the sort to be distracted. Hell, you’re 50. You’re basically a young Helen Mirren.

Day 0

It’s 2am.  Time to pack. The maxi taxi with the girls is coming in one hour.

You’re now realising that you didn’t really need to watch all seven seasons – again – of Mad Men yesterday. Fucking Jon Hamm. He’s probably secretly gay. You throw your five tops in your carry-on spinner. You then add pants, shorts, dresses, underwear, bathers, hair dryer, and your 15-kilo giant sponge bag of absolutely necessary face serums and creams.

You quickly realise hand luggage was a little optimistic. You use your iPhone torch to find the huge Samsonite case in the shed amongst the spiders, weedkiller and semi-deflated pool toys (which take up a lot of space considering you don’t have a pool).

It’s filthy, but what’s a little dust for crying out loud? Dusting’s your forté.

You fling it open and toss everything in, adding another 13 items of clothing just in case. With 10 minutes to spare you wash your face (no time to shower, but hey, they have showers in Vietnam!). You race outside using a fridge trolley to move your suitcase and it’s a tad heavy. The girls are happily waving as you meet the taxi. With the help of four friends haul your case in the boot.

As you whizz off to the airport in the middle of the night you remember you didn’t make those meals. Or buy milk, bread or toothpaste. Or dog food or dishwasher tablets. But you smile because deep down you know they were only going to eat two-minute noodles anyway.

Bon voyage motherfuckers!

Milk and Cookies and Vegas

Milk and Cookies and Vegas

Sensible friends today come in the form of Trip Advisor strangers. The thing I love about Trip Advisor is that you generally visit the page when planning a trip and who doesn’t love a trip to anywhere?

Rob and I have been talking about this one for a decade, since we sat on a veranda in Bali on our tenth wedding anniversary sipping champagne from our treasured “bride” and “groom” glasses. We decided back then that if we made it to twenty years we’d go to Las Vegas and get married again in the cheesiest ‘wedding’ ceremony we could find.

That time has come. A lot has happened in our twenty years together. There’s a time for knuckling down to the hard, often happy, sometimes sad business of raising a family….and there’s a time for fun.

I’ve been angling for a drive-thru ceremony but Rob’s insisting on an Elvis celebrant who looks and sounds nothing like Elvis. We’ve booked a couple of nights at the Bellagio as it seemed to embody everything that is wonderful about Vegas – majestic fountains, close to the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, a volcano, “fun with guns”, Rod Stewart, and the Colosseum. Who needs Europe?

Before Vegas we’re taking a road trip from San Francisco down the Big Sur with a couple of overnighters including a quaint little place in Carmel that serves milk and cookies with their turn-down service. Adorable.

The children will fly themselves over to meet us in Los Angeles. A week in West Hollywood (WeHo!) is about as close to camping as we’re likely to get, I think. Some of you might think this is a bit sad but I think: Santa Monica Boulevard baby!

welcome las vegas

 

Clever Man: Man Up.

Clever Man: Man Up.

“Poor Rob” as people sometimes refer to my husband has a terribly sore back. He recently had to forgo several days of surfing while on a surfing holiday. This is him after a recent visit to the physio:

sore back

Coincidentally, at this time his buddy (today’s Clever Man) Henry Willis has been expounding the virtues of the Standing Desk, something he has had great success with himself.

standing desk 19th century

Rob has leapt to his feet fast on this one, and ordered a standing desk from Bad Backs, According to Henry if you have a sore back, walking into the store is as exciting as it was walking into a lolly shop as a kid.

msf standing desk RN

Ernest Hemingway was a big fan:

art manliness ernest hemingway

The article itself was on a fabulous website that is going to take up a good chunk of today’s online surfing time if you’re a fella:

The Art of Manliness

art of manliness logo man

The site is filled with wonderful, manly advice. Who has experienced the floppy fish or too strong handshake? Who worries that we’re not shaking hands enough anymore? Here’s how to do it right:

art manliness handshake

There is a whole section on relationship advice such as Being Neighbourly, How to Communicate Your Needs in a Relationship, How to Create a Lifelong Brotherhood and my favourite: Fathering with Intentionality: The Importance of Creating a Family Culture:

“Understand this: A family culture happens whether you’re consciously creating it or not. It’s up to you and your wife to determine whether that culture is of your choosing. If you want a positive family culture, you must commit yourself to years of constant planning and teaching. A culture isn’t something that’s created overnight; it requires daily investment. But the payoff is definitely worth it.”

art manliness breakup

Do you actually know the right way to break down a door? It could come in handy.art manliness break door

Yes, it is manly to carry a handkerchief like our fathers and grandfathers did. You’re not likely to be robbing a stage coach but there’s something rather attractive in a Don Draper sort of way about a man whipping out a handkerchief to mop his brow.

