Heroes in the crowd…

Last week on Valentine’s Day, I was busy rehearsing some lines I was going to use as MC at a fund-raising function. It was the first time I’d MC’d an event where I was also on the organising committee, so there were twice as many reasons for hoping it was going to be a ripper of a night. And thankfully it was.

Called ‘The Sisterhood’, the committee did a brilliant job reaching out to Melbourne’s movers and shakers and getting them to come along and help raise much-needed funds for the cardiac research unit at St Vincent’s Hospital. As you might know, heart disease is still the biggest killer of all (when it comes to health matters) in Australia.

I’m not going to bang on about what a fab time everyone had, because if you weren’t there, then that’s just plain dull. But I do want to thank a few people who deserve special mention for going above and beyond the call of duty. And to a handful of those people, you have been elevated to hero status in my eyes and I will forever be indebted to you. Thank you. A million times – thank you.

Special thanks to:

Our amazing sponsors!

The Deck at The Prince, St Kilda

The Deck at The Prince, St Kilda


The Deck at The Prince in St Kilda. This stunning venue was made available through the generosity of The Melbourne Pub Group. Definitely the best place in Melbourne to stage a glamour party!


Bensimons diamond

Bensimons diamond


Bensimons Jewellers, for donating a TEN THOSAND dollar diamond for our main raffle prize.



Major sponsor, Swisse Vitamins

Major sponsor, Swisse Vitamins


Swisse Vitamins for donating a Spring Racing Carnival package for the main auction, including marquee tickets and Arthur Galan race wear.



Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island


Magnetic Island, Luxury Private Apartments and Boston Kennedy Recruitment for providing a wonderful holiday package for the main auction.



Crown Metropol

Crown Metropol



Crown Metropol for providing a glamour hotel accommodation package as a raffle prize, including dinner at Mr Hive.


Laurent Perrier champagne

Laurent Perrier champagne




Laurent Perrier for making our special champagne raffle draw possible. Easy to sell tickets when people know they’re getting a glass of such fine bubbles!





Also, to the many wonderful friends and family who bought tickets, some dipping into their pockets despite tight budgets, AND to those with enormous work loads who came despite tight schedules, AND to those whose companies also donated products for goodie bags – sending you all the biggest of hugs and thanks… xxxxxx

Kate Arnott and Mitch Catlin

Kate Arnott and Mitch Catlin

Aaron Jenkin and Sally Richardson

Aaron Jenkin and Sally Richardson










Jill Hansen and Tina Millington

Jill Hansen and Tina Millington

Julie Thomas, Cathy Thomas and Jill Hansen

Julie Thomas, Cathy Thomas and Jill Hansen







To my sister, Jill (Billie) for all her love and support. And to my brother, David and sister-in-law, Penny, who came as well.

Cameron McGlinchey and Natalie Bassingthwaighte

Cameron McGlinchey and Natalie Bassingthwaighte


And to Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Cameron McGlinchey who came despite Nat not feeling her most comfortable right now, due to the exciting news of a second baby on the way!





Me and Fletch

Me and Fletch



And a HUGE thank you to my gorgeous, amazing and supportive husband, Fletch, who helped enormously on the night. Not only did he rally the crowd, using his best theatrical voice, when we needed everyone inside for speeches or the auction – he ALSO sang a number with Melissa Bergland, proving – one again – he is indeed a man of MANY talents.





For me, there were also several heroes on the night – those who proved to be outstanding human beings for many reasons. Here they are:

Andrew Newcomb, surgeon

Andrew Newcomb, surgeon

(1) Andrew Newcomb, the Deputy Director of Cardiothoracic Surgery at St Vincent’s Hospital. This man is a medical genius. He spoke on the night about the breakthroughs in heart surgery taking place RIGHT NOW which means we all look to him in awe. He’s performed five ground-breaking operations since December, which will revolutionise the way aortic valve replacement surgery is performed, making patients’ recovery times quicker and easier.



Kristen Kennedy (middle)

Kristen Kennedy (middle)

(2) Kristen Kennedy is one of The Sisterhood committee members. Kristen also spoke on the night, and it was one of the most heartfelt and brave speeches I’ve ever heard. Kristen took some time to decide in the weeks before the event, whether it was something she would be able to do. You will understand why…  Kristen talked about the tragic loss of her brother, Andrew, who died at just 36 years of age from a Sudden Arrhythmic episode only 18 months ago. Her words reminded everyone that heart disease doesn’t discriminate in terms of age and is an issue that affects us all.

