I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. I’m pleased to say we made my crazy festive season deadline, and I was using our nearly finished kitchen for dinner with the family on Christmas Eve. 8.5 weeks of blood, sweat and tears. Not really, we had a beyond amazing builder.
We didn’t end up moving in properly until early January, so this Saturday will mark 3 weeks of us being in our new home. It’s been a slow unpack…which is unusual for me to say (my Mum says I’m like a bull at a gate with most things). I’m not going to lie, I think I pretty much reached total burn out by the time Christmas came around. The death of my father in mid December certainly took me to a very dark place and for the first time in my life, I couldn’t just ‘do’ as I like to do. I must say I got a surge of energy the day the house was painted a few days before Christmas, a real feeling of accomplishment washed over me – and I was imagining my Dad’s voice as if he was seeing it for the first time, “Wow, baby – that’s amazing”. Garry loved a lot of things in grey and black, and I know he would have approved of the red brick transformation you see above (thanks to Taubmans ‘Casino’ and awnings from Signature Shutters and Blinds). He’d be also quick to criticise and be recommending some sculptural greenery at the front to break up the dark bricks. Dad, if you’re reading this – don’t worry, that’s happening soon!
On a lighter note, over the coming months – I’ll be sharing lots of photos of our new home. Bathroom, Laundry and Kitchen will be first off – Living, Dining and Bedrooms will follow. I have a fabulous new bedhead from Bednest that I’m really looking forward to showing you, and the Freedom Kitchens cabinetry has been getting lovely reviews from visitors (the amazing Smeg appliances definitely help – wait to you see my oven, I’m in love).
As someone who grew up on the other side of town, I never would have believed someone if they’d told me that I would eventually become a ‘Northern Beaches girl’, but here I am – 10 years in and no desire to be living anywhere else. As cliché as it sounds, I’m addicted to the casual vibe, the good restaurants and the ‘beach at your doorstep’ lifestyle – whilst all being an easy and short ferry ride from the city. The kids have it pretty sweet too, it’s a really magical place to be growing up.
I’ve got to be honest, the one thing that was lacking in the area for me was a high end shopping centre. Well, that’s not a problem anymore. Westfield Warringah Mall has had a major renovation, with over 70 new (fancy) stores. A definite stand out for me is the new Myer. The department store has a beautiful and spacious new fit out and is bursting at the seams with the usual – the cool fashion, homewares, and beauty departments really caught my eye. It truly has become a one stop shop for Christmas shopping, and I couldn’t wait to visit a second time after Myer invited me to have a peruse for some family gift ideas.
I headed straight to the Baby department as I knew Rafferty’s Santa Sack was a little light on gifts compared to Sunday’s. I picked up a cute selection of age appropriate toys, including the very popular ‘Dear Zoo’ building block set. Raff woke up from his morning nap while I was setting these shots up, so I couldn’t resist giving him an early play with the presents. I also dressed him in his new outfit – the adorable lobster get-up, which I found in the very cute Seed Baby department.
Next on my list was adding some items to Sunday’s Christmas haul. I have to be honest, she is an easy kid to shop for. Like all four year olds, she has soooo many interests – including art and craft, reading, swimming and a love for new clothes. As you can imagine, the range at Myer Warringah Mall had everything covered. I can’t wait for her to open the ‘paint your own garden gnome’, the perfect activity for when we move to our new house and garden. She’s going to love her pretty Summer gear too, which consists of a new dress and skirt/top combo, (the girl is happiest if she’s in a skirt). I’m also hoping the sticker book will keep her entertained in the car on Christmas Day, as we are heading to Bowral for lunch.
Not as easy to buy for is Mark. We have been throwing any spare money we have at the house/renovation this year, so his wardrobe situation is a little dire at the moment. I picked him up a cool pair of new board shorts from the Industrie department, and a smart Reserve shirt for his Christmas Day outfit. I added a luxe little stocking filler with a bottle of his favourite, DiorSauvage Eau de Toilette. Speaking of stocking fillers, there are some great ‘gift idea’ departments that cover everything from the man to the baby in your life, definitely worth checking out!
When I’m shopping these days, this Mumma often comes in last on the list of the priorities, but not this time. I was totally drawn in by the fantastic fashion, homewares and accessory departments. You’ll be happy to know, Myer definitely has gifts for the modern mother sorted! I bought a new Christmas Day dress from Seed, anda set of Aura hand towels and Murchison Hume products for the new house. I also really went all out and treated myself to a pair of fab Karen Walker sunnies. Hello Summer!
Last but not least, I treated the family to a giant new lie-on float from the fab and fun Sunnylife department. The perfect Summer accessory in our pool for when we move. I’m also picturing lots of lazing under an umbrella once the madness of Christmas is over – one can only hope!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this story I posted:
My shopping spree at Myer Warringah Mall can only be described as a SUCCESS, everywhere I turned I spotted gift ideas. I even managed to stop for a coffee at the cool cafe situated near the homewares department. Shopping and Coffee. Alone. In peace and quiet. Ah! It’s the little things in life.
I’m sure you’d agree that when you’re a kid, there’s nothing like some old fashioned water play on the grass in the middle of Summer. Cue slices of watermelon and some sausages on the BBQ and you have the perfect day. My mum tells me I would spend hours outside as a child playing with the simple things like a bucket, hose and plastic shell pool with my sisters. Not an electrical device in sight – the good ol’ days.
Traditional backyard water play was stepped up over the weekend in our house and Sunday thought Christmas had come early when we set up the Dinoland Play Centre from Clark Rubber.
The store really is a one stop shop when it comes to backyard fun this Summer, check out the link to gifts under $20, which is full of perfect little stocking fillers for all ages.
Our Dinoland Play Centre was inflated in minutes with the help of an electric pump, and we simply placed it on a level area of grass in our Apartment garden and then connected the hose. Like magic, a sprinkler system filled up the big play pool. Little squeals of delight that came immediately from baby Rafferty and Sunday in action with her young neighbour friend was all I needed to know that it was a huge hit. I’m thinking we will set it up again for Raff’s 1st birthday party in February, as it’s the perfect entertainment for kids.
The good news is, I also have three of the Dinoland Play Centres to give away on Instagram this week, so keep an eye out for the post – I promise you the kids will love it!
Always remember, never leave children unattended when playing near water. Also, check with your local council for pool and spa fencing, safety and water regulations.
When I was in the planning stage of our renovation, budgeting for the kitchen to be replaced was a non-negotiable for me. I knew the potential with the space as soon as I set foot in the house. As you can see above, the house had a functioning but tiny kitchen, and I was desperate to knock out a few walls and open the space right up.
We have been lucky enough to be able to live off site while the renovations have been taking place, but we did live through our previous kitchen renovation a few years ago, so I know that living every day life without the practicalities of a kitchen is a tough gig and surviving on take-away during the construction stage can get monotonous, not to mention unhealthy and expensive. As mentioned before, I’m working with Smeg to bring you a series of blog posts, and below I have outlined a few tips on how to best live with a kitchen renovation:
If space permits, try and designate an area for a temporary kitchen out of the way of construction. Setting up ‘camp’ near a laundry tub so you have a water supply would be perfect. A small dining table (or portable trestle table) placed against a wall near a power point can easily become a makeshift kitchen bench. Keep things simple and strip back elements to keeping only the kitchen appliances out you really can’t live without such as a Toaster and a Kettle. Store away excess plates, glasses, cutlery etc, and have the bare minimum out of storage that will work for the number of people in your household.
I’ve come up with a small list of things I found handy to have on hand in our ‘makeshift kitchen’:
A Good Knife
4 Sets Cutlery
4 x Plates/Bowls
4 x Mugs
4 x Wine Glasses
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to be hosting dinner parties and cooking three course meals during the construction period, but you are still going to need a space to pour a bowl of cereal and make a piece of toast. Keeping the fridge and freezer close by is also handy. Speaking of fridges and freezers, we have ordered this beautiful side-by-side refrigerator/freezer from Smeg and I’m so excited about it’s generous storage capabilities, not to mention it’s gorgeous looks! Again, if this luxury isn’t possible due to space, an Esky with ice from the petrol station could be a temporary option to keep your perishables cold.
If you really want to make yourself comfortable, handy appliances such as a microwave, slow cooker, coffee maker and a mini electric cooktop are really going to get you through to the other side of the construction stage with less pain and hassle. When it comes to meal ideas, you can’t go wrong with ‘one pot’ recipes. Less space is needed, and there’s a lot less to clean up. Last but not least, keep a healthy supply of non-perishable snacks on the table, especially if you’ve got kids. You could always save money and keep snacks healthy by using small snap lock bags and mixing up almonds, pretzels and dried apricots.
If all else fails and you don’t have the space to set up any of the above, try to aim for a renovation in Summer and get that BBQ cranking and an outdoor table set up under a portable gazebo (purchase an inexpensive one from somewhere like Anaconda).
Above all, try hard to grin and bear it, and remember the reward at the end of it all – a beautiful new kitchen and shiny new appliances. Pictured above is our kitchen space as it stands today, but that really is all about to change. My gorgeous Smeg appliances and cabinetry arrive in a few days. I can’t wait!
Back in the day when I was child free and working long hours in film, the Supa Centa at Moore Park was a handy go-to shopping centre located really close to Fox Studios, making it perfect for last minute purchases needed on set, and needed fast.
I was recently contacted by the team to take a visit and have a little shop with a focus on the outdoor ranges. How could I refuse? I love entertaining outdoors, especially as the weather is warming up, and boy – do I love to shop!
I killed two birds with one stone on the day and had my car detailed downstairs (and it was a really good job too). I loaded myself up with a trolley at the beginning of my expedition and hit up Anaconda (which you can enter directly from the carpark). If you’re planning a camping trip this Summer, don’t bother with any other store. I promise you this mega shop has EVERYTHING you need – from outdoor furniture to sleeping bags to teapots, you’ll be completely sorted! I ended up with the blow up baseball which I found in the extensive swim section.
I then headed upstairs to where it’s all happening, if you’ve never visited before, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised – there is a great mix of stores to suit all budgets, and a couple of good cafes to stop for a re-fuel. I spent a little longer than expected in Toys R Us (seems the magic of roaming around a toy store hasn’t left the kid in me), and I picked up the Little Tikes Cart for Rafferty, which will be perfect for when those chunky little legs of his start walking over Summer. I then strolled around the eclectic Orson + Blake, and I found Shack also had a great range of furniture. The mega store, Harvey Norman had a really impressive range of outdoor furniture and accessories, as did the always reliable Freedom – where I found the tone was set with the great black and white striped outdoor rug I found (perfect for kids as you can hose it down at the end of the day). I then added pops of colour with fun accessories I found along the way. I also picked up the plastic party cups, the metal ice bucket to keep those refreshing drinks cool, and the very handy electric air pump for the blow up pool accessories at Freedom – because, let’s face it – who wants to be blowing up a toy on a hot Summer’s day!
Mr + Mrs Jones is a really cute ‘giftware delicatessan’, perfect for some Christmas shopping (for young and old), and this is where I bought the Sunnylife Stereo (such a cute gift idea) and the gorgeous pool accessories. I also loved walking around the large Adairs where I was inspired by lots of outdoor options. I picked up two of the Rebecca Judd Loves Outdoor Cushions, which are really nice quality and couldn’t resist the fun little flamingo. Melamine plates and bowls are your friend when entertaining outside and Adairs certainly have a lovely range, I loved the fun graphics on the plates I purchased, as well as the quality white and timber tray – perfect for a stable lunch surface when eating on the lawn. I was also really pleased with the set of cute kids outdoor chairs I bought at Adairs – I’m sure Sunny is going to get lots of use out of them over Summer in our new garden. Bed Bath ‘N’ Table was another store I walked around, and I ended up choosing the handy oversize striped towel – on a different note, I also loved their range of Christmas decorations this year. I was sidetracked again back in to the land of renovating by walking around Howard’s Storage World – I’ll be revisiting that store when we move in, that’s for sure.
I ended up spending three hours shopping a The Supa Centa, and with a fully loaded trolley at the end of it I found myself really happy with the selection of products I piled in to my (clean) car to take home.
Now, someone pass me a glass of wine in a handy plastic cup – I’m ready for some time in the sun!