Archive | April, 2011

Royal Wedding Awards

30 Apr

In honour of tonight’s logies, I’ve decided to review the Royal Wedding awards-style. Let me say from the outset – I LOVED IT!! Mostly. It combined two of the things I love in this world – fashion and romance. However, there were a couple of (minor) issues with the whole thing. Here’s my verdict.

Best Dressed Female Guest
There was stiff competition for this. But my winner is Charlene Wittstock – a South African Olympic backstroke swimmer and fiancĂ©e of Albert II, Prince of Monaco. I love the simplicity, elegance and appropriate-ness of the ensemble. The neckline of the coat frames her face beautifully – and on a day where sculptural hats dominated – Charlene’s relatively minimalist hat was a breath of fresh air. Love the nude shoe and the gloves. It’s great to see an outfit which is comfortable, weather-appropriate – and gorgeous.

My runner-up for best dressed female guest is Tara Palmer Tomkinson – a British socialite and former ‘it’ girl. This ensemble is such a contrast to the outfit I nominated above. The electric blue stood out like the proverbial ‘bolt from the blue’. I love it for the fashion forwardness and edginess of it.

Best Dressed Male Guest
No surprises for guessing this one – David Beckham hands down, in a canter. Let’s face it – the guy could wear stubbies and thongs and still look hot. However, there’s only one word for how he looked at the wedding and that’s – ‘dapper’ – and it’s not often you would say that about Becks. He shows that sometimes, the best way to look cool, is to go conservative. Love the soft grey tie and the bryl-creamed hair – and the fact that he carried a top hat. One of the most fashionable blokes in the world went truly old school for this event – and it worked. I also loved the fact that he seemed truly happy to be there – and smiled A LOT. As an aside, I loved his wife’s dress. We’re so used to pregnant celebrities wearing tight, tight dresses that really accentuate their bumps to the point where you feel you can almost see the baby inside. It was lovely to see a dress that just floated over it all. BUT – what about the shoes. She is standing on tippy-toes. That cannot be comfortable when you’re pretty heavily preggers. I blogged about the dangers of high heels the other day – it just defies belief that a pregnant woman can wear these stilts. I’ve put in several photos of these two. Couldn’t help it.

Fashion trend most likely to catch on
Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress – BUT – as a wedding dress. She was one hot bridesmaid. Her dress (and her figure) was perfection. Add a veil and a bouquet and this could easily pass for a wedding dress. My tip is – a lot more brides will be looking to replicate this slightly sexy look, rather than Kate’s lace number.

Most Memorable Moments
The ceremony itself was an extremely formal occasion – it’s not often you hear the word ‘betwixt’ used with such regularity. What was fabulous was when Wills and Kate were declared officially married, you could hear the crowd outside absolutely roaring. What a moment.

The other image that will stay with me for a while is the sight of the crowd walking down the mall behind the police cordon (little tidbit – police all wore white gloves in honour of the ceremony). It was such a joyful, peaceful and happy scene. We’re so used to seeing crowds gather in anger lately. This was such a contrast. The avenue was ablaze with union jacks and happy faces. To be honest, I think it really was the crowds that made this wedding for me – and I think that’s why Kate and Wills held the wedding they did – for the benefit of the British people. And didn’t they love it.

The Lowlights

Worst Dressed Guests
I’m not the first one to say this – but what were Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie thinking? Apparently, the Royal Family had to submit photos of their planned outfits before the big day, so as to avoid colour clashes. Now that’s the point at which someone should have pulled up the young princesses. Beatrice’s (in the camel) isn’t so bad. But that hat? As for Eugenie’s blue ensemble – it looks like something her mum (Sarah Ferguson) would have worn in the 80s.

The bride’s bouquet
It looked like Kate had gone into the garden and picked it herself. Given the grandeur of the occasion, and her dress, the bouquet just didn’t cut the mustard. It looked like the kind of posy you would find in the bathroom of a posh hotel. The proportion of it was not right. It needed to be a little bigger and more structured. I know the flowers held significance and all that, which is lovely. But it could have been better. As for the flowers in the Abbey – loved the trees – but the altar flowers were – again – a little underwhelming.

