Apr 30, 2011

The SSG Source For Runway to Realway is Target.

It's a truth that Jane Austen never had to acknowledge in her lifetime but a girl in 21st century Sydney needs at least 2 Target stores in her life.  The one that's close to home (and is a co-tenant with an Ikea) and one that's close to work.  They each serve a distinct purpose.  The one close to home (and Ikea) would be your first port of call if you are able to shop the day the Target catalogue sale starts.  The one close to work is probably self explanatory but has the added bonus of having large amounts of your size in stock, giving you a few days' grace if you're a few days behind the start of the sale.

I'm at that happy state in life where I've found my 2 Target stores.  My winter knits for work are all sorted.  Well under budget (thanks to their current $10 off sale) and 100% machine washable.  Happy Days, indeed!  The even better news is, what I bought was pretty close to what I wanted to buy.  That sentence would only really make sense to the impulse shoppers amongst you who sometimes try to rationalize purchases by finding a cheaper alternative to that which you were lusting after.

Exhibit 1:  the Dita von Teese for Wheels & Dollbaby knit cardigans.  They look gorgeous on Dita who is blessed with hourglass curves and impeccably groomed hair and makeup.  Not to mention the ability to get through a working day in a pencil skirt, seamed stockings and stilletoes.

Image courtesy of www.spoiledbrat.co.uk.

The SSG reality from Target:

Work friendly round collar with buttons to the neck.  Not too fitted and it came with a patent bow belt.  I'm going to do an edit worthy of Gok Wan and use my own bow belt from the workshops of Mr S Ferragamo instead.  Have you any idea how hard it is to find a black patent skinny belt that fits high at the waist?  Mr Ferragamo's Sydney employees were the only people willing to cut a belt to size for me.  My GST tax back haul is looking frightening and I haven't even shopped in Honolulu yet. 

Exhibit 2: a Coco Chanel inspired black and white suit jacket.

Image courtesy of www.thegloss.com

That's Mlle. Chanel herself working a look in the 1960s.

The SSG reality from Target:

It's not really suiting, more a knit jacket but it's perfect for my purposes.  The more tailored Target pieces are a but of a dicy fit for me.  I'm planning to go to town with my brooches and necklaces when I wear this.

Exhibit 3: colour!  If Suri herself deemed it wearable (albeit in her infant months), perhaps there's something in it for adult fashionistas?  I've always been fascinated with Lilly Pulitzer and how her name has become synonymous with South Beach preppy chic in the US.

The SSG reality from Target:

A rainbow of soft knit cardigans at $20 each.  Faux Fuchsia, I thought of you and suggest you run but not walk to get yourself these in the orange and the fuchsia.

Tomorrow, SSG's Runway to Reality tackles the issue of in flight comfort.  It's a week until Mr SSG and I fly to Honolulu and you can never start packing too early.  It won't be based on items from Target.  I think I've gotten a little too comfortable in Target stores recently.  I was holding so many clothes the other day I was mistaken for a member of staff by a kindly Italian nonna.

Apr 29, 2011

Congratulations from Sydney, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!!

Preparations for the Australian Royal Wedding enthusiast started early this morning.  Today was not a public holiday for us so most of us had to go to work all day instead of watching UKTV for 10 hours straight.

That didn't stop me from getting into the spirit of things from the sun up though, with my Kiehl's Imperial Body Balm.

And a sneaky peak at Sky News' 24 hour wedding countdown coverage before I hit the road for work.

Kate was looking so relaxed and radiant when she checked in at the Goring Hotel.  I've never been but I think I need to now.

William is so much his mother's son.  Diana would be so proud as Prince Charles must be today.  I couldn't get over how happy and full of love the streets were in London.  People from all over the world and of all walks of life.

Jacket - Alannah Hill, studs - Autore, fake sparkly bits - Diva!

We couldn't all be in London but that didn't stop us from dressing up in a bit of Diva budget friendly glam.  Or doing vaguely princess like poses whilst taking photos of ourselves with our iPhones. 

After a draining day at work, the drive home in the dark and the rain was trying.  But at least we had bubbles and the CWA's scone mix to greet us at home.  And wedding disinterested male partners...

Tonights scones had to be perfect.  I read the CWA instructions twice (before starting on the Moet) and it seems that a smooth yet sticky dough is key.  The suggested a mixer with a dough hook.  I unearthed mine for the regal red kitchenaid and gave it a wipe down before youTube-ing it to find out how to use it.

It was cream all over the place for dinner tonight.

I used the sour cream to make these chicken and leek toasties from the current issue of Donna Hay.  I was too frazzled to make Coronation Chicken and the weather was tonight was just perfect for toasted sandwiches.

