How to stage your Kitchen for an Open house

I’m still on the open house merry-go-round. Every Saturday is filled with cleaning, polishing, staging and vacating with children and dogs in tow. I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate this routine.

But as much as I hate it, I’ve become excellent at it. My house looks freakin’ awesome when I leave it and I love coming home to it. It looks amazing for about 2 minutes. That is the two minutes it takes for the girls and Lola to walk through it and leave a trail of mess in their wake.

But my hell is going to help you. After 5 months of open houses, and 5 months of inspecting other open houses, I’ve realised THE most important things to focus on are the kitchen and the bathrooms.

If the kitchen is messy, cluttered or dirty it affects my entire impression of the house.

My top tips:

  1. Scrub the entire kitchen from top to bottom, including the kick boards and cornices
  2. Polish the sink, taps and mixers. If your taps are dated or broken, replace them. This is an easy and cheap way to modernise your kitchen
  3. Replace broken tiles
  4. De-clutter. Get rid of everything. Any sign of life. Stickers on fridges, unpaid bills, dishwashing detergent, get rid of it all!
  5. Add life back in. A nice, neat, envy inducing life. Fresh fruit, flowers and the ‘special’ tea towels, the tea towels you never really use. If you want some inspiration for styling your kitchen, I’m loving the kitchens in The Kitchen Place website.

This was my inspiration The Balwyn Classic Kitchen:

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 8.49.32 am

The results: The Wernicke Classic Kitchen

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6. Then add some personality; these are the interesting bits that stop it from looking like the last kitchen they inspected.

DSC_0033          7.  At the last minute, empty the bins, because you don’t want your gorgeous house smelling like a dumpster. Then light a scented candle. Make it a good quality candle, nothing cheap and lavender like. I love a clean scent and my current favourite is Woodwick odour eliminating Clean Rain scent.

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If you can’t save your kitchen with a little simple updating, then definitely consider starting over. The investment is completely worth it. The Kitchen Place is a great place to start and make it so easy to get started. 

Post in collaboration with The Kitchen Place.

Office Style: How to build a Work Wardrobe on a Budget

I have been out of the go-to-the-office-daily workforce for a long time. There were children, there were my other small businesses, part-time jobs and my blog but now I’m ready to get back on this horse. The problem is that all my Country Road suits were donated to charity about 10 years ago. Now I need to find things to wear … stat.

How to build a Work Wardrobe on a budget

I like to build up a wardrobe gradually. I think that if you buy everything in one go, then they wear out at the same time, plus if they go out of style or you change shape, then your entire wardrobe might need updating. Just a piece here and there is best. If you don’t believe me, then ask my husband. He decided to buy a complete casual wardrobe in one day. I explained that slim lined cargo pants might not be around for ever. Six months later, he needed to start replacing his pants again. Lesson learnt. Always listen to your wife.

First Shop your Existing Wardrobe

You might be surprised by what you can find hiding. You could have missed them because you were looking for other, cooler items.

Look for

  • Nice fitting trousers
  • Button up shirts
  • Nice blouses
  • Blazers
  • Skirts
  • Simple dresses

Avoid

  • Anything you’ve worn to a nightclub
  • Items that are the wrong size. Even 1/2 a size too small will look bad
  • Pieces with rips, stains or piling
  • Clothes that show too much skin. No spaghetti straps, short skirts, low cut cleavage or see through fabric
  • Too many sequins, glitter or sparkles
  • Clothes that are too casual. i.e. jeans, shorts, sports wear

Build the Base

  • Pick a colour, like black navy or grey. Stick close to this so you can mix and match your pieces
  • Look for well fitting, clean lined pieces
  • Avoid prints. This is because people will remember if you are wearing the same Pineapple print shirt 2 times a week but they won’t notice of you are re-wearing a simple white or black shirt. Of course you can add prints as your wardrobe builds but for the base, don’t do it!
  • Find a pair of comfortable, understated, toe covered shoes. When I say comfortable, don’t think Grandma shoes, think cute and comfortable. I’m comfortable in heels and would be uncomfortable in super flat ballet shoes. They need to be understated for the same reason that you don’t buy prints, if you need to wear them everyday, then it won’t be as obvious. You can add the leopard print in the second round
  • A handbag. A ratty handbag will ruin any look. Make sure it’s big enough to carry everything but small enough that it doesn’t look like you’re moving in. This can be colour or printed. No one expects you to change your handbag daily, so it doesn’t matter if it stands out

  What to Buy

First cross out anything you found while shopping your wardrobe.

