So you want to live in a Penthouse? Interior design with knockout style.

Toni Giannarelli in her new apartment

Toni Giannarelli in her new apartment

Ever thought about ditching your house and that high-maintenance garden for the simplicity of inner-city apartment living? Interior decorator Toni Giannarelli wanted such a change and moved into her stunning Freshwater apartment in Melbourne a little more than a year ago.



It’s a spacious penthouse with floor-to-ceiling-windows in almost every room, offering breath-taking views of Melbourne and the city’s iconic landmarks.

A spacious living room

A spacious living room

Look one way and there’s all of Flinders Street and Federation Square…

A Melbourne perspective

A Melbourne perspective

…then to your right and there’s Rod Laver Arena, the MCG and grand old Government House.

Government House and the MCG

Government House, Rod Laver Arena and the MCG

It’s a stylish, fresh, modern interior which uses light tones, mirrors, silver and chrome to achieve its look of Hollywood glamour. But it wasn’t always the way. When Toni first moved in, the apartment walls were painted in dark colours, so she had it all re-done.

‘I wanted white to open up the place,’ said Toni ‘And the mirrors everywhere open it up even more. You get angles from the city reflecting in the mirrors which make it look even bigger.’

There’s a wonderful abstract painting of a grand piano in the dining room, which Toni cleverly placed at the opposite wall to the entrance, so you see the painting’s reflection when you first enter the room and can appreciate it again when seated at the table from the opposite direction.

The dining-room - look in the mirror...

The dining-room – look in the mirror…

...It's the Grand Piano painting!

…It’s the Grand Piano painting!

The Hollywood feel is also brought about by the artwork – especially the piece in Toni’s study, based on the most famous female Hollywood icon of them all – Marilyn Monroe.

‘I commissioned the paintings from a friend of mine who owns Tutti Interiors. She has them commissioned by overseas artists who live in colonies,’ said Toni. ‘I just sketched up a few ideas and asked them to base the paintings on these and it worked beautifully.’

The Marilyn painting

The Marilyn painting

Toni in her office

Toni in her office

Toni’s office is a work of art in itself, with a mirrored desk, cordless lamp and monochrome rug.

Similarly, the kitchen is decked out with minimalist trimmings and attention to detail.

The kitchen

The kitchen

In fact, it’s the attention to detail throughout the apartment that gives it its edge. Here are a couple more snaps, which are self-explanatory.

A corner to reflect...

A corner to reflect…

More than just a mirror...

More than just a mirror…






A coffee table with class

A coffee table with class



Corner table

Corner table






Toni’s taste hasn’t always focused on a modern look. Her last home was filled with antique furniture and knick-knacks. ‘Because I had an antique, timber look in my last house, I really wanted to go with a completely different design,’ she said.

‘Something more contemporary. Fresh for Freshwater,’ she said with a laugh. ‘And you can add colour to the room with accessories, like I have in one of my daughter’s rooms with the Missoni cushions. Overall, it’s a minimalist, clean look. It’s great not to have all those ornaments around which were just dust collectors.’

The Missoni edge…

The Missoni edge…

The third bedroom sticks with monochrome tones and again, mirrors to open up the room.

Third bedroom

Third bedroom

Design details

Design details







Toni’s bedroom is likewise bright and breezy, with a wide-screen TV attached high on a structural column.

A breezy bedroom...

A breezy bedroom…

Details I love include Toni’s use of a decorative tray to store and display her perfume collection…

A scent for all seasons...

A scent for all seasons…

…and the elegant chaise lounge lying outside the bathroom entrance, which beckons enticingly.

Lounging about...

Lounging about…

The ensuite itself is as big as the main bathroom.

An all-white bathroom

An all-white bathroom

So how has the change from a home with a garden, to living in an apartment been? Toni describes it as liberating. ‘I love it. There’s less maintenance and I still have a garden on the tenth floor with nearly an acre of land, a pool and BBQ. And there’s the promenade at Southbank. Plus the security gives me peace of mind.’

As I was leaving, I noticed one collectable that came from Toni’s last home that she wasn’t able to give up. It’s an antique clock that was commissioned by the city of Paris for the capital’s annual art show back in 1890. It’s the one designer nod to her past. Given its exceptional beauty, it’s a completely understandable inclusion!

