From the monthly archives: November 2012

Today is the first in a series of posts about Christmas gift ideas. Choosing the right pressie for a friend or lovely member of your family can be tricky if they are one of the cool crew…

So after several meaningful consultations with friends who are card-carrying members of the cool crew (with cool drinks in hand like sangria and cider) , here are a few ideas to get you started (from top – left to right).

  1. Pantone coffee mug: Pantone colours + coffee, a seriously cool start to anyones day with one of these quirky mugs. 
  2. Moustache canvas tote: in honour of Movember and moustaches, how about giving one of the these fab bags to a cool friend
  3. Oh Deer, canvas art print: A deer /water colours, perfect for any space or place
  4. Spoilt tee : Spoiler alert, look a little closer at the quotes/ spoilers from some all time classic movies
  5. tabcoosh: a mush easier way to lie in bed or on the couch and use you trusty iPad.

Happy shopping!

Enjoy xx


The Casual Vacancy: Book club time @ This Grand Life

Book club time again, and this month we have been reading the brilliant new offering from JK Rowling, The Casual Vacancy. minutiae

The reviews from the ladies have bene mixed, and tonight over a glass of wine or two we will chat about what we loved, hated and gained from the experience of reading this little gem (well in my opinion at least).

This got me thinking about small town life. If you haven’t read The Casual Vacancy, it centres around the life and times of the good folk of Pagford, a little village where all is not as it seems.  This struck a chord with me as I grew up in little towns like this, where everyone knew what everyone else was doing, all the time or so we thought.  Being under the microscope on a constant basis can make people react in strange ways. It is hard to fade into the background in a town of 300 people, or a class of 15 children. Likewise, if you shine at something, you are positively stellar in the gloriously small world you are inhabiting. 

A big city, filled to the brim with people leading their own busy chaotic lives can be downright overwhelming.  The upside is broader perspective and a chance to be yourself unencumbered by the constant concentrated attention from your neighbours.

This leaves me torn between the two worlds of a small town versus a thriving metropolis. 

I miss the familiarity of everyone knowing my family and remembering how things were.

Though I love the constant ebb and flow of people/places/ things to do that a city provides.

Do you live in a small town? Or a city? Do you love it or are you yearning to escape?

Enjoy xx


Having a laugh with the tribe from This Grand Life…good for the soul!

It has been a little quiet on the blog front of late for me, a result of my own complex/busy life mixed with heartbreak, loss and challenge.

This all came to a head over the weekend, when on the way to dropping the Mini-Fashionista off to a birthday party, Captain Jack cried out ‘I am going to be sick!’

The Mini-Fashionista burst into tears and shouted ‘Don’t spew on my party clothes!

Being a lateral-thinking-lady I passed Captain Jack a (Tinkerbell) sand bucket from the front of the car to catch the vomit and of course protect the party gear.

‘We don’t spew on fairies’ shouted Little L, then she burst into tears too , wailing about the fairies, the vomit, and how mean the world was.

Flashdance, then shouted ‘it really stinks, and started crying, adding to the cacophony of wails and sobs.

 A minute later we arrived at the party, four wailing kids, two grumpy old folk (that’d be Big A and myself) and a whole lot of vomit*.

Looking at each other, Big A and I shrugged and both promptly started laughing, I mean come on! We were a walking, make that driving ad for contraception! What else could we do but laugh?

I posted a note on Facebook about it, and friends reactions were the same. Sympathetic, but very, very funny.

It was a great reminder about how good laughter is for the soul. It’s so easy to get caught up and become angry with the world when things are going well.  It’s a whole lot better for your soul though to see the lighter side of life and have a laugh.

Enjoy xx 

*Miraculously the vomit missed all the upholstery, Captain Jacks clothes, shoes, car seat and other precious items.  Big A cleaned the whole lot up with a pack of trusty baby wipes.  Tinkerbell wasn’t so lucky and several of her fairy mates ended up with vomit on their hair.
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The view from the top? This Grand Life @ the Eiffel Tower

Is it possible to have it ALL? Our televisions have been bombarded with conflicting messages for the past several years. We should be able to have it ALL.

A glamorous, rewarding career where every day is satisfying and you leave with a sense of fulfilment.

A gorgeous home filled to the brim with styled vignettes, and fresh flowers.

A bunch of happy, contented kids who we spend oodles of quality nurturing time with.

Not to mention a satisfied, caring , considerate partner right there by your side…

This is one of the many big things I was pondering this morning. Along with ‘why are school holidays so long’ and ‘why do I hate folding clothes so much’.

This is all probably driven by  the fact it is ‘performance review’ time in the office.  Well apart from the folding clothes piece, I have pretty much always hated that job.

Do you have a performance review process you go through? It’s part exciting/ part awkward for me each year.  Plus every time I go through the process, I get all philosophical and wonder…is it possible to have it ALL? (note below  I’ve gone back and added my answers…to myself …slightly weird possibly):

Why do I work?  I love the satisfaction I get from my corporate life and my writing. Plus to be honest, I am ambitious, always have been, always will be.  It’s quite possibly in my DNA. Love Mia Freedman’s thoughts in this space

Do I care about my career/s? Yes, sometimes a little too much! I take pride in what I do, so if it weren’t for the lovely tribe, I would probably still be working crazy hours each week. I also care about my team and want to foster their careers too.

Are the kids happy with me working and having a career? Mmmm, tough one.  In short yes, though like all kids the grass is always greener.  My tribe enjoys a great life, have travelled the world, are enjoying a great education, and have a lot of fab opportunities. Another added bonus is that my tribe see me as a Mum/scientist/writer.  Which is sort like an actor/writer but much less glamorous… 

Is the lovely Big A happy that I work? Yes, because it helps to share the load.  I can empathise about the stress of being the ‘breadwinner’ (what a 1950’s phrase that is!) and he can empathise about how tricky/time-consuming/lovely/frustrating the parental duties (eg the school drop-off) can be.

Could I be doing more? Probably. However, one of the fab things about getting a little older is realising that having it all, is, well unique to each person. It’s not a one one-size-fits-all proposition.  

So, for me, having it ALL, is about enjoying the moment I am in.  If I am in the office I will be 100% there, when I am with the tribe I am totally enjoying the moment (ok, maybe not the tantrums!), in essence having it all to me is really about what makes me happy and content.

So can you have it all too? Whether that’s being a career driven super ambitious superwoman or a contented stay at home Mum, or somewhere in the middle, I think it’s really all about whatever makes you happy…


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Loosing your street-cred? Walk this way…

Crocs…urghhhhhh!  A few weeks ago I posted I was struggling with a love them/ hate them dilemma on Facebook. Love the practicality and easy peasy on/off features, detest the ugly, clumpy plastic look.

Enter HUGE response!

Who would have known that my lovely friends felt so strongly, about, well, shoes!  Big ugly plasticky type shoes at that.

It all stemmed from me making the BIG decision, to allow my tribe to wear crocs.  To say I am not a fan is an understatement. I put crocs right up there with ‘character’ ties (Bugs Bunny on a tie does not equal cool), and bum-bags.

Seriously NOT cool.

Despite this, I gave in, surrendered my street-cred and each of the tribe now owns and sports a pair of those ugly suckers. Likewise on the character t-shirts front (which I put in the same vein as character ties). I mean why would anyone want to BRAND their child?  Yet, take a peek in the tribes wardrobes and you will find Ben 10, Barbie, Ironman, whatever is hot at the moment plastered across a t-shirt.  My only concession is that they can only wear them as pyjama shirts.  Small victories my friends, and also me clutching at the last shreds of my street-cred.

Have you surrendered your fashion-cred since growing up/having a tribe of your own?

