Tokyo Dreams.

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Where do I even begin?

A part of me wants these photos to speak for themselves, stand on their own, convey a thousand words. I’ve been contemplating for days – weeks even – how to aptly describe our two weeks in this beautiful country but all I could come up with was that Tokyo – particularly – was such an out of body experience.

It was all too much to take in; the obsessive compulsive tidiness, the fantastical overstatements and embellishments in Shibuya, the chaos and order in Shinjuku, the stark contrast between Shinbashi and Ginza – it’s unimaginably well-heeled neighbour, the romantic, storybook sensibilities of Daikanyama, and the cherry blossoms leaving its cloud-like lustre in Nakameguro.

We came, we saw. And as I look back on all these photos, my heart still has this way of caving in.

Dapper Chic.

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The menswear-inspired trend has pervaded my closet ever since it was never really a trend.

I’ve been dressing like a boy ever since I can remember. My mother was never really fashionable, so left me to my own frightening devices. Matching tracksuits to the supermarket at 13, basketball shorts instead of netball skirts to school, and New Balance sneakers with everything and anything. I only started wearing make-up in my 20s, and I distinctively recall not pulling on a spaghetti-strap dress – and feeling comfortable about it – until first year uni.

Then I turned a rather sharp corner, wearing nothing but Herve Leger and head-to-toe Alannah Hill for a few years. Playing the field, if you like.

Fast forward to two weeks before I enter the third decade of my life, and I seem to have come full circle. I’m less about bandage dresses and more about boyfriend jackets. I’ve been ‘shopping’ more from my husband’s wardrobe than my own (it helps that he takes an XS in just about every brand), and my autumn/winter wardrobe has been strategically mapped out: relaxed merino sweaters, leather belts, wool peacoats, long duster jackets, and button-down shirts that embody the perfect amount of insouciance. All from the Country Road mens’ department.

Menswear is just a hell of a lot more cosy, I find, without necessarily compromising on aesthetics. Everything is just the right amount of too-big, too-comfortable; forgiving fits; form that doesn’t sacrifice on function (like soft knits with a higher neckline). Heck, even their undies don’t ride up (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it).

Everything’s pared-back, simple, and easy.

P.S. Tracksuits at your own discretion.

Details.

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Relying upon a fire engine red manicure and a slash of Everlane silk to see me through an eventful weekend.

Aside from meeting my niece – and discovering Tom Ford lipstick (!) – for the very first time yesterday, I met up with friends over a celebratory dinner last night, then accosted my bestie for a late lunch this afternoon which may have involved fried chicken, maple syrup, pancakes and a fried egg (yes, all on the same plate). Too much goodness all at once, much like the long weekend.

Mum’s cooking dinner tonight so I’m off to whittle away the rest of the evening with the family, and an appetite for a comforting home-cooked meal in tow.

 

 

Healthy Snacking.

Now that we’re on the tail end of the Easter weekend, it’s time to think about weaning off those jumbo chocolate bunnies and toasted hot cross buns. Yes, I know. But you’ll thank me later.

Since returning from my Europe holiday six months ago, I’ve ashamedly fallen from grace. I checked myself out of clean eating (I blame Rome and Paris for my new-found addiction to pasta and cheese), I became a slave to sugar (another post for another day) and my motivation to workout took a dive over summer (it was too hot!).

I’m only just finding my feet again (in a brand new pair of Frees, no less) and thought I’d share a couple of recipes for some healthy snack ideas that will have you (hopefully) reaching for carob in favour of chocolate. I don’t just save these for post-workout though; I’ll pop them in a small container and take them with me to work for morning/afternoon snacks. I also brought them along on the weekend road trip and they proved handy when I felt peckish in the car!

gojienergybars

Goji Berry Energy Bars

So easy to make and so very addictive. I used/adapted this recipe from www.movenourishbelieve.com (one of my favourite websites for recipe ideas) and replaced linseeds (didn’t have any on hand) with goji berries during step 4. It actually tastes exactly like those deliciously addictive sesame bars you can buy in pharmacies (the one in the red/clear wrapper)!

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups of cashews

1/2 cup dates

1/4 cup goji berries

1/4 cup shredded/desiccated coconut

2 tbsp each of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds

A pinch of salt

A few drops of vanilla essence

A tbsp of coconut oil.

What to do:

1. Cover dates with water in a bowl and soak for half an hour.

2. Blend cashews in a food processor until crumbly (I used my Thermomix, which worked perfectly well).

3. Drain the dates and pop them all into the processor. Blend well.

4. Add all of the remaining ingredients. Blend until they’re all mixed well together.

5. Press mixture into a rectangular tin (lined with baking paper) and pop in freezer for half an hour until set.

6. Once set, portion into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife, and enjoy! They’ll keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

My tips: Make sure you store these in the fridge at all times, and don’t use more coconut oil than needed (no more than one tablespoon) otherwise you’ll be draining oil out of these bars from here until eternity.

Date Cacao Bites

Cacao & Date Bites

These cacao bites are a healthier alternative for those with a deep affinity for chocolate. If you’d like to read up on cacao (the raw vs cocoa debate is quite contentious!) this makes for good, informative reading.

