Oct 31, 2014

The Jewel Collective. Scones For the Weekend.....

It's humbling to think that though the internet is often portrayed as the agent of ruin for modern civilization, for me, the internet has been an agent that has brought more good than bad into my life.  Through this blog and online life in general, I've made friendships that would otherwise not have been possible if chance meeting in real life was the only other way these precious bonds could be formed.  

So it was with great excitement that I opened a recent email from Sian (one of my first and dearest friends I made through blogging) announcing the forthcoming debut of her online jewelry store, The Jewel Collective.

The email then morphed into this beautiful parcel that finally made it to my house (after a brief detour to Broken Hill) yesterday.


The Jewel Collective is the culmination of Sian's dream of creating an online destination for beautifully designed and hand crafted jewellery with an emphasis on providing quality and luxury at an affordable price point.  The Jewel Collective's design aesthetic is just my cup of tea ( which ties in nicely with these Limoge inspired promotional images of the collection that Sian sent me).  Classic, timeless and stylish pieces crafted from natural materials and gems with a bit of an edge to make them truly original.  Oh, and at a very reasonable price point.

Sian's first collection for The Jewel Collective drew upon her own experience of what worked for her when going about establishing her own jewellery collection over the years.  Each piece is something she would wear, love and cherish.  This is balanced with the practical needs of the modern, style conscious woman who needs something on her jewellery stand that isn't straight up costume or something that needs its own personal security every time it is worn.  Personally, from what I've seen of the first pieces from The Jewel Collective, Sian knows her target client base like a best friend and I kind of want everything I've seen so far.  Launch day is Tuesday November 4, 2014.

Prices range from $115 for earrings up to $3500 for a "one of a kind" strand of hand selected Tahitian pearls.  Stones featured in the range are a mix of precious and semi-precious - sapphires, garnets, agate, citrines and pearls of many varieties.  Metals used are sterling silver and high quality gold vermeil.  Piece in the range will be earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

One of the first things I noticed when I opened my preview from The Jewel Collective was the packaging.  It's gorgeous.  The aim here was to enable customers to enjoy The Jewel Collective experience long after the rush of clicking add to basket online and then signing for the parcel at the front door.  The box is sturdy and beautiful enough to live on a dresser or bedside table (coincidentally, where mine is right now, providing Toddler SSG hasn't gotten his hands on it).  The presentation pouch in which your piece will be shipped is a great size for travel and is generously sized to allow extra space for any other pieces you may wish to take with you on a brief trip away.

But onto the jewels themselves.  Sian sent me a pair of Andromeda earrings ($125).
Andromeda earrings - $125.
They are made from rose gold vermeil (rose gold plate over sterling silver) and pink sapphires.  For those of us with skin allergies, the posts are made from the same vermeil and contain no brass, nickel or stainless steel.   These earrings are the first I've owned made from rose gold and they'll be on high rotation in my wardrobe to liven up my work outfits with just enough sparkle and edge.

Andromeda necklace - $275.

Also available online with the launch will be the matching necklace ($275) and bracelet ($155).
Andromeda bracelet - $155.
The entire first collection will be available to view online from November 2 at The Jewel Collective's website.  Regular shipping within Australia will be free through November and I'm pretty sure Sian will be shipping outside of Australia.  You can also join the collective on Instagram (@jewelcollective) or on Facebook.

Home made, store bought scones.

I'll be putting together my order this weekend over a very civilized snack of tea and scones.  These home made date scones were for sale at a stall at work this morning and they were selling fast.

God bless you, Pat for making date scones that contain only ingredients I would use if I were to make a batch at home.  No numbers or compounds with unpronounceable names.

And on that note, have a lovely weekend.

Might even see you browising online at The Jewel Collective....

Oct 29, 2014

Completely in the Timezone. Eat, Play, Love.

Poolside art on a large rock at Loew's Portofino Bay Hotel.  Metaphorically speaking, getting through the jetlag coming home to Sydney was like climbing out from under said rock.

It's been a very long three days but the good news is I'm back.  All of me.  My brain has finally caught up with my body and I'm glad to report that we are both in Sydney and on Sydney time.  I did all the right things on the plane to try and minimize jet lag coming home on Sunday - fetching pressure stockings under my jammies, sleeping on the plane, taking regular mid flight walks and keeping my fluids up but it all came to naught when we landed.  Perhaps not so much of that fluid should have been bubbles....

I'm back into the swing of things at work, standing order at Oliver Brown included.

Shift - Boden, necklace - Red Phoenix Emporium.

It's been good weather for being #frocktastic.  Slipping on this Boden shift dress today.  Did wonders for the last dregs of my jet lag induced brain fogginess.  Orange, fuschia and applique - how could I not feel awake, alert and very much in the present time zone?  Not to mention the well known fact that a white necklace helps cast an illuminating light over a face that may be a little worse for wear.

In honour of it being my first week back at work, I cracked open a new MAC eyeshadow.  It's called All That Glitters and it's a lovely everyday shade that you can wear on its own without the need for the added complexity of having to contour and highlight with additional eyeshadows.  Add  a slick of eyeliner and mascara and you're work ready in minutes.  I'm still in love with those Sephora 12 hour waterproof eyeliner pencils.  Thank you to readers who gave me the heads up on the matching lip pencils from the line as well as other Sephora finds.  Won't be too long now until our first Australian store opens.  

