Wednesday, 26 February 2014


It has finally happened - our bathroom, toilet and laundry have been renovated!

The original just wasn't cutting it anymore. It wasn't the vintage green tiles that bothered me, or even the original features. It wasn't an aesthetic issue but one of practicality. We had a leak behind the shower (turned out a rusty nail had pierced the pipe years ago and was slowly leaking), which was bound to do significant damage if left unattended.

It was also a cleaning issue. No matter how many times I scrubbed, bleached, re-grouted and tried every anti-mould trick in the book, I just couldn't get rid of the grime. It had even started to impact on the ceiling. Add in a broken window (I assume a previous owner locked themselves out or an attempted burglary occurred), plus a damaged door, and it was time to move on.


Before we embarked on this project, we had to decide if it was worth the investment. Would we be in this home for at least another five years? Or would the money be better spent going towards a new home? After weighing up our options - working part time, being able to take time off work to care for my parents, being able to sleep at night due to having our mortgage repayments covered and expecting another bub, we decided to stay put and do up our house a bit.

We sought the services of Avado. Co-owned and operated by a friend's brother, I knew the quality of their work. Avado project managed the whole renovation, which made life just that little bit less stressful for us. They completed the whole job in one week, while we were interstate so we didn't have to live without amenities and keep Little L from all the tools and live wires.

We went for two quotes. One was our (OK, my) dream bathroom which would of required lots of re-plumbing and asbestos removal. The second quote involved not removing walls and plumbing but an overall face lift. We went with the latter option but threw in a new ceiling and window to replace the above mentioned damaged ones. We also cut down costs by getting our original bathroom re-enameled. We decided to do the separate toilet and laundry at the same time to ensure the renovation updated all our wet areas and didn't leave us with mismatch rooms.

To increase the feeling of space, I went for a modern twist on the subway tiles, a floor tile with texture and simple but kind of old-school fittings for a look that fits with our not so modern home.


Supply list:
Tiles and vanity: Amber Tiles Fyswhick*
Fittings including all tap wear, towel rails and hooks: Reece
Toilet: Reece
Shaving cabinet: Bunnings
Shower screen: organised by Avado

*Amber Tiles stuffed up our vanity order so I do not fully recommend them.

Apologies for not high quality photos! I'm working on my photography skills! :) 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Nirvana in Noosa


After a massive year my soul, body, mind and spirit was in mega need of a big fat break. Two weeks in Noosa ended up being just what the doctor ordered.

A while back I proclaimed that Moolooba was the Queen of South-East Queensland beaches but now I have to swallow my words - Noosa, you have seduced me.

The in-laws booked a pet-friendly house a walk from Sunshine Beach, which is right next to Noosa. We were blessed with perfect, sunny weather and spent most of the time at the beach, eating or sleeping. Here are some of the highlights for this Canberran:

Sunshine Beach
More chilled than its neighbour, Sunshine Beach is a gem surrounded by mansions and apartments tucked between the trees. The best part for animal lovers is the dog friendly section up the North end. Paradise of friendly pooches, families, warm water and happy vibes. Further down the beach is the patrolled area with access from the strip of yummy caf├ęs and restaurants. The Surf Club has a killer view the ocean on the back deck and serves affordable feeds. For a special treat check out Embassy XO for yummy dumplings and Chinese inspired food. Embassy XO's service and interiors are both lovely.

I was lucky enough to catch up with a life long friend during my stay at Sunshine Beach. As our holiday house was packed to the rafters, we escaped for a night down the road to Dolphins Beach House. This is a flashpackers at its best. For $90 a night we got our own private room with ensuite, flat screen tv, air con and balcony. This establishment has a tropical and colourful charm with a killer location. Highly recommend this place if you are after an affordable stay.