Parisian Antique clock from 1890

Parisian Antique clock from 1890

As for the modern pieces, many were sourced from stores including Missoni Homewares, Kings Furniture, Luxe By Design and Philipp Starck.

If you’d like Toni to help you with any interior design advice, you can phone her on 0420 830 083.




My new job at smoothfm

I’m good at keeping other people’s secrets but not so much my own. Which is why the past few weeks have been difficult – knowing it was likely I’d be starting a new career path very shortly and not being able to tell many people about it.

Thank goodness all was signed and sealed last Friday and then just yesterday, the lovely Luke Dennehy from the Sunday Herald Sun, ran this piece in the Confidential column, explaining all…

Luke Dennehy's piece in the Sunday Herald Sun

Luke Dennehy’s piece in the Sunday Herald Sun

That sent off a wonderful chain of events, resulting in a busy day for myself on Twitter and Facebook and answering all manner of texts and emails. How lucky am I to have so many friends and associates who sent on all those fantastic messages of support! Thank you everyone!

To add to the above article, I would like to say that, yes, it has been great to work on other creative projects over the past few years, but lately I have also been missing that buzz you get from being involved in day-to-day news. So this opportunity at smoothfm couldn’t have come at a better time.

I love the immediacy of radio and the frequency of the updates at Smooth, means I’ll be bringing listeners the most up-to-date information possible. I’ll also be working alongside Mike Perso who’s extremely experienced and I’m sure will help me through my L-plates phase on-air, so that’s very reassuring.

I’m replacing the lovely Pip Mooney, who is leaving to spend more time with her young family and take on a new role as Media and Communications Manager for Lifeview Residential. Good luck, Pip! You’ve left big shoes to fill…

It really feels like this job is ‘meant to be’. My first official day on air will be March 31st which is exactly the same date I started at Ten many years ago, so I think that’s a good omen. I’ve honestly been a Smooth listener for some time now so to be offered a job with them is just fantastic.  I love the music they play and the positive vibe that Smooth generates.

I’m not normally an early morning person, so that will present a few challenges I’m sure, but I’m so excited to be starting this job that, for the first time in my life, I’ll be looking forward to getting up early!

There are also a couple of other bonuses. One – I won’t have to make school lunches anymore. YAY!

No more news hair!!

No more news hair!!

And Two – I won’t have to wear a full-face of heavy make-up and worry about a single strand of hair being out of place while I deliver the news in the morning. Phew.

That doesn’t mean I’ll be any less professional in my news delivery. It’ll just be easier wearing a ponytail!

So tune in on Thursday when Pip is going to guide me through my first on-air radio news delivery and then I’ll be taking over solo from NEXT Monday.

And I’ll keep you updated here with how I’m faring with those early starts… Wish me luck!


Happy International Happiness Day – Unlocking the Happiness Formula

Pharrel Williams song 'Happy'

Pharrel Williams song ‘Happy’

Happiness is everywhere you look right now, isn’t it? And I don’t mean REAL happiness – but as a topic of discussion. It’s the primary focus of the zeitgeist – popping up everywhere in books, films and songs. Just look at Oscar nominee for Best Original song, Pharrell Williams with his catchy ditty, Happy.

“Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy…
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.”

The International Day of Happiness was established by the United Nations General Assembly in June, 2012 and celebrated for the first time last year, with the premise that  ‘Happiness should be provided to every person in the world, no matter what.’

International Day of Happiness

International Day of Happiness 2013

It’s a pretty tall order. How is it even remotely possible for happiness to be provided for EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD???? Dig a bit deeper and you’ll find the United Nations is really hoping every country will get behind the initiative by providing seminars and awareness days that will encourage and generate general happiness.

You see, happiness is no longer just a state of mind. It’s now a bona fide science and moneymaking industry. In the US, there’s a Happiness 1st Institute, an International Society of Happiness Professionals and even a Harvard University Psychology course titled, ‘Happiness 101’.

Unwittingly, I’ve drawn a minor study of the notion of happiness this year by taking on some reading material that focuses on happiness and success. So I thought I’d do my bit for the United Nations by sharing with you a quick summary of three books you might like to take a closer look at.

I’m not one of these New Age types who have a fetish for self-help books, but have found these three books to have practical tips and advice that really can make a difference.

