July 26, 2014

Weekend reading

1. How to make a painted canvas quote (I want do do one in beautiful blues and greens for our bedroom)

3. Discover a grown-up way to wear pom-poms (really!)

4. Host a fabulous dinner party that will have all your guests talking (and keep you really relaxed)!

5. Wear a party dress which will remind you of fairy bread

6. Find out where real perfume addicts should be living, and why

7. Consider working your social media savvy in the real world. With real people. Over drinks.

8. Finding the perfect new-season white shirt for you

9. Bake a chocolate and beetroot cake (and feel free to drop a largish taste-test slice off at my workplace, please and thank you)

10. And finally, style your workout wardrobe pieces into everyday casual outfits

Have a beautiful weekend,

July 23, 2014

Fridge-to-Go Wine Cooler giveaway!

Remember how a few weeks ago, Peta and I were lucky enough to experience an awesome Sunshine Coast Wine Tour?

Well, this post was supposed to be a very close follow-up, featuring an awesome product that I have fallen in love with. But no. Things get in the way. And I was lazy. Then it was my birthday week (where I did nothing but enjoy myself and ignore blogger/writer's guilt). And now I'm finally writing it!

This groovy little fridge-looking bag is actually just that. It's a fridge. For wine. That you take with you wherever you need stress relief wine.


I have been gifted this very cool Fridge-to-Go and it seriously will be my number one favourite thing this Summer. Wanna know why? It's a cooler bag that actually works.

The bag features three very slim removable freezer blocks that take up NO room in the freezer (they literally take up less room than a packet of Tim Tams - I checked), and the whole package is BPA- and PVC-free, making it ideal for storing not only drinks, but food for little ones. No chemicals are used in the freezy-panels, so there's no chance of a dangerous leak, or weird odours leeching through to your edibles. These panels keep wine and food at a safe temperature for up to 8 hours - yay for that during the QLD Summers!

This particular size of Fridge-to-Go is designed for my good friend, the wine bottle; and I'm yet to find a bottle that doesn't fit. (Because I rarely have magnums of Mumm laying around that need to be chilled). I have also managed to pop some cheese and dip in the bag, because cheese and dip. Obviously.

Now, thanks to the very lovely Noelle of Fridge-to-Go, I have three of these wine bottle cooler bags to give away over on my Facebook page, so click on over and get lucky!

July 21, 2014

One versatile shirt tunic

One of the easiest things to wear in my wardrobe are my collection of tunics. (And let's be honest. Easy is really all I'm looking for in a garment.)

Tunics have been around forever and have never really gone out of fashion. Teaming tunics with leggings is so perfect for the mild Winter days we get in Queensland - although I did wear this look a lot when I lived in New Zealand one Summer! Tunics offer a great way of elongating my short-ish torso while hiding unflattering areas. By that, I mean that it hides muffin top. Winning.

The good folk at Katies offered me a tunic to style a few ways, and I can see it becoming quite the transeasonal favourite!
I love the casual style of this tunic with the sleeves rolled up and a fedora thrown on - it's definitely an outfit I'd throw on for a relaxed weekend look.
Katies print tunic*; Katies seamed ponte pant; Target wedge sandals; French Connection fedora; Seed bracelets

I'm starting to plan my attack on Tasmania's chilly Winter - we're headed to Hobart in two weeks for a long weekend - and I've only got carry-on luggage allowance! I think this tunic, layered with a thermal t-shirt and leggings and this super-cute vest, will see me onto the plane, visiting the relatives, and out to dinner nicely. All I'll need to do is carry my coat, gloves and beanie and that's one outfit sorted. (That is some serious optimism speaking there - you guys know how much I don't like the cold. But the excitement of visiting a newborn baby niece should hopefully warm me up!)

Katies print tunic*; Katies seamed ponte pant; Piper faux fur gilet (similar here); Williams flat boots
(also.... why do I lean so much in photos?)

Katies are sharing the tunic love this week, with a fabulous competition aimed at sharing real styling ideas from real women. Head over to the Katies blog or Instagram to find out more, and upload your own tunic tricks for a chance to win your own tunic!

Do you layer up with tunics in Winter? How could I wear this cute piece in Summer? Suggestions please?

(And don't forget to check out tomorrow's blog post, I'll be giving away something wine-related and awesome!)