  1. Pair of trousers in your base colour
  2. A blazer. It should match the trousers
  3. A skirt. I would suggest knee length either pencil fit or a-line but go with whatever skirt style you feel most comfortable in. Comfort is everything
  4. At least 3 simple tops. I like button down shirts because they are so freaking sexy
  5. A pair of comfortable shoes
  6. A mid sized handbag
  7. If you really wanted to go crazy, then add a simple dress and a cardigan

How to Accessorise

This is where you add the little bits of you. Finding great accessories is a cheap and fun way to change the appearance of your base outfit.

Tips

  • Don’t wear too much jewellery. Sure a simple arm party is cute but an arm, finger, neck party will make it look and sound like a gypsy is wandering the halls. Plus it’s really distracting
  • A watch screams “I’m serious about time, I will be everywhere on time and meet every deadline”
  • Belts can make an outfit look done. I personally don’t like to see belt loops on pants or skirts without a belt threaded through. Either remove the loops, hide them, wear a belt or buy something without belt loops
  • Scarves are great to add colour, personality but pick them well. Look for a soft, thin fabric and not too big. You don’t want to look like you’re wearing a blanket at your desk. It really gives the wrong impression.

Grooming

  • Do your hair in a style that will stay and you won’t be touching it all day. I like to wear my hair down, but I fiddle. So, my go-to style is a knot/bun/nest on top of my head. I know this stays and I know how to do it in 2 mins
  • Clean nails. You don’t have to get a mani and gel nails, they just need to look neat and clean. I like to wear a nice polish but take it off if it’s chipped
  • Light spritz of a non-overwhelming fragrance. Anything the opposite of Opium
  • Light daytime makeup. Here is an easy 5 minute makeup tutorial if you need a little help

Second Round

When you have a little spare cash, you can start on the second round. This is the best round!! Leopard print shoes, printed dresses or skirts but alway make sure they will go with your base wardrobe.

how to build a work wardrobe on a budget

 What else? I’d love to hear any other tips you have.

Valentine’s Day: How to wear Soft Pink Makeup over 40

After all the sun, fake tan and bronzer of Summer, I love a little delicate, girly soft pink makeup. It’s such a pretty, youthful look. Yes, even for 40 plusers. It takes at least 3 years off your appearance. Three years!!

How to wear Soft Pink Makeup over 40

The trick is to let your skin be real. We have worked hard for our wrinkles, years of laughing, living and whatever else but, makeup doesn’t always appreciate the hard work and just decides to settle in and highlight them. So, go light on the foundation and concealer but create a nice base. There are a few great tips here.

My favourites pink products for achieving this gorgeous pinkness are:

Benefit Benetint Rose-tinted lip and cheek stain
I refuse to be swayed by the promise of rose-tinting and the delicious rose scent but the stain is a gorgeous colour. This is the colour your cheeks and lips go naturally when you are running across of grassy field in a Summer rain storm and Ryan Gosling is chasing you. It’s so freakin’ delicious, I want to add it to cocktails with rose petals and umbrellas.

L’Oreal Rose Symphony Colour Riche Lip Gloss
This is great when you want to pump up the volume a little. It’s thick opaque, high gloss, colour rich gloss but it’s not sticky or heavy. I swipe and then use my finger to disperse. The result is a natural pink colour with a sheen but if you want more impact, don’t rub it in.

NARS Orgasm
When the Rose-tinting isn’t enough, when Ryan Gosling isn’t there to chase you and you need a little more. This goldy-pink is … orgasmic. The gold isn’t too much for daytime but with just enough shine to make your cheeks look pump and delicious.

OPI Japanese Rose Garden
The prettiest pink nail polish. For when you need to point to the pink Champagne you’re ordering

Tips:

  • First prepare a gorgeous base with primer, your favourite foundation and some simple contouring & highlighting
  • I tend to avoid pink eyeshadow when I am going for a pink look. I find that it’s too much pink and I feel like I look like a pink cupcake. I love a clean eye, soft brown eyeshadow with a little eyeliner and mascara
  • I avoid anything with sparkles or glitter, except for a little in the blush. I think it’s ageing around the eyes. BUT I do have times when I break this rule but that’s another post
  • Fill in the brows. Full brows are youthful. Think Demi Moore not John Howard
  • Layer your different blushes and lipsticks. This will help create depth and help it to stay in place longer.

If you’re looking for some tips to keep your makeup in place all night, you must check out this post.

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Valentine's Day: How to wear Soft Pink Makeup over 40

 

A-Z of Style: Altering Clothes

One of the best ways to look put together is to have clothes that fit you well. Everyone looks better in well fitting clothes. No long pant legs dragging on the ground or button-popping tight shirts. Some lucky people can pull things off the rack and it fits perfectly. I’m not one of those people.