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney

(1) The first book I took on this year, which I’ve discussed briefly in an earlier blog, is WILLPOWER by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney. I was drawn to this title in an airport bookstore while wondering how to conquer my brilliant talent for procrastination. It seemed timely that this popped in to view, so I decided to buy a copy.

This book draws on a vast range of psychology studies and research to illustrate valid points about willpower and how better planning strategies and time management help bring about a less stressful life.

MAIN POINT: Get rid of temptation to achieve success

Life In Half A Second

Life In Half A Second

(2) The second book I tackled is called Life In Half A Second by Matthew Michalewicz. This was sent to me by Michalewicz himself and arrived out of the blue. Again, as a talented procrastinator, I was drawn to the sub-title ‘How to achieve success before it’s too late.’ I was skeptical, but thought I’d scan through it to see if it had any merit. As you can see from the coloured markers, there are plenty of pages I want to return to because of the advice offered.

The best part about this book is that Michalewicz instructs the reader to complete specific tasks at the end of each chapter to ensure you are on the right path.

He defines  ‘Five Doors to Success’ that aim, firstly, to put you in a positive state of mind. Goal-setting and defining targets along the way are also paramount. Here’s an excerpt:

‘By knowing exactly what you want, wanting it badly and believing you can get it, you have primed your mind for success. You have given yourself the absolute best possible chance of achieving your goals. Clarity, desire and belief are working together on your behalf, night and day in your subconscious. You have presented your mind with a tangible, concrete problem: How can I get what I want? How can I achieve my goals?

Your mind is not drifting, wandering: it’s working on this problem non-stop, trying to solve it, trying to make it happen. Every meeting you have, every human interaction, every piece of information you put inside your head is now viewed against the contextual backdrop of your goals. You’re on your way!’

The book is gaining popularity and was also reviewed by Today Tonight. Click the link if you’d like to see more:

MAIN POINT: Write down your goals with a time frame for achievement, focus on them daily and stay positive.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen

(3) The third book was recommended to me by a girlfriend (thanks, Sal!) and is called The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen. I love this book because it doesn’t make any wild proclamations about delivering AMAAAZING results in weeks. In fact, it spouts a message that’s completely the opposite. This book is all about taking lots of small steps every day to achieve your goals and to find happiness.

Like the book Willpower, it also draws on wide-ranging psychological studies and research to prove its point. Of all the books, this one is the most concerned with finding happiness. The philosophy it draws on is, of course, called ‘The Slight Edge’.


MAIN POINT: It really is better that you read the book yourself to discover what this entails, but in a very simplistic outline, I can tell you it involves doing five simple things every day. They are:

1. To write down 3 things you are grateful for every day.
2. Journal for 2 minutes a day about a positive experience you’ve had in the last 24 hours.
3. Meditate daily.
4. Do a random act of kindness every day.
5. Exercise for 15 minutes a day.

Olsen claims that if you do these five ‘Happy Habits’ every day for 21 days, they will become a habit. You will re-wire your brain and as a result, be much happier. Try it and let me know if it works for you. The only one I struggle with is meditation… One day I’m sure I’ll understand it, but not yet…

On a final note – a tip from me. Looking at happy photos will always give you a happiness boost. My favourite is this one of myself and my daughter, Veronica, when she was having a swimming lesson, aged 9 months. Her face says it all. Pure joy.

Veronica - a natural water baby

Veronica – a natural water baby

 Happy International Happiness Day to all! 






Exposing facts about large cosmetic companies and why Regenerate skin care works

As a journalist and a blogger who doesn’t accept sponsorship to promote products, I always find it incredibly hard to write about stuff I think you might like to buy for yourself. I’ve never seen myself as a ‘sales person’, nor do I want to be. But I do like to share information I think might help others.

A home test run began a month ago

A home test run began a month ago

So when I DO find a product I think is pretty amazing, it’s a tricky challenge, because I want to share my discovery but still feel like I’m spruiking for an advertorial on one of those early morning TV chat shows.

I am sent a lot of products that I’m  happy to accept as long as the sender/manufacturer understands I will (a) not necessarily write about it and (b) if I do, I will always give an honest evaluation.

So, with that in mind, here goes… I really HAVE discovered a fantastic new skin care range that I believe is making a positive difference to my face. It’s good enough that I would absolutely recommend this to others – the biggest reason being that it contains medically active ingredients.

The new Regenerate skin care range

The new Regenerate skin care range

The Regenerate Skin Care range was launched a year ago and is the brainchild of skin expert Mike Clague. He’s an aesthetic nurse with a Science Degree and has spent much of his career in various clinical roles at Allergan, the makers of BOTOX® and JUVEDERM®.  Currently he’s a consultant to Galderma Dermatology Pharmaceuticals.

Mike Clague, Regenerate Skin Care Director

Mike Clague, Regenerate Skin Care Director

Working in the industry for more than a decade, Mike saw first hand how many of his clients spent a fortune on skin care that brought little or no results.

When he asked them why they bought a particular product, their overwhelming answer was because of the marketing.

‘This became very frustrating,’ he said. ‘I want my clients to have radiant skin, but they just don’t know what works and what doesn’t. With this in mind my business partner and I decided to create a medical skin care range that gets results and is purely sold online.’


Mike says the Regenerate range is something large cosmetic company marketing executives don’t want you to read about – but already it’s winning recognition in what is an over-saturated market.

This month in the Australian Women’s Health and Fitness magazine, the Regenerate Vitamin C serum was one of just two products touted as the best available in that category.

Regenerate Vitamin C Serum

Regenerate Vitamin C Serum

Mike says medically active skin care is a part of his practice that he couldn’t live without.  ‘You simply MUST use active ingredients to get the results you want,’ he said. ‘

The skin care industry is a huge business that grows every year.  Cosmetics sales across the globe add up to approximately $290 billion USD a year. With this much profit at stake, naturally companies are vying for every customer and sometimes lies are told to get you to purchase.’

Regenerate products

Regenerate products

There are some important facts to remember if you’re shopping around for a new skin care product that you hope will actually make a difference. Mike says they’re only worthwhile if they use active ingredients such as Retinol, Vitamin C and Peptide serums.

‘You will see products at department stores costing over $250 for one small container, but unfortunately these products rarely contain active ingredients. If they do contain active ingredients you need to understand the percentages required to bring about a change in your skin,’ he said.
Regenerate Daily Moisturizer

Regenerate Daily Moisturizer

‘To actually work, vitamin serums need to contain a certain percentage of their active ingredient. Most department store products often fall short of the recommended 0.9 per cent for vitamin A and eight per cent for vitamin C and sunscreen should have 10 per cent or more zinc oxide.

There are a lot of reasons why Mike believes Regenerate products are better than the rest. They’re made with the highest concentrations legal in Australia by a high quality U.S. manufacturing plant, plus the entire skin care range is also paraben free, vegan friendly, and not tested on animals.

If you’d like to sample the range before committing to a new regime, there’s a sample pack called the Prevention Pack, for sale online for just $14. The link here will also take you to their website if you’d like to learn more.

I think my skin has improved dramatically since I began using Regenerate a month ago and hope, if you give this a go, you’ll find the same results.



Maybe I won’t start smoking again after all…

Give smoking the chop

I gave smoking the chop

I’ve given up smoking now for more than two years. That’s not to say I didn’t have a couple of ‘naughty’ odd puffs here and there along the way in the first year, but these days, I’m smoke free. Most of the time I feel pretty good about that. I’ve saved an enormous amount of money, my children and husband are very happy and my health is much improved.

Regardless, in the last month – (yes, I blame FEB FAST!!) – I suddenly and inexplicably started feeling like smoking again.

Perhaps it was being with friends who smoke socially? Perhaps it was because I wasn’t drinking alcohol that I was looking for something else that qualified as ‘naughty’? Whatever the reason, I was seriously weighing up the pros and cons of perhaps just smoking socially – and we all know where that leads – when I came across an anti-smoking ad.

This may be old news to some of you, but I hadn’t seen it until yesterday. And how timely.

Just take a look:

Anti-smoking campaigner Terri Hall

Anti-smoking campaigner Terri Hall

It’s one of the most powerful anti-smoking messages I’ve seen. Such a beautiful teenager, vibrant and full of life, Terri had her first cigarette at 13 and became a full-time smoker at just 17. First diagnosed with oral cancer at the age of 40, she then survived ten cancer diagnoses before succumbing to an 11th – after a year of chemo – at the age of 53.


Terri spent much of her last years travelling across the United States speaking to adults and teenagers about the dangers of smoking.

Her message is still coming through loud and strong.

Thank you Terri.



Farewell Feb Fast and a tomato paste revelation…

Red wine…mmm

Red wine…mmm

I cannot tell you how much happier I am this week, now that FEB FAST is FINALLY over. THANK GOD. Fletch and I celebrated over the weekend, starting with dinner at a Japanese restaurant on Saturday night where I ordered a JAPANESE MOJITO. I’d never heard of a Japanese mojito before, so I ordered it because I could and it was FABULOUS.   Then late on Sunday we left the kids at home and wandered down to a nearby wine bar, which led to a pub-crawl on pubic transport to most of the liquor establishments within a five-kilometre distance of home. It was silly, juvenile and FUN. We even took SELFIES. (The kids will be SOoooo embarrassed.)

Wine bar selfie

Wine bar selfie

I’m not saying FEB FAST was all bad. It just wasn’t exactly a fun-filled month. I’m glad I did it to prove that I CAN survive without alcohol, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. I did one of those lists – pros versus cons – to weigh up its appeal: The Good Stuff about Feb Fast: 1. Time goes veeeerrrrrryyyy slowly… If you’re one of those people who always complains about time moving too quickly, DO Feb Fast and you’ll be amazed. It might be the shortest month of the year, but, but God, it will feel like the longest… 2. You save quite a bit of money. Probably because you don’t want to go out much because you can’t drink, you stay at home. You don’t spend money at bars, restaurants, or taxis OR shout all your friends drinks when you’ve had too much… 3. You meet all your work deadlines EARLY because there’s nothing much else to do… The Bad Stuff about Feb Fast: 1. It’s VERY, very boring. 2. You DO NOT lose weight. This was THE most disappointing aspect of Feb Fast. I should have listened to Linda, my hair colourist, who told me this would be the case and I didn’t believe her. But it’s true. When deprived of wine, you adopt the crazy rationale of, ‘Gee, I’m not drinking, so of course I can have that three kilo block of chocolate!’ Which goes to prove that you should ALWAYS listen to your hairdresser. 3. You don’t see your friends as much. Because you’d rather not join them at the pub where everyone is laughing and drinking while you stand there with a soda water feeling as bitter and twisted as the floating lemon in your glass. 4. There’s nothing to look forward to at the end of the day. Not that I drink EVERY day, but even the possibility is more pleasant than a definitive NO. 5. There’s nothing to ease the pain of a crappy day. 6. Did I mention that it’s very boring? See? I told you. It’s not worth it. And now I’ve now finished FEB FAST, I’m going to have to think about getting back on some kind of diet because I sure as hell ate more than my fair quota of chocolate over the last month.

Emma Dumas and The Muesli

Emma Dumas and The Muesli

At a recent girls lunch, I caught up with Emma the Guru (you may remember, Emma owns/produces THE MUESLI, which has no added sugar) and was again reminded of how important it is to cut sugar from our diets. Emma is proof. She’s consistently one of the slimmest of my friends and is not a yo-yo dieter at all. (bit annoying really… )   So when I went to the supermarket today, I started checking labels again. One product that’s very hard to find with low sugar content is TOMATO PASTE. Often I’ll buy home brand products but here’s proof why it pays to spend a few pennies more on a labelled brand.

Coles Tomato Paste - 11.5g

Coles Tomato Paste – 11.5g

1. Coles Tomato paste contains 11.5 per cent sugar per 100 grams.

Woolworths Tomato Paste

Woolworths Tomato Paste

2. Woolworths Tomato Paste contains a whopping 16.1 per cent per 100 grams.

And the winner is… Leggo's!

And the winner is… Leggo’s!

And LEGGO’S contains 9.8 per cent per 100 grams. So even though I can’t seem to find a tomato paste that fits the UNDER FIVE PER CENT sugar rule, Leggo’s wins. And when it’s a product we use all the time and is a pantry staple, I thought it was worth pointing out. And spending the extra twenty cents on. Pay less, get more sugar. Food for thought indeed. If you have any tips about low-sugar content products, please let me know!