* gifted item - everything else my own (or as the fancy folk say 'stylist's own'. Ha!)

July 16, 2014

Workout Wardrobe

It's been quite a while since I shared some of my work wardrobe photos (see here) and I've stocked up on new pieces since then, so it's time to share a couple of them!

Remember, I don't work in a corporate environment, or a classic women's fashion retail store - I manage a lovely little women's activewear store, so my work wardrobe will most likely be very different to yours. (And often, I'm jealous of you fabulous fancy-frock wearers. Except when I'm sleepy and cold and get to wear tracksuit pants and sneakers to work. Cosy!)

I just bought these beautifully soft cotton navy Trinity casual pants, and teamed them with a long-sleeve red tee from last Winter's collection, a Summery print scarf and navy flats.

Lorna Jane casual full-length pants and long-sleeve tee; Sussan scarf; Trenery flats

I tried the same pants a few days later (and oh my gosh, these washed up so beautifully and only got softer!) with a more nautical twist - a stripe tee and classic white sneakers.

Lorna Jane casual full-length pants, tank and long-sleeve tee; Converse sneakers

This turquoise jacket was a favourite from the minute I unpacked it instore! While I've worn it with black, white and pink on different occasions, it was a bit fun to pair it with neon orange.

Lorna Jane tights, tank and jacket; Witchery flats

Notice something fab about that last photo (apart from the fact that I washed my hair)? I have a new phone cover! My lovely LOVELY husband surprised me with a new iPhone 5 and iPad Air last week, and I have been loving them! Faster photo-taking, sleeker design, and the opportunity to buy new gadget accessories? Yes please!

The Dairy iPhone 5 cover - Thanks so much to Cam and the great Dairy team for the fantastic service, and for honouring my very-expired gift voucher!

This super-pretty watercolour pineapple design is the brainchild of Britt Laspina, a gorgeous Brisbane-based artist and designer whose prints can be found on every thing from phone cases to high-end fashion. I love that the pineapples aren't in-your-face bold, but are still sweet and eyecatching! Also, please know that The Dairy has possibly the best customer service I've ever received from an online store. The best. They are not paying me to say this, in fact, I'd be surprised if Cam even remembers me, he was just so genuinely helpful that I'm sure he's like that day in, day out. But seriously, if you need some sort of tech accessory, give this great little Aussie company your business, you won't be sorry. 

Quite clearly I am now saving for these divine Britt Laspina cushions.

Do you wear workout clothes outside of the gym? How do you dress yours up a little?

July 02, 2014

Monogram mania

Monograms are back in a big way. Whether it's fashion items, travel or home style, putting your own stamp on your style (literally) is hot all over again.
When it comes to fashion, classic knits with initials woven into the mix are making the rounds. But it's monogram jewellery of all kinds that is really catching my eye this season.
Clockwise from top left: Silver monogram necklaces from Just for Fun, BestpersJewellery and McLaughlinCreations on Etsy.

I would LOVE a classic silver monogram necklace; in fact, I've been searching Etsy for a while for something just right. The only problem is that I only have two initials!
You see, my mother cannot stand her middle name, so when I was born, she didn't want to saddle me with a traditional or family name that I might have hated as an adult. So I was just Katy. No middle name, nothing that can translate into a middle initial for me. (For the record, my brother doesn't have a middle name either. Just Jamie).
I know that a lot of married women take their maiden name as a middle initial when they're getting a three-letter monogram, but the issue with that for me is that I don't like my maiden name. I really, really don't. It's just my biological father's last name, and I don't care to take it back at all. In fact, I was thrilled to get a new last name when I married BB!
I could just go the two-initial route, but I'm not sure I like the look of that in a monogram, it doesn't seem well-balanced.
Another chic way this trend is turning up is in home d├ęcor. Wood letters, classic monogram pillows, bedding and throw blankets are everywhere. The key is to keep it simple with a piece or two. You don't want to go as far as having it engraved on your front door, but a few good initials here and there can look fresh long after the trend dies down in the coming years. And even my very blokey husband couldn't find fault with some fancy letters on cushions, right?