A-Z of Style: Altering Clothes

When buying clothes, I often size up and then, if necessary, alter it to fit me. When I was working, this was easy. I would shop and then drop at the dress makers. Now, I work from home and altering can be expensive. But trust me, it is better to have one pair of pants that fit you perfectly than 5 pairs that are ill fitting.

Now that I’m more budget conscious, I do my basic altering myself. A few things that you should be able to do yourself at home with a sewing kit and machine:

1. take up hems
2. take in waists on dresses
3. move buttons
4. shorten straps
5. create darts

Anything more tricky, I still send to the dress maker.

Do you take on your own altering?

If you are interested, here is a maxi dress I altered to make it more wearable.

A-Z of Style: Altering Clothes Altering Clothes A-Z of Style: Altering Clothes 1

How to give the Illusion of Cool

A friend recently asked how how I managed to look cool in my photos. I thought that was a pretty cool thing for her to say, considering I’m a bit more like Goofy than Kate Moss in real life. It got me thinking … what gives the illusion of cool?

How to give the Illusion of Cool

I decided to study some cool (and some not so cool) people and have come up foolproof tips for giving the illusion of cool in photos.

  1. Try not to smile. Think Kayne West. If you are going to smile, tone it down to a smirk but
  2. If you are going to laugh, laughing with someone equally cool is okay
  3. Mess your hair up a bit. Helmet hair looks like you have tried way too hard
  4. Sunglasses. Eyes show weakness or self doubt so they must be covered
  5. Stand strong and own your ground. Toes pointed in, knees together and hair whirling are cute but not cool … not cool at all
  6. Just think ‘What would Kate (Moss) do? And do that.
  7. Just think ‘What would Taylor (Swift) do? And don’t do that
  8. Have a shot of Vodka beforehand. If you don’t like Vodka or are under 18, just water in a shot glass has the same effect
  9. Instead of ‘making love to the camera’, treat the camera like someone you could bitch-slap at any moment

It’s too easy!

‘Sorry … busy … being cool’

How to give the Illusion of Cool

‘I can’t hear you’

How to give the Illusion of Cool 1

‘Are you talking to me?!’

the Illusion of Cool

PS: I do like Taylor Swift

Exercise Style: 6 tips to Finding Exercise Motivation

Finding exercise motivation is something I really struggled with last year. I got into a funk, which turned into a merry-go-round of unhealthy choices, which lead to feeling shitty about how look and felt. I was disappointed in myself because I knew what I should be doing and I knew I could do it. But sometimes it’s really hard to get over yourself and get started.

6 Tips to Finding Exercise Motivation

My turning point was late last year, when I ran into an old friend, who happened to be a Personal Trainer at my local gym (Genesis Rothwell), she knew the old me … the motivated, competitive me … the confident, strong me. She agreed to help me finding exercise motivation.

I started having personal training once a week and continued Tae Kwon Do training twice a week. Nat (Personal Trainer) continually asked me, texted me, bugged me etc. about my diet, if had I stopped drinking wine and if I had started running again. Nope, nope, NOPE.

I was scared to start running again. Over a year ago I was managing half marathon distances, and I didn’t want to know how bad I had become. Over the Christmas holidays I decided to break out the running shoes and give it a whirl. I was aiming for a pissy 2km but would be happy with 3km. I did 5km! I felt amazing afterwards. I immediately remembered why I love running. As hard at it is in the moment, the feeling afterwards is euphoric.

I haven’t stopped. I’ve been running between 10km – 12km 5 times a week. My physical appearance hasn’t really changed, but I feel better … stronger …. capable. I feel the old me slowly seeping back in.

When I am struggling to motivate myself, a few tricks I use:

  1. Strap on my Fitbit Flex. Seriously, the best arm party addition ever. Watching your steps increase each day is motivation to move more
  2. Put on my exercise clothes first thing in the morning and I’m not allowed to take them off until I have done some sort of exercise. I’ve even started my own #exercisestyle hashtag on Instagram. Feel free to join in
  3. Shiny new exercise wear or shoes are extremely motivating. Even a new pair of socks are exciting enough to get me to put on my running shoes
  4. Plan a reward. When I started running, I promised myself that if I kept to my routine, I’d get new runners at the end of January. Well, I’m nearly there and I totally deserve them
  5. Commit to a friend. If you make plans with someone, you are less likely to let them down. If you can’t do it in person, then do it online or use your Fitbit to find a friend. Shit, I’ll be your friend!
  6. Have an excellent Playlist. Music makes me want to move. Or try a Podcast, in fact you must listen to Serial. This will keep you moving just so you can listen for longer.

