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My Top Ten Christmas Adverts of 2019

It’s the first of December and officially Christmas season in my book. Nothing puts me in the festive mood like a sweet, sentimental Christmas advert and these are some of my favourite ones this season. I hope that these jolly up your spirit and offer a reminder of the things that are really important at this time of year – the ones we love not the gifts we receive.

Feature photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Satisfying your wanderlusting heart without leaving home

While travel is probably the least of our worries at the moment with the state that the world is in, it’s hard not to feel disheartened about the current limitations for those of us with relentless travelling hearts. I was happily on my way to Dubai when all Australian travellers were urged to return home because of Covid-19 so I’m feeling very disappointed about missing out on my Arabian adventure. For the creative soul, there are always opportunities to indulge in some armchair travelling and here are some things I’ve been doing lately to keep my wanderlust at bay.

Find adventure in your own backyard

Depending on your current lockdown restrictions, this could be the perfect opportunity to discover some hidden treasures right in your own backyard. I realised last year that I’m guilty of seeking out adventure abroad while neglecting to explore the beauty within my own hometown. Instagram has been a goldmine of ideas for finding local treasure so I’m making it my mission to try to look at my surroundings with a more curious mind and see what adventures I can find around me.

Start planning the next adventure

Something that I’ve found really helpful lately to take my mind off the current situation is to focus on the future. This is a great time to start researching and planning and preparing for the next big adventure.

Start learning some lingo

Again, this is a very helpful strategy for focusing on future adventures rather than lamenting on current travel frustration. Now is a really good time to start perfecting some handy phrases for the next adventure you WILL be going on. I’m craving a Scandinavian adventure for my next big trip so I’ll be accessing some free lessons on Babbel.com.

Try cooking different cuisines

One of my greatest joys whenever I come home from a trip away is sharing my new culinary experiences with my loved ones. Normally my kitchen prowess leaves something to be desired so I prefer hunting out local restaurants and cafes that offer authentic international cuisines. However, I’ve been so inspired lately by all the late night cooking shows I’ve been watching that I’m tempted to give Mexican cooking a try. Step aside, Queen Nigella.

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Photo courtesy of Victor Garcia on Unsplash.

Create a travel playlist

My go-to remedy whenever I’m getting the travel blues (particularly when I’ve just come home from a trip and have no new adventures in sight yet) is to listen to my favourite travel playlist on Spotify. There are heaps of travel-related playlists available to listen to on Spotify that are ready-made.  My own personal travel playlist is filled with songs that remind me of my own travel memories, such as the song we used to serenade our tour guide on our amazing trip to Mexico or the song I heard on my very first night in Edinburgh when I was in summer school.

Connect with travel buddies

I’ve never been more grateful for advances in technology that allow us to talk virtually face-to-face with friends and family around the world than I have been during this pandemic. Being so isolated has made me feel quite nostalgic so it’s been lovely to have the extra time at home to reconnect with old friends and get sentimental together about shared experiences.

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Image courtesty of John Schnobrich from Unsplash.

Start a travel blog

If you feel like you’re lacking a little in the travel buddies department at the moment, starting a travel blog is a great way to connect to other travellers and like-minded wanderers. Not only is it a opportunity to share stories and tips with fellow travellers but it’s a great excuse to spend hours reminiscing over past adventures and researching for new ones.

Watch a travel movie

Here in Perth, we’re starting to head into our rainy season so this is the perfect time to snuggle up, grab some popcorn and indulge in a little travel escapism. There’s a great list of 25 of the Best Travel Movies on the blog We are Travel Girls to get you started.  My all-time favourite travel movies are Amelie, Lost in Translation, Paris Jetaime and Midnight in Paris (can you spot the theme here?).

Read some travel memoirs

Whether you prefer fictional escapism or real-life travel accounts, there’s a wealth of travel literature that’s guaranteed to get your travel juices flowing. Two Wandering Soles have put together a comprehensive list of 65 Books for Travellers and there are quite a few listed that I’ve added to my ever-growing reading pile.