Art Manliness handkerchief

Not sure how to dress for a particular occasion? It’s all sorted here. There’s even a how to on shoe shining, which buttons of a jacket to do up and what to wear when an invitation says formal, semi formal or smart casual.

Art Manliness Casual Office

Thank you to our manly Clever Man Henry for this little gem of a website and for easing Poor Rob’s pain.

 

TMI

TMI

My corner of Australia is rife with head colds at the moment. I tried to dodge the one after me but have succumbed gracelessly. Winter is officially upon us and while is sunny and crisp, bugs abound, so I’ve had time to lie around reading the paper and surf the world-wide web.

Because of all this downtime, I made it all the way to the technology pages of the newspaper and discovered a couple of interesting blogs:

STFU Parents is hitting the news at the moment as the blog author, Blair Koenig has just released a book of her posts. People send in snips from social network sites like Facebook and tumblr with parents’ status updates that are the very definition of TMI (too much information).

There are entire categories for different over-sharers, such as Sanctimommy (my personal favourite), Onesies, WTF of the Day, Woe is Mom and MommyJacking, where someone may post a note that they got a job promotion and in comes mommyjacker with a comment about how that’s “nothing compared with raising kids!”.

stfu parents stfu momyjacker 1

Then there is the Gross Out Factor section, not to be viewed while eating.

stfu parents gross

Most of we Generation X-ers who are on Facebook, the last of the adults to reach adulthood without the Internet, know that there is a line not to be crossed when it comes to over-sharing – so far I haven’t had any look-my-toddler-pooed-all-over-the-room shots show up in my news feed. Then again I have very few friends whose kids are still toddlers these days.

But is there a place for mummy-sharing online that isn’t going to get you a featured spot on STFU Parents? It’s a question Koenig gets asked often. Can I share my ultrasound photo or is it going to end up here?

As she says “We’re entering a new phase where placentapics may occasionally inspire more organ appreciation than nausea.”

Good thing or bad thing? It’s up to you. I agree that we are becoming more desensitised to the over-share than we used to be however for some this is the forum for which mums and dads share baby news with their distant family.

If the snippets of parents who should probably not own a computer or smart phone (or be parents) fills you with dread for the future of civilisation at this point, perhaps don’t read on.

The Bun in the Oven section of STFU, Parents is just plain gruesome. Here we have the pleasure of mu-to-be Stormie’s update regarding the approaching birth of baby Memphis by C-Section:

stfu parents c-section

You don’t really get the whole picture just by reading these snaps. What makes the blog un-put-downable are the comments by Koenig that accompany each morsel. Her writing is clever and funny and while cutting she isn’t cruel. More incredulous.

The other blog is Reasons My Son Is Crying by Greg Pembroke, a 32-year-old New York father. If it wasn’t so funny it would almost qualify for a spot on STFU Parents, but as you look at each photo and the caption it gets funnier and funnier. Pembroke has two little boys and has started a blog in which he captures a photo of one of the kids in tears along with a single sentence caption describing why.

This one is titled “his sock wouldn’t come off”:

why my son is crying sock

Others have captions such as “A fly landed near him”, “He saw a beetle”, and “I wouldn’t let him get a tattoo.” The blog has only been around for a month or so and has already gone viral and earned him a spot on Conan O’Brien. It’s raised some interesting discussion about bringing parenting to the online world. Is Pembroke damaging his little fellas in some way by publishing their every tear? There are plenty of mommy bloggers up in arms about how despicable this is, and others who see it as harmless fun:

At GeekMom in the comments section of a blog post entitled 3 Reasons To Detest “Why My Son Is Crying” Suburban Snapshots writes:

“Let’s not assume that the rest of these kids’ days aside from the 4 seconds it takes to take and post a photo of their tears is not spent full of love, reassurance, giggles, discipline, play, and everything else that nurtures kids. I’d guess that they spend a LOT of time laughing, because their parents clearly have excellent senses of humor. I’d rather my child be raised knowing how to laugh at herself than raised to write blog posts critiquing the parenting of strangers.”