PS: Today my friend Sonia from Sonia Styling has shared her HIIT workout you can do from home. This looks awesome. Check it out here.

6 tips to Finding Exercise Motivation Exercise Style: 6 tips to Finding Exercise Motivation Exercise Style: 6 tips to Finding Exercise Motivation

 

Turning Jeans into a denim Skirt

Sometimes I like to cut up clothes and see what happens. It usually doesn’t make them better or more wearable, it just seems to make them more cut up. I recently went all Edward Scissorhands and turned a pair of jeans into a denim skirt. I had stopped wearing the jeans and knew I wasn’t going to wear them again because I didn’t like where the waist finished.

Turning Jeans into a denim Skirt

Basically, I decided on the length and cut off the legs, then I cut along the inside seams and used the remaining cut off legs to fill in the missing triangles in the front and back.  Will I wear it again? Maybe, maybe not, but at least my jeans got at least one more outing.  Cost-per-wear = winning!

Turning Jeans into a denim Skirt Turning Jeans into a denim Skirt

If you like destroying perfectly good clothes, you should check out the Summer denim vest I created.

Altering a Denim Vest for Summer

I love denim but denim and Summer don’t always mix too well. I have the perfect solution!

Altering a Denim Vest

I usually have an old vest or two hidden away in the back of my closet. Pick a vest, then look for a few patches or areas that are surrounded by thick seams, mark them if you need to, and then cut them out leaving the seams intact.

Denim vests usually have such strong thick seams they retain their shape and don’t fall apart. In fact, they improve with age. After a fews wears and washes, they get some great fray action on them.

What you need:
1. An old vest
2. Scissors
3. Confidence

Altering a Denim Vest for Summer Altering a Denim Vest for Summer DSC_0011

Try wearing it over a floral dress or a striped tee. It looks fantastic!

Beauty: 5 Minute Makeup Tutorial {Sponsored}

With the Christmas party season around, I find myself applying more makeup, more often.

Today I am sharing my 5 minute makeup tutorial. I am a serious makeup lover, but I’m prone to a little laziness. After about 25 years of makeup wearing my laziness is paying off because when we are in our 40’s we often look better with lighter makeup.
5 Minute Makeup Tutorial

Beauty: 5 Minute Makeup Tutorial

I started with foundation, concealer and a wee little bit of contouring already applied (you can see that tutorial here). I had no choice because I had about 3 hours sleep last night and I look like an extra from Walking Dead. I kind of sound a little like one today too. No joke!

In case you decided to skip this video that I put hours into creating. The products I used, in order, are:

  • Inglot Eyeshadow Palette
  • L’Oreal Super Liner So Couture in black
  • NARS blush in Orgasm
  • Youngblood Eyebrow palette in dark
  • Benefit They’re Real Mascara
  • Carmex Lipgloss in pink

If you are looking for some more great quick makeup tips, I usually find some good ones on Yahoo! Beauty, like this 4 minute makeup.

This post was sponsored by Yahoo!

Selfie Basics: Best angle for outfit photos

I always feel like I have to know the rules before I can break them. When it comes to outfit photos I have taken hundreds, no thousands of unflattering photos and I will take a million more. But one of the lesson I have learnt is the best angle for outfit photos.

Selfie Basics: Best angle for outfit photos

Initially, I would take photos on my iPhone in the mirror. I quickly realised this didn’t work for me. It didn’t work because I needed to be close to the mirror to get a clear image, which meant the iPhone was angled down to fit it all in. This meant, short legs, large head.

Camera high and angled down

This is also the case if you have someone taller taking a photo of you. The best solution is get the giant to stand back further and even couch down a little or dig a hole to stand in.

The upside of this angle is, if the photographer comes in closer and focuses on your head and shoulders, it’s a great face angle. One chin, large eyes, smaller shoulders.

Selfie Basics: Best angle for outfit photos - too high

Camera low and angled up

The next alternative was to engage the help of a kid. After bribery, they are still short. Short means a low camera, angled up, which equals longer, thicker legs and a pin head.

A solution is to bride them to stand on a steady chair while snapping your awesomeness.

The upside to this angle, the kids can get down low, focus on your shoes and take some great shoe shots.

Selfie Basics: Best angle for outfit photos - too low

Eye Height, aimed straight

This is my favourite angle. I might have short legs and a large head in real life but at least it’s not exaggerated.