Harry’s ill-fitting jacket
He looked like he was wearing shoulder pads that didn’t fit – kind of like an NFL player. Ridiculous – kind of like he’d raided his Dad’s closet for something to wear.

 The lack of emotion during the ceremony
Not one person cried. AT ALL!!! I don’t know how Kate managed to keep so composed. Did she not feel completely overwhelmed by the love of the British public as she drove through those streets on the way to the Abbey – how did she not lose it? And how did her Mum and Dad keep it together as their daughter became as PRINCESS! I guess it’s that whole stiff upper lip British thing. But I would have liked someone to shed a tear.

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Breastfeeding at work – will we ever see the day?

29 Apr

Miranda Kerr posted this pic of herself on Twitter and labelled it – ‘Another day at the office’. I’ve previously posted about Miranda Kerr’s apparent breastfeeding crusade – something I don’t wholeheartedly support. BUT – the picture and her comment does raise an interesting idea. Miranda is indeed in the rare position of being able to breastfeed in the workplace – if only all offices could be so accepting. It has always struck me as somewhat inconsistent that the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. But just how many workplaces are set up for women who return to work but also want to breastfeed their children – or at the very least – express milk for them?
The Australian Government’s paid parental scheme is certainly a step in the right direction – 18 weeks of pay at $543 a week is certainly helpful for some women who want to be at home with their babies. But it’s not the entire solution. What if you want to breastfeed beyond 18 weeks? What then? In my experience, the only real option is to express milk in a private place at work, probably the toilet, which is hardly acceptable. Would you want your dinner prepared in a toilet? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, it’s one of those issues which I fear won’t be addressed in a hurry. Just this week, I read a news story about some research at the Montana State University which showed mums who breastfeed are seen by their colleagues as “less competent” than those who bottle-feed their babies. Read the story here. Through a series of experiments, they determined that breastfeeding mothers are viewed as less able to work and even thought of as more likely to be poor at maths. Can you imagine talking with your boss about accommodating your breastfeeding needs? It would be a weird conversation. But the point is – it shouldn’t be.

Fashion’s Most Dangerous Trend

29 Apr

Thanks to pregnancy and babies, it’s a few years since I’ve been out in the CBD on a Saturday night. But a recent hens night and subsequent wedding re-acquainted me with the life I used to lead as a 20 something year old. Suffice to say – things have changed in my absence, particularly in the realms of fashion. Most strikingly – high heels have become a lot higher and hemlines seem to have become a lot shorter.
A standard outfit for the average 20 year old girl seems to be a thigh-grazing mini skirt or dress accompanied by 15 cm high heels – that’s an extra half a foot off the ground! The short skirt/high heel look has been popularised by models like Kate Moss, TV shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and young Hollywood celebrities for whom this ensemble is standard issue. Check out the promo shot at the end of this blog – it’s like a uniform for the female stars. In essence, there’s nothing wrong with this look. It’s sexy to the max, that’s for sure. And – if you’re standing still for a photo on a red carpet, it can look great. Problem is, at some point, you’re going to have to walk in those heels, sit down in that short skirt, or, god forbid, bend over and pick something up off the ground – and then it all becomes ridiculous. It’s most hilarious at the races as 170cm tall girls become 155cm tall thanks to their chop-stick thin heels disappearing into the grass. If you’re a model like Kate Moss, it’s kind of your job to be able to walk in this kind of footwear. But for the average woman, walking gracefully in 15cm heels is impossible. At best, girls totter as if on stilts in tiny, shaky steps, looking like day-old baby giraffes still finding their feet. Every few steps, they’ll stop to yank down the short lycra mini-skirt that’s riding up and threatening to eat their bottoms. Add alcohol to the mix and it becomes downright dangerous, as ambulance officers will attest. A recent news article reported a spike (boom tish!)  in young women being treated for stiletto related injuries like broken ankles, head injuries and dislocated knees. Read it in full here. Seems a woman is now more likely to be injured by a shoe than in a rugged game of netball. Interestingly, I have to say that fashion for young men has barely changed over the past few years. While young women tend to look like Hollywood starlets, their boyfriends still look like hobos in comparison. The uniform of worn-out looking jeans and t-shirts has barely changed since I was in my twenties. But you know what? I think the guys have the right idea. They may look incredibly underdressed but at least their outfits aren’t going to do them an injury.

