From the monthly archives: May 2013
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul

Book club time again!  This time we read the marvellous little gem, The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.

Perhaps I’ve been living under a rock in a literary sense, as I hadn’t even heard of Deborah Rodriguez’s book when one of the lovely ladies suggested we read it.

What a fab discovery!

Set in Kabul, it’s a gorgeous tale about the five women who meet and follows their lives as they deal with love and loss and everything in between. The book struck a chord with me on many levels, the overwhelming experience of being an expat, the bond we share with our closest girlfriends and of course finding love…

If you are looking for a great book to take on holidays or curl up on the couch in this chilly weather with under a blanket, it’s perfect.

Enjoy xx

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The tiny ballerina finds her feet and her confidence

The tiny ballerina finds her feet and her confidence

Growing up I was a known for being a shy kid. If you know me now, this may come as a surprise, since I am fairly outgoing and love a good social outing. Though I still have a shy moment, or two occasionally.

As a kid, it was a whole different ball game. Even if someone (including my grandparents) phoned to wish me a happy birthday, I would steadfastly refuse, and hide under the bed until Mum gave up on the whole caper.  The thought of speaking to a group of other kids terrified me, and I dreaded any event where I would be the centre of attention.

My Mum, being the wise woman that she is, enrolled myself and my sisters and brothers in all kinds of activities. Drama, gymnastics, dancing, Brownies, Girl Guides, Scouts, and a whole bunch of sports. With four kids, Mum probably had an ulterior motive of keeping us occupied, not to mention burning off some energy. However, the added bonus was building our confidence.

Whether it was setting up a tent at guides, taking a drama class, or competing in an athletics event, over the years we all became well-rounded kids, who also found it easier to make friends and as we got older, socialize.  None of us were world champions, but we all had fun and tried new things, making new mates along the way.

Fast forward to the present, and Little L announced a few weeks ago she would LOVE to learn ballet.   Now, although she is a bubbly little poppet at home, put her in front of strangers and she turns into a little deer in the headlights.

Frozen.

Rigid with fear.

So, I wondered, was a ballet class a good idea?

Casting any doubts aside, we purchased the kit (shoes, tutu, and of course little pale pink tights), and set off for the local Church hall (where all good ballet class are held). Little L’s first week of ballet involved her sitting at the edge of the dance-floor, with her big blue eyes peeking out from under her fringe watching the other little ballerinas.  She tiptoed into the middle of the little group for about 30 seconds towards the end, then scampered back to her spot, tears in her little eyes. ‘It’s really scary’ she whispered to me.  My heart sank – was I doing the right thing? Should I bring her back if she is this anxious? Afterwards, the lovely patient teacher, said quietly, ‘just keep doing what you are doing, don’t rush her, keep gently encouraging her’. In the car afterwards, when I asked Little L, ‘how was ballet?’, she replied, ‘AMAZING, did you see me?’. Of course, I said, you were amazing.

So we persevered. The following week, she migrated from the edge of the dance-floor to the middle of the group for about half of the lesson, but stayed still as a statue, watching the ballerinas dance by.  Again, she thought she had done an AMAZING job, and that ballet was ‘wonderful’.

Which brings us to this week, when my shy little poppet, bravely ventured in the middle of the group and danced her little heart for the whole class, with a huge grin on her little face the whole time.

‘I did it’ she told me proudly at the end.

‘Yes, you did, and I am very proud’. Cue huge sigh of relief from me, as a parent and a formerly shy kid. Sure it’s tough to watch your little poppet struggle to be brave and face their fears, but when they  overcome a fear, even one as sweet as dancing in a ballet class, it’s an amazing feeling.

Enjoy xx

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Each day I look on Facebook or twitter (yep, social media plays a pretty big part in my life!), I see someone mentioning how ‘cold’ it is becoming, or how the temperature is ‘really dropping’.

Which is true, sort of.

Technically, in terms of seasons we are heading into more chilly territory.

However winter in Australia is a bit of an oxymoron.  There aren’t a lot of places where we see snow falling. We don’t tend to see the temperature drop close to zero for very long, and in most places we get that glorious rise in temperature through the middle of the day.

Which leaves fashion lovers in a state of confusion. What do you buy for a winter wardrobe in sunny Oz?

Is it worth investing in a leather jacket/ boots/ thick tights when you may only wear them for a coupe of weeks each year?

With all of this in mind, here are my 7 fab finds for an Australian winter or a not so cold climate…

1. Blanket wrap from Witchery. Monochrome loveliness, scarf/ wrap, and a great way to keep warm when you’re out and about.

Blanket wrap by Witchery (AUD$59.95)

2. Chelsea boots by Witchery. Less fashion cash committment than a knee-high pair, and perfect into the warmer weather with a dress.Chelsea boots by Witchery (AUD$199.95)

 

3. Fab Country Road faux fur scarf to add a wintry feel to your work gear, or with jeans and silk top on the weekends

Faux fur scarf from Country Road (AUD$199.95)

Faux fur scarf from Country Road (AUD$199.95)

4. Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road.  Add a little bling to a wardrobe staple (black knit) – and lightweight enough to wear through into spring.

Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road (AUD$99)

Sequin shoulder knit from Country Road (AUD$99)

 5. Add a bit of a quirky twist to your wintry black with this gorgeous bowerbird pendant from Polli

Bowerbird pendant from Polli via Birdnest (AUD$44.95)

Bowerbird pendant from Polli via Birdnest (AUD$44.95)

 

6. Try this drop waist dress from seed (did you know Seed also had a fab ladies range?)

 

Drop waist dress from Seed (AUD$129.95)

Drop waist dress from Seed (AUD$129.95)

 

7. Last but not least, a fab new pair of jeans, not just any jeans, floral jeans, which can take you straight through into spring.  I love these from Atmos & Here via the Iconic

Atmos&Here Carolina Jeans via The Iconic (AUD$79.95)

Atmos&Here Carolina Jeans via The Iconic (AUD$79.95)

Enjoy xx

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Time to reflect on the grand life of Grandma Hurley... (photo of Monet's Garden fro m our time in France)

Time to reflect on the grand life of Grandma Hurley… (photo taken by This Grand Life of Monet’s Garden from our time in France)

Life has been been a little melancholy lately as my family comes to terms with losing our beautiful Grandma, also known to my little tribe as Grandma Hurley.

Grandma was a truly grand lady in all regards, she was wickedly funny, caring, a fantastic cook and baker, incredibly good at creating things (her knitted layettes were absolutely beautiful).

She was in every way a treasure.

Caring for her friends and family by spending time helping, cooking big family meals, baking cakes and biscuits (gingernuts that could crack a tooth!), making endless cups of tea,  creating beautiful keepsakes (those beautiful knitted bonnets and booties – *sigh*) to mark the passing of big milestones.

Grandma’s way was generous in spirit, and always kind.

She was also one tough, resilient lady. Over her 88 years, she took on so much, raising kids, taking care of family, running a farm and a pub, dealing with loss and pain along the way.

When I heard the news from my lovely Mum, I made the trek across Australia, wending my way via a couple of flights and a drive in the country to be with my big sometimes crazy/fun family. I didn’t realise as I headed across that this would also be a time of celebration and sharing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been so, so sad, hit by waves of almost uncontrollable grief, but I’m also filled with a sense of pride in how many lives my Grandma touched.

It’s a timely reminder for me to keep focussing on the good, treat my friends and family with kindness, and of course, keep on baking!

Enjoy xx

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Embracing feminism...

Embracing feminism…

Feminism and the concept of labeling myself a feminist has been on my mind lately. A lot.

Call me a late bloomer, but the thought of actually stepping up and proudly calling myself a feminist has only recently occurred to me.

Prior to that, I would have preferred to drop the f-bomb in the boardroom than utter the word feminist, let alone label myself one.

I am tired of waiting for change though, and want my kids to enter a workforce where men and women are on a par, and where raising kids as a team effort is the norm (the lovely Big A and I make it work after all!).

So spurned on by some seriously ambitious and intelligent women, thank you Catherine Fox and Sheryl Sandberg, I have started ‘stepping up‘ or ‘leaning in’.

No easy feat as I work in the mining industry, which is, well, more than a little blokey.

Which most of the time doesn’t bother me…too much.

Then I think about the fact that it’s not just mining, it’s nearly all industries, and it’s really obvious as you rise through the ranks.

I am writing this from the Qantas Club, a business lounge in an airport in Brisbane, Australia.

Where, the vast majority of patrons are men.  Last night, before I flew out of sunny Perth (Australia), the situation was even more blokey.  Qantas Club had bascially become a Man Cave (I would say Gentlemen’s Club, however, there were far too many men in thongs, singlets and mullets getting around for that – PS – if you are confused right now and you’re thinking wait a minute…Qantas Club…WTF… it’s because there’s a mining boom in WA peeps – so loads of miners, and therefore men).

Seems kind of wrong doesn’t it? Where were all the women? Qantas Club is (usually) the place you go when traveling for business.  I was tempted to get the hell out of there last night, there were a shiteload of men, a lot of loud drinking and swearing, and well, it wasn’t the most welcoming of places. However, I decided to stick it out, as I had every right to be there.

Which is a pretty neat analogy and a great story to share when I try to explain how tough it can be to be a woman in the workforce.

It is tough, and it is challenging.

Each and every day I face up to situations where I am the only woman, or one of a handful. Over the years while working in other industries, it’s the same story. I’ve missed out on a top job because I had just had a young baby, visited sites where there are no ladies toilets, been asked to take the minutes and get the coffee, been called a ‘girl’ more times that I can count, and been treated like an idiot just for being a woman, and missed out on promotions time and time again despite being more qualified and experienced than the male applicants I am competing against. You know what though, I have never given up and walked away. Just like at the Qantas Club last night, I have no intention of walking away because it’s too hard.  Instead I intend to keep standing my ground, and encourage and inspire women and men to look beyond gender in the workplace and on the home-front.

Whilst enjoying my time in the Man Cave – sorry Qantas Club, I have been reading a wonderful, thought-provoking, funny and poignant set of stories presented by Jane Caro- Destroying the Joint.  Born from the rantings of Alan Jones, (in his usual brash shock-jock way), women have united to share their thoughts on why women have to change the world.  You see, poor old Alan is concerned women will ‘destroy the joint’ if too many women get into power.

So, thank you Alan Jones, thank you to all the Alan Jones in this world who think men and women aren’t equally capable at home and at work. Thanks to all of you for encouraging (ok maybe forcing me) to own the label.  Yes, I am a feminist, and I am proud of it. I do believe women offer as much to the world as men, I believe in equal pay, equal chance of promotion, and above all the ability to choose.  Equality means shared responsibility at home too, raising kids, cleaning the house, whatever it takes.

Do you see yourself as a feminist?

Enjoy xx

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