Melissa Bergland

Melissa Bergland


(3) Melissa Bergland is not only a super-talented actress whom most of you will instantly recognise from the hit TV show Winners and Losers – she has a powerhouse voice! Melissa kindly agreed to sing on the night – DONATING HER TIME – which was incredibly generous. PLUS she is working very long hours on the show right now and had to start the next morning at FIVE AM!!! Definitely a hero in my book. Thank you Melissa!






Guardian angel

Guardian angel


(4) My anonymous Guardian Angel. A special friend, who doesn’t wish to be named, made an incredibly generous donation as well as proving to be an enormously special and supportive friend. Darling, I love you – thank you from the bottom of my heart.


Rachel Holland with friend, Julian Gerner, Melbourne Pub Group

Rachel Holland with friend, Julian Gerner, Melbourne Pub Group


(5) Rachel Holland was the chair-person of The Sisterhood committee, for this – our second event. I’ve always known she was smart and efficient (she is a lawyer, after all…) but Rachel’s work for this Valentine’s Day event went WAY above and beyond the call of duty. She and her husband Nick are also expecting their first baby, so she took on this extra workload while also dealing with first pregnancy issues and running her own successful on-line jewellery business, Eclektica. (ECLEKTICA.com) Rach, you are a legend and a wonderful friend. Thank you for everything!




Finally, it has to be said. None of this would have happened without the dedication and hard work of all my ‘sisters’ in The Sisterhood Committee. Special mentions for outstanding effort goes to Amber Petty, Kate McGrath and Sarah Kennedy. Well done, girls!

The Sisterhood Committee

The Sisterhood Committee



An unexpected Blogging holiday

Apologies to any readers out there who may have been missing my blog posts and wondering why I’ve suddenly stopped writing. I think I started to realise I was spending too much time chained to the computer and not enough time ‘living’. Summer is drawing to a close and as a lover of warm weather, I want to get outdoors while I can and soak up the last of the summer rays.

On Sunday, I had a group of friends over and we sat by the pool, drinking wine, chatting and swimming. Heavenly. I think that’s the first time I’ve done that this summer which is ridiculous when I’m lucky enough to own a swimming pool. I’ve also spent a bit of time riding and walking in the sun – pondering life and it’s complexities. Necessary time out.

I haven’t posted a Blog since last week. I have been consumed by much emotionally – weighed down by the good and the bad – and weary from it all, that there’s been nothing left to put in to words.

(Plus, after running to demanding deadlines with a major charity event and blogging responsibilities, the house had fallen apart and needed a damn good spring clean. Cleaning is very cathartic for the soul.)

An older woman once warned me about getting involved in charity work. ‘Your friends will hate you, Jennifer,’ she said, raising her eyebrows and nodding sagely. Dismissing her words, I  barrelled on through, taking on various roles with several organisations and blithely accepting offers to help. I am fortunate enough to be at a time in my life where I’m not working in a regular full-time job. Why wouldn’t I say ‘yes’ when asked to help with such worthwhile causes? And ‘There but for the Grace of God go I’ (even though I’m not religious)  – that could be me one day down the track – with breast cancer, heart disease, or financially destitute.

I knew, sending out an invitation to a charity event such as we held last Thursday night for St Vincent’s Hospital, that there would be some friends who would open the email invitation, sigh, and swear – ‘Bloody hell. Not again. She’s (me) wanting us to go to some God-awful function and spend a fortune for a ticket. No frickin’ way. I’m SO over those things.’ You’re always going to get a few of those. The ones who love going to a free event but hate to fork out cash for something deemed ‘charity’ even when they’ll happily spend more than $100 on a regular night out. Or declare they’re just ‘tired’ of social occasions, as an excuse not to attend.

I know I should expect that and NOT place expectations on others. But deep inside, you can’t help but feel a little hurt when close friends let you down. Especially when you’ve talked about it for months, sent out ‘save the date’ emails and they know how important it is to you.

But then other friends go above and beyond your expectations and you love them all the more for their kindness. When they give, with both time and money, you feel more grateful than if they’d given their gifts to you personally.

I am going to write about the HEROES from that evening – exactly a week ago, on Valentine’s Day and I will post that later today. But for now, I just wanted to explain my absence. Now you know why.



Meet Ross, my new motivator


Physically speaking, I’m naturally a lazy person. I’d much rather sleep in and eat ice-cream (from the tub) for breakfast-in-bed, while reading a book, than get up and go to the gym. Especially if I’ve had a late night writing – my favourite time to tap out words.

Most mornings I get up early to take the kids to school. (Unless Fletch doesn’t have an early start on Neighbours, but that’s a weekly negotiation…) After dropping them off, I love the idea of going back to bed and snuggling back under the doona for maybe an extra hour or two… but that’s just a fantasy. I think I’ve only actually done that about twice in my life. Maybe three…

My favourite sweet treat

My favourite sweet treat

Instead, I try to head to the gym after the kids drop-off and before work, but last year things went awry. My weight ballooned after giving up smoking, and then a neck injury meant I gave up working-out. Plus I was eating WAY too many sweet treats. Of course it became harder to keep the fat at bay.


Luckily I began the Cool Sculpting process in late October – more as a Blogging exercise really – to see if this freezing process would help get rid of my burgeoning muffin-top. Each week I went along to the Liberty Belle Clinic for a photo update and JOY, OH JOY, it actually WORKED! (check out the weekly updates, starting from October 30th last year   http://wp.me/p29YsS-kK  )

This inspired me to get back to the gym and try and fix the rest of me. God knows I’d like to get rid of those orange-peel flabby underarm bits…. Yet still, I was pretty half-hearted about the whole exercise regime, so decided I needed someone to motivate me. Someone I could be accountable to.

I met Personal Trainer Ross Sheridan at Fitness First in Brighton several months ago. He looked like one of the fittest guys taking people through their workouts, plus he had a lovely manner about him. I didn’t want anyone screaming orders at me like a boot camp major. So I grabbed his card and promised I’d book in. That was last November.

Then a few weeks ago I ran into Ross at the gym (after dodging him for months) and couldn’t think of any more excuses as to why I hadn’t made an appointment. As we chatted, I explained how I needed to be accountable to someone PLUS the fact that I was easily bored by exercise. Ross came up with a great solution. I couldn’t afford to see him twice a week, but he was happy to divide my one hour session into TWO half-hour appointments, with me promising to do some cardio work – on the treadmill or cross-trainer – for the other half-hour. A perfect solution. This meant I would HAVE to turn up to the gym twice a week. At least.

I booked in on the spot. That was nearly three weeks ago and I’ve stuck to it. Lo and behold, this exercising PROPERLY business is already working!!

So meet Ross, my new training buddy. Ta da!! Cool tattoos, yeah?

My new trainer Ross

My new trainer Ross

But things between us didn’t start off so great. This is NOT a bad thing about Ross. It’s probably more about me…. You see, the week I started with Ross, I started getting text messages quite regularly.

‘Great training today, Jen, keep up the good work!’
‘Have a great weekend and try not to indulge too much!’
‘Less drink, better food.’
‘Get ready for a big week of training!’

Now, I appreciate the effort and thought put into this and I recognise it helps many people stay on the straight and narrow, but it’s not for me. WAY too much. So I texted back.

‘All good. Probably don’t need so many text msgs though… Thanks anyway.’ Ungrateful cow, aren’t I?

But I thought it best to sort this out upfront before I became too peeved by it all and threw in the training towel. Ross was fine and explained that most of his clients like the additional motivational messages. I guess everyone’s different…

Boxing with Ross

Boxing with Ross

Now we’re getting into the hot and heavy stuff – BOXING. I’ve done this before and am loving punching it up again. It really works up a sweat. Ross reckons I’ve got a great right hook, so watch out. But I’m still pretty unfit and am exhausted at the end of every half-hour session.



I suspect part of the reason for Ross’ text messages is that he thinks I drink too much. Here, we have another point of difference. Ross DOES NOT DRINK ALCOHOL AT ALL. He hasn’t for 18 months. Which is highly admirable. But not for me. Ross is encouraging me to have more AFDs, (alcohol-free-days) which I probably need, so I am trying. One friend advised, ‘NEVER tell your PT how much you drink. He won’t know!’

Unfortunately, you’re wrong there, Mr M. At training today, I thought I’d omit confessing to the red wine intake last night. Nothing was mentioned about alcohol till right at the end. Maybe it was my lack of energy? Then Ross remarked, ‘Had a few last night, didn’t you.’ It wasn’t a question. I only had a few glasses, but still he knew? I think he might be psychic.

Massage voucher

Massage voucher

Ross has other talents too. He’s a qualified remedial massage therapist. AND he’s mobile. That means he has his own massage table and can come to your home.



What better way to have a massage, than to be able to fall into bed into a deep sleep immediately afterwards? He also does gift vouchers, which is a great idea. It might be a bit late to organise one for Valentine’s Day, but keep it in mind next time you’re shopping for a birthday or anniversary gift. So many people have all the ‘stuff’ they need these days, that an ‘experiential’ gift is often appreciated. And $80 for a one-hour massage AT YOUR HOME or at the gym is great value.

To contact Ross for either a personal training session or massage, email him at rosssheridanfitness@gmail.com or phone on 0406 331 697.


Ross has a special offer for new remedial massage clients. If you are a subscriber to this Blog and would like to book a one-hour session, he is offering a FIFTY PER CENT discount to the first TWENTY readers to email him. Enjoy.





New Year’s Resolution Update


Sorry, but I’m too busy right now to write a ‘proper’ New Year’s Resolution update. I’m getting bored with the whole concept too. Twenty minutes till the official end of the day though – so I might just squeeze in a mini-update so I can feel I’ve stuck to the program. To some degree anyway…

Lindt balls

Lindt balls

(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – Not good. I found an open box of Lindt chocolates one night after drinking wine, (which of course drastically reduces one’s will-power) so I scoffed what was left in the box. Which was about four of those scrumptious round balls. God, they tasted good. FAIL.


(2) Not to play I-Phone Games – No Good. I couldn’t sleep one night so downloaded Spider Solitaire on to my I-phone at 2am and played that for about half an hour. And I haven’t deleted it yet either. FAIL

(3) To tidy my office before the end of March – Not yet. But I still have time. An easy TICK for this one.

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week – YES!!! I have a new trainer who I have to meet twice a week at the gym and this is fabulous. I’m going to introduce you to Ross tomorrow. Plus I did three spin classes and have lost half a kilo. I think it was the Lindt balls that did it. TICK.

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again – I actually felt like one this week for the first time in ages. On several occasions. I think it has something to do with stress????? But I remained strong and did NOT smoke. Big TICK.

Overall, checking the scorecard – that’s three ticks out of five at the end of week six. Not brilliant, but hey, I’m only human after all…


What you could win at our Valentine’s Day fundraiser for St Vincent’s Hospital


My apologies. I’ve been a bit light on with the blogging stuff over the last few days, but I have been VERY busy. You see, being a very-important-committee member of a very-important-charity-event is VERY time consuming. I don’t need to bore you with WHAT I’ve been doing. Suffice to say Thursday night’s cocktail party – organised by The Sisterhood – is going to be bloody good fun. And if you haven’t bought a ticket… hurry up!!!

If you can’t make it, at least you can read about what you won’t be able to buy or win because you’re not going to be there. And the prize list is pretty fabulous.

There’s THREE ways to get cool stuff on the night.

(1) Buy a $50 raffle ticket which also scores you a divine glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne and be in the running to win either:

Crown Metropol

Crown Metropol


A CROWN METROPOL PACKAGE which includes one night’s luxury accommodation, with full buffet breakfast for two at Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar, valet parking and complimentary access to the peaceful Isika Day Spa.



(2) Buy a $50 or $100  LUCKY DIP TICKET with the chance to win prizes such as Eclecktica earrings, a Cactus Jam voucher, a Microcloud Pillow, a Marie Claire subscription, spray tans from Body Bronze, one of my Booty Up products, a Breville Pizza Oven, a Liberty Belle Facial  voucher to the value of $750 or even a Kaya Gym Membership valued at $1035. And that’s only naming a few…

(3) BID AT THE AUCTION. There’s only six items up for grabs and they’re all wonderful. Here’s a sneak peak…

(a) A HOLIDAY ON MAGNETIC ISLAND -Five nights luxury accommodation at  ‘ONE BRIGHT POINT’ Magnetic Island Luxury Apartments. Featuring the ultimate ocean front accommodation, these apartments are located on the 
beautiful heritage listed Magnetic Island, just off the Tropical
 North Queensland coast. Magnetic Island is the sunniest location on the Queensland 
coast with an average of 320 sunny days per year.  It has 
over 23 beaches, huge National park, shops, cafes, local 
galleries and golf course.

Nicole Kidman at the Swisse marquee

Nicole Kidman at the Swisse marquee at Flemington

(b) SWISSE EXPERIENCE – 2 Tickets to the Swisse Marquee on Oaks Day, including transfers to and from the track, with overnight accommodation and a $500 Arthur Galan voucher to pick the perfect racing outfit.

(c) A BALLOON RIDE – valued at more than $600

(d)  FOUR TICKETS TO THE FOOTY SHOW This award winning and sometimes controversial TV show is still going strong after 19 years. The Footy Show, starring Sam Newman, James Brayshaw and Garry Lyon is still so popular that there is more than a year’s wait for tickets. Four tickets are up for grabs to one of the live shows this coming AFL season. It’s a ‘money-can’t-buy’ experience.


(e) PRESIDENT”S DINNER FOR TWO – COLLINGWOOD VS CARLTON This Round Two match takes place at the MCG on April 7th. It’s one of the biggest games of the year. With one of the longest lasting and strongest rivalries in the AFL, Collingwood versus Carlton games are always blockbusters.
The Collingwood President’s lunch is a five-star way to enjoy the game. At over 400 dollars a head, the most ardent fans gather for a 3 course meal and afternoon tea at half time. As well as the blockbuster game, fans are treated to entertainment and a rousing speech from club president Eddie McGuire.

(f) A signed COLLINGWOOD FOOTBALL JUMPER – These are extremely rare nowadays, with Collingwood restricting the number of jumpers released that are sign by the entire team. This one is signed by each of the 2013 team members.


Hot-air balloon ride

Hot-air balloon ride


So as you can see, there’s a tonne of very cool stuff up for grabs and given it’s not a massive function, if you can still get a ticket (and they are limited) then it’s likely you’ve got a pretty good chance of winning a TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR diamond. I know I’ll be buying a raffle ticket for that one.

Hope to see you there. If you DO want to buy a ticket to our Valentine’s Day event (for couples and singles!!) at The Deck at The Prince in St Kilda, click on the link below.



To book tickets:


Hate to say it, but my 15-year-old son was right…

It’s hard to admit, but yep, Tom was right. At the tender age of fifteen, he knew straight away from the title – The School Of Life – that something was awry. (see Tuesday’s Blog)

Being a huge fan of the author and philosopher Alain de Botton, Fletch had learnt that a branch of this wise man’s school was opening in Melbourne and thought it would be nice for us to go along to an event. It sounded fascinating. A chance to discuss interesting topics with a bunch of smarty-pants types over a feast of food. Maybe I would walk away with new insights into how we live our lives and how to make the world a better place? Surely I’d absorb some of the scholarly vibes through osmosis and magically transform into an intellectually superior being?

It didn’t start well. The floral chair covers sounded warning bells straight away. We arrived after most of the guests were already seated and were told to find a place. Anywhere. Sit with anyone. No nametags and no place names on the tables. Big shared tables. Now, I don’t mind meeting new people, but I’d thought we’d have our own table and the discussions on the night would be mediated by the MC. In a public forum.

Dinner with Epicurus

Dinner with Epicurus

So we joined a table and introduced ourselves. Me, knowing full well, I’d forget all eight names in five seconds. Already I needed a drink. The only wine on the table was sauvignon blanc. As any chardonnay lover knows, you might as well offer a prime rib to a vegan. EWWWWWwwww. I asked a harried waiter if there was an alternative. Looking very put out that I’d even ask, he said there wasn’t. That always, without fail, puts me in a bad mood. A pre-paid set menu dinner and no decent wine. Luckily I have a wonderful husband who knew what was up and quickly raced to the bar to buy bottle.

Dinner menu

Dinner menu and program

I picked up the program on my bread plate and read some of the topics. Fascinating stuff.  We’d be hearing about things such as:
– Should we try to be happy? If not, what else is there to aim for?
– Is pain ever pleasurable to you, or sadness somehow happy? Why?
– Is love ever really unconditional?
– Does work have to involve drudgery as well as joy?
– When has failure helped you?

And that was just for FIRST COURSE…

Then Damon Young, the Melbourne philosopher and writer employed as MC on the night, began with his introduction. Erudite, witty, pleasant – he kicked proceedings off to a good start.

What I DIDN”T like was discovering that after Damon read out the topics for discussion, we were supposed to chat AMONG OURSELVES. With our new best friends. Over some of the North Firtzroy Star’s fairly ordinary food.

I’m sorry, but you have to know a bit about someone before you get into whether pain is ever pleasurable for them – don’t you? So here’s what I don’t GET about nights like this. Unless the mediator calls for discussion in the room, the guests at the table probably AREN’T going to stick to the topics because they are too busy edging their way around who is who, and who does what, before getting into the deep and meaningful.

So, quite frankly, I couldn’t see the point of any of it. I would have preferred a night out with my friends. I don’t need new friends…. much as the people on our table were very nice.

Me with MC Damon Young

Me with MC Damon Young

Damon Young was nice too. And an excellent MC. I just think The School of Life needs to look at how they run these nights because I didn’t get anything out of it. Alan said he managed to have several fascinating discussions that stuck to the topics. I missed those.

Guess I’m going to just have to save that program with Epicurus on the cover for our next dinner party and use it as a conversation starter then. Interested?


The sugar-free yoghurt led me there…

My apologies to overseas and interstate readers – this story isn’t going to be much help to you, but I couldn’t resist this one. It’s so hard these days to find original, quirky and PRICE FRIENDLY gift ideas, that when I stumbled across RED PROJECTS, I knew I had to do write a story. Especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner.

Red Projects - 112a Acland Street, St Kilda

Red Projects – 112a Acland Street, St Kilda


For those who might be able to make it to St Kilda, it’s definitely worth a visit. I was walking down Acland Street – deliberately to buy one of those amazing sugar-free yoghurt treats I mentioned on Tuesday – when I stopped to read some amusing metal signs featuring astrology traits, which were sitting outside a shop.


Aries dark side

Aries dark side – all signs $24 each




In fact, it was the Aries description that caught my eye, (you can buy both negative and positive versions for each star sign) because that’s supposed to be about Fletch. Which clearly it isn’t. Self-centred? Bossy? Never. There’s only one word that applies and that’s probably Too Much Information. (guesses welcome in the comments section)

Melbourne canvas - $75 (80 x 140cm)

Melbourne canvas – $75 (80 x 140cm)


Next to the star signs was a canvas that also appealed. I was looking for something masculine and neutral for Tom’s bedroom, and wondered whether the Melbourne locations board might suit. At a sale price of just $75, I thought that was pretty good value so decided to check out what else was inside the store.



Red Projects owner Carolin Hemingway

Red Projects owner Carolin Hemingway



And there I met Carolin, who said she’s had Red Projects for about seven years. She started up in Port Melbourne but moved to St Kilda when the rent became too steep.
‘It’s a smaller space,’ said Carolin.’ But I live in St Kilda and I love it here, so it’s great to live and work in the same suburb.’
The shop might be small, but it’s jam packed with hidden treasures. Carolin says she never buys anything for the shop that she wouldn’t buy herself.


Her love of St Kilda is reflected in the shop’s wall mural, painted by local artist Greg Irvine, which highlights all the local landmarks.

St Kilda mural

St Kilda mural by Greg Irvine


Silver heart pendants - $75

Silver heart pendants – $75


Given Valentine’s Day is just next week, I asked Carolin what her best suggestions were for gifts. There’s plenty of jewellery to pick from – an appropriate piece for next week being these sterling silver heart pendants – designed by Carolin herself.

Carolin says she loves being in the gift business. ‘ I love to shop. It’s great because I get to go to the trade fairs and it’s like shopping for myself, except I get to buy multiples in every colour!’