World’s Easiest Healthy Cake

26 Apr

This cake contains no eggs and no butter or oil – therefore I think it falls into the category of ‘healthy’. It takes about 10 minutes to prep with no mix-master required. It’s best eaten as the day it’s made as the lack of fat means it won’t keep that well. My Mum calls it ‘Ken the carpenter’s cake’ as the recipe came from a tradesman who was working at home. Mum is old school – she always plies any people working at her home with cups of tea and coffee, cake and slice. One of these tradesman was Ken – and spotting a keen cook – he shared this recipe with my Mum.

Ingredients
1 cup of sifted self raising flour
1 cup of mixed dried fruit
1 cup of caster sugar
1 cup of milk
1 cup of shredded coconut

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and placed into a greased and lined loaf tin. Bake at 180 degrees celsius (slightly lower if fan forced) for 50 – 60 minutes.

 

Surviving a full day indoors with a toddler

23 Apr

Toddlers are busy little beings. And that’s an understatement. Basically, you will rarely see a toddler sitting still for more than 5 minutes. They don’t stop moving. Or, in my daughter’s case, talking. She rarely draws breath, except when sleeping. And even then, she talks herself to sleep – and talks in her sleep. It’s very cute and makes for a lot of fun. But it’s also quite exhausting. I’ve found the best way for us to both to stay sane is to have a fairly organised mix of activities and play dates which really defuses the constancy of it all. I generally aim for something every day. If we have nothing organised then we go to the park. This is fine when the weather is fine but wet days fill me with trepidation. The prospect of a full day, on my own, indoors, with a very active toddler and a cat-napping 4 month old baby is, frankly, scary. So, I’ve come up with a few ideas on how to survive.

1) Treat the indoor day like a bit of a holiday from normality – a day when you’re prepared to relax the rules a little. That means a bit more TV than usual and, hey, if your toddler wants to wear PJs or some other crazy outfit all day, why not? Breakfast cereal for lunch? Sure! Meltdowns and tantrums can seem magnified when you’re inside all day so best to avoid battles (where possible) and give in a little more than usual.

2) Pull out a toy that hasn’t been used in a while, or better still, something new that you set aside from Christmas or a birthday. My little girl received an obscene number of gifts for Christmas. I stashed half away in the garage ‘for a rainy day’. But the same concept works if you put certain beloved toys away for a few months, a toddler will have renewed interest in them when you pull them back out. Or – swap toys with a friend.
3) Accept that you are going to do a lot of different activities with your little one – like drawing, play doh, ‘let’s pretend’ games, puzzles etc. However, don’t invest a lot of time in setting them up. You might spend half an hour ‘setting up’ for painting and your toddler (with the attention span of a gnat) will spend 10 minutes at it, which can cause a lot of frustration.
4) Accept that your house will probably look like a bomb’s hit it at the end of the day with toys strewn all over the place – but who cares? No-one except you, your children and partner will see it.
5) Think about ordering take away for dinner (for you and your partner) or heating up something from the freezer. After a full day of toddlerdom, you might just feel like flopping on the couch when your little one is in bed. You shouldn’t have to cook as well.
6) Ring a sympathetic friend or family member and have a whinge about your day. Even better, a fellow mum might be in the same situation and be keen for a last minute play date.
7) If you can’t get in contact with anyone, switch on the radio or play some music. I find that listening to a news and current affairs radio station makes me feel like I’m still part of the adult world. And, even if I can’t listen properly (due to talking toddler) the background sound just makes me feel like I have company.
8) Brave the rain. If your toddler has a serious case of ‘cabin fever’ then dress them up in gumboots and raincoat and let them blow off some steam outside. Or, if you’re really keen, you can attempt a trip to the shops or an indoor play centre – be beware, there will probably be hundreds of other desperate parents doing the same thing and the crowds could be pretty bad.