I loved Victoria's dress.  Not sure about the hat but perhaps it's just the angle.  Full points for the high pony tail.  The dress is from her own collection.  David was rocking Ralph Lauren.

Julia Gillard went for Australian labels Carla Zampatti, Aurelio Costarello and Anthea Crawford.  Who are always wedding favourites.  I wish she'd been more adventurous though.  Akira or Dion Lee would have been interesting.

Image courtesy of www.news.com.au

Everything went with clockwork precision.  It's amazing how much of it I remember from Charles and Diana's wedding back in 1981. So much as changed in the 30 years since then - technology, tragedies and triumphs yet the joy of a wedding and the ceremony of royal protocol still both have great appeal.

I thought Kate looked beautiful and natural.  Her dress was perfect for the location of her wedding.  It was interesting enough to make her stand out from many other brides but also classic enough for a royal bride.  The dress and veil have such graceful lines, there were not bad camera angles at all.  Very obliging of Kate to remember to always look both left and right for all the cameras.

Those photos and stamps are definitely not going to look dated.  I'm going to be at Australia Post on Monday for the wedding stamps.  A spokesperson from Aust Post was on the radio today and she expected everything to be ready for Monday.  Not to mention the AWW and Women's Day.  The wonders of modern technology. 

Sarah Burton, you did an amazing job!

Oh sigh....

Oh more sighing and a few tears.

Time for those scones.

CWA, you saved the day.  I followed the packet instructions to the letter, including the resting time and it was well worth it.  The scones were so light and had a lovely hard top crust.

I love the married couple leaving the church photos.  Such a huge relief when the vows and readings all went well.

The two of them just look like a lovely couple of newly weds.  No artifice at all.  

I don't know if I can stay up for the balcony kiss.

Righty oh, it's time for bed.  I don't know what I'll do with myself tomorrow now that the wedding's over.  There'll be no brushing out of hairspray and stray hair pins from my head or getting ready for the honeymoon or having a massive carbolicious hotel breakfast after weeks of restraint. I'm sure I'll think of something.  And I have to remember to discuss 'Excellent Knitwear Purchases From Target, in Pictures' with you tomorrow as well.

Hope you've all had a great wedding evening / day.

Friend Friday: Fashion and Fitness

This week's Friend Friday topic is fitness.

1. Do you keep some kind of fitness routine? Why?

I'm not too obsessive but I'm a born again exerciser.  I avoided sport and phys ed at school until I was in year 11.  I was starting the intense and stressful 2 year approach to my university entrance exams and funnily enough, I had my epiphany in a maths class.  My teacher was trying to help us all approach the exams in a balanced manner.  By not only starting hard study early but also by looking after ourselves.  She was big on health foods and also exercise. 

One weekend, I got bored and decided to put her words into practice.  I started taking afternoon walks to the foreshore.  It really was relaxing and it did help me sleep better at night.  I think it counteracted all that instant coffee and diet coke....

Then I got fitter and decided to try running.  It looked easy enough, my dad runs every morning - why couldn't I?  So I started fitting in runs after school.  At this stage, I realized that my runs gave me energy rather than taking it away.  So I persevered into uni.
I started working fulltime and amazingly managed to keep going.  I really grew to appreciate the endurance that running gave me.  I could deal with the long shifts, the hours on my feet and all those stairs at work without much bother.
As various life stresses came and went, I also grew to appreciate the way my mind cleared when I ran.  Being outdoors in all sorts of weather came to be a daily escape from being indoors or in my car all day - no matter how bad the weather was.
Yes, at the beginning, losing and then maintaining weight was a big reason I persisted with running but I've also come to really value the 'non physical' benefits it has given me.  I started swimming and yoga in the last few years as well.  I like the complete relaxation my whole body and my mind feels after both these forms of exercise. 

Yoga especially has taught me to listen to my body and also to appreciate what it does as opposed to what it looks like.  I find yoga class really empowering because I see people of all body types giving it their all and also that flexibility and strength are not all about a Hollywood endorsed ideal body type.  I also respect the beauty and tranquility that comes from withing with yoga.  It isn't botoxed or stretched taut beyond belief.  It's real and it comes about from effort and perseverance.
2. Has working out, maybe training for a marathon or something of that nature, helped with your own perception of body image?
Though I'm a regular exerciser, I'm not that motivated to improve times, distances or any other parameter.  I think I do need to start setting some goals otherwise I'm just going to get complacent and stop reaping the benefits of my exercise regime.  I do find though, that treadmill running improves my speeds. 

