new & notable in melbourne

Just a quick stay in Melbourne this trip, I didn’t have time for a whole lot of new but made a point of getting to some of the places I’ve been dying to get to for awhile. Melbourne never disappoints!

NEW

The Hub General Store:  Down a back street in Collingwood there’s a charming little brick building that houses a million and one basic treasures from around the world. Need a scrub brush? A bar of soap? A bunch of clothespins? How about a loaf of freshly baked bread and a jar of local creamed honey? Or maple syrup from America? A children’s book or miniature stuffed animal? A notebook and a pen or pencil perhpas?  You get the gist.

Piled high and a bit of a treasure hunt, the every day is elevated to the sublime. And before you get to those everyday treasures, there’s a small gallery in front where invited artists treat visitors with a different sort of sensory experience. When I was there the gallery was overstuffed with big, round, white balloons — a stark contrast to the slowly deflating black balloons creeping up and around the exterior facade. Simple objects raised to the level of art.

36 Cambridge Street, Collingwood

Higher Ground:  The new CBD restaurant brought to you by the same folks that own Kettle Black. It’s another beautiful space with unique all day dining. Located in an old power station just across the way from the Southern Cross station, it has soaring ceilings and various seating arrangements from traditional tables, to common tables and cozy lounge areas across multiple floors. Look for their signature beautiful brunch dishes like this polenta porridge offering

and some unusual and interesting fare. Expect a wait even on a weekday. But worth it.

650 Little Burke Street, CBD

NOTABLE

Lune Croissanterie:  Not new but certainly notable, Lune might just be a national treasure if that can be said of a bakery in Australia that specializes in signature French pastries. Proclaimed as being the best croissants in the world by The New York Times no less, the lines can snake out the door and around the block to purchase croissants that can cost upwards of $12+ each. Open from 7:30 AM until sold out most days, get there early, stand in line and make sure whatever concoction of a croissant you indulge in, your box of goodies (yes, you will purchase many because each looks better than the next) includes at least one classic ham & gruyere — it’s buttery, crunchy, salty and cheesy goodness not to be missed.

119 Rose Street, Fitzroy

Meatsmith:  This absolutely fabulous (and beautiful) butchery is from my favorite local chef, Andrew McConnell, where you can get the best cuts of meat from local farmers, Australian wines, spectacular condiments in simple glass jars (they make great gifts!) and other specialty grocery items. But I am here to tell you about the house made lasagna.

If you need a heat and serve meal, this one is sublime. Ready in just 30 minutes, it’s rich, meaty, creamy, tasty and the perfect accompaniment to a bottle of red — or maybe that’s the other way around. At any rate, it will only set you back $22 and serves 2-3. My recommendation — leave it in the oven a bit longer to crisp the top to a crunchy charred finish. (My little heat and serve disaster actually turned out to make it that much better!)

273 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Bobbie Burns Shiraz:  No it’s not a place in Melbourne. But If you’re looking for a nice bottle of wine to pair with your lasagna, consider this 2013 vintage from Victorian winery Campbells

I am not a wine connoisseur but I do know what I like. I found this smooth and easy to drink. I liked it so much I came home and bought 6 bottles here in America. And don’t be fooled by the twist top bottle — it’s an Aussie thing.

 

for your shopping pleasure

These days when you have to supply your own shopping bag at the market, why not make it beautiful and functional? Tyvek and leather 3D shopping bag by Milk Designs comes in two sizes and two colors.  $29.50

paradise found

I was going to tell you all about my return visit to Gaia Retreat. But with these images need I tell you about the amazing food? The to die for spa treatments? The private tree house spot where you can have a soak in a rose petal and coconut milk bath? The friendly staff that knows your name, likes and dislikes? The friendly neighbors who stop to say hello on your walk into town, who know you are being looked after but just want to be sure? The most charming little 8-ish building town you have ever seen that once upon a time had only a restaurant and now is an unsuspecting tourist enclave with world class shopping? The friendly shop owner who offers you a ride back to the spa on a 90 degree day after you have sweat over all their goods and merchandise? The lovely herbal tea maker in nearby Byron Bay who goes out of her way to deliver tea to you to take home to the States?