9) Repeat the following mantra – ‘it’s just for one day’ – as often as possible. A bad day can only last 24 hours. Tomorrow will probably dawn brightly and beautifully, and will be a better day for everyone.

Must-see TV drama series – Boardwalk Empire

21 Apr

It’s not often that you watch a period piece of television that really transports you back to the era in which it’s set. The recent ABC TV mini-series Paperback Giants achieved a fairily true-to-life 1970s feel through its archival street footage of people going about their daily business – and the use of hilarious ’70s clothing. But for a real lesson in how to achieve authenticity, you need to watch Boardwalk Empire – an American drama series currently screening in Australia on Foxtel’s Showcase Channel (7:30pm, Sunday). If you don’t have Foxtel then buy it on DVD. It’s worth it.
 Set in the 1920s era of prohibition, Boardwalk Empire is the story of Nucky Thompson (a real person), a corrupt county official whose main source of income is bootlegging. This is a man with his fingers in more pies than a bakery. He has close ties with everyone who’s anyone – politicians, gangsters and mobsters, including the infamous Al Capone. The series features some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters, including Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg as executive producers and Steve Buscemi in the title role of Nucky. This is a truly lavish series. I believe the pilot episode (directed by Scorsese) cost a cool $20 million to make. That’s the price of authenticity. This was the flapper era – where men and women always wore hats and gloves, a man could get away with wearing full-length mink overcoat and a red carnation in his buttonhole, and all women wore silk lingerie and beaded ‘flapper’ dresses. Boardwalk Empire is at once evocative, violent, historically interesting and narratively engaging. At a time when the word ‘quality’ is rarely used in relation to television, it’s an absolute breath of fresh air. Ever have those nights when you’re just sick of cooking shows with recipes you’re never going to cook – or the pettiness and predictability of reality shows? In other words – cheap television. Boardwalk Empire is the perfect antidote – a cracking plot, talented actors and beautiful cinematography. You can see where the money went.

A Royal Wedding Video to Make You Smile

18 Apr

I have a confession to make. I am quite excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Is that daggy? I suppose it is. But I’ve always had a bit of a Cinderella complex, which has translated into a slight obsession with royal weddings. As child, one of my most precious posessions was a little souvenir book about Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding that I read and re-read about a million times. I adored Diana’s dress (photo below) – puffy sleeves, frilled collar and a 20 foot train. You’ve got to remember – it WAS the 80s. I also adored Prince Mary and Prince Frederik’s wedding. Remember how he cried when she entered the church. So cute! And Mary’s dress – gorgeous, regal, simplicity (photo below).
Clearly I can’t wait to see what Kate wears on her wedding day. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. But the other reason for my excitement is that I truly believe this wedding will help drag the Royal Family into the modern era. I suspect William is the first future King to have actually lived with his future wife before marriage. They’ve been dating since their early twenties and are nearing their 30s – so they’re entering into this as mature adults who know each other inside out. Kate is going into this with her eyes wide open. And – then there’s the Dianna shadow. I’m sure William is well aware of all the mistakes his Mum made (marrying too young, marrying a man she didn’t love, and then allowing her privacy to be invaded to an extreme level) and I’m sure he’ll do everything possible to avoid repeating history. Anyway, enough serious hypothesising. The other great part about the Royal Wedding is the hype and kitsch souvenirs that come with it – like royal wedding toilet paper – and this spoof video, which a British mobile phone company made using royal look alikes. It’s based on that wedding entrance dance video to Chris Brown’s song ‘Forever’ which was a global internet smash. Watch the Royal Wedding spoof by clicking here. I guarantee it will make you smile.