Selfie Basics: Best angle for outfit photos - straight

Once you find out the best angles, then you can have fun playing with the other ones.

My hair: Brown with Balayage Highlights

I’m surprised how many questions I get asked about my hair. To be honest this is the first time in years I’ve been really happy with my hair because this cut and colour works so well with my hair type. My hair is very fine, prone to frizz, snaps off at the mention of peroxide and is naturally a mousy medium brown (doesn’t that sound like the most boring colour on the planet).

I have a lovely, skilful and patient hairdresser (Toni from Beautiful You) and she has gone through all my phases with me (red, blonde, black, short, blonder, longer, shorter again) to end up here. The reason I am so happy with this do is because it’s really low maintenance. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make it to the hairdressers to deal with regrowth and it looks great messy. It’s perfect for a lazy or time poor lady.

PicMonkey Collage

Colouring my Hair: Brown with Balayage Highlights

First, do you know the difference between Ombré and Balayage highlights? I didn’t! What I have discovered is that both are lighter towards the ends but Balayage is from the French word meaning to sweep or to paint. The highlights are achieved by painting the colour on by hand, for a more natural finish.

My girl, Toni, uses a natural, warm brown that is slightly darker than my natural colour for my roots. This is a) to cover any sneaky little greys that might be trying to appear, b) so that it fades enough to blend regrowth and c) to give the colour longevity. Toni uses the amazing Redken Chromatics products which are an ammonia free, oil based colour that strengthens the hair x 2.

Then, she hand brushes powder lightener randomly through some pieces of the ends to create very subtle sunkissed highlights. My hair throws red or golden colours which I don’t like, so every few trips to the salon she tones the ends.

I usually visit the salon every 2 or 3 months for regrowth. We probably look at the highlights every second visit to decide if I need a few more blondes painted on or a few lowlights thrown in to break it up.

Then at home I use Kerastase Resistent Bath and Care to strengthen my hair and keep it it healthy and shiny.

Another turning point was learning how to create beachy waves at home. Here my vlog demonstrating how easy and quick it is.

Brown with Balayage Highlights

 What has been your favourite hair cut and colour on you? 

How to create Beachy waves in 5 minutes

I have been watching my hairdresser create waves in my hair for years. I have tried many, many times to recreate them but always managed to create a half straight, half squarish bumps do.

About a month ago I decide it was time and I really went for it. I managed to burn myself quite a few times but by the third go I got it. Now, I’m not sure why it took me so long.
How to create Beachy waves in 5 minutes

How to create Beachy waves in 5 minutes

When my hair is dry, it only takes about 5 minutes but I do have very fine hair. I use a ghd to create these waves. The new ghd V Sunset Styler is perfect and the colours are gorgeous:). Here is a little video showing how I create my beachy waves. You might notice I’m talking A LOT and it’s muted. I had to mute it because I’m telling filthy jokes the entire time and I wanted this to be suitable for work (not true, but it makes me sound way more interesting)

Why you should Contour your face

I’m going to make this super, duper easy.

The reason you should be contouring when doing your makeup routine is that foundation creates a flat look and takes all the curves and personality out of your face, contouring adds them back in. You can use contouring to change the appearance of the shape of face but I prefer to use it to add back life and light.

I’m don’t do a lot of contouring but I do LOVE it.

Why you should Contour your face

Why you should Contour your face

These the steps I take to contour and illuminate:

  1. Apply your foundation as usual
  2. Use your normal concealer and eye primer, etc.
  3. Apply the darker contouring to under cheekbones. Start under your cheek bone and follow the line to your mouth but finish short. About 1/2 or  2/3 of the line  – this brings back your cheekbones or helps create them
  4. Around the jawline. This is important for 40+ ladies. It helps to create the appearance of a tighter jawline
  5. Down the side of the nose. I don’t do this all the time, only when my nose looks extra crooked. You can thin the nose with contouring but I just like to use it to straighten. I also do a little under the tip, to take a little length off. My nose is a little hooky and loves a little contouring.
  6. Apply the lighter contour between the dark cheekbone & jawline contouring, around the eyes and up the centre of the nose
  7. Grab a big brush and gently blend it all in. You need to get rid of the harsh lines
  8. Then I use a illuminator on top of my lip, centre of my chin, up the nose, between my eyebrows and the top of my cheeks. This gives a little light a dewiness. It’s like rewinded your age at least 3 weeks.
  9. Finally,You favourite blush on your apples at up towards your temple

This all sounds like a lot of effort but takes me a maximin of 5 minutes.

For the final image, I added lipgloss, a brown eyeshadow and mascara. