September 30, 2014

Celebrating International Coffee Day (or every morning)

Such good intentions.

I honestly had such good intentions yesterday of writing a post about International Coffee Day and how this little drink has become such a ritual in my life.

But then I went and sidetracked myself with a few errands and a few coffees at a couple of my favourite Sunshine Coast cafes, and then a four-shot mocha at Bare slayed me.



Meh, it's a blog. It's one missed blog post about a day that rolls around every year. Let's keep things in perspective.

Don't forget to head back a couple of posts and get your entries in  to go into the draw to win one of two lovely fancy Flamingo Park cushions very kindly gifted from Design Art House - entry numbers are low, so your chances are high!

Head to the giveaway HERE!

September 25, 2014

Homemade Creamy Chicken Ravioli - it's easier than you'd think!

Pasta is my happy place.

Yes, I know that lots and lots of women say this, but it truly, rooly is. My husband works away often, and when I'm cooking for one, 99 percent of the time, I make myself pasta. It's filling and full of carbohydrates which I need to eat regularly to function. Don't believe me? Keep bread, potatoes and pasta away from me for a week, and I'm a mess.

For convenience, most often I use bought dried pasta, but I occasionally make my own pasta, as it's incredibly easy and quite therapeutic. One of these days I'll actually make enough to freeze and then I'll be super-organised-housewife of the year.

This is a pasta and sauce recipe which I adapted from a whole lot of others, so I can assure you that you can't go wrong with pasta and filling... just throw in whatever you like!

Basic Pasta Dough
serves 3-4 (Or two, if you're hungry people. I won't judge your portion size.)
200g white flour (I prefer to use 00 pasta flour)
pinch of salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil

Sift together the flour and salt onto a work surface and make a well in the centre with your fingers. Pour the eggs and oil into the well, then using the fingers of one hand, gradually mix the flour into the liquid.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured bench until it is completely smooth. Wrap in clingwrap and leave it to rest for 30 minutes (if it's hot where you are, pop it in the fridge on the top shelf). If you're filling the pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc), then jump on down to the filling and sauce recipe below. If not, then roll the pasta out through a pasta machine a few times, starting with the widest setting and finishing with a finer setting. How thin you like your pasta rolled out is completely personal preference, the Italians won't chase you down and shake their rolling pins at you.

Yes, I have a pretty red pasta machine. My husband is awesome like that.

Creamy Chicken Ravioli

1 quantity Basic Pasta Dough
115g cooked chicken breast, coarsely chopped
55g cooked spinach
55g prosciutto, coarsely chopped
handful of basil leaves, torn roughly
1/2 cup grated parmesan (NOT the powder stuff, although that has a special place in my kitchen)
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
flour for dusting
300ml cream (regular, pouring, whatever floats your boat)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
115g sliced mushrooms (I like Swiss Browns because they look cute)
salt and pepper

Place the chicken, spinach, prosciutto and half the basil  into a food processor and pulse until completely chopped and blended. Transfer to a bowl, stir in 2 tablespoons of the cheese, the nutmeg and half the egg. Season with salt and pepper.

Tasty layered ingredients, then...

... whiz bang - it's all green and mushed!

Divide the pasta dough in half. Roll one piece out using your pasta machine or rolling pin (go muscles!), cover with a damp tea towel and roll out the other piece of dough to approximately the same size. I often use a ravioli press, but today I decided on cookie cutters because I wanted round ravioli. Place small mounds of filling, about 1 teaspoon each, in rows 4 cm apart on a sheet of dough. Brush between the mounds with the remaining egg. Lift the second sheet of dough on top of the first, and press down firmly between the pockets of filling, pushing out as many air bubbles as you can. Use your cookie cutter or a pizza wheel to cut the ravioli into individual pieces.

Your ravioli does not, I repeat, does NOT need to look round and even.
This is not MasterChef, people. This is dinnertime.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the ravioli in batches, return to the boil and cook for five minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel, then transfer to a warmed dish.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a frying pan, add the garlic and bring to the boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and half the remaining cheese. Season to taste and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining basil, then pour the sauce over the ravioli. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan, garnish with extra basil if you're fancy - I'm not - and serve to ravenous people.

Serve with wine. Wait, what am I saying? Serve every home-cooked dinner with wine.

Do you make homemade pasta? Or are you of the opinion that it's more hassle than it's worth? Can I change your mind?

September 23, 2014

Giveaway - welcome Summer with beautiful Flamingo Park cushions!

My goodness, what a response. Yesterday's slightly soapboxy post on how I feel about #comfywomfy really drew a lovely crowd. Thank you. All I wanted was to get you nice people talking about it, and it seemed that I did. So thank you.

To say thank you for your support, and to welcome the nice new folk reading this blog, I'm joining forces* with the very excellent folk at Design Art House to give away two of these super-fancy Flamingo Park cushions.

I mean, talk about body image. Flamingos are tall, gangly, a shade of pink usually only seen on the pouts of  Hollywood starlets, and they have such knobbly knees. So damn knobbly. Those poor birds. Fortunately, they're pretty on-trend right now, and just imagine how Summery you'll feel, mojito in hand, reclining on one of these pretties!

Would you like one these fancy cushions? Yes? 

The very generous folk at Design Art House aren't just an online store for homewares (although they are a very good one of those), they are also passionate Interior Designers with an eye for discovering exactly what their client wants. If you kinda know the look you want, but have no clue on how to actually achieve that in the space you have... these are the people you need.

As I've shared on Instagram recently, I'm always on the lookout for real statement homewares. You know what I'm talking about - that piece that gives you maximum appeal and bang for your buck. Cushions are one of my very favourite ways to change up a room. Either on a sofa or stacked in piles on the floor to entice guests to get really comfortable, cushions are a cheap and cheerful way to mix it up. Design Art House have some excellent cushionage, I can assure you. And wait until you see their Pinterest boards!

So eclectic and fabulous!

If you'd like to win one of two fancy Flamingo Park cushions from Design Art House, then do your Rafflecopter thing below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Design Art House have given me these cushions to give away, no strings attached. Just enjoy their loveliness!

September 22, 2014

Why #comfywomfy is the best hashtag I've seen all year

There is talk floating around this here interwebs of #comfywomfy. It's a hashtag created by the indomitable Mrs Woog after she was horrified by a recent callout by a 'journalist' asking online for unattractive photos of Samantha Armytage. Personally, I think Ms Armytage is one of the loveliest ladies on the box lately. But that doesn't matter. If she was a complete cow, it still wouldn't make it ok for a media commentator to publicly put a call out for 'sam armytage looking scruffy/too casual/not sexy/bad for asap please — OK to go back and send older pics'. I am not even joking. She did that. And it's not ok.

I have a wonderful job. There are parts of managing a women's activewear store that suck, but in essence, I really do have a wonderful job. (As a sidenote, if you know of any job that doesn't have parts that suck, lemme know, my resume is ready to go.)

I get the opportunity to talk to women of ALL ages, sizes and fitness levels, and I see their body confidence issues close-up. Really close-up. Behind that fitting room curtain, away from the neon technical fabrics and floral print tights, I talk to women about the parts of their body they are most comfortable with, and the parts that make them so, so sad.

I also meet lots of women who are kind-of a big deal. And they have hang-ups too.

A stunning Home and Away actress* was visiting Noosa for a friend's wedding during Summer, and fell in love with our gorgeous Noosa National Park. (Why wouldn't you?) She wanted to go for a run through the National Park but hadn't packed any workout gear, so popped into my store to pick up something. She was dressed beautifully in a maxidress and sandals and was completely makeup-free, with her quite-famous locks scraped back into a ponytail, and she looked like a regular woman, albeit a very pretty and petite one.

I recognised her immediately, but ignored who she was and focussed on what she wanted. This incredibly attractive size 6-8 woman was asking for running tights that would suck in her stomach and butt, conceal her muffin top, and be breathable because she sweats a lot behind her knees. All this she told me in a very hushed voice in the fitting room, and it was real. I could tell her a thousand times that my husband thinks she's gorgeous, and that women the world over would kill for her petite figure, but it was real. When she looked in the mirror, she only saw the parts of her body that she didn't like. 

I asked her name and introduced myself (it's a non-negotiable in my store, if I'm going to be pushing your bits and boobs into activewear, I need to introduce myself or buy you a drink first), listened and returned with a few styles. She tried them on, and ended up with the ones I was most reluctant to give her - the super-sucky-in ones that I love and wear because I am an overweight woman (according to my doctor. blah blah whatever). She bought three pairs of them. We chatted a lot, I mentioned that it was a thrill to meet her and that I was so happy that she was as personable in real life and I'd hoped, and she asked about good wine bars in the area. Clearly, she could see a kindred spirit in me. And as she was finishing and leaving my store, she actually said 'Thanks for not asking for a photo, I look horrendous today, I couldn't bear to see myself in the mags like this'. 

I was so sad for her. Here was a gorgeous woman on holidays, relaxed and planning her days of sunshine and wine, and she had to be concerned that sneaky naughty people might say 'Oh, look how she's let herself go'.

Just last week, I styled two very well-known healthy lifestyle advocates* who have a massive social media following. They were visiting the Sunshine Coast for a holiday and were picking up some activewear to wear at a massive Lorna Jane event to be held in Melbourne later in the month. They were itsy-bitsy tiny women with bouncy blonde locks, yet there was still talk of body parts and lines they'd like to hide. Fortunately, both had amazingly positive attitudes and were in no way unhappy and over-critical about their bodies, but I can imagine that it's taken a lot of hard work to get to that point, it certainly would for me.

And Mrs Woog. That arse-kicking blogger I mentioned earlier? You can read her here. She visited my store a few months ago, and was exactly how I'd imagined. Strong-willed, excitable and straight-talking. She also had a lovely shape. (Curvy is an excellent shape.)

Mrs Woog allowed me to bully her to try on tights (huffy-puffy pants in her lingo) that would stay up and stay firm during all her workouts (which she bitches about... which I like... because I struggle so much to find the enjoyment in exercise). I eventually had to tell her a straight-out lie to get her to try on a particular style, fibbing as I passed them to her that they were a larger size than they actually were. She flounced (the only word possible) out of the change room, showed us all (there were a bunch of very-famous-quite-awesome bloggers instore) her butt and announced that they would do as they sucked in some wobbles and smoothed out some bumps. 

My point is that women feel bad enough already about themselves and notice imperfections to the nth degree. Even (maybe especially) the successful, strong ones who are admired by other women. 

Yes, I have moles, big pores, ungroomed eyebrows and root regrowth. But it was a lovely afternoon spent with my husband and who gives a shit what I look like?

So why in the hell would we allow anyone to draw negative attention to how we look on work days, on holidays, on days off, on any day? Who are these people creating an actual career from this? And by boycotting and ignoring their tweets, posts and articles, can we make it stop?

We all have the right to choose how to present ourselves everyday. And we have the right to leave the house makeup-free in baggy pants and thongs if we so choose.

Blogging in a dressing gown in the middle of the day on a messy desk.
Real life. My imperfect life.

Are you ok with having to present your best self all day, every day, and being judged on it? I'm not.

Stand up for comfort, and share your #comfywomfy pics on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. (Another great hashtag I've seen floating around is #myimperfectlife - ideal for those regular non-fancy moments we snap photos of.)

*Name-dropping is so passe. I emailed those mentioned and asked for permission before I used their names. Some didn't get back to me... and that's ok. It doesn't reflect on their opinions, I probably just filtered into their spam box. I can seem a little like a Nigerian prince in my emails at times.

Also, stay tuned for tomorrow's lovely giveaway. There will be flamingos, so you can get excited now.

If you enjoyed this, you may like to read Wine Tours, the KP and Trainee Mama way.

September 19, 2014

Weekend Reading

1. Dangling from bags, necklaces, and wrists; when you start seeing tassels, you know Summer is on the way!

2. Contemplating blush pink homewares right now. I mean, if the cool kids at Resident GP are loving it, it must be awesome.

3. Could you, would you ever wear a Canadian Tuxedo? Firstly, I would and I do. Secondly, I'd like to look less lumberjack and more Courtney Kerr when I do.

4. Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection! Or we'll find the perfect rainbow smoothie recipes... even better!

5. Did your mother ever make you a birthday cake from the Australian Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book? If not, do you feel like you kinda missed out?

6. Vanessa of Style and Shenanigans often introduces me to fabulosity and fun stuff throughh her blog. But this time, she's introduced me to the best way to snap up Kate Spade and Michael Kors this side of the Pacific. Nicely done, Vanessa.

7. Planning your 2015 calendar purchase already? Well, you'll need to if you've got your eye on the most designer-y of designer calendars. The Stendig 2015 Calendar has hit selected stores already, and will be sold out well before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Get yours here.

8. Check out how one of my favourite friends stepped out of her Spanx comfort zone on her blog recently, and send her some love.

9. I'm betting that this blogger's view on having a birth photographer will be doing the rounds of the internet for years. Beautifully written, Jo. Just beautiful.

10. With talk in our house this week revolving around how to do the US best when we head over in 2015 for a friend's big birthday celebrations, I'm loving Kate Spade's greatest road trip suggestions. Now to plan the perfect drivetime playlist.

What about you? Discovered anything amazing cruising the internet lately? 

September 16, 2014

Happy First Anniversary, home!

Do you celebrate house anniversaries?

I think I will be pretty thrilled to sit back with a glass of wine tonight and celebrate one year of being in this home. It's the first house I've ever owned (BB owned property before we met), and it has become more of a home and sanctuary than I'd ever imagined.

Twelve months ago I got pretty damn excited on Instagram!
(Also, that blue fish art on the wall was gone within a week. We're not really fish folk.)

It's not enormous, and it's not tiny. It has three bedrooms, a roomy study, two bathrooms and a lovely big laundry. It has a large kitchen opening onto a dining room, a cosy media room, and every window in the house is covered with white timber plantation shutters. It has polished concrete floors which have become my favourite flooring ever, and it has a random purple wall in the guest room (which Anna might have to paint next time she visits).

It has a clean pool (thanks husband), roomy pool surrounds perfect for laying on beach towels or banana lounges, and enough palms and lush vegetation to make me feel like we could be living in a slightly more tropical climate than we do.

It has a double garage filled with BB's toys, and a walk-in wardrobe filled with mine. As the weather warms up and I potter a little in the garden, the small garden shed is kinda my zone too. The afore-mentioned banana lounges are stored in there, along with entertaining gear - plenty of folding chairs, pool toys and floating drinks coolers for the pool. My pruning stuff is in there too, I would like to spend a little time every single weekend in the garden this Spring and Summer, it really does make me happy to be productive.

Ok, so I also like to be outside supervising the gardening process too.

I've sat on the floor of almost every single room. I've laughed and cried and drunkenly-debated on the kitchen floor with one of my all-time favourite people, and I've laid on the carpet playing with Ned and one of my other besties.

That's how you do a housewarming, folks. 

This kid has started walking and messing up my house.
Fortunately he's that cute that I'll always forgive him.

BB and I spend our evenings together relaxing, and planning both small and large projects, and we've never communicated better. As a security-loving Cancerian, I can tell you now that there's nothing more comforting than home-ownership. If only I'd known the peace it would bring me, we would've done it years ago.

To my husband BB, Happy First Anniversary in our warm and welcoming home, and thank you for all the sacrifices you make so your wife can fill our home with pineapples. I promise I'll stop now. (That doesn't mean I'll reject pineapple gifts, people.)


September 15, 2014

New Lou - my gorgeous new Louenhide Switch

Here's a quick post, purely to show off my new Louenhide Switch bag. And no, it's not coral.

The very very generous folk at Louenhide discovered that I absolutely love my current Louenhide bags (I have quite a few), and offered me a new bag of my choice. Cue hair-pulling, heartrate-rising stress.

I'm in love with my Baby Switch, but my Barrel and Poppet bags are brilliant too. I seriously mulled this over for too long and confused the issue, so ended up being a greedy-guts and asked for a lovely big Switch - I've not actually seen this bag at my local Louenhide stockists, and was curious. 