Enjoy xx

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Welcome to the blog-o-sphere! (‘welcome mat’ via curbly and Lizzie Ridout)

Blogs. Brilliant, funny, interactive, and constantly changing. There are so many fab blogs nowadays, it’s really hard to know where to start!

It’s a little confusing at first.  When I first dipped my toes in the water (it was mama mia), I was blown away. This was followed closely by Meet Me at Mikes, The Beetle Shack and decor8. So many fab blogs so little time!

Word of warning though, it can be a little like going down a funny, crazy entertaining online rabbit hole. A click here, a link there and before you know you are reading about free-range chickens in Norway or how to crochet a Christmas bauble!

Here a couple of tips and tricks to make your blog-experience easier and, well more fun.

  • Try a fab blog-reader.  I  love Bloglovin’  as you can keep track of your faves, have latest stories/ posts emailed directly to you and also discover new blogs.
  • Check out the links on you newly discovered fave blogs. Most have a list of links, also called a blog-roll over to the side, try homelife, baby mac and letters from the country
  • Comment on a post. Most blogs let you post a comment, your thoughts, ideas, feedback, just keep it nice and constructive though. It’s a case of remembering your manners, and be kind! Look at the bottom of this post and you’ll see what I mean.
  • ‘Like’ a blog or a particular post via social media (eg, Facebook, twitter, pinterest) if you read it and love what you see. This flags it for your friends, but also gives the writer great feedback about what you (the much-loved reader) wants to see more of.  Like I said, blogs are a fast-moving feast, so be part of it!

 Now, it’s time to get cracking, or should that be clicking and get out there!

Enjoy xx


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This Grand Life out and about…wearing…shock! horror! hand-me-downs!!

This week I introduced the Mini-Fashionista to the fun-filled world of op-shops.  My little future stylist has always had an eye for the unusual, and I’ll readily admit to indulging her somewhat quirky taste (see here).

Tutus + converse high-tops? No problem.

Equestrian themed ensemble with no pony in sight? Sure.

This all gets a little pricey when like me you kitting out a tribe of little people, plus yourself, plus the lovely Big A.  Which is where hand-me-downs and op-shops come into the picture. Right?

I remember as a kid, LOVING the hand-me-downs that came my way from my cooler older cousin. Jungle-safari inspired shirt and knickerbockers, green stretchy velvety tube dress, baggy sportsgirl t-shirts, oh the list goes on (please bear in mind it was the 80’s, and these pieces were the HEIGHT of fashion).

Have times changed though?

Have hand-me-downs become passé?

Are op-shops only cool if you are a grown-up and then it is called vintage?

Enjoy xx

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One of my favourite words and also a great way to describe how I feel, nearly all the time.

A sense of wanting to explore, travel, try new things. 

Which is all fine if you are a professional traveller/ adventurer (which I would be in another life).

All is not lost though if you can’t just hitch your skirt, and head for Nepal tomorrow. 

Here are 7 fab finds injecting a little wanderlust into your life…everyday!

(From the top – left to right)

1. A beautiful rug from loom for your place.

2. Fab sandals for the warmer weather, how about a pair of St Tropez sandals? You find them here.

3. A fab satchel. Big enough for your iPad or notebook, this is the perfect on-trend bag (in burnt orange leather…naturally) for you or one of your tribe.

 4. Every travellers fave accessory, a fab scarf (or two).This one is from Melbourne based, World Weave. Better yet, it is made from 100% Virgin Australian Merino Wool, so perfect for colder climates.

 5. This leather and silver Aegean necklace  from Geena Wong will go with anything, essential for any seasoned traveller/ adventurer.

6. How about this scarf from Lushous. 

7. Finally, how about a travel journal for you or for the littlest members of your tribe shown below? Gorgeous yet practical travel journals to suit all member of the tribe from Kikki K.

Travel journals, two of our favourites at This Grand Life

Enjoy xx

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I miss you Paris, but I do not miss the traffic or the driving!