While Lisa Quimby counters with:

“What a despicable thing to do to a child! Toddlers face each day being shorter, slower, weaker and less coordinated than most everyone around them. They are trying to figure out the rules of a world that seems so unpredictable. Of course there will be meltdowns when expectations (a favorite cup, for example) aren’t met. As parents, it’s up to us to recognize the struggles that seems so small to us and help our children learn to handle their emotions. If we don’t treat them with respect, how will they learn to respect others? And what about when this kid grows up and finds his crying toddler face all over the internet?!”

My vote goes to Pembroke who told Today.com

“Kids have meltdowns 20, 30 times a day. You can drive yourself crazy or you can laugh and just accept it.”

He is now taking submissions if anyone reading this happens to have a camera and a crying toddler on hand…

As for frowning at Pembroke or laughing with him, I’ll take laughing. He sounds like a genuinely nice guy having a bit of fun with sweet, normal little boys.

Blog Love

Blog Love

If you’re serious about wasting time there is no better way than following heaps of blogs and there is a site that lets you do it all in one place: Bloglovin’. You just go to the site, type in the names of the blogs you like and each day a summary will be sent to your inbox in a single email with all your favourite blog updates.

Here are some of the blogs the sensible friends are lovin’ right now:

Man Repeller: This is how she defines the title: “outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.” It’s pretty cool.

Who What Wear: Whoever runs this site is a hard worker; it’s updated constantly with fashion trends and style notes. It includes style tips from stylists, what the celebs are wearing, various blogs within the blog, look of the day and product of the day. Fashion mecca.

The Sartorialist snaps uber-cool people on the street and posts them up. I can never even aspire to the level of cool I see in these pages but it’s lovely photography and gorgeous clothes. Today there are gorgeous New Yorker’s in pyjama style clothes. You’d think it would be comical but it somehow is beautiful instead.

Flourish Magazine is one I have mentioned it before but worth another shout and not just because it’s run by my good buddy Jane Willis. I was searching for someone to make a proper party cake the other day and asked Jane for a recommendation. She threw the question onto her Flourish Facebook page and within minutes there were about 14 replies with great local suggestions – the advantage of having a successful, well-connected local blogger on the books. If you want to source something in Perth, just flick Jane a note.

A Subtle Revelry is the go to spot for party DIY ideas, craft ideas (my house is a craft-lover’s wasteland, but it could be for you) and there are some interesting recipes – for instance today is how to make your own bagged microwave popcorn.

Olivia Palermo is a mainstay of fashion blogging but be warned, that sweet little cardi you think you will source for Autumn is liable to set you back eight hundred dollars. For cheaper fashion links look toward The Londoner or Buy Now Blog Later (although if you’re over 40 you also run the risk of becoming the proverbial mutton dressed as….).

Smitten Kitchen is gorgeous and the name says it all. She has a book which I haven’t got but looks lovely. Very popular food blog, like What Katie Ate. I sometimes judge a food blog by how boring/tricky the muffins look (muffins should be simple, delicious and easy) – check these out for beautiful Greek-yoghurty coconutty easy muffins. Beautiful.

Cheating with Bellini is a fairly new local blog by a pretty young mum I run with, Rosie. She has great taste in food and recipes so it’s worth following for those thermomix types who are interested in a variety of interesting tips, hints and dishes such as David Lebovitz’s Fresh Ginger Cake.

Style and Focus is a local Perth blog discovering and showcasing local style and creativity.  It is a newish blog by two highly accomplished women, Jo Carmichael, stylist and Jody D’Arcy, photographer with seriously lovely photography, a great eye for beauty and fascinating interviews. These bloggers also have their own sites. They find stuff we all wish we had and post it up…. I think I might need a bar cart for my veranda.

Stockholm Street Style – It’s a little bit like The Sartorialist but it’s Scandinavia, home of the best TV series’, best clothes, happiest souls and my pin-up guy (apart from you of course Rob), Alexander Skarsgard….it’s where I will be born when I am next reincarnated.

Hej då.

What’s on the Telly (2)

What’s on the Telly (2)

There I was a few weeks ago, having a lovely time plodding through Downton Abbey which needs no explaining as I don’t believe there is anyone left on the planet who hasn’t watched it.

Just as I was getting comfortable,  good friend Pippa sent a text: “have you seen American Horror Story yet?”

american horror story

Wow and wow. Forget Dexter, this is the bomb.

Firstly I just have to say this: I love Jessica Lange, remember her? She has just the right amount of loveliness, sexiness and creepiness to make the whole show worth the ride. Secondly, this is not my usual genre. While I have dabbled in zombies and vampires, ‘horror’ is not really my thing. American Horror Story is such a tightly wound little drama, however that it’s perfect for those Downton Abbeyists who just need a break from the Abbey for a bit of “captivating style and giddy gross outs” (Washington Post).

american horror story lange

Each season is self-contained so it doesn’t matter whether you see them in order or not. In the first season, a family of three, psychiatrist Ben, Vivien and Violet move into an old house, unaware it is haunted. They get to know their neighbour, Constance (Lange) when her special needs daughter Adelaide (Addie) visits unannounced regularly, sensing and seeing the evil that lies beneath the veil of the living. Constance is a failed actress who has a complicated relationship with her daughter and those who dwell in the house.

The relationships within the little family are also complicated with Ben (Dylan McDermott) trying to win back his wife’s trust following an affair, his wife Vivien (Connie Britton) trying to recover emotionally from a miscarriage and their sweet but sullen teenage daughter Violet (Taissa Farmiga) suffering from depression and struggling with every aspect of her life and her parents complicated situation.

american horror story family

 

The second season, American Horror Story Asylum, takes place in a sixties mental asylum, Briarcliff, run by Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) and Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe) overseen by Monsignor Timothy Howard (Joseph Fiennes).

American Horror Story Asylum

 

It seems to be almost a caricature of a 1960’s mental asylum, with people being locked up for being gay, people being locked up and treated for insanity for racial reasons, patients having no voice, being trapped for decades in the brutally run asylum. The story follows four inmates specifically with many others providing fill. One is Lana (Sarah Paulson) whose lesbian lover is tricked into committing her when she comes to Briarcliff to write an expose piece on the place.

american horror story sarah Paulson

 

Jessica Lange is again superb in this season. She grows increasingly suspicious and unhinged as dark supernatural (or are they?) forces conspire to make her as mad as some of her patients. As one reviewer wrote, it’s hard to look away, even though you feel you should.

jessica lange American Horror Story Joseph Fiennes

 

The third season is in the works and probably called American Horror Story Coven. Can’t wait. I had to put down the iPad and start reading good old books again after this one.

The first two seasons are available on iTunes. My vote is they are both worth it. Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you think if you do.

PAR-TAY!

PAR-TAY!

Gosh there are some fun blogs out there.

I was cruising the ‘Net early this morning instead of making the kids’ lunches for school like it was a Sunday. God knows what they eventually went off with….probably all my money, again. I re-visited one that I haven’t seen for ages but am looking at now with new eyes: Buy Now Blog Later. What I love about her apart from how pretty and interesting she seems to be is her unashamed shallowness. This is her tagline:

“Just so you know this is a blog about shopping.
It doesn’t get any deeper than that.”

I’m throwing around words like “wisdom” and “inspiring” – even “sensible” – but I still want to blog that amazing tube-y mascara….so I’m embracing my inner shallow.

On that note, let me show you a few photos from a great party we went to on the weekend. I feel entitled to blog a party as they are – to be honest – few and far between these days. Perhaps now that everyone’s turning 50 any minute – not me thank God – there might be a few last gasps of frivolity to be had. According to my oldest teen, we may as well just roll over and die from old age right now. She can’t believe I can stay up beyond 9.00pm and lets face it, I rarely can.

The party was in the south west at a friend’s holiday house which was more like walking into a winery for its elegant beauty.  The theme was ‘festival’ so I channelled Kate Moss at Glastonbury and believe that no one could even tell the difference between us. I feel sure I will find this image floating around Google Images next time I google “kate moss”:

serena rob party

Rob channelled a hairy rock guru which was a mean, rockin’ look as he drove us to the bus stop in my mean, rockin’ Toyota Prius:

Rob Prius

Ali and I getting ready in the bathroom of the family holiday house, Le Crap Shack  (yes it is really called that):

serena ali party

The Hoodoo Gurus lit up the stage:

Hoodoo Gurus

And we danced the night away, despite my daughter betting we wouldn’t stay up past 11pm.

Next day called for a lot of food, so we headed to Eagle Bay Brewery for a great feed of burgers and salmon with some of the other rockers. I highly recommend lunch there if you’re anywhere near Yallingup/Dunsborough. We chatted to one of the lovely owners, Astrid, and discovered its owned and operated (“..and there’s mum on the till…”) by a third generation farming family and sits smack bang in the middle of their farm.

salmon eagle bay brewery recovery lunch eagle bay brewery eagle bay brewery burger

Now about that really great mascara….I’ve got a section on the blog called The Dogs Bollocks which is just cool stuff other people have put me on to. It talks a bit more about it there.

 

%d bloggers like this: