SURPRISE! It’s your WEDDING!!! (OR Why I lied to my sister…)

So before you start thinking I’m a spoilt brat who enjoys far too many holidays than she deserves, let me explain. There was a GENUINE reason I HAD to come to Bali this week. I had no choice – seriously. My sister’s fiancé, Pete, phoned me a month ago to say he was going to spring a SURPRISE WEDDING for Jill and wanted me to help with orchestrate the nuptials. How could I say no?

Legian Beach

Legian Beach

With Jill being so busy with work commitments, Pete knew it was going to be a tough call, locking in a wedding date. She’s also been married before and knew full well how much planning a wedding would involve. So when Pete tried to get her to set a date six months ago, she jokingly replied, ‘It’s too much to organise. You sort it out and I’ll just turn up.’ I don’t think she thought he’d take her so literally.

When it panned out that many of her friends were going to be in Bali at the same time, Pete thought it would be perfect to organise a surprise wedding. Particularly as it was Jill’s birthday on June 25th. It would be simple to get everyone together for a celebration without raising her suspicions.

I wasn’t so sure. Jilly is SO switched on, it’s difficult to keep anything a secret from her! But on the morning of her birthday, when I offered to blow-dry her hair, (because she should look her best at her celebratory dinner!!) she scoffed at the idea, saying she didn’t care. That’s when I was pretty sure she hadn’t twigged. Surely she’d want good hair if she knew she was getting married??

Pete booked a dinner at Bali’s most glamorous seaside restaurant – Kudeta. None of the guests knew until just hours before exactly what was going to happen. There was always the VERY slim possibility she might say ‘no’… so there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as we gathered for pre-dinner drinks.

The tricky part was getting Jill to the restaurant by 4.30. We needed to kick proceedings off early-ish to make sure we could take photos before the sun went down. So we told a weeny white lie and pretended we had to get there early to secure the sofa area because it’s peak holiday season and the restaurant needed the space for another group booking, It worked and we managed to assemble everyone pretty close to the planned time.

Then we all held our collective breath as we watched Pete take Jill aside and tell her what was about to happen. They had their backs to us, so it was hard to work out exactly what was going on… the only give-away, when she wiped a tear from her eye.

Will she or won't she???

Will she or won’t she???

Jill with her bouquet

Jill with her bouquet


Then she turned around with a beaming smile and I sighed with relief and handed her a bouquet we’d organised. Plus some flowers for her hair. ‘Damn, I would have put some lippy on if I’d known!’ she laughed.



We’d also organised a marriage celebrant, so Pete led us down to the beach, where we met Kim, to officiate the ceremony. And a very celebrated celebrant I might add – as he just happened to ALSO perform the wedding of Australia’s most gorgeous super-model, Jennifer Hawkins, only a few weeks ago.

The aisle was marked out with scattered rose petals and orchids...

The aisle was marked out with scattered rose petals and orchids…


Kim not only spoke beautifully, with sensitively chosen words, but had also prepared a rose-petal strewn beach-aisle for the betrothed couple to walk down.




Then, there they stood. Pete and Jill, who have been together for nine years – finally –  exchanging vows on Legian Beach in Bali. I couldn’t have been more thrilled for my baby sister. I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

A beautiful beach wedding

A beautiful beach wedding

Kim, the celebrant, officiates

Kim, the celebrant, officiates

Married in a heart of flowers

Married in a heart of flowers

Jill's son Jesper on stand-by with the rings

Jill’s son Jesper on stand-by with the rings

Jill's daughter, Charlie, was the perfect bridesmaid

Jill’s daughter, Charlie, was the perfect bridesmaid

During the vows, the bride got a tad teary...

During the vows, tears of joy…

Now THAT'S the look of love..

The look of love…

Sealed with a kiss...

Sealed with a kiss…

The happy couple were showered with rose petals as they walked back up the aisle...

The happy couple was showered with rose petals as they walked back up the aisle…

All back to Kudeta to celebrate!

All back to Kudeta to celebrate!

The wedding party!

The wedding party.

Just after the group photo, Jill announced it was time to throw the bouquet, so the youngest of the wedding party raced onto the beach to battle it out.

The battle for the bouquet

The battle for the bouquet



Ronnie with her bouquet

Ronnie with her bouquet

That’s my girl!! Yep, our daughter Ronnie beat the others to the bouquet. Which surely means I can look forward to another Bali wedding?

Then it was time for drinks and dinner. Although sadly I must have put a greasy finger on the camera photo lens at some point, making for slightly blurry pics… oops!

Cathy, Julie and Greg

Cathy, Julie and Greg

Sam and Aki

Sam and Aki

Kim, the celebrant, even hung around for a beer

Kim, the celebrant, even hung around for a beer

And let’s not forget it was also Jill’s birthday. So yes, there was cake.

Happy birthday Jilly!

Happy birthday Jill!


Pete and Jill have been together for nine years, so we’ve waited some time for this wedding. But it was definitely meant to be. From the beginning, their relationship has faced some tough challenges – trials you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. That they’ve managed to see these through just made this day an even greater cause for celebration.

Not long after they met at a bayside pub on a Sunday night just before Christmas, Pete headed off to the UK for business for two months. Smitten, he phoned her every morning and every night the entire time he was away. Both agree it was a wonderful way to really get to know each other and cement their connection through conversations that went for hours. Pete racked up a phone bill of more than four thousand dollars.

Then six weeks after Pete returned home, they met with some friends at a local pub. Pete had planned to take Jill on a date that night. As he was riding his motorbike, he told her he would go home and get changed, then return in an hour in his car to pick her up.

He didn’t show.

As time passed, Jill became really annoyed, believing he’d stood her up.

Her mobile phone rang. A man said he was calling from the Alfred Hospital and that Pete had had an accident and was asking for her. Initially, Jill thought it was a bad joke by one of Pete’s friends and told the man to get stuffed. Eventually he convinced her it was true and Jill took a taxi to the hospital.

Sadly, it wasn’t a joke. It was deadly serious. Pete had been hit by a four-wheel drive and knocked off his bike at a major intersection. The car had run a red light. Pete had nearly been killed.

Jill took one look at Pete, his body swollen and bloodied face, as he lay on a hospital bed and she fainted on the spot. He’d lost part of his bottom lip, nearly lost an eye, had two broken legs and a broken arm. He’d also suffered a head injury and was transferred to the  Epworth Hospital where he remained for two months. He was then back at the Alfred and in hospital for a whole year, mostly in a wheel chair.

Jill says most of Pete’s friends visited at the beginning but then the visits became fewer and fewer until he pretty much lost most of his friends. But Jilly remained steadfast and never gave up hope that he’d recover and that they would be able to share a life together. And they have.

Pete has never had kids of his own and has also been a wonderful stepfather to Charlie and Jesper.

Jill was thrilled with the wedding day but says if she’d known, she wouldn’t have worn black. And she might have put on a bit of make-up. But overall, the surprise made it such a special and over-whelming day, she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Congratulations to my beautiful sister Jill and my wonderful new brother-in-law, Pete.

The Newly-weds the next day

The Newly-weds the next day


(P.S. If you’re thinking of staging a Bali wedding and would like to get in touch with Kim, he has a website at


Bali dreaming… time to get away.

I’ve been dreaming about this for some time… returning to one of my favourite places on earth – BALI.



And now finally, the day has arrived. I’m just about to finish some last minute packing, hop in the shower and jump on a plane tonight with the kids. Sadly, Fletch has to stay home to continue working on Neighbours, but hey, I’m lucky enough to have my sister, Jill, and several friends heading over to paradise as well, so I won’t be short of company.

But I thought I should warn you this time. Last year when I went on holidays, (to the U.S., last July) I fully intended to Blog every day about stuff, but then found it all too much. Every day I would chastise myself for being slack and every day I would vow to tap something out, but time slipped by and it never happened. Eventually I just gave up. Happily, I must add. I mean, why take a holiday, really, if you’re not going to have a rest? And I did write two summary travel Blogs once I got home.

The problem is, I really do love writing, so I may WANT to Blog. Or not. Which is why I’m saying – there may be a BIG gap between entries – but I’m just not going to commit to anything. At least this time you’ll know why.

Given the crew I’ll be hanging out with, no doubt there will be plenty of stories to tell and I always enjoy sharing travel tips, so let’s see.

Me wearing a neck brace

Me wearing a neck brace


At least one piece of travelling advice from our last trip has been taken on board by our son, Tom. He saw how much I benefitted last year from taking a neck brace on planes when travelling long haul economy. It’s the BEST way to keep the head stable and be able to nod off and have a solid nap without waking, feeling like your first stop off the plane has to be at the chiropractors. They really are SO much more effective than those useless travel pillows sold at airports. And they’re only about $10-$15 each. So now Tom and I will be sporting matching neck braces for the journey!


Don’t worry, I won’t wear it by the beach. The sand’s a good enough cushion for me when lying horizontal. And if you’re wondering about the weird colours with that pic above, it’s because I finally found a solution to publishing crap photos of myself. Edit the bejeezus out of it with colour distortion and it hides a multitude of sins. Perfect.

Now, if only I could do that to my body when I’m on the beach…

Farewell for now. Bali, here we come!

Bali sunset

Bali sunset


Searching for Skin Care’s Holy Grail by Carolyn Palliardi

Fourteen years ago while breastfeeding my son I witnessed what I thought was a miracle. Well, yes, my son was a miracle but that is another story for another time.

In the early days when he couldn’t control his arms, he’d often scratch himself on his face –   his tiny, perfect nails leaving teeny, weeny scratches. By the next breast-feed this barely obvious wound would be completely gone, like it had never happened!



If I hadn’t been so absorbed in his every waking moment, I may have blinked and missed it. I remember thinking to myself, ‘If you could bottle what was in breast milk you would have the holly grail of face creams.’

Today, I’m still as passionate about discovering all things new and wonderful, as I was when I was the long-standing beauty editor of Victoria’s biggest selling newspaper and its’ colour magazine.

So while researching for my new grooming products business, I’d often be distracted by a link or site, which would lead me to the most amazing places. Six months ago a new product was being promoted through some American doctor’s vitamin newsletter. I clicked, followed the link and couldn’t believe my eyes.




I swear I have finally stumbled upon the Holly Grail of skin creams. A cream made with colostrum simply called theCream.

For those of you that don’t know, Colostrum is the first secretion from the mammary glands after giving birth, known as foremilk and it is very rich in antibodies. The literature and studies on it’s miraculous benefits are endless and worth a read when you get the chance. The list of ailments it’s said to cure is even too long for this short blog.



Now the company that makes theCream gets its colostrum from New Zealand cows. In fact, the creator Denie Hiestand was once a successful New Zealand dairy farmer.

It is said that bovine colostrum is the universal donor and New Zealand grass-fed bovine colostrum is recognized as even more powerful than human colostrum.

I always knew I could perform miracles...

I always knew I could perform miracles…

One of the great things they say on the company literature is that they don’t have to kill or hurt any cows to obtain it. It is produced every year voluntarily after calving by happy New Zealand cows. It the ultimate renewable health resource.

I love this quote on their advertising as it resonates with my beliefs. ‘We use “quantum physics” and energy field concepts to create the most bio-active, natural beauty cream. We don’t use water as a base. Everything is built around Colostrum as the main active ingredient.” In fact 75 percent of the cream is pure colostrum and the rest is natural. See the list of ingredients below:

  • Coconut/Palm
  • MSM
  • Tocotrienol Vitamin E is a long chain molecular complex from Rice Bran oil.
  • Organic Aloe Vera
  • Sea Meadow Foam Oil
  • Apricot Oil
  • Emu Oil
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Hemp Seed Oil
  • Silica
  • Organic Bentonite Clay
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Colloidal Silver
  • Blueberry Seed Oil
  • Orange Peel and Vanilla Oils
 theCream for men

theCream for men


And the good news is that theCream is not only for women. There’s a men’s version too which has a slightly different formula due to the thickness of male skin.

There are some wonderful claims on the website (no I haven’t tested them all just yet!) but I highly recommend you check them out – especially as this cream might also improve everything from your sex life to the gums in your mouth.

I’ve been using this cream for six months and I’m a convert. I love the way it feels, makes my skin look and improves my energy. I occasionally alternate it with the snail cream I bought a month ago because I couldn’t help myself as the idea of snail slime in skin cream got those journalistic desires flowing again. But that story is for my next post.



If you’d like to know more about this product, which you can buy online for $59.95 US, visit this website:

(Carolyn will be back with another guest blog in a couple of weeks. Thanks Carolyn!!)



Who will be my first Guest Blogger?

So here comes the next phase in the life of this Blog – and I couldn’t be happier! Time to ramp things up a notch and bring you stories from Guest Bloggers – sources who are far more qualified than me about particular topics.

My first Guest Blogger, former beauty and fashion editor at the Herald Sun, Carolyn Palliardi, will be posting her first story tomorrow. And it’s (excuse the pun…couldn’t resist) a BEAUTY!! Yep, Carolyn has discovered the HOLY GRAIL of skin care creams and you’ll find out all about it tomorrow.

Co-founder 808 Dude - Carolyn Palliardi

Co-founder 808 Dude – Carolyn Palliardi

The Best Beauty Products Tried and Tested

The Best Beauty Products Tried and Tested

You may remember reading about Carolyn in a Blog I posted last week, introducing you to her new range of grooming products for teen boys – 808 Dude. Carolyn continues to work as a freelance writer and her fascination and knowledge of beauty products is endless – whereas mine is more skin-deep… She is also the co-author of the book The Best Beauty Products, Tried and Tested.



Not only will you benefit from Carolyn’s expertise, her contribution will give me more time to pursue my other writing projects – including a film script – more about which I will share with you in the near future.

Welcome Carolyn, to the team at The Official Website of Jennifer Hansen!




Who was the Greatest Gatsby?

Did the weekend slip on by and you still didn’t get around to seeing THE GREAT GATSBY? If you haven’t already, this really is one movie you MUST try to see on the big screen. It’s such a visual feast, you won’t be able to savour its full aesthetic glory on a smaller screen once it disappears. While its’ success means GATSBY is likely to be on at the cinemas for a while, you don’t want to risk missing out.

Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

There’s been much debate as to whether Baz Lurhmann’s latest offering is ‘all style and no substance’, or whether it’s a work of genius. I’d say it’s somewhere in-between. Largely because I’m such a huge fan of the book. Having studied it at an academic level, I’m very familiar with all the famous lines and phrases so anything short of perfect is going to be difficult to judge. Other critics roll their eyes at people like me and bemoan the fact that being old-fashioned traditionalists, we can’t truly appreciate Luhrmann’s masterpiece.

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

I disagree. I absolutely adore Luhrmann’s visual interpretation. The fast-sweeping camera-shots, the pace, the music, the colour and energy that bounce off the screen is infectious. The parties are so uplifting and sumptuous, you just want to dive right on in to that screen and soak it up for real.
Of course, Luhrmann’s wife and production designer of the film, Catherine Martin must take enormous credit for her vision and styling. In one word – superb.

But there were a few niggling issues for me that stood in the way of perfection. At the beginning of the movie, there’s a scene where the character Nick Carraway is pouring his heart out to a psychiatrist, played by Jack Thompson. This was not in the original book by F.Scott Fitzgerald. And for me, it does not sit well with the character of Nick, who is the only stable and reliable character in the entire story. He’s NOT the sort of person to spiral into a mental wilderness from his experience. As the book’s narrator, he is a man reflecting on the gorgeousness of Gatsby; a man who has a fond admiration and fascination for this enigmatic character who invested so much in his dream. So no, I did not believe Nick would end up wild-eyed in a shrink’s office.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan

The other annoyance was the number of times Gatsby rolls out the phrase, ‘old sport’ in the film. We KNOW Gatsby loves to use the term as a way of trying to appear up there with the upper echelons of society, but it’s over-use in the film meant I felt like saying ‘GOT IT’ every time Leonardo uttered the phrase. It took me out of the moment.

Leonardo DiCaprio is indeed charming as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan gives a fine performance as Daisy. But they’re not the first actors to take up the daunting challenge of trying to bring to life some of the literary world’s most famous characters.

The first Great Gatsby from 1926

The first Great Gatsby from 1926


Apparently there was a silent movie version of The Great Gatsby, made in 1926, directed by George Cukor – starring Warner Baxter and Lois Wilson.


The Great Gatsby starring Alan Ladd

The Great Gatsby starring Alan Ladd



Then a second film came out in 1949, starring Alan Ladd as Gatsby and Betty Field as Daisy.  Released by Paramount Pictures, this one was directed by Elliot Nugent and produced by  Richard Maibaum.




The 1974 version of The Great Gatsby

The 1974 version of The Great Gatsby


The third version, and most famous before now, starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Released in 1974, that film also had its detractors but was hugely popular, even making front page of Time Magazine. At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, this is my favourite. The chemistry between Redford and Farrow is palpable – something I found a tad lacking between DiCaprio and Mulligan. Okay, yes, I confess, I am a Robert Redford tragic, so I am perhaps a little biased. But I also loved Sam Waterson playing Nick Carraway in this version. AND the script was written by Francis Ford Coppola, which speaks volumes.


But the 1974 Gatsby was slated for being too slow and uninspiring – something you could never say about Luhrmann’s version. Again, I repeat, despite my niggling criticisms, Luhrmann’s is a film you really must see. I am definitely going to see it again.

There were also two version of The Great Gatsby made for TV in 2000 and 2002, but they had little impact.

I suggest you see The Great Gatsby as soon as possible. Then head to the DVD store and borrow the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and compare the two. Let me know what you think. Who WAS the greatest Gatsby? DiCaprio or Redford? Leo has a twinkle in the eye, but for me, Robert carries the cool charisma essential to the character that IS Gatsby, to another level.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford




Why Mal Brough Still Needs to Stand Down

It’s all a bit sad, really, when you look at the state of politics in Australia right now. A re-hashed sexist joke on a menu is making headlines around the world, and our politicians have become a laughing stock. Whichever story you believe – and there’s a dizzying amount of side-stepping and reversing on facts about MENU-GATE – the simple fact remains – that Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough should step down.

Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough

Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough

Regardless of whether the Julia Gillard MENU MONSTROSITY was actually on tables on the night of a fundraiser for Mal Brough, or not – the shameful fact is, that the rest of the world believes it was.

Just check online and you’ll see. It’s all over The Guardian and the BBC in the UK, The Huffington Post in the US, The India Times and in Canada. Makes you proud to be Australian, doesn’t it?

The 'alleged' fundraiser menu

The ‘alleged’ fundraiser menu

Just in case you haven’t read about it by now, the menu designed for this Liberal National Party fundraiser listed one dish as  “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail Small Breasts, Huge Thighs, and a Big Red Box”. Hilary Clinton copped a similarly crude Kentucky joke back in 1993 – except hers also included a line about taxes. It’s downright revolting.


The big question for me is why was Mal Brough apologising for the menu yesterday morning – denouncing it as ‘offensive and inappropriate’ – but then took another TEN hours to bring the restaurant owner into the scandal to claim the menu was never distributed on the night? Why didn’t Mal say that in the first place? The public can’t help but help question his credibility when such a time difference smacks of slamming the gate shut after the chicken has flown the coop? What kind of representative of the people will he be if he can’t manage a crisis and stop a tsunami of global outrage?

It was also the words he used to describe the ‘incident’ that were offensive. That the person who wrote the menu thought it was ‘humorous’ and ‘didn’t mean any harm by it’ massively downplays the seriousness of the offence. It shows support for the ‘Boys Club’ mentality, where it’s just considered a bit of fun and a joke to denigrate women and their body parts. Guys, really? Yes, we have breasts and vaginas and you have penises and back-hair, but can we stop laughing about it, get dressed, grow a brain and get back to work?

Regardless of your political persuasion, it should also be regarded as highly offensive to insult the head of our country – OUR PRIME MINISTER – in such a disgusting and sexist manner.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The Prime Minister says the Opposition should dump Mr Brough as the candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher, over what she describes as a ‘grossly sexist and offensive’ fundraising menu. I’m not sure whether she’ll change her tune after hearing the restaurateur’s side of the story, but again, he spoke up just a little too late. Let’s get with the program guys – we all understand social networking, don’t we?

Even if the restaurateur’s story is true, many voters won’t buy it. To prove otherwise, Mal needs to hold a media conference with all guests who attended the function, swearing under oath that the menus were never sighted. And that will never happen. So Mal Brough, whether he likes it or not, has just served Labor a gold-coated ten-metre high croquembouche on a giant platter.

Christ, even former prime minister Kevin Rudd, for once, is publicly standing by his leader. At last, a small show of unity and respect, although no doubt the on-going and damaging rumours about a threat to Ms Gillard’s leadership will continue.

Like Mr Rudd, I’m highly sceptical of Mr Brough’s ignorance. ‘He knew what he was doing, he got sprung, he got found out, and now he’s trying to run a million miles away,’ said Kev.

What’s even more surprising is that Tony Abbott is standing by his man. He’s condemned the menu but says it shouldn’t cast any doubt on Mr Brough’s preselection for Fisher. REALLY? Really, Tony?

Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough

Liberal National Party candidate Mal Brough

C’mon… Surely Tony must want to kick Mr Brough’s posterior from here to the furthest soup kitchen in Kentucky? His handling of the affair just gave Ms Gillard more ammunition to let the world know (again) what a sexist party Mr Abbott is leading. She described the menu debacle as following a ‘pattern’ from the Liberal Party.

‘Mr Abbott’s solution to this pattern of behaviour is not to show any leadership. I mean, he’s effectively stood by Mr Brough,’ she said.

There’s been strong condemnation of Joel Madden being busted with five grams of marijuana in his hotel. Not smart, but at least he had the decency to keep his misdemeanours behind closed doors.

Now there’s a scary thought. What would the cops find if they raided Mal’s place? I’m not suggesting a drugs scandal, but they might just uncover an ancient box set of ‘The Benny Hill Show’ lying next to the ‘Dummies Guide to Politics’.


Taking the Stink out of Adolescence

If you have teenage boys, you might be looking for SOMETHING to help teach them about personal grooming and hygiene. Something that will stem the growing stench, something  that isn’t too sissy and won’t give them man-boobs. (Yep, there are serious links between parabens in deodorant and man boobs!!)

Co-founder of the 808 Dude range, Carolyn Palliardi, says the inspiration  for her new grooming products for teen boys stemmed from her desire to give her kids toiletries that were good for their health and not packed with damaging chemicals. Co-author of the book ‘The Best Beauty Products Tried and Tested’, this journalist and TV presenter really knows what she’s talking about. Carolyn is also the former fashion and beauty editor at the Sunday Herald Sun.

Co-founder 808 Dude - Carolyn Palliardi

Co-founder 808 Dude – Carolyn Palliardi

The first name for the range was originally plain old ‘Dude’, because, as Carolyn says, it’s a word that’s used by teen boys all the time and one they can relate to. ‘Of course we wanted to trademark it and we couldn’t, so we had to think outside the box. I couldn’t think of another word to link it to, so started looking at numbers. 808 came up and it means disturbing the peace in America, so it has a rebellious feel to it. It’s also the name of a drum machine, so we thought it was cool enough for the boys to relate to.’

Mum to Emmanuel, aged 14 and 10-year-old Chloe, Carolyn initially came across a gap in the market for teen boys when her son was preparing for his first school camp. ‘He needed a deodorant and wanted me to buy him a well-known brand that’s particularly stinky and is marketed towards young men. Having a passion for fashion and beauty writing, plus a curiosity about products, I found it really hard giving my son – at his young age – products that were so chemically related.’

Carolyn is a firm believer in the theory that what we put ON our bodies and skin, really does affect our health. ‘There was absolutely nothing on the market for him that was suitable. Especially in that growing phase when there’s changes in the body. There were some natural products – tea-tree oil based – but they stank so much you couldn’t get kids to wear that. So one day I suggested to a girlfriend we make our own and she agreed and that’s how it all started.’

After two and a half years of hard work, Carolyn’s product was born and is now on the market. There’s a deodorant, a shampoo and body wash, plus a skincare product called ‘808 Dude Zit Wash’. All very teen friendly names on these babies! There are more products in the pipeline, including products for teen girls, plus a ‘Camp Pack’ for parents to give kids to take on school trips.

808 Dude Teen Grooming Products

808 Dude Teen Grooming Products

The stand-out bonus about 808 Dude products is that they’re completely free of petrochemicals, parabens and sulphates. Parabens in particular are a cause for concern, having proven to be linked to hormonal and carcinogenic side-effects. ‘The whole idea is to come up with a range that gives a healthy alternative to everything else on the market,’ said Carolyn.

‘There are studies that show links between parabens and oestrogen which lead to breast cancer in girls and cause boy-boobs in young men. So that’s causing hormonal changes and I think it’s better to be safe than sorry,’ she warned.

808 Dude Deoderant

808 Dude Deoderant


Makes you wonder why the major pharmaceutical companies aren’t making changes to their products, I ask? ‘Well, there’s so much money being made by these brands and they don’t really care,’ said Carolyn. ‘We are actually a really expensive brand to produce because ours contain active essential oils and our packaging is made here in Australia. But I don’t want to compromise on quality.’



808 Dude deodorant  is top-grade organic, although surprisingly, that’s one factor that doesn’t rate on the packaging. Carolyn says that’s because ‘organic’ doesn’t appeal to teen males. (i.e. – boys reckon all that organic stuff is WAY too daggy and hippie) That also explains why the graphics pack a punch with graffiti style artwork rather than a peace-love-and-harmony theme.

808 Dude Shampoo and Body Wash

808 Dude Shampoo and Body Wash

‘The face wash and shampoo contain essential oils and there’s also organic guarana and ginseng. The ginseng in the face wash actually balances oil production and it smells amazing. And there’s sandalwood and patchouli in the shampoo, which is lovely.’ Carolyn says she’s delighted that Emmanuel now uses the products regularly and hoards them in his room so no one else can use them.

‘It makes such a difference when he walks into the room after a shower,’ she said, smiling. ‘Chloe and I can really smell the difference. If he’s used a big-name brand, Chloe says, “Oh God, you stink!” So the positive reinforcement we’ve given him about 808 Dude has really boosted his confidence.’


The reason the shampoo and body wash are an all-in-one product comes down to the teen boys mentality about personal grooming. ‘When teen boys shower, they don’t want to think. They don’t want to have to choose between a shampoo and a body wash, they just grab anything. The essential oils are also good for lifting the spirits and energy, so they have a positive effect without them even knowing.’ Clever!

Great to hear that 808 Dude is taking off already. The deodorant is selling out on the website ‘Nourished Life’

and it’s just been listed on-line at Chemists Direct

and at Pharmacy On-Line.

808 Dude Zit Wash

808 Dude Zit Wash

Plus there’s plenty of smaller health stores and pharmacies stocking the brand, supported by parents wanting to give their teen kids a healthy option to the big-name brands in supermarkets. ‘It’s a no brainer of a choice really,’ said Carolyn. ‘It’s between something with chemicals or something that works with natural and organic ingredients. I want to spread the word to parents of boys in particular, that this is really important.’

‘There isn’t a teen range for boys anywhere else in the world. Boys have now grown up with their dads using products, so it’s a natural step for them, but there hasn’t been anything before now they can use.’


And while Carolyn still works as a freelance corporate editor and takes on personal styling jobs, she may have to let those gigs slide in the near future with 808 Dude going from strength to strength. Which is to be expected, really. I mean, what parent doesn’t want the best for their kids? Now, if only someone could come up with a product that will make boys pick up socks from their floor…


P.S. Just for the record, my teen son, Tom, has also road-tested the range and is now a convert. It really does smell fantastic!



A Winter Wonderland – Partying in the snow at Riva

Being the long weekend, I decided to take a day off like everyone else. Instead of slaving over an opinion piece, I thought I’d relax and put up a picture essay instead. And that’s because Fletch did all the hard work, taking shots at the Riva Snow Party last night and they’ve come up a treat.

Full credit to Riva owner Drewe Bellmaine who organised a brilliant night. Using a wonderful collection of props, he created a magical winter wonderland with REAL snow from snow machines, inflatable igloos, giant snowmen and icy cocktails – all making for a sensational party. Guests dressed appropriately in ski gear and there were also a couple of snow bunnies hopping about. Just like being in Aspen without having to go anywhere. Take a peek!

Riva owner Drewe Bellmaine (centre) and mates

Riva owner Drewe Bellmaine (centre) and mates

An ice-filled fountain - the perfect way to keep your beer chilled...

An ice-filled fountain – the perfect way to keep your beer chilled…

Fletch, Ross Wilson, Kasia Z, me, Seph McKenna and Tania Gogos-Wilson

Fletch, Ross Wilson, Kasia Z, me, Seph McKenna and Tania Gogos-Wilson huddle up to stay warm…

We danced under a giant disco ball and a flurry of real snow...

Then we danced under a giant disco ball and a flurry of real snow…

Nick Gianoppolous, Jessica Barclay and Hayden Burbank

Nick Giannopoulos, Jessica Barclay and Hayden Burbank enjoyed the cocktails…

Wilbur Wilde was seriously impressed by the giant disco ball...

While Wilbur Wilde was seriously impressed by the giant disco ball…

Riva owner Drewe Bellmaine (centre) had no trouble keeping warm...

Riva owner Drewe Bellmaine (centre) had no trouble keeping warm…

A reindeer family watched on, fascinated...

A reindeer family watched on, fascinated…

Matching snow bunnies

There were even matching snow bunnies…

Amanda and Francine Mazzeo, owner of DQ Vodka

Amanda and Francine Mazzeo, owner of DQ Vodka help keep the cocktails flowing…

DQ Vodka model Tegan Nixon

As did DQ Vodka model Tegan Nixon…

Loving Jason's glitter-ball helmet reflecting the sparkling lights decorating the palm trees

I fell in love with Jason’s glitter-ball helmet reflecting the blue sparkling lights…

Rachel and Katelyn Watkins

Rachel and Katelyn Watkins kept warm with ear muffs and gloves…

Nick Giannopoulos, me and Seph McKenna

Expresso martinis went down well for Nick Giannopoulos, myself and Seph McKenna…

Hayden Burbank (far right) and friends

While Hayden Burbank (far right) and friends tucked in to the blue daiquiris…

Me and my photographer, Fletch

Big thanks to my photographer and ski instructor Fletch and Frosty!

So you can see why I needed a day off. That was one helluva weekend…


Social Pages – Why Crowds Flocked to the Stand In My Shoes event

An event highlight this week was most definitely the launch of the STAND IN MY SHOES project at the glamorous White House venue in St Kilda.

This is an extraordinary initiative because it isn’t asking people to necessarily donate or do anything that’s completely tangible – but rather, to tackle a problem that is more to do with a mind-set and attitude in our global community. It’s all about…                                                               

Empathy was everywhere - and in this hat, designed by milliner Danica Erard (not pictured)

Empathy was everywhere – and in this hat, designed by milliner Danica Erard (not pictured)                PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci


… or rather, the lack of it. So a large number of the social set put their best feet forward to support three filmmakers in creating awareness about the EMPATHY DEFICIT in society and how we can tackle the problem.

The three women who started the movement witnessed a young boy being hit by a car in Los Angeles and were struck by the fact that no one stopped to help. They did. This compelled them to look closely at the problems that stem from, what President Obama calls, ‘the empathy deficit.’



Vivienne Somers (Executive Producer), Anjali Rao (MC), Anna Reeves (Executive Producer) and Susan Schultz (Director of US Public Affairs)

Founder Vivienne Somers (Executive Producer) with Anjali Rao (MC),  Founder Anna Reeves (Executive Producer) and Susan Schultz (Director of US Public Affairs)                              PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Apparently it’s an issue that’s even been studied by scientists who are concerned that we are experiencing the most rapidly declining rates of empathy in society in the past ten years.

It’s also costing us bucket loads. In the US, workplace bullying – experienced by about 49% of workers – costs a whopping $300 BILLION a year. And in Australia, the figure is about $36 billion. See, it pays to be nice!

Packed to the rafters with support

Packed to the rafters with support            PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

It’s an issue that obviously struck a chord with Melbourne’s movers and shakers, because you could barely move in the White House on the night, with so many wanting to be there and show their support. People WANT to stop the empathy decline.



By making a movie and harnessing the power of social media, STAND IN MY SHOES hopes to restore the collective ’empathy chip’.  The women say their movie is not just a film. It’s a ‘Global Empathy Moviement’ that will empower voices to advocate empathy – which they see as a transformative  tool for social change.

They’ve garnered support from some huge names globally, too. There’s the TIME’S Most Influential Baby Boomer, Marianne Williamson, David Jones, CEO Havas Worldwide, Oprah’s OWN Network, media giant Arianna Huffington, neuroscientist Professor Bill Mobley and social entrepreneur advocate Bill Drayton.

Here’s a snapshot from the Melbourne event.

Actors Nathan Phillips and John Jarratt   PICTURE: Anthony Licuria

Actors Nathan Phillips and John Jarratt PICTURE: Anthony Licuria

Lou Mitchell and Pia Miller   PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Lou Mitchell and Pia Miller        PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci










Bree Laughlin and actor Nathan Phillips     PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Bree Laughlin and actor Nathan Phillips                         PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Fletch and me   PICTURE: Anthony Licuira

Fletch and me                          PICTURE: Anthony Licuira










Sisko chocolate hand-crafted treats for the event PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Sisko chocolate hand-crafted treats for the event
PICTURE: Rosanna Faraci

Photographer Rosanna Faraci among the crowd   PICTURE: Jim Lee

Photographer Rosanna Faraci among the crowd                                    PICTURE: Jim Lee

My 'TOMS' shoes

My ‘TOMS’ shoes

Oh, and each guest was given a goodie bag at the end of the night with a special gift – AND IN THE RIGHT SIZE – a pair of TOMS shoes. I LOVE my striped pair – SO comfy. Plus, every time you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, they donate a pair to a child in need. Bloody fabulous. You should get some. Find out how at


If you’d like to know more about the STAND IN MY SHOES movie project and how you can help, check out their website at




Tips for putting on a Riot-free 18th Party

Ronnie all set for her 18th birthday

Ronnie all set for her 18th birthday

Our daughter, Veronica, recently turned 18. (Yes, yes, of course I was a child bride…) And while her birthdays have been cause for much celebration over the years, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to this one.

It’s not that I was worried about Ronnie. As I wrote in a Blog not so long ago, her Saffy-like tendancies mean she doesn’t drink alcohol nor did she plan to on her 18th. But she DID want a party. And these days, an 18th is a seriously tricky event.

Particularly because Corey Worthington wrecked the plans of millions of teenagers when he held that impromptu party at his parent’s home while they were away… You know the rest. About 500 feral youths trashed his home and the neighbourhood.

So forevermore, parents will be haunted by that story, fearing the worst when their own offspring plan an 18th celebration. Like me.

The biggest issue is alcohol. Whoever is celebrating their 18th, will no doubt have many guests who aren’t yet at the legal drinking age. So how can you, as a parent, monitor who is and who is not allowed to drink grog at a party? The laws have changed, so that if you are found to be serving a minor alcohol, (including those with fake ID) you can be fined or/and potentially sued. Even if the party is in your own home…

My biggest tip for parents of younger teenagers, is to start talking about the fact that you WON’T be throwing a party for their 18th NOW. Get in early. It’s just TOO damn hard. Give them money, send them on a holiday, buy them a car – just DON’T hold a party. Here’s why.

For starters, it’s impossible to find a venue. If you don’t want to hold the party in your own home – and who would with the threat of social networking sending a locust swarm of rampaging youths to your house within minutes – then good luck trying to find a place that will. We rang restaurants, function venues, the council and even the local RSL. While our initial enquiries were warmly received, as soon as I mentioned the dreaded birthday age number – EIGHTEEN – the phone line went dead. No one wants to take the risk.

In our case, we got lucky. We booked a local church hall and paid the deposit before one of the senior vestry members rang me, spluttering with concern, that we were staging a… SHOCK, HORROR – 18th!!! Turns out there’d been some miscommunication along the way and the lovely lady who took our booking, had no idea 18th birthdays were considered such a dangerous risk. As we had paid our deposit and sent out invitations, the booking had to be honoured. Lucky us.

Ronnie with some of her guests arriving at the party

Ronnie with some of her guests arriving at the party

Then there’s a myriad of organisational tasks ahead. Here’s a quick checklist that might help:

1. Notify your local police about the party with the necessary details.

2. If you can afford it, hire a couple of security guards as an extra precaution against gatecrashers. We decided not to take any chances and did.

3. Have a thorough guest list and make sure those invited know they are not allowed to bring along uninvited friends.

4. Make sure there’s plenty of bottled water and soft drink available, as well as alcohol. And food!

5. Rather than alco-pop bottled drinks – favoured by lots of girls – organise a slurpy machine so you can add you own alcohol. It’s cheaper, plus you only need add a very small amount of grog to help prevent anyone over-indulging. (sneaky, huh?)

6.  Organise wristbands for those that CAN drink alcohol to help bar staff or friends serving beverages, to keep it legal.

7. Call on family and friends to help on the night. The more back up you have, the better.

Our door staff, checking off names included son Tom (centre) and my niece, Charlie. (right)

Our door staff, checking off names included son Tom (centre) and my niece, Charlie. (right)

Relegated to the kitchen

Relegated to the kitchen


8. Save money on a tiered birthday-cake display. Popular cupcake stores often hire out cake stands for $30 a pop. Buy your own on-line for between $30 and $50 and you’ll have one for keeps. I bought the Giant Cupcake on the top but then saved money by making the actual cupcakes. Okay, I ‘fess up – I used packet mix from the supermarket – but still a helluva lot cheaper than the cake shop versions. The pale lilac icing was challenging… Try mixing blue and red food colouring, but go easy on the blue.



Table hockey

Table hockey


9. Organise as many games and activities as possible to distract the party crowd from grog being the focus. Fletch was a star and sorted Table Hockey and Foosball machines that were really popular – especially earlier on before the mob worked up the courage to hit the dance floor.





The photo booth was a winner!

The photo booth was a winner!

10. Hire a Photo Booth. This was the BIGGEST hit on the night. Again, this genius idea came from Fletch, who sourced ours from the Australian Photo Booth Company. They also provide an assistant to help, plus a range of goofy hats, glasses and fancy dress paraphernalia to give endless hours of dress-up entertainment.


Photo booth practice

Photo booth practice


Doubles are made of all the photos, so that copies can be put into an album for the birthday person at the end of the night – a fantastic momento from the evening. Even better, it arrived earlier in the day, giving our family loads of laughs taking practice shots before the party. I even managed to get in a bunny-ears shot with Ronnie. Which is just as well, because I wasn’t allowed in the main party room on the night unless I was bearing food… (Mothers are SO embarrassing.)


Ronnie and Bec

Ronnie and Bec

Ronnie, Tom and Ruby

Ronnie, Tom and Ruby










11. Book a GOOD DJ. I had no idea about DJs, but after talking to my niece Charlie, who knows far more about teen parties than me, I learnt there are plenty of local types who don’t cost a bomb but do a great job. So I took her advice, (about who was the most popular on the scene in our area) and it worked a treat. Again, more dancing means less drinking.

The DJ kept the dance floor packed

The DJ kept the dance floor packed

Not a Corey in sight...

Not a Corey in sight…


12. Worry less. You’d be surprised how well behaved our teenagers are. It’s quite shocking, really. No one vomited, no one threw any punches and I didn’t even see ONE messy drunk. Although that could be because I wasn’t allowed in the room much…


Photo booth snogging

Photo booth snogging

In fact, the most risqué behaviour I came across was when I flicked through the photo booth shots the next day. There WAS a little bit of random booth snogging… (Thank God – they ARE normal.)

And even though I DID worry too much, and Fletch and I worked our butts off cleaning up that messy hall with the help of my Mum and step-father, Ken, till TWO THIRTY in the morning, there was THAT smile on the face of our gorgeous daughter all night that made it completely worthwhile. In a word – incandescent.

The smile that made it all worthwhile

The smile that made it all worthwhile – Ronnie with her pal, Sunjuri