I think not. Just sit back and enjoy the view. (shhhh, I’m told they put it on just for the tourists willing to get up at 6:30 am)Gaia Retreat & Spa, Brooklet NSW, Australia

3 aussie artists

As if my obsession with Australia weren’t enough, I have gone and fallen in love with several of the country’s artists as well. I think one of the things that attracts me to Australia is the abundance of creative energy. Having first gone down under when I was 19 to find a country pretty far behind, with the advent of the computer this far-removed country has more than caught up. It’s like an explosion of creativity at every turn from the arts, to the food, to the architecture, fashions and more that just won’t quit. There’s a modern sensibility I find extremely attractive and these artists each capture it in their own way . . .

Artist 1:  Caroline Walls

With a focus on the female form, Ms. Walls is an artist after my own heart. Melbourne based with a history in fashion and lifestyle brands, her artworks are bold, minimal and sensuous all at once. She recently burst upon the scene with a solo show that garnered world wide attention. I long to acquire one of her pieces before prices go through the roof and am oh so sorry I missed out on the one above.

Artist 2: Hilarie Mais

British by birth but working in Australia since 1980, Hillarie Mais is an abstract artist working in Sydney and currently on exhibit at the Tarrawarra Museum of Art in conjunction with the Australian Museum of Contemporary Art that has several of her pieces in their permanent collection.

Highly architectural and abstract, with a strong emphasis on the grid, the works are seemingly simple yet highly complex all at once. The detail and construction alone are enough to take your breath away. But they go much deeper than that. The above detail is taken from the below pair of sculptures that are portraits (2015) of the artist and her deceased partner. Simply stunning.

Artost 3: William Rhodes

There are a series of tiny landscape paintings that hang in a resort in William Rhodes native Tasmania that I covet. Perfectly curated by designers Hecker Guthrie. At once reminiscent of European masters and yet somehow capturing a modern simplicity, I long to commission a piece so I can have my own tiny piece of the Tassie landscape in my midst. You can bet, next trip to Hobart, I will be making a b-line for the artist’s gallery.

dandy dandenongs

Looking for a place to escape to outside Melbourne — within an easy drive or train ride? The Dandenong Ranges offer lush hills, giant forests and quaint country town experiences. Perhaps a few too many bugs but that’s a small price to pay for a 1+ hour escape that’s a world away. And don’t think you need to leave your sophisticated sensibility behind either.  You can have it all and a little romance too!

Where to Stay:

If Mid-Century Modern, approachable artwork and peace and quiet are your thing, may I suggest a stay at Jacky Winter Garden — the most charming cabin in the woods you could ever imagine. Just a hop, skip and jump away from downtown Belgrave, Victoria.

JWG Interiors.pngThe charming little house sits at the bottom of a steep gully along a winding creek, surrounded by lush gardens of the overgrown variety full of fruits, flowers, herbs, trees and more…

If that weren’t enough, each guest is gifted this wonderful screen print of the property as a keepsake. (Bring a carrying tube as I had to leave mine behind for fear it would be a wrinkled mess by the time I reached home.) And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the art treasuresThe entrance has a hand painted, gold leaf glass panel in the door. Framed artworks by artists from around the world abound. Hand blocked wallpaper carries on the garden theme inside. And a plethora of other artworks are to be found at every turn. As are well curated furnishings, lighting, details, etc . . . Don’t miss the antique bird towel hooks in the bathroom as those were my favorite touch!  The entire place from the penny tiled bathroom complete with soaking tub, to the cloud-like king sized bed, to the fancy coffee in the kitchen is thought through down to the tiniest detail.

If you, yourself are an artist, consider applying for their artist in residence program. I can’t think of a better place to escape to and create. But if you’re just looking for either a solo quiet getaway or romantic hideaway for 2, it can be booked at an affordable rate.

What To Do:

Belgrave itself is home to your typical small tourist town restaurants, shops, galleries, movie theater (a good size multi-plex at that) and the famous Puffing Billy steam powered railway that is stationed right in town. Carrying nearly half a million passengers a year (mostly tourists from China) it is a fully restored treasure that puffs it’s way several times a day for a 3 hour Dandenong tour. Once upon a time, you could dangle your legs out the windows as you watched the countryside whizz by but an accident with a passing vehicle recently (nobody was hurt) put an end to that. Kids and dare I say men, are intrigued by the historic feat of engineering. It’s a bit pricey to ride but you can just check it out in the station too. The sweetest and most knowledgeable conductors are happy to share the history, take photos or simply chat about their storied career on the railroad.

About 40 minutes away by car and you are in the Yarra Valley wine country.  Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tarrawarra where you can view more art in the lovely modern art museum, sip wine and nibble on cheese while overlooking the spectacular valley views or simply relax the day away perched in a bean bag chair on the hillside. How’s that for a calming afternoon out?

While you’re out and about, stop for a meal at the newish and unexpected restaurant BamBam Italian, located through the windy roads in the small hamlet of Avonsleigh. Unexpected because it’s attached to a convenience store and sports a McDonalds style kiddie play park. But despite the family friendly atmosphere, the food is quite good, moderately priced and the staff super friendly. Open for brekkie, lunch and dinner. An Italian feast awaits!

Also in the area are plenty of nature walks, gardens, markets and even a day spa. Truly a relaxing time to be had. There is full dossier of local haunts on the Jacky Winter Garden website for your planning pleasure. All in all, a highly recommended place to get away and be a slug or a tourist for a few days.

object of desire

Worth every bit of the $80 price tag. Gorgeous and functional. Which color will you buy? By SimpleHuman

All photos by SimpleHuman

jet lag sucks – get over it!

I have no magic cure for jet lag.  All those tips and tricks about setting your watch, eating certain types of foods, taking supplements, adjusting your sleep schedule days and weeks before flying . . . I don’t know if any of it helps for sure.  We may be able to fool the mind but it’s hard to fool the body.

I don’t go to extremes to try to cure jet lag. But I have found the following tips make it easier:

  • Drink plenty of and only water (yes, even if it means using the stinky airplane bathrooms)
  • Fly at night, so you have a better chance of sleeping on board — bring your own wrap/blanket, pillow and eye mask. I promise it is worth it!
  • Eat a healthy meal before boarding and don’t eat the airplane food, especially the tempting sugary snacks — avoid the free for all Tim Tams at all costs!
  • When you arrive at your destination, jump right in. Don’t nap.
  • Sweat it out! Fresh air and exercise are great but a real sweat session is even better.
  • Fly the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner* (pictured above) if possible. They say the air circulation is different, the vibration different, turbulence is reduced, even the lighting is better. Maybe it’s a bunch of marketing malarkey but having flown the Dreamliner in both directions between Los Angeles and Australia recently I can honestly say for the first time, I had absolutely no jet lag upon arrival (in fact after a 2 hour walk in the sunshine I was feeling absolutely euphoric) and was fully back and adjusted on my normal schedule within just a couple of days on the way home.  Never been able to say that before.

*I flew both the American Airlines and Qantas versions of this plane. While American offered 5″ of extra leg room for only 50 dollars in coach (a real comfort boost for little cost), I found and always prefer the Qantas experience. More detail and care go into the customer experience on Qantas from the seat design, to the airplane layout, to the service and general attitude of the crew.  Although there is still no way to avoid a full aircraft regardless — both airlines fill every last seat. It is astounding to me how many people fly to Australia and back each day!

 

lusty lashes

I’m not talking super long, over lusty, f-me lashes like Kylie Jenner . . . I just like the idea of looking alive without a lot of fuss. Honestly, I never even thought of going beyond my Shu Uemura eyelash curler and Armani Eyes to Kill Classic Mascara (the best I promise you!) until I started flying long haul a lot.

When you arrive at a destination at 7AM after 15 hours in the air and can’t check into your hotel, you want to a trick or two to looking presentable for a day on the town without a shower or make up. A change of shirt, a tooth brush and nice lashes really do the trick!

To get those nice lashes without racoon eyes or pinchy curling, here are some options:

Lash Extensions:  Painstakingly applied one lash at a time . . . For a few years I did extensions when I traveled. And then for a while after returning home, I would try to keep them up. But it’s expensive and very time consuming — fills every 3 weeks, hours on a table, no getting wet for 24 hours each time and a price tag in the hundreds, several hundreds, each application.

Not to mention, finding someone who understands the request for natural looking lashes vs. a super long, overly Bambi, “I’ve got lash extensions on” look. After some trial and error, I found mink lashes, the shortest they make, without longer lashes applied to the corners gave me the look I was going for — like I am wearing mascara with nice natural curl. While this was good for a few years, moving to glam-driven LA, made this look really hard to come by and more than I was willing to spend at big city prices, even for that special vacation.

Magnetic Lashes: In theory I love this idea. No glue, no fuss. Just pop on and go when needed. With full lash or partial lash options, in varying thickness and lengths it seems simple, right?

Wrong! (For me anyway)

Try as I might to get application down, these little suckers are really difficult to put on. I tried both the partial and full set versions and spent hours in front of the mirror — longer than it takes to get extensions applied. And I can’t tell you how many lower lash replacements I ordered at $15 a pop (that’s just for one, not a pair). Even the most basic magnetic lashes, are long, dark and anything but natural looking when you do finally get them on. They say other people don’t notice, but I was hyper aware of the thick magnets showing. A trial run to the grocery store was as far as I got to venturing out in public with these spiders on my eyes.

Original Lashes (full and partial) by One Two Cosmetics

False Eye Lashes:  The tried and true, old fashioned solution with endless styles available to give you just the look you are going for. I recall my mother peeling these off her eyes at the end of a special night at her bathroom mirror, as a little girl. Possible to do yourself and very affordable, the glue can be messy and application can be tricky, so I recommend leaving the deed to a good make-up artist for a one and done occasion.Are Those Real? Mink False Lashes by Velour

Lash Lift:  This is my solution of choice for really great, natural looking lashes!  It’s a little perm for your lashes — smell of perm solution and all. It takes less than an hour to have done, curls your lashes which enhances your natural color and just makes you look more awake. The curl lasts 6-8 weeks — easy enough to keep up for an everyday solution. I haven’t used my eyelash curler in forever and rarely enhance with mascara even. My ophthamologist (who had to remove an ingrown eyelash that I’m sure was a result of my last round of extensions and required a scalpel) even commented on how great my lashes were and she couldn’t believe they were mine!

Lash Tint:  A great enhancement to a lash lift or just a way to get a bit of oomph for everyday.. However, I find tinting doesn’t last long so best for a short vacation or again, great on that initial long haul flight. I  especially like it when I am staying with friends or at the spa so I don’t look a fright going make-up-less in these casual environments. But know, it’s not legal everywhere. So do at your homework.

Serums:  I must admit I haven’t tried any serums. Latisse does work I hear but also can change the color of your eyes — a risk I’m not willing to take — and can result in some wild growth patterns. My lash lift girl swears by GrandeLASH-MD and says it takes about 4 weeks to work, just thickens the growth (only as long as you use it) and doesn’t have any of the side effects of Latisse.  I’m always weary of upsell but I did go online and read nothing but glowing reviews. Maybe in time . . .

We girls go through a lot for natural beauty! But really, to not have to wear mascara every day and to even be able to go without make up — trust me I just returned from a 10 day vacation and I think I wore make up twice — makes life a lot easier. Find the solution that works for you and make your life easier too.

Live in Los Angles? You can get most of the above services at Beverly Hills Lashes

hail yes!

A splurge to feel good about!  Have you heard of Hail Mary tarts, cups and bites? Available in your grocers refrigerated section, they are raw indulgences that are free from dairy, wheat, gluten, grains, soy, corn, and are all certified NON-GMO.

I’m partial to the cups. The lemon ones to be exact. Puckery, yummy and the perfect combination of creamy filling to crunchy crust. Sooooooo gooooood!

If you are a chocolate lover there’s a cup for you too! I don’t want to poo poo the tarts and bites but there is something about that ratio on the cups that I promise is just about perfect. I dare you not to eat both cups every time you open a package.

To find a store near you check out the Hail Merry store locator