3. When you are hitting the gym or just going out for a long walk what do you wear? Is it about functionality or fashion?
Function all the way.  I'm by no means a frugal person but I just cannot bring myself to spend money on exercise clothing.  I mostly run at the crack of dawn so I think I can get away with it.  I usually by cheap leggings, tops and hoodies from Target, Supre and Cotton On.  I like their colour schemes too.  Most sports gear I find tends to look really gareish on me.

4. Do you feel there is a cultural perception of what you ‘should’ be doing for your own physical fitness?
Definitely.  Fitness in the popular press tends to follow trends.  Aerobics, jazzercise, yoga, pilates, yogalates, body combat etc etc.  I stick to what I can realistically maintain.  I know that it doesn't work for me to join a gym and I actually enjoy exercising on my own.  So I run, I swim and go to yoga class.  I am trying to do a few ab things along the way but I hate spot exercising.

5. Dream big… what would be your ultimate fitness goal.
I'd like to maintain my exercise programme for life.  I've been at it since I was 15 and I've stuck at it through uni, work, getting married, moving states and other turning points in life where it would be so easy to just give it up.  But my routine makes me feel good and deal with everything else in life more productively.

Okay, better go.  The Royal Wedding preparations are in earnest at my place.  I'm running late and stressed from a long and tedious day.

Take care and until next time!

Apr 28, 2011

Wedding News and News In General.

I'm sure you've heard the news by now.....

The Chaser Boys have been denied access of live footage of William and Kate's wedding tomorrow by the BBC.  The 'this side of wrong' commentary and pre-recorded skits I was looking forward to as an antidote to the gush and hyperbole of commercial television (Jayne Seymour, are you really a royal authority?) is not to be.  KRudd is as amused as I.  Mr SSG has lost any reason to be watching the telly tomorrow night.

There was a silver lining though.  Somewhere under the thick grey clouds and centimetres of rain we had today.

My office peace lilly is finally starting to flower.

Today's banana probably cost as much as JHawk's outfit.  I felt decadent eating it.  A much easier task than trying to smoulder whilst wearing not much more than some fur and jewelry.

Our treasurer, Mr Swan, is reaching out to we, the taxpayers.  Our latest inflation rate is not what anyone wants.  In an attempt to break it down and keep it real, Mr Swan delivered an address yesterday about how ridiculous the price of bananas is at the moment.  Then he also talked about how potatoes and cauliflower are similarly afflicted.  Milk has gone the other way; on account of the ridiculous Coles / Woolworths price war.

I'm not sure what the real price of costume jewelry is doing relative to inflation but I couldn't resist giving Diva some business.

My very own replica of Kate's engagement ring!

I have permission to wear it on my ring finger tomorrow.  Thanks Mr SSG!

I also bought this regal looking brooch.  Much easier to wear to work than the Diva tiara.

Image courtesy of www.screen.nsw.gov.au

I know I've been linking to the SMH like a fiend today but have you started watching the current season of East West 101 on SBS yet? I found this very eloquent review in the paper today by Lorelei Vashti.  She's pretty much said everything I would have said about the series.  I'm a new convert to the series this year and I'm ashamed to be one of the many Australians who haven't been watching from the beginning. 

East West 101 is intelligent Australian crime drama.  It is well written and its themes are unique to Australia and her transitioning ethnic population.  The 'traditional' ethnic minorities like the Chinese and Vietnamese have been displaced by migrants and refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia.  Through this series, we see these new arrivals as 3 diamensional characters.  The dialogue doesn't shy away from the racial generalizations and at times overt racism that are still part of life in 2011 Australia.

Aside from the confronting plots and the uniformly brilliant acting, I could just stare at Dan Hany for hours.  Just as well Offspring is returning soon too.

Well, I'd better let you all go.  So much to do for tomorrow night, I know.  I've put some drinks in the fridge, washed the china and just need to get my last minute shopping list organized.

Apr 27, 2011

The Streets Where I Run.

Saturday morning is 10 km run time for me.  It sets me up for the weekend, giving  me plenty of time with my thoughts as I pound the pavement and work up an appetite for a leisurely breakfast and a cup of coffee somewhere. 

Over the long weekend, I went with theme of relaxation and took a walk instead.  Which worked out well because I've been meaning to take photos along my Saturday morning circuit.

There are some beautiful public buildings and houses along the streets of my run.

Some residents have added a twist to their front verandahs.  I love these red lanterns that bob gently in the breeze.

The Royal insignia over the front arch of the post office.

A magical florist.  They have the most beautiful window displays.

And the statue up above that overlooks the street.

After the hush of the tree lined streets, the landscape becomes more nautical and the air salt sprayed.  

I canter down the pier, my feet clipping the wooden beams as I pass a guard of honour formed by the dinghys the locals use to reach their larger boats docked out further in the deeper water.

That's my private bench, bottom left.

I'm at the half way point of my run which is always a good time to take a seat on my private bench and look out at the view.  It's my thinking and reflecting time. 

If I didn't have a billion other things to do and I weren't so hungry in the morning,  I think I could sit on that bench for the better part of the morning.

Time to head back home.  Past the tree house.

Past the swing.

The trees are so beautiful at this time of the year.  Some are still topped by green leaves.

Others are crowned by autumn leaves that look like stars from a distance.  Give it a few weeks and the roads will be filled with enough  leaves for an adult women to have a few satisfying jumps through them.

The Weeknight Book Club: Navigating the Land of If by Melissa Ford.

Image courtesy of http://www.tower.com/

Not too long ago, I wrote a review of Melissa Ford's second novel, 'Life From Scratch' for this blog.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and was determined to read Melissa's first novel 'Navigating the Land of If', which is actually a non-fiction work about infertility and early pregnancy.  Mostly because Melissa's writing really makes me laugh and partly because of my curiosity regarding how she would handle these often stressful, painful and emotionally charged times.

'If' is both an abbreviation for infertility and a condition or supposition.  'Navigating the Land of If' is probably the best travel companion for the journey that I've  come across.  Infertility means different things to different people but Ford does a great job of bringing all the parties together and acknowledging their different situations with respect and empathy.  Melissa writes with a tone that makes you feel as if she were a wise older sister or trusted friend who knows exactly what you're going through.  She gives you space and says the things you need to hear (though they may not be what you want to hear).

It's the kind of book that readers can use as a reference and a shoulder to cry on.  A refuge in book form for those who are still not ready to 'talk about it' or are struggling to find the right words.  Even if you're totally in control with your emotions and just have your eye on the prize, 'Navigating the Land of If' may offer a different perspective or just some plain old facts about issues you may not have already considered.

Some of the major areas the book covers include:
  • Medical, ethical and practical information about everything from conception, to infertility, to the options available and perhaps most importantly, advice about how to deal with the difficult emotional times and the thoughts that don't seem to be discussed anywhere else in the volumes written about infertility.
  • The practicalities and realities of undergoing infertility treatment.  Chapters take you through what happens, why and if it's going to hurt much.  There are guides about how to do your injections and also about what certain procedures feel like.
  • Adoption and the many legal and psychological issues that are involved
  • 'Not trying anymore' and remaining childless by choice
  • Issues for same sex couples or singles facing infertility
  • How you may feel when you've finally become pregnant.  How there's a wide range of 'normal' when it comes to how you may chose to announce your pregnancy and how to deal with feeling anxious about losing the pregnancy
  • Pregnancy loss.
I found 'Navigating the Land of If' particularly helpful for its reassurance and considered advice on being a TTCer (trying to conceive) in the context of the real world.  You know, that Camelot full of radiant mothers who got pregnant 'just like that', the endless baby chatter and all those prams and babies that seem to follow you throughout your day the moment you decide you're trying to start a family.

When you're not part of that Camelot (yet), it really can feel like you're in some strange and cruel parallel universe where you're confronted at every turn by painful and seemingly insensitive reminders of what's missing in your life.  There are possibly TTCers who take each baby announcement in their circle with nothing but happiness and joy for the elated parents.  Others consider good grace and a little tight smile the best they can do under the circumstances.  It's a pretty self centred world view that is likely to only shift for many women when they are finally holding their own baby. 

Melissa's approach is a positive yet realistic one '... to coax you back into living life while waiting in limbo'. She writes of the emotions she felt and things she did about them that were constructive, '...Do whatever helps.  But remember: "Help" does not mean "complete relief". .....  Do whatever you need to do to get through this - as long as you're not creating more problems to deal with on the other end."

She includes suggestions about things to say when faced with difficult questions that well meaning people may ask.  There are ways to discuss what you may be dealing with tactfully yet honestly.  There are tips to get through that awkward 'imbalance' phase where previously infertile friends and family have now 'crossed over' to the other side whilst you haven't quite managed it yet.

I felt that Melissa's novel was helpful, practical, heartfelt and honest.  There's no sugar coating the fact that being in pregnancy limbo is not great.  There's anger, jealousy, frustration, jealousy, anxiety, jealousy.  Oh yeah, and guilt for feeling all of the above.

'Navigating the Land of If' is a book I'd have no hesitation suggesting to anyone looking for a resource as they or people they love face decisions about infertility.  It's the kind of book you finish feeling empowered, reassured and educated wherever you may be on the baby journey.


PS: I apologize if this review is more disjointed than usual.  I've been reworking it for a few weeks now and I hope it does justice to the book.


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