And how I managed to get past the coral, navy and toffee options to choose something way out of my comfort zone is beyond me,  I definitely can't explain it. Hello Spearmint, you're so fresh and sassy.


They're all so me!

I took this bag out for its first proper spin today, and while I'll review its practicality later in the week, can I just say that I am such a huge fan. The colour, the strap length, the size... all perfect.

Piper stripe shift dress, Louenhide Switch bag (gifted, and thank you very much),

Dear Louenhide,

Please continue to make excellent accessories. I am thrilled that you are branching into clothes as well, and can't wait to share news and images of your gorgeous SS14 garment collection here. 

Thank you for giving me this bag, I promise to cherish it and tell everyone that I love it, just as I have with my previous Louenhides. 

Your loyal fan,

September 12, 2014

Grey Denim Jeans - my newest wardrobe staple

A few weeks ago, I picked up a really lovely new pair of grey jeans (blogged about their first wear here), and I'm thrilled to still be enjoying finding new ways to wear them. I say still, because there are a lot of style bloggers who wear or feature something once, then retire it to the back of the closet in favour of something newer.

To them, I say 'Good on you'. That's not going to be how I roll here, because I buy things because I can see myself wearing them more than once (or eleventy billion times). Firstly, things should be made to last - all the good things are. And secondly, I have much better things to spend my money on than staying super current and throwing things away once you guys have seen them once - like coffee, books and bedroom furniture.(Shall share more about exciting bedroom furniture purchases down the track. You're welcome.)

Katies Garment Dye Jeans, Piper Rib Trim silk tank, thrifted Jane Lamerton cardigan (gift from Trainee Mama), Diana Ferrari flats (similar here on sale!), Louenhide Baby Switch bag in Tangerine, Forever 21 necklaces *

These jeans will be worn until they fall apart, I swear. They're so soft and comfy, almost like a brushed cotton drill, but with just enough stretch that they'll never bag around the knees. Pairing them with a simple tank and cardi made them perfect for running around to an appointment and errands on my day off earlier this week, and have I told you about my Louenhide Baby Switch, my all-time favourite handbag? Of course I have. You guys have seen it so often.

Well... promise me you'll stay tuned, because next week I'll share the newest addition to my wardrobe, and yes, it's a Louenhide in a colour you'll swoon over! It arrived yesterday and already I'm considering taking the day off work today just to take it around town and show it off. (Only slightly kidding.)

*Righto, all the stuff I'm wearing above is my own; nothing gifted, sponsored, shoved on me in exchange for a pithy review. Also, you'll be pleased to note, the poorly-lit selfies are all mine too. I swear, I would wax freaking lyrical and go on and on about it if some lovely company decided to give me a decent camera and tripod set-up. My opinion probably could be bought then.

September 11, 2014

30-Plus Beauty and Style Blogger - featured on Redcliffe Style

Hi there, thanks for visiting.

Now go over there, to Redcliffe Style. Rachel is featuring me today as one of her 30-Plus Beauty and Style Bloggers. (Shhh, let's not tell her that I'm incredibly unstylish and have no clue and am completely faking it. Let's keep that our little secret.)

September 09, 2014

Yes, I have a seasonal candle wardrobe.

As the weather gets warmer, skirts get shorter, drinks become stronger, and I change my candles over. It's just how it is.

During Winter, I burn gourmand scents like Archipelago's Caramel (thanks to Anna for getting me addicted to that), and Glasshouse Fragrances' Tahaa (a delicious Vanilla Caramel that is to sweet to burn for more than an hour a day). They make me feel cosy and warm, and I like trying out new spicy fragrances too.

Now that we're starting to open the house up more, it's back to my trusty range of Summer scents. These are regulars in the Potaty house, and whilst BB has told me not to bring any more candles into the house until every last one is gone (what is up with that?), I actually don't often think about trying new ones during Spring or Summer.