Bells for favours - $12

Bells for favours – $12


These bells are also a popular gift, (and very economical!!) but Carolin says they don’t come with guaranteed results.

I asked Carolin how she deals with difficult customers who don’t know what they’re looking for.


‘It is a challenge and it’s difficult,’ she said. ‘But if I really can’t find something for the customer myself, I leave them to look on their own and generally they always find something.’


Small wooden signs - $14.95

Small wooden signs – $14.95


It would be hard NOT to find something that suits. Carolin is also big on SIGNS. There are signs everywhere – wooden, metal, big small – all featuring quirky sayings or pearls of wisdom. One set of smaller wooden signs comes from a couple that live in the country and make them by hand. Mostly they’re about pets.

Bathing Beauties - $38

Bathing Beauties – $38




There are also canvases of all descriptions featuring photographs. My favourite is the black and white ‘Bathing Beauties’ from a 1950s snap.



Handmade butterly pictures - $99

Handmade butterfly pictures – $99



If you’re after an original art piece, these hand-made butterfly pictures come in all types of patterns, and each one is unique.






I could write forever about the number of home-wares in Red Project, but here are two that caught the eye – both bargains!

Aqua glass decanter - $49.95

Aqua glass decanter – $49.95

Hanging rust chimes - $18

Hanging rust chimes – $18











Phrenology head $49.95 and palm-reading hand $28

Phrenology head $49.95 and palm-reading hand $28

As for QUIRKY, there’s plenty that fits the bill here… How about a Phrenology head or china palm-reading hand???

But the weirdest ones of all are the Vegetable Pets. I’m not sure who would actually buy them, but there are fascinating… and quite ugly. I mean, a Cauliflower dog? Seriously? At least they’re cheap…

Cauliflower Poodle - $20

Cauliflower Poodle – $20




Cabbage fish and sweet potato guinea pig- both $15

Cabbage fish and sweet potato guinea pig- both $15







Carolin is also keen on vintage designs. If you’re looking for extra special gift cards, these classics are priceless. Made by an artist in Byron Bay, they feature vintage images on balsa wood, which is then pasted to the card. Beautiful!


Vintage cards - $6.95

Vintage cards – $6.95

Vintage Paris Wall Clock - $22

Vintage Paris Wall Clock – $22








Plush microwave toys (bed warmers) $29

Plush microwave toys (bed warmers) $29


For the kids, my fave are these plush microwaveable soft toys that act as bed warmers. So cute and cuddly! I’m sure I’m not too old to have one…




Owl trio - small, $18 and large, $24

Owl trio – small, $18 and large, $24


But no. I need to grow up. Learn the great lessons of life and bestow that wisdom upon my children. Luckily there are dozens of different wise owls hanging around Carolin’s shop so I browsed and I browsed….



Owl Pair - large $44.95, small $24.95

Owl Pair – large $44.95, small $24.95



…and I settled on this pair. They now live happily in our sunroom. I can feel the wisdom. It’s coming….





If you’d like to visit RED PROJECTS, head to 112 Acland Street, St Kilda.

For enquiries, phone (03) 9525 5255

Stuff I didn’t know about my own Blog…

Sometimes I wish I’d done an official computer course. The longer I write this Blog, the more I’m finding out about how websites operate and how much I NEED to learn!

For instance, after meeting with my lovely website consultant a few days ago, I only just discovered how the ads on my OWN website work… Pathetic, I know.

Supersprint ad

Supersprint ad

I just thought they sat in the side bar, so that people could look at them and know where to go if they wanted to follow up on something. Like a billboard that gives you something to look at if you’re stuck in a traffic jam on Punt Road. (Which happens all the time…)

BUT I learnt that if you actually CLICK on these ads, they give you a lot more information, by taking you to that companies actual website. Durhhh…

SO, for instance, if you want to go to the Guns and Roses concert, you just click on the ad on my Welcome page, or when you’re reading a story like this one, and it takes you straight to the place you need to go to buy tickets.

If you want to enter the Australian Grand Prix Run on March 10th, click on that ad. Or if you’re needing a fab haircut, check out the glamorous Salon Golightly salon ad and book in with Justin.

Salon Golightly ad

For bridal couples looking for a unique car, check out Pete’s Garage and hire a really cool Mustang.

Pete's Garage ad

Pete’s Garage ad

There – just thought I needed to share that with you.

And another thing. So I can attempt to make a living from writing, there will be more ads appearing shortly on this Blog. This is good news because it means the Blog is growing rapidly in popularity and I now have great figures to justify ads.  But I promise NEVER to EVER allow any of those nasty, loud, in-your-face, POP-UP ads that drive people insane. Me, in particular. I HATE those. They’re scary…

If anyone is interested in placing ads on our website, please contact Kelly  at youguys@catacombcreative.com for a quote.

Why I feel like a drug cheat – New Year’s resolution update

I feel a bit like Lance Armstrong today. It’s Tuesday – my day of reckoning – where I have to ‘fess up to how I’ve fared in the past week as far as my New Year’s resolutions have gone. And quite frankly, it’s all about the sugar. I’m aspiring to be like Emma the Guru (who hasn’t had a lolly in SEVEN years) and Sarah Wilson, author of I Quit Sugar, but next to these role models, I’m a failure.

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong

Some say that Lance Armstrong showed little emotion or remorse when interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about his drug-cheating scandal. Not me. On this level, we’re fields apart. I’m lying prone on the floor, beating my fist to the ground and vowing to change my wicked ways. You see, last week I confessed to eating a Choc Top at the Gold Class Cinema.


This week I have sinned not once, but THREE times!! Which means I have completely failed in the first of my five resolutions – to quit sugar – or at least stick to the ONE LINE RULE of not consuming anything above five per cent sugar.

Connoisseur chocolate icecream

Connoisseur chocolate icecream

It must be something to do with me watching movies. Because the second time I fell off the sugar-free bandwagon, I was watching a movie at home with my daughter, Veronica, when she pulled out a tub of my favourite ice-cream. Connoisseur Chocolate Obsession… I watched her enviously as she devoured a bowl and after that, couldn’t get the image out of my mind. Knowing all the while that very tub of ice-cream was only metres away in the freezer, begging me to try some. So I relented. BIG TIME.

I thought I’d grab the tub and just eat a few teensy, weeny mouthfuls, but that turned into a glutinous gorging spree and I finished the whole bucket.

Jersey caramels

Jersey caramels

Then it got WORSE. Veronica had also had friends over to celebrate the end of school holidays so she’d put together a lolly bowl. After the ice-cream, she pulled out the leftovers and there, tempting me viciously, were my most treasured of all lollies – jersey caramels. My much adored, dear-departed Grandmother and I used to share a packet when she took me to the movies as a child. Well, I thought, done my dash with the ice-cream, may as well go the full hog. So I did.

The third sinful moment came when, the next day, I was down the street buying the kids a bakery treat for afternoon tea to mark the first day back at school and that smell of sweet, fresh bread sent my hunger pains into overdrive. Another treat I’ve really missed on this sugar-free caper is the fruit bun. Dried fruit is very bad. But I’d lasted a month, so for my reward, I bought one and gobbled it up while traipsing through the supermarket aisles. Couldn’t even wait till I got home.

As for my other resolutions – not playing I-phone games, exercising at the gym at least three times a week, not smoking and tidying my office – all big ticks for this week. In fact, with exercise, because of my new trainer, I’m going great guns. Maybe that’s why my body has weakened this week with the sugar thing?

Scoops Gelato and Yoghurt Bar -  Acland Street, St Kilda

Scoops Gelato and Yoghurt Bar – Acland Street, St Kilda

But I do have some good news for all the anti-sugar campaigners out there, searching for substitute treats. I found a beauty down Acland Street, St Kilda on Sunday. I was prepared to go without when the family opted for an afternoon ice-cream, but then I spied a sign – sugar-free natural yoghurt!!


Sugar free yoghurt with Stevia

Sugar free yoghurt with Stevia

I bought a tub and it tastes AMAZING. So good, I have planned to cover a story about a shop in Acland Street this afternoon so I can pop back and get some more. This is the best sugar-free discovery I have made yet! Ice-cream has always been my weak point, so now, I may just have found a solution to satisfy that craving.

Hopefully I’ll be able to bring you a better report card next week.