Dolphins Beach House
Noosa Main Beach
This is what all the fuss is about. You can spend a whole day here, sun baking, swimming, making sand castles, perving, surfing, eating, drinking milkshakes, shopping Hastings Street and exploring the National Park. Parking can be a nightmare but worth the persistence. It is so darn pretty and full of life. You may come across a celebrity or two and will leave dreaming of lottery wins so you can relocate. I also recommend doing a cruise through the Noosa river to check out the man made beauties competing against nature for the biggest jaw drops. You might even see Richard Branson on his island.

Edmundi Markets
Famous for the huge markets and hippie charm, Eumundi is a short drive from Noosa and the perfect way to spend a morning and lunch. The markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Try to get in early because traffic and parking can be hectic. For brunch I recommend Bohemian Bungalow for quirky atmosphere and delicious vegetarian and organic dishes. 

Bohemian Bungalow

Bohemian Bungalow
Nails at Noosa
If you are after some nail love, give the ladies at Nails at Noosa a visit. A girlfriend and I got the deluxe pedicure and my Mother in Law went for an express mani and pedi. The girls were fun, professional and did a killer job, all at reasonable prices.

4WD at Noosa North Shore
For your adventurous types, go 4WD and camping along Noosa North Shore. I had a great time driving along the beach, such a great experience with the stunning ocean on one side and the coloured sands on the other.

So there you have it, some tips if you ever find yourself experiencing Nirvana in Noosa! :)

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Hospital Stay

A few weeks back we were doing the latest round of hospital living. My mum went in for more brain surgery to remove her reoccurred GBM tumor.

Over this three week period many items were purchased and/or packed to make her life on the inside more enjoyable. So in the spirit of helping others, here is what she found useful. I have also included tips regarding accommodation and food. Please note, this list is likely to vary from person to person, ailment to ailment:

Pyjamas that are stylish and don't look too much like pjs. You want something your loved one can wear during the day, visit the hospital cafe in and feel fairly respectable. CottonOn Body and Myer have great options. Make sure you have several pairs, include dressing gowns and socks. You will need enough to keep your patient stocked up while you do a laundry run.

Air diffusers such as the Dusk ones. They really make a stay more comfortable by keeping gross hospital smells to a minimum.

Audiobooks. Due to my mum's condition she found reading too hard but enjoyed having audiobooks, especially humorous ones.

Favourite toiletries including a luxurious hand cream. Any little treat turns into a big one when being prodded and hooked up to various devices. You can also give your loved one foot and hand rubs.

Pictures of people and things they love.
Noise cancellation earphones. Mum used these all the time not only to watch or listen to entertainment but also just to cancel out the beeps, groans and constant noise of a hospital ward.

Note pad and paper. To write down any questions they might have for doctors, lists, or random scribbles.

A nice throw for the bed. Much more homely and comfortable than the standard hospital corners.

A vase for all those flowers that get sent.
Pillows from home. As my mum often had to sleep sitting upright she found great comfort in having her favourite pillows from home. Don't forget to bring some extra pillow slips so they can be regularly washed (especially if you have a healing head incision on your hands).

Helpful tips for the carer:

If you have to travel interstate to care for your loved one, consider hiring an apartment instead of a hotel room. If you are staying near Royal North Shore in Sydney let me know and I can send you a great recommendation right in the St Leonards' Forum. Apartments are so much better because you have a home base including a kitchen to prepare meals, a washing machine and several bedrooms. As a family unit you can stay connected while having your own space. Try for somewhere walking distance to the hospital, public transport and a grocery store.

Shift work. With all of us having work and family commitments, our family took turns being in Sydney and coming back to Canberra. It is a long slog and the load has to be shared.

Find the best places for healthy meals close by. You will soon get sick of hospital cafe food and so will your loved one. Again, if staying near Royal North Shore let me know and I can tell you some of them. I can also let you know about a great Thai massage place too!

Hopefully the above helps in some small way. Over the last year I have had lots of time in hospitals so if you are ever after more advice or support just drop me a line, happy to help. Also, don't be afraid to comment with some of your own tips!!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Book Review: And the Mountains Echoed

And the Mountains Echoed
is the third novel from one of my all time favourite authors Khaled Hosseini.

Straight up, Hosseini is gifted and the man can write. Making the ugly shine like jewels. For example, when a character is describing his dementia diagnosis:

They tell me I must wade into waters, where I will soon drown. Before I march in, I leave this on the shore for you. I pray you find it, sister, so you will know what was in my heart as I went under.

Hosseini's ability to write has never been in doubt but I am sorry to say some misgivings have crept in with his latest effort. In all fairness this is still a good read, but when your other two works are masterpieces it is difficult to keep outdoing yourself. 

The downfall with this book is Hosseini's attempts to include too many tales that somewhat intertwine. This leaves some of the most intriguing characters and story lines not fully developed, allowing tad boring scenarios to take up valuable page space. This left me frustrated and I put And the Mountains Echoed down for a few months. However, this was not entirely Hosseini's fault. With a sick toddler, lack of sleep and other pressures of life, I just didn't have the mental energy to read.

I am glad I pursued with this book which, as with all Hosseini's work, has me thinking and visualising long after the last page has turned. It is by no means a disaster and I do recommend you give it a go over summer. The pinnacle events in the book will leave you heartbroken and touched. If you do, please let me know what you think, because I'm unsure if I'm just being too harsh!

My dear sister-in-law Miss T gifted me The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton for my birthday last week. I'm looking forward to reading this Man Booker Prize winner but might take me awhile due to its length! 

Have you read And The Mountains Echoed? What books are on your summer reading pile?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

App Love

A friend of mine said I should do a post on apps after She heard me say 'oh, I've got an app for that',  so here it is!  :)

I was slow to the app world but once I finally got a working smart phone I was hooked.

I trial apps and if they don't cut it, I delete them to free up much needed space for the million pictures of my son.

Following is a list of some of my favourite apps. Please leave a comment and tell me which apps you love!

Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
These three are my social media trilogy. I'm on them ALL THE TIME connecting, creating, planning and time wasting. They all have their perks and nuisances but I will not delete them.

VSCOcam and Beautifulmess
These are the main two image editing apps I use. Beautifulmess is fantastic for creating images with text while VSCOcam allows for great photo manipulation.

My FitnessPal 
FitnessPal was really helpful when trying to get back to a healthy weight range post birth and while Breastfeeding*. It has great features such as being able to scan food packaging (such as a tin of tuna) and tell you how many calories it contains. You can also record any exercise you do and FitnessPal calculates how many calories you would of have lost. Obviously it is just a guide and I would never recommend getting obsessed with calorie counting, but I found it beneficial when I was  finding a diet/exercise balance especially while starving thanks to boob feeding!

Shazam is perfect for that moment when you're in the car, hear a great song on the radio but you don't  know its title and who performs it. Hold your phone close to the radio and in a few seconds it will have the details for you. Disclaimer: please drive safely and don't use Shazam while behind the wheel.

P Tracker
 P Tracker is so useful to track Aunty Flo** especially if you are irregular like me. It has lots of features and I use it all the time.

Appointuit is an incredibly practical app I use all the time to book GP appointments for my family. We are part of a very busy health coop and find it difficult to get through the busy phone line. Appointuit allows you to search either by date, doctor or type of appointment. It also sends you a reminder the day before. With a kid in part time child care (aka always sick) it is really convenient!

Mind Snacks Italian
This is a great app based on games to learn a new language. I highly recommend it! 

*I wasn't one of the lucky ones who lost weight while Breastfeeding but rather stored it up like a camel. Wasn't until I weaned bub that it dropped off, along with the midnight raids of the kitchen.

**Such a lame term I know but feels a bit crude writing here what I usually call it.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Ladies' Night...

These images were taken at our monthly ladies' night. A bunch of amazing women I'm blessed to call friends gather once a month to eat, talk, be merry, vent, mourn, laugh and predict who will get the final rose on The Bachelor.

I've known some of these women for around 20 years!! Yikes!! I remember them as innocent primary school girls, awkward high schoolers, not so innocent twenty-something's and now fabulous members of the thirties club.

There has been breakups, bust ups, falling outs, travels, babies, marriages, parties and everything in between. Yet we always end up in our pjs bonding over food and tv.

I love this and ladies, I love you.


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Running and Stumbling

 Six months ago my family got one of the biggest shocks possible, and like the starting gun of a marathon we have been running and stumbling since.

My mother was diagnosed with a Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) brain tumour.  Since then we have all survived her surgery, six weeks of radiation and monthly rounds of chemo. We wouldn't be able to do it without the incredible support we have received. Advice, practical love, listening ears and thoughtful gestures are carrying us when we feel like giving up.

So in honour of this and to 'pay it forward', here are two lists of ideas that you might find helpful if you are either caring for a loved one with cancer or are a friend of a carer. This is by no means a fool-proof guide on how to deal with such a difficult situation but rather what has worked for me so far.

If you are a carer:

* Two of my nearest and dearest girlfriends gave me this piece of advice about fighting cancer "remember it is a marathon, not a sprint". This has been so true. Try to pace yourself, make time just for you and be kind to yourself. You are no help to anyone if you are totally drained.

*Rally your team, delegate certain tasks and have a roster. This has really worked for my family. One of us deals with the finances and legal tasks while another two rotate being at appointments and giving home care. This allows for everyone to still maintain other life responsibilities and reduce burnout. We also have a family calendar which gets updated and circulated regularly so everyone knows when the next appointments/trips to Sydney are.

*Use a whiteboard in your kitchen and write down critical things especially the medications list including dosage instructions plus important phone numbers.

*Have a good record keeping system, even if it is just having one big folder for everything. Take it to all your appointments. You could be dealing with surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, physiotherapists, psychologists, nurse coordinators, occupational therapists, GPs and more. Inevitably they will ask for certain types of information so it is just easy to have it all on you.

*Fight for the best and don't stop until you get it. It is a harsh reality but when it comes to medical practitioners there is the super stars and then the not so good. Do you research, ask your contacts, find out who is the TOP GUN in their field and get them to look after your loved one. Never apologise for being pushy, this can be a life and death situation and I want the person with the best record for saving lives.

*Plan fun. With the gruelling schedule of appointments, feeling ill and just surviving you need to have fun, take the edge off and heal. Every Tuesday night mum, my sister and I have date night. Sometimes we go to the movies or a show. If mum is not feeling crash hot we just hang at her house. We have also planned a few small family trips.

*Be proactive. I'm not a doctor or in research and at times feel hopeless, so I have done some fundraising for different cancer related charities. It makes me feel like I'm doing something positive and contributing to a brighter future.

*Seek help. I'm always here to help if I can in some way. All you have to do is get in contact :)

If you are a friend of a carer

The best advice I can give is just DO SOMETHING! If it is from the heart it will be appreciated and radiate hope and love. Do what feels right to you. Here is some things people have done for me:

*sent a text or a Facebook message checking in
*cooked some meals
*sent flowers
*sent a handwritten card
*supported fundraising events
*called and listened
*shouted a pedicure and massage
*been physically present 
*allowed a flexible working environment so I can attend appointments
*looked after our pet while staying in Sydney
*cleaned our house and stocked the fridge before we returned home from Sydney
*provided mum free haircuts/head shaves
*helped with my sick toddler so I could get some sleep
*made me laugh
*allowed me to cry
*shared advice and experiences fom their own battles
*continued to be a support long after the initial shock
*been a true friend

Hopefully the above has helped in some way. In all of this it has been so humbling to receive such gracious gestures and to know how precious life truly is.