As for the recipe I used to create these Cacao & Date bites, I stuck to this one and just added a tablespoon of chia seeds during step 3. Just reserve around half an hour to do the ‘rolling’ – I found this took the most time!

What you’ll need:

1 cup dates

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1/2 cup cacao powder

1 tbsp coconut oil

Extra chia seeds and dessiccated coconut for rolling

What to do:

1. Cover dates with water in a bowl and soak for half an hour.

2. In a food processor (or Thermomix, if you have one) blend the nuts and oats until they resemble a rough crumb.

3. Drain the dates and add them to the processor. Then add the coconut, coconut oil, and cacao and whiz them all up until well mixed.

4. Divide the mixture into bite-sized balls and roll in the chia seed & coconut mix. If the mixture is too dry and falls apart, add a tiny bit more coconut oil.

5. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. They’ll keep for up to 2 weeks.

Weekend Escapes.

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I’m heading off on a little roadtrip tomorrow with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

We didn’t want to do just another dinner, so we decided at the very last minute to drive down to Manjimup and Denmark for the weekend. With our anniversary (which is actually today) coinciding with Easter, we were hard-pressed to find somewhere – anywhere – to stay at such short notice, and at one point considered sleeping in our car at a caravan park until we realised we were essentially paying $50 for a shower. As you can see, we’re all about romantic gestures in our relationship.

Also, it’s no secret that I will find any excuse to write a packing list (or any list, for that matter) so I’ve made some notes as to what’s going into my weekender. We’ll only be away for a couple of days, so my list is gloriously short and sweet.

We’re planning to do a lot of walking and exploring, which calls for clothes I can move easily in. Cotton shirts, mid-rise jeans, boots with a sturdy heel, a scarf and a warm coat I can throw over jeans or a lightweight dress, are my perfect long weekend essentials.

Snowed Under.

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Country Road sweater, my husband’s chambray shirt, Target merino wool long johns, Hunter Wellington boots.

When I was throwing things into the suitcase before I left for Japan, I had no idea I was going to be met with snow – let alone be snowed in – for the few days we were hot spring-ing at Manza Onsen Hotel.

So it was rather fortunate that I had made the then-irrational decision to pack my Hunter boots (though they did come in handy the one day it did rain in Tokyo) along with a ton of thermals, stupidly big sweaters, and three pairs of socks.

I remember the afternoon these photos were taken so well. We were snowed in for the entire day – from breakfast until half past three in the afternoon. I was passing time finishing the last few chapters of Memoirs of a Geisha, looking out the window and not being able to see a single thing. Being 1700m above sea level in the heart of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, we literally had our heads in the clouds. And for seven hours it stayed that way, until the clouds gradually turned into wisps of nothingness, revealing the bluest sky I had seen so far in Japan.

Those kind of days – or afternoons, rather – are such a photographer’s dream.

Hastily pulling on my wellies, we scampered out and stayed until the sun went down. The light scintillated the pavement in ways I will probably never see with my own eyes again. And like the rest of our time in Japan, it was magical, indescribable, almost inconceivable. Something kind of wonderful.

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Warehouse Conversions.

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Having never been a fan of modern or brutalist architecture, the idea of living in a converted warehouse has always appealed to me. What with the industrial beams, reclaimed brick (or painting over it with a solid coat of white – God, I love all-white everything), concrete floors, expansive warehouse windows, and sky-high ceilings.

Needless to say, I had some serious home envy walking into an inner-city warehouse convert a couple of friends bought recently.

As with any warehouse conversion, the renovation is monumental. They’ve already made a great deal of progress in the space of a month – the original beams and spiral staircase had just been painted a fresh coat of black, and the bedroom wall stripped of its plaster to uncover the ombré exposed brick.

As far as interior decorating goes, I adore their eclectic, charismatic but classic style. Think black & white everything, vintage suitcases as a home entertainment unit, a dove grey Philippe Starck Monseigneur-esque quilted sofa, Beatles wall art, and a tall, galvanised school locker repurposed as a cupboard. It’s stuff that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I love how quirky small touches like those add so much personality to their already character-laden home.

Oh, and the ground floor will be turned into a clothing boutique and they’re renovating the kitchen & dining area (taking up the entire second floor) such that it could transform into a coffee shop with a Scandinavian vibe, one day. Sigh, can you imagine?

April.

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This month has already flashed by in the blink of an eye.

Japan came and went, I dropped into Melbourne for all but 18 hours to see for myself how GPO transformed into H&M, I’ve been battling an unrelenting viral infection since I returned, and I became a doting aunty again two days ago.

And, as you can see, things are looking a little bit different around here.

I’ve been feeling terrible for being absent from this blog since the revamp went live. I had been meaning to put together a post days ago but the truth is, I have been spending any spare time I have drinking the honey, lemon & ginger tea I hastily made for myself, blowing my nose every two minutes and filling up my bin with copious amounts of tissues. So glam. Migrating from tumblr to wordpress has also aged me by about 20 years (probably a lot more for my kind, ever-so-patient friend & magical web designer, Jess) but I think we’re finally out of the woods with this one.

I hope you like the new-look!