It's the psychology of it.  Those Butterfinger Bites are healthy by association.  Look how close they are to my apple rings and Toddler SSG's favourite organic muesli bars.

On the home front, I'm all unpacked.  My Butterfinger Bites have pride of place on the very top shelf of the pantry.  Wonder how long they'll last.  It was destiny finding them on special at the store near my departure gate in Dallas Fort Worth.

I'm also very proud of the fact that I managed to fix the printer I nearly broke when I tried to print my holiday itinerary the night before I left Sydney.  The secret to seemingly terminal paper jam?  Pop in a new printer cartridge and keep reloading it until the jammed paper gets rolled out.

Of course, I had top level technical support on hand overseeing my repair effort.  Our roles were reversed and it was I who made the mess while Toddler SSG who sat quietly at the computer with the wireless mouse, ignoring the chaos being created around him.

As good as it is to be home, I wouldn't mind one last look at some of my holiday snaps.

I had an almost 'Eat, Pray, Love' moment whilst having my last breakfast at at the piazza overlooking Portofino Bay.  French Toast with a Mimosa and a side plate of maple syrup.

I felt as if I was in somewhere in Europe, eating outside with ornate lamps overhead and romantic terraces surrounding me.  A sense of adventure in the air and a hunger for decadent food in my belly.

My travel posts tend to be food and shopping heavy so I'll try and break the monotony with scenery shots every now and then.

There's a beautiful, tree lined path that linked our hotel to City Walk, the eating and party hub that awaits punters as they stream out the gates of Universal Studios and its neighbouring theme parks.  Despite the Florida sun, walking through the gardens was a cool and soothing experience and the perfect thing to do if you need to walk off dinner rather than sleeping it off in a resort water taxi.

Too tired to walk and bored of the boats?  Then a rickshaw can get you where you need to be.

I never did get around to trying out the rickshaws, walking or sailing were my preferred transport options.  My favourite part of the walk was standing amongst the bamboo and hearing the wind whistle through it, making the bamboo softly clank together as it did so.

I took in some of the local architecture as I walked.

The elegant landscaping and lines of the hotel properties were a welcome contrast to the glitz and va-va-voom of City Walk.

Not that I didn't love the va-va-voom.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the iconic Universal Studios globe and water feature.  I just wasn't quick enough to get a shot of Australia.

Remember way back in the early nineties when a Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt was it and a bit?  I remember buying one in Singapore, what I actually ate when I visited the cafe was irrelevant.  It was all about the T.  Well, on this trip, it was the reverse.  It was all about the food.  I was in America, home of the burger and tasty deep fried things, after all.

The decor inside this particular Hard Rock cafe was part celestial (check out these stained glassed windows and the roof detailing) and part old school pub.

With such eclectic decor, I had no trouble fitting it and worshipping at the temple of rock with a very girly prosecco cocktail in one hand and my iphone in the other.  Toddlers dressed as princesses bopped along to Joan Jett and infants sat in meditative silence in their baby carriers as Cold Chisel thumped through their little bodies as their tattooed dads in muscle shirts nursed a cold one.  They really do love all and serve all at the Hard Rock.

To make up for the whole slider and dude food phenomenon in Sydney completely passing me buy, I ordered a pulled pork slider with a side of onion rings.  You know, to perfectly accompany that elderberry cocktail.

Dessert with a conscience.

And then I went all girly and breast cancer aware with a square of frosted red velvet cake.

My after dinner walk took me to the official restaurant of the NBA where I tried to fit my hand into Scotty Pippin's handprint.  The only NBA player whose name I recognized in the handprint hall of fame...

It's a sign of the times that even theme parks have to adhere to the state of high terror alert in the US.  There were metal detectors at the entrance to Universal Studios and bags were checked at multiple points both at City Walk and at the water taxi departure points behind the hotels.

During my stay in Orlando, I was determined to catch up on all the food trends I read about back home but never quite got around to actually tasting.  Next on my list after sliders was fancy Mexican served from a food truck.

Antojitos, a new eatery on City Walk got it in one.  A funky food truck parked outside the cavernous restaurant was serving quick and tasty eats to passersby.

While those opting to dine in got that massive bowl of corn chips and dip on the house.  That's just for one person, mind you.

My main course were these adobo chicken fajitas and they were amazing.

The chicken was tender and richly seasoned.  It was such a pleasant surprise to be served authentic and skilfully prepared food in the middle of a tourist centric theme park promenade.

A little bit of home nestled in a bookcase in the homewares section of Anthropologie.

Changing tack somewhat for my final day in Orlando.  I cabbed it to the very fancy Mall at the Millenia.  Where the stores were fancy and beautifully appointed in the merchandise display stakes.  One of my favourites was Anthropologie, home of all things shabby chic and boho.  Everything was much too spendy for me so I left the mall strangely empty handed compared to how trips to the nearby outlets ended for me.

The food court was rather slick as well.

I had a very sensible lunch of brown rice and Actual Vegetables.

Followed up with a bit of takeaway from The Cheesecake Factory which has a restaurant on the ground floor and queues of customers out the front door from the moment they open their doors for business.

With reference to my tropical and beachy surrounds, I had a slice of pineapple upside down cheesecake.  When it comes to The Cheesecake Factory, their slices of pie never seem to be big enough for me.

And that's a wrap.

Orlando, you were beautiful.

Thanks for a break that had it all.  Even bacon.

Because everything tastes better with bacon.


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