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Photo from Unsplash courtesy of ONNE Beauty
Feature image from Unsplash courtesy of Simon Migaj

 

 

Ten Happy Things in April

To say that this year has been an intense one so far would be an understatement of epic proportion. Normally, April is my favourite month of the year. It’s a month of birthdays, Easter, school holidays and the lovely beginnings of crisp, Autumn weather. I’ve never before experienced an April like this one. From the start of this pandemic, I’ve been determined to keep my mind focused on positivity and not let the pervading fear creep in. These are some things that kept me going this month and I hope you’ve managed to hold tight to your own happy things this month.

  • The biggest thing to happen to our family this month was the loss of our faithful, loyal family dog, Lulu. Our Lulu has been with us since my family moved to Australia and the loss will be felt for a long, long time. However, there was so much peace in knowing that she passed in the presence of people she loved, that her life was filled with joy and that she left us with a world of good memories.
  • I had my very first birthday in isolation and my loved ones made sure it was still well-celebrated. I came home to deliveries of flowers and chocolates at my front door, had so many thoughtful gifts and cards and was given the most delicious lemon cheesecake from my work colleagues (minus the candles to blow out).
  • Easter looked very different for most of us this year. In my family, the religious aspect is the primary focus of the celebration so not being able to attend church on Easter Sunday felt very strange indeed. We still found moments throughout the day to enjoy and an abundance of chocolate bunnies went a long way in making that happen.
  • I’ve been able to work from home for a big part of the month, which was such a nice change. Being able to skip the daily commute and work in my pyjamas is a treat I will never pass up.
  • My social media has been FLOODED with more love and positivity than I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve loved seeing so many posts about acts of kindness and have been so inspired by the creative ways people are staying connected and supporting each other.
  • Last weekend, my sister-in-law hosted an international quiz night with all the family together over facetime. It was so much fun and such a nice way to celebrate being ‘a different kind of together’.
  • No gym has meant trying different online workout classes and my favourite by far has been the ‘PE with Mr Wicks’ classes by The Body Coach on Youtube. Considering the classes are for children, they really pack a punch and I’m currently smashing up to 38 squats a minute (don’t ask about my burpee count though – horrendous!).
  • No socialising has given me time to fly through my pile of books that have been gathering dust on my bedside table. Here’s what I’ve been reading lately.
  • I’ve also been ploughing through my ever-growing to-do list and am feeling much more clear-headed and creative. I’ve cleaned, decluttered and sorted out. I’ve tried new recipes, edited photos and finally started the little veggie patch I’ve been talking about for ages. Each item I check off my list makes me feel more inspired to keep going.
  • I’m lucky enough to live very close to a gorgeous beach walk that starts minutes away from my front door. Normally I’m a gym girl but having limited training options has made me really appreciate where I live and I’ve been taking full advantage of it with daily beach walks.

Feature image courtesy of Lucija Ros on Unsplash.

Ten Happy Things in October

It feels like an age since I last wrote a gratitude post. We were on baby watch for most of October with my sister-in-law due to give birth early November. My sister organized a beautiful baby shower high tea (with the cutest baby pink scones) for Stacey at The George in Perth city, which was a lovely, intimate way to celebrate the coming of our new family member.

I went to see the new Joker movie with Joaquin Phoenix and despite my initial skepticism, I really loved it. Heath Ledger has always been my favorite Joker so I had very low expectations but it was actually brilliant. I know a lot of people found this movie too controversial and were not happy with the creators giving a murderous character such a sympathetic origin story. My personal thoughts are that this was one of the best character studies of mental illness I’ve ever seen and any understanding we can gain on the impact of trauma on mental health is a good thing.

Speaking of mental health, I went to an inspiring event this month called ‘Life #no filter’, a mental health forum hosted by Providence Church. My experience has been that there’s somewhat of a disconnect between mental health and Christianity so it was refreshing to hear open, honest conversation around a topic that I’ve always felt to be a bit taboo in Christian circles.

I finally got to try Varsity Bar in Joondalup with some good friends and it did not disappoint. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better so I will definitely be making a return visit.

I had my first solo shopping trip with my little nephew and it was the cutest thing. Connor is the sweetest boy and I love spending time with him but I take my hat off to all the mamas out there because toddlers are high energy!

I also got to go trick or treating with Connor for Halloween this month. He dressed up like the cutest green dinosaur you’ve ever seen but still wouldn’t share any of his candy with Aunty Rach.

I was invited to the Judy film premier by my lovely friend, Joh. Although the movie was a tad depressing, the event itself was still enjoyable and it’s always nice to have an excuse to get glammed up and get the high heels out.

For my October ‘one new thing’ project, I started static trapeze classes with She Moves dance fitness studios. It’s been without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health and fitness. I’m in awe at what our bodies are capable of achieving and I feel so motivated to keep working on my fitness journey towards a stronger, healthier self.

I finally got my gorgeous new bed from Harvey Norman and I’m in heaven.

This month, there was a big sale on with Jetstar so I booked some weekend flights to Melbourne and Adelaide for the new year. Once the inevitable January blues hit, I know I’ll be really glad I have some nice travel things to look forward to in 2020.

Feature image courtesy of Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash.

 

Ten Happy Things in September

Happy Friday everyone! I hope this month has treated you well and for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re finally starting to see the first glimmers of warmer weather and it’s glorious.

  • Those of us in West Australia were lucky enough to get a long weekend at the end of September and it was very much appreciated. Spring is in the air so it was a great opportunity to put away the winter woolies and dust off the sun loungers. It’s been a long winter so I am longing for summer this year.
  • I was kindly invited along to the Downton Abbey film premiere by my good friend The Glam Whisperer and it was just as swish as I imagined it would be with free champagne, an orchestra and lots of ladies in lovely dresses.
  • This month I signed up for the Single Swag subscription box and it was such a treat to come home to a box of really decent treats and beauty products that I can’t wait to try out.
  • I was able to spend both Father’s Day and my mum’s birthday with my family and I never take for granted being able to spend these moments together.
  • This month I started driving home from work along the coastal road and stopping every day at a different beach for some chill time. The difference in mood from spending forty-five minutes breathing sea air and looking at blue water compared to bumper-to-bumper congestion has been phenomenal.
  • I’ve also been having plenty of Friday night sunset hangouts with friends down at my local beach and it’s a really refreshing way to end the week on a positive note.
  • Season five of Peaky Blinders has FINALLY been released on Netlix.
  • I hosted our Growth group social at my place this month and it was so much fun. Pizza, ice-cream and good friends – couldn’t ask for a better Wednesday night.
  • My room renovations are slowly moving along with new shelving units and matching bookcases from IKEA. My space will be unrecognizable by Christmas and I can’t wait to see the end result.
  • I finally tried the pad thai at Bangkok Brothers in Whitfords. My favourite pad thai in Perth comes from Kitsch in Leederville but I would say Bangkok Brothers is a decent runner-up.

Feature image courtesy of Aaron Burden on Unsplash

My Top Ten Travel Tips

Travel is one of my greatest pleasures in life and I’ve been very blessed to have had a substantial amount of international adventures in my life. Through epic trial and error, I’ve managed to get my travel routine down to a fine art and these are some of the tips and tricks that help me make the most out of any trip I take now.

Have a flexible itinerary

There’s nothing more disappointing than having something very specific planned for a trip and it then turn out to be a flop. There have been sights that I’ve waited my whole life to see and because of all the build-up and heightened expectation, they rarely live up to the hype. I find having a few things planned that I really want to see helps manage my travel expectations and leaves plenty of time for wandering and happy discoveries along the way.

Comfy shoes

The best way to experience any new city is to get out walking so a comfy pair of shoes is a must. I still struggle with this one as I love my heels but generally after just one day of hobbling around on a pair of wedges, I stick with my Sketchers and leave all my cute shoes gathering dust in my suitcase.

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Images courtesy of Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Be sensible

Always carry extra money for emergencies. Take out travel insurance. Keep extra copies of important documents in multiple places. Give family or friends copies of your itinerary and contact details of where you’ll be staying. I find these things so tedious to do but can be life-saving when things go belly-up.

Packing pods

I invested in a set of packing pods for my last long haul flight to England and Dubai with very low expectations. I didn’t really get what the big deal was and how exactly it was supposed to make packing easier.

How wrong I was.

I started off with just a basic set of three packing pods which I used for swimwear, gym gear and pyjamas. I also put any accessories I would need in the packing pods as well (eye masks for sleeping, mini towel for gymming) so that everything I needed for that particular activity was right there in the pod. I actually couldn’t believe the difference it made not having to scramble around constantly looking for all the things and as I started to build up a collection of used clothes, I used my biggest pod for dirty laundry so I could immediately see what was still wearable. Game changer!

Bring a first aid kit

Nothing takes away the joy of being lost in a foreign culture than being sick and not knowing where the nearest pharmacy is or having language barriers when trying to communicate symptoms. I always carry the essentials with me when I travel (pain killers, nausea pills, band-aids, electrolytes, etc.) and I don’t think I’ve been on one trip yet where it hasn’t been used.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

I’ve always been more of a ‘go with the flow’ type traveler and love just wandering around a new city to soak up the atmosphere. Although I love not having a schedule and having the freedom to travel however I want, I do feel now that I’ve missed out on some experiences through not researching and planning enough. A few years ago, we spent a day in Naples and hired a tour guide to show us the sights. We managed to packed so much into one day as we weren’t faffing around trying to work what we wanted to do and what was the best way to get there – it was just all organized for us.

0B0A466D-0ACD-49CD-B054-97E444E4F081Image courtesy of Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Bring snacks

You just never know when your next meal is gonna be in a new place and the risk of hanger is too real a possibility – bring snacks!

Use solid toiletries

This is one of my newest travel hacks and it’s such a good one if you’re travelling with just hand luggage. Some airports are really strict with the amount of liquid allowance you can take on the plane (the general rule is containers must be under 100mls but Manchester airport are very strict about limiting the amount of containers to a clear plastic 20cm x 20cm bag) so having the bulk of your toiletries be solid is a definite winner. Lush have a gorgeous package-free range that smell out of this world.

Capture the moment

I don’t think you can ever take too many photos or videos of your trip. It’s a tricky business trying to balance capturing the essence of your adventure while also attempting to live in the moment. However, I’ve never regretted taking a bit of extra time to get a really good shot or wished I hadn’t taken forty different pictures of a funny-looking duck waddling around outside my hotel room in Bali. Better to delete later rather than forget altogether. Also try to back up whenever you can – I’ve lost a memory card full of holiday pictures before and it was devastating.

A3C4FA84-8A1D-4DAD-995A-1F1EFB0CD2D6Image courtesy of Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Practice self care

It’s really easy to slip out of your self care routine when on holiday and relax the rules on what keeps you healthy and happy. While travelling is a great opportunity to treat yourself and do the things you love, a little too much indulgence can really put a dampener on a trip. Not only do I start feeling really yuck in my body from unhealthy eating and drinking – my mental health doesn’t do well when I’m living off carbs and cocktails.

Feature image courtesy of Peter Lastra on Unsplash

Ten Happy Things in August

I feel like I just blinked and we’re in September already. Where has the past year gone? This year has passed by in a blur and I’m even happier to have started this monthly gratitude project because of that reason. It’s not only given me the opportunity to reflect on the past month but it’s also given me a list of really special memories that I might otherwise have forgotten.