This week I did something that quite frankly scared the pants off me. 

Bit of a background first… for the past two years I have been living and working in France and Guinea (West Africa), which was fab.

Except for the whole driving a car caper.

Which was insane. And scary. Oh, and did I mention insane?

For starters you drive on the other side of the road (to Australia), then there are the teeny, skinny roads and laneways, and then there is the traffic (which includes complete loons on scooters). Insane. Overwhelming.

Add to this adjusting to living in a foreign country, learning new language, travelling regularly to West Africa (for work), settling the tribe into France, setting up a new home, and well, I let the fear of driving get the better of me, and I gave up on the driving caper. Completely.

The stress of it all just seemed too much. So for two years, I avoided driving a car.  I drove our trusty French car Pasquale the grand total of  two times, three if you count reversing out of the driveway (scary in itself). 

The fear of driving became this incredibly BIG fear for me.

 I knew that I needed to conquer the fear.  All around me, others were adjusting, but I chose to avoid it. Which was a whole lot easier really, I caught the Metro to work,  to Paris with the tribe, travelled to London via the Eurostar and walked…a lot.  Instead of jumping in the car to head to the shops, I walked.  Heading to the park? Walked. Catching up with friends? Walked.

Then I moved back to Australia.

When I arrived earlier this year I got a BIG new shiny  car (with four kids and a lovely husband you do kind of need a big car).  Which I promptly avoided driving. No matter how shiny and new that big car was, I did not want to get behind the wheel.  The thought of driving, parking, dealing with traffic filled me with dread. Before I knew it, I was catching the train, bus, anything to avoid driving.  A difficult and somewhat limiting thing to do if you work in the city, have four little kidlets to get to school, and you know, have a life!

I am always trying to teach my little tribe to face and conquer their fears. 

Scared of water? Let’s head to the local pool together and go for a splash.

Scared of dogs? Let’s visit a friend with a puppy and have a cuddle.

Which brings me to this week, and conquering my fears.

After a lot of procrastinating, stress, and general needless worrying, I finally conquered my fear of driving. It’s been a slow burn to get here. Over the past few months, I have been forcing myself to drive our shiny BIG new car. Volunteering to drive to do the shopping. Pick up the tribe from school. Whenever I can.

Then this week, I enrolled and completed a 2-day driving course for light vehicles and four-wheel drives (eg BIG cars).   Guess what? I passed, and better yet I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Since then my confidence has soared and I have my driving mojo back. Of course I can drive a car safely!  Why didn’t I tackle this in France? Why did I let irrational fear steal my driving mojo away from me in the first place?

Have you ever let fear get the better of you? How do you conquer your fears?

Enjoy xx

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What to do on a Sunday @ This Grand Life

What do you do on a Sunday? My ritual has evolved over time and place.

Life in Sydney = the Bondi to Bronte run, a dip to cool off at Bronte or Glamourama (sorry Tamarama), late breakfast at Hugo’s (because they had rugs for your lap AND great coffee), then a trip to one of the traditional Jewish bakeries for REAL bagels (have you tried a REAL bagel? they are delish!).  

Fast forward a few years, and the arrival of the tribe, my ritual in Sydney morphed and adapted, resulting in the addition of babycinos and floaties for the tribe (for swimming…of course).

Our big move to fabulous France signalled another evolution. Sunday = a trip to the marché, museés, jardins or forêt (market, museum, parks or forest), wine and glorious food shared with friends (oh how I miss the fabulous food and wine and our France-based friends), skypeing home to Oz (very often getting the time difference wrong…sorry Mum!).

Now living in sunny Perth (West Coast), Sunday = takeaway coffee (check out my faves here), dipping our toes in the water at one of the many fab beaches, and taking the whole tribe to the park (fur-kids included).

What is your Sunday ritual? Has it changed over time and place?

Enjoy xx

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