Glasshouse Montego Bay - the original and the best Summer candle, in my humble opinion

Glasshouse's Montego Bay and Rio de Janeiro are all-time favourites, for evoking a tropical holiday even on cruddy Monday mornings before work, and I've recently tried a few Yankee Candles (props to Home Secret for stocking these are cheap-as-chips prices) in cocktail scents like Pina Colada and Margarita.

Archipelago Caramel - divine

Glasshouse Rio de Janeiro - think summer cocktail in a candle!
I'm currently pretty excitedly checking my mailbox, I recently won a new limited-edition Glasshouse Le Cabaret candle, and from what I've read, it could be the perfect transeasonal scent for me. It's rich and passionate, and has notes of violet; I shall let you know how I like it.

Once they're all finished, they are sweet storage jars.
(And hubby is mad on jars, so he actually doesn't mind my fancy candles so much!)

Do you have a favourite candle scent or brand? And are you as nuts fussy as me and like to change them up with the seasons?

September 08, 2014

Monday Manicures and fitting it all in

Mondays are my day off. They're a day when I should, by rights, cram in some serious laundry, write a few blog posts, bake lunchbox muffins/brownies, enjoy a mid-afternoon catch-up with a lovely friend who also - by virtue of working in retail - has Mondays off, and maybe whip around the house with the vacuum and steam mop after a weekend of relaxation. Perhaps read half a novel and get some sunbaking done, and also manage to prune back some palms or wash my car.

This rarely never happens. 

Today, I had all sorts of good intentions to rise and be dressed by 7am, get some washing on, load up my bag with interior design mags and my iPad and head to Bare, my favourite cafe to abuse their free wifi and write eleventy billion blog posts as well as return just as many emails that have been moved to my WRITE BACK OR ELSE folder... all by 10am.

What actually happened was that I rolled over and hit snooze because it was raining, then didn't get out of bed until 9, drank two cups of coffee at home, washed one small load of laundry, went to one appointment and came straight home, and painted my nails. That is all.

Yet, I'm exhausted and feel like I've had the busiest day. 

On the upside, my nails are making me happy.

CND Vinylux Lobster Roll, quality cuticle trimming all my own

September 05, 2014

Almost there...

Oh Friday, where have you been all my life all week? The crazy thing is, I still have to work tomorrow too, so it's not even like the weekend starts tonight. Ah well. I have had a huge week so far at work, but it's definitely a lot easier from this point forward.

Now, to rest up over the weekend, make a preemptive strike against the tiny little bug that I can feel is standing around the corner waiting to surprise me, and get some sunshine in the garden. It's Spring after all!

Do you ever just have whole weeks where you're all, yup, just be over already?

September 04, 2014

Work and play - Navy stripes

I've been wearing navy day-in, day-out lately, it's a really easy way for me to transition from Winter heavier pieces to Spring styles!

Navy stripes are one of my timeless classics, I've got tanks, tees, dresses and skirts in this print, and I find that I can wear them season after season - which really makes them the cheapest pieces in my wardrobe, no? I think my love for them may be due to my family's sailing history, and the fact that I do love a good preppy style. They have a slight tomboy-ish feel, and make anything they are paired with look crisp and fresh – is there any reason not to love them?

A few days ago on a much-needed day off work, I wore this super simple navy tank dress and denim jacket with some wedge espadrilles, it was the first day of Spring and I was ready to dress the part! Whenever I wear navy (which should be obvious - it's a lot), I try to use a splash of colour, so that it doesn't look too much like a uniform. My all-time most-used favourite handbag in bright orange is really all that I ever pair with navy stripes, I just love navy and orange together.

Target tank dress (similar here), FCUK Denim jacket (similar here), Witchery espadrilles (similar here), Louenhide Baby Switch handbag (this is the best size ever)

Yesterday I got to top up my navy stripe wardrobe when an incentive gift voucher turned up for me at work with my name on it, and I knew that this long sleeve tee was just waiting to come home with me. I often wear navy and pink at work, it fels fresh and peppy, and evokes a casual college style that I love.

Lorna Jane everything (tights, tank, tee, MNB bracelet), Converse sneaks

Lorna Jane Indiana tee (sold out online, available instore

Do you love navy and wear it often? Do stripes make your heart sing?