  • At the start of August, my family took a weekend trip down to Mandurah to celebrate my Dad’s birthday. We stayed in a fully-decked out home right on the canals with the swankiest theatre room you’ve ever seen.
  • I treated my mom to a gold class session to see ‘The Lion King’ and I’m not sure who was more excited about it.
  • I’m not a great lover of eating fish (despite living one street away from the ocean). However, I’ve been challenging myself to eat less meat lately and have recently discovered a love for squid. For anyone living in Perth, the lemon pepper squid from The Sovereign Arms pub is insanely delish.
  • There’s a new season of ‘Mindhunter’ out and the bar is set very high for all my serial-killer expectations.
  • We went to see The Greatest Showman aka Hugh Jackman at the RAC arena and his show was out of this world. I’m starting to contemplate whether he truly is the greatest Australian who ever lived…
  • I recently started drinking red wine and have just found my new favourite – The Stag’s Pinot Noir. Goes down just a bit too nicely…
  • I went to a networking event with work called the YESS Collaborative where I got to catch up with lots of ex-colleagues and co-workers as well as learn about some amazing new programs being implemented for the young people in our community. It was a very inspiring event and makes me very grateful for the industry I work in and the people I work with.
  • I went with a good friend of mine to watch ‘Bring It On’ the musical at His Majesty’s theatre in the city. We started a bit of a tradition last year of going to watch musicals together and I’m so glad we’ve carried on with it this year.
  • I’m currently in the process of renovating my bedroom. It’s at the annoying stage where it’s half-finished and everything is in chaos but it’s slowly getting there. The walls have been painted, new floorboards have been put down and a new bed has been ordered. My goal is to get it completely finished before Christmas.
  • I’m not sure if it’s the fact that Spring is on the way but my gym motivation has kicked into high gear and to motivate myself to keep up the momentum, I bought myself these new running shoes and some Calvin Klein running tights. No excuses now.

Feature image courtesty of aliceinbeautyland.com

 

My Singapore Photo Journal

The travel bug has been biting me hard lately and on a total whim, I tagged along with a friend of mine to Singapore for a weekend away at the end of July. It was stressful (nearly missed my flight due to arriving at the wrong terminal) and expensive (school holiday prices!) and hot but it was the best weekend I’ve had in a really long time.

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I haven’t been to Singapore in about ten years and was told that if you haven’t been to Singapore recently, you basically haven’t been to Singapore. The city is constantly growing and developing so even though the odd landmark was familiar, it felt like a brand new city to explore. It’s a great city for solo travelers as it’s safe, clean and really easy to navigate.

We stayed at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel on Orchard Road, which was a perfect location for us. There are multiple eating places and more importantly, shopping malls right on the doorstep and an MRT station five minutes away so everything we needed was within walking distance and very accessible.

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Our first full day in Singapore was spent mainly exploring and finally getting to experience the much talked-about Gardens by the Bay. We decided to do the Floral Fantasy Experience and it was incredible. There are four different garden landscapes in the exhibit, waterfalls and a 4D multimedia ride to end the experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the evening light show so that will have to be something for the next trip.

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One of my favorite parts of the trip was sampling some local food cuisine and trying different food markets. My travel buddy recommended some must-try dishes including chicken rice, oyster omelette, stingray and fried carrot cake (spoiler – it’s not a sweet dish).

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On saying that though, I did happen to find the most delicious chocolate-crusted croissant I ever tasted at a bakery in Takashimaya. Sorry, France but it was awesome. I also got to indulge my Starbucks travel tradition, which started off ten years ago with my very first mocha frappaccino on a day trip to Glasgow.

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We also spent a day exploring Universal Studios on Sentosa Island. There are seven different themed zones and nearly thirty rides along with various shows and character appearances throughout the day so there’s something for everyone. One thing I would recommend is getting the fast track pass for the rides as the lines were insanely long and the last thing you feel like doing in that intense heat is lining up for two hours.

88412C44-1145-4433-B4F5-DFC5B9E85EC0All in all, it was a fab weekend away and a very welcome break from the everyday routine. If anyone has any suggestions for my next weekend away to Singapore, I would love to hear them as I’m already planning my next trip back xox

Ten Happy Things in July

Happy weekend! On this drizzly, chilly Saturday morning, I’ve been reliving my recent travel adventures and planning some new ones. Here are some little moments that have sparked joy for me over the past month – hope you enjoy!

  • The biggest news I have from July is that I’m getting a little niece for Christmas. My brother and sister-in-law had a gender reveal party at the beginning of the month and we found out in a cloud of pink confetti that they’ll be welcoming a beautiful baby girl into their family before the end of the year.
  • My second biggest news is that I snuck off to Singapore for a sneaky weekend at the end of this month. It was a last minute decision but a very good one as it was just what I need to refresh and reset and remember how much travel means to me.
  • My one new thing for July was all the incredible new food I tried in Singapore. I went with a friend of mine who knew some really amazing places to try and I ate stingray and oyster omelette and fried carrot cake (spoiler – it’s not a sweet dish). There was also a bit of an incident with poached eggs and sweet bread which you can check out on my instastory of the trip.
  • I added to my growing Victoria’s Secret handbag collection with this little beauty.
  • My sister and I went to an epic Freddie Mercury dance party in Fremantle.
  • I found a tanning product that can finally satisfy all my spray tanning needs. I have the palest skin ever so this Bondi Sands matte one day tan is perfect for my blotchy attempts at pretending I can actually sit out in the sun without getting burnt to a crisp.
  • I went to watch The Lion King in gold class with my mum. It gave me all the African feels and now I’m seriously considering pursuing my dream of going on safari in Botswana.
  • I tried skin needling for the first time at my sister’s beauty salon. I felt like I was getting a face tattoo and my face looked like a bloody mashed potato afterwards but I must admit that my face did feel smoother than I remember after about a week of healing. I’m waiting in dreaded anticipation for my next session.
  • One of my work colleagues moved on to greener pastures and we sent him off in style with a leaving dinner at La Vida Urbana in Leederville. Epic margaritas and their $8 tacos are to die for.
  • We’ve still got a few more rainy weekends to go before Spring hits and I’m going to be savouring every single one.

What have been some sparks of joy for you this month? x

Feature image courtesy of  wallpapers-house.com

Ten Happy Things in May and June

Winter is finally here in all it’s blustery glory. I’ve always loved the coziness of winter and those chilly nights spent in front of the fire with hot chocolate and fluffy blankets. On the down side though, having zero motivation to exercise and getting up for work in the dark are not so fun. Here are some happy things that have been keeping my spirits up in the past two months – I would love to hear some of yours.

  • We watched the very last episode of Game of Thrones and now just don’t know what to do with ourselves.
  • For my ‘One new thing’ a month project, I decided to sponsor a Compassion child. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now and after a recent shopping trip where I spent $400 on new clothes, I decided I could definitely make the sacrifice and use my money a bit more wisely to bless other people.
  • Speaking of said shopping trip, I got some gorgeous new clothes from a sale that on at Jeanswest. I’m loving the animal print trend at the moment so I feel like I would blend right into the background on an African safari with this little haul.
  • My ‘one new thing’ for June was to go the whole month without watching TV. I felt like I was getting into a really bad routine of coming home from work, putting my pjs on and spending the night watching TV. I actually found it really easy to cut out and am making a conscious effort to spend much less time away from Netflix now that my month is up (even though I’ve been really enjoying Gotham lately).
  • Mother’s Day was in May and we celebrated with pink cocktails and a delicious dinner at Currambine Bar and Bistro. I never take for granted being able to spend moments like these with my family and am always grateful to have my beautiful mum in my life.
  • My little sister turned 24 and I now feel older than I’ve ever felt in my life.
  • We had the flu vaccine at work and I promptly got sick with the worst flu I’ve had since 2017. Hopefully that’s my run of illness over with for the winter as I’ve probably used all my sick days until 2030.
  • I finally went to the cinema to see the last Avenger’s movie. I really wish I had bothered to watch all the ones before this as I had no clue what was going on but it was still a really fun night out.
  • We had a lovely, long weekend for WA day at the end of May, which was a great way to end the month. I was sick with flu the whole weekend but it was still bliss to have three blissful days of no morning alarms.
  • In May, I had to re-interview for my current position as part of work policy. I find interviews incredibly stressful so this was a pretty difficult process. I’m very relieved this is now done with and I hopefully don’t have to think about it again until next year (Lord willing, I’m still in this role).

Feature image courtesy of https://blogs.mtu.edu