I think the easiest way to get in on the monogram trend is with gadget accessories. iPhone cases in a bunch of styles and colors can be found online at shops like Zazzle, and preppy journals, notebooks, note cards and date books are always a classic.

monogrammed coral anchor Zazzle iPhone case / monogrammed mint stripe Zazzle iPhone case

monogrammed stationery from Modern Pink Paper

So what's the solution to my monogram dilemma?
Stick to just the letter K? Pick my own middle name like I did when I was 9 years old? (In case you're wondering, I wanted it to be Bronzewing. Like the bird - Bronzewing Pigeon. Go figure.)
Any suggestions?

July 01, 2014

Winter on the Sunshine Coast - Sunshine Wine Tours (with Trainee Mama)

Let's start off with full-blown, brutal honesty.

Peta (of Trainee Mama) and I really don't know much about wine, except that we like a few of one type, are open to try a few of another type, and the bottles that have pretty labels are fine too.

But, we're fancy ladies in our (very early) thirties and there are some things we just must learn. So we've challenged ourselves to act a little more grown up, step away from the bargain corner at BWS, and really learn about wines, to better appreciate our favourite drink. It's time for some cellar door tasting!

The problem with cellar door tastings is that someone usually has to drive which significantly reduces their ability to fully appreciate the cellar doors. Of course one can spit the wine out but that would be quite the waste of good wine, so we were both thrilled when we were offered a driver for our day out exploring Sunshine Coast Wineries. And he wasn't just any old driver, we were lucky enough to spend a day with Nev, the very knowledgeable manager of Sunshine Wine Tours.

This was the first time I have visited any of the lovely wineries in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, and I can tell you it won't be the last! Peta and I were gifted a fantastic Decadent Day Tour from Sunshine Wine Tours, and haven't stopped raving about it - it's the perfect Mid-Winter's Day Out!

Nev had arranged to pick us up from Sunshine Plaza at 9am, and neither Peta or I planned on driving anywhere that day, so Peta's husband picked me up and I got to start my day sitting in the backseat of their car holding hands with Ned. (We can all agree that's a pretty awesome start to the day. Warm little chubby hands. Divine.)

Jumping onboard Nev's bus, we met two other ladies who would be enjoying the day tour with us, a lovely mother and daughter from Cairns who were spending time together as the daughter had recently moved to the Sunshine Coast - this would be a great way to see some of your new hometown and show off to visiting relatives! Heading to Mooloolaba, we picked up the final two guests for the day's tour, a couple of Kiwis - resplendent in short-sleeve shirts, shorts and thongs, whilst Peta and I and the two Cairns ladies were rugged up for a QLD Winter!

Nev is a font of information, and after a quick trip along the Bruce Highway, we stopped outside for the Landsborough Museum for a really interesting five-minute history lesson. I won't tell you everything so that you can can experience it for yourself, but tales of pushing GIANT trees down the Range, and men holding hands and dancing at bush dances in the 1800's had Peta and I astonished!

Wearing FCUK parka / Katies sweater and necklace / Piper shirt / RayBan aviators (outfit details further down this post)

Mary Cairncross Park

Our next stop was Mary Cairncross Park, which has to have one of the most incredible views I've ever seen! Nev had popped a bottle of sparkling by now (I love that he provides some bubbles to start the day in style!), and we'd all enjoyed a tipple on the way up the mountains. Standing in the very brisk wind and beautiful sunshine, Peta and I shivered our way through a few outfit shots, but the vista was worth it! Another history lesson here (lots of really interesting stuff about the local Gubbi-Gubbi people and early pioneers) and it was back to the bus for our first winery visit.

Maleny Mountain Wines was a great first stop; cosy and warm, the barrel-shaped cellar door was full of knick-knacks and stuff for wine lovers, and we took a seat to try a selection of their sparkling, white, red and dessert wines. (For those not in the know, Port can no longer be called Port. Apparently the snobs in Portugal have trademarked the name.)

Delicious champagne and strawberry candle - am SO regretting not buying it!

We were given an bit of an introduction to wine tasting and then we got down to the serious business. As a fairly safe Sav Blanc drinker, I tried to step out of my comfort zone and ask for the 'bigger' tasting wines when were offered a choice. I came away still only loving Sauvignon Blanc, but at least I tried! Thinking about the wines objectively, I'm positive that more experienced wine-lovers would have definitely enjoyed more than a few of the locally made wines on offer at Maleny Mountain Wines. 

I tried some red. I really, really did. But the red did not like me.

Maleny Cheese Factory

Next, we were off to Maleny Cheese. CHEESE! I had never visited this cheese factory before, despite often venturing much further afield to Kenilworth to stock the fridge with cheese. No need anymore, I'm thrilled to report that Maleny Cheese has an excellent variety of really different and unusual cheeses and yogurts, friendly staff, and it's only 40 mins away from home! There is a cafe and shop attached to the factory, a glass viewing window into the factory to watch the cheesemaking process, and the staff were more than happy to give me samples of any of their cheeses. (So I asked for a lot of samples.) I purchased a wedge of delicious bitey King Island Stormy (a washed rind cheese with a stronger taste than that of regular Camembert or Brie), as well as a great local feta which will be amazing in salads.

I think I tried most of them. Ok, maybe I tried them all.

After piling us all back into the bus, Nev drove us to the charming village of Montville. I have very fond childhood memories of Montville, as my favourite great-aunt and great-uncle lived in this little town, and visited them was like visiting Aladdin's cave. Lots of brightly coloured shawls decorated their home, and my great-aunt (who was a yarn-spinner) would let me play with her huge collection of pretty wools and embroidery threads.

Don = hilarious and brilliant, and an excellent guide to both wine novices and aficionados.

We were taken to the Montville cellar door of Mason Wines, a winery in Glen Aplin in far Southern Queensland. If I was thinking I was cold up on the mountain, I can only imagine the feeling out at the actual winery! Don of Mason Wines guided us through their entire wine range, and taught me more in the 30 minutes sipping wine than I would've learnt from all the books I could get my hands on. Don was delightful and entertaining, and I never felt out of my wine depth. (Although, I had to sit down at one point... Don's 'three sips' rule was going to my head, and I needed something to line my stomach!) 

Lunch was at Montville Bar and Grill, a beautiful Tudor-style inn with generous and cosy seating indoors with a potbelly stove, and plenty of tables on the lawn and in the rotunda outside, which is where we settled as a group (obviously Peta and I snaffled the seats closest to the heater). I enjoyed a delicious duck main meal, but had some serious meal envy when Peta's seafood linguine arrived. 

My meal of Confit of Murray Duck Leg on a bed of creamy leek and parsnip puree, served with ham and cheese croquette, rocket parmesan salad and spiced plums. It tasted as good as it sounds.

Peta's Seafood Linguine of mussels, prawns, scallops, calamari, market fish and lemon chilli herbs. Jealous right now.

I finished with something sweet (although I don't know where I had room for it) - a tasty banana and caramel gateau.

After relaxing with a very full belly by the outdoor gas heater and chatting with our lovely wine tour companions, we strolled down Montville's adorable main street to Chocolate Country. Yep. Wine, cheese and chocolate. Nev's got this thing very well-planned.

Being told about the ten types of chocolate we were getting to taste at Chocolate Country... ten.

Chocolate Country is a lovely little shop producing a lot of different types of chocolate barks and chocolate truffles, and stocking plenty of really unusual chocolate and candy. Trialing them all was a real drag. Could have stocked up big time there, but thank goodness I resisted. Right next door was Nutworks... and the scent of cinnamon candied almonds was floating up the street in a very enticing way.

Nutworks really has a great way of attracting customers... this vintage vendor's wagon had a lovely steaming pot of cinnamon candied almonds pumping out a very delicious fragrance.

Such a gorgeous way to display retro sodas at Nutworks.

After a very welcome digestion walk stroll around the village of Montville, Peta and I snapped a few more outfit photos, then headed back to Chocolate Country for a very chocolatey takeaway hot-chocolate for the ride home.

Wearing Katies sweater*, jeans (similar here) and necklace* (similar here) / Piper shirt (similar here) / FCUK timber-framed clutch / RayBan aviators 

We were a pretty quiet bunch on the drive back to the pick-up spots of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, but I'm sure it was just that we were all blissed out, very full, and very relaxed - I know I was!

Peta and I experienced the Decadent Day Tour courtesy of Sunshine Wine Tours (thanks so much Nev), and had a fabulous day together. Sunshine Wine Tours also cater for those interested in local craft beer and microbreweries, so if enjoying a day out without the driving but with added fun is on the cards, give Nev a call.

Also, Peta wrote a fab post about our day out - you can read it HERE.

*These items were purchased with a discount voucher provided by Katies, with no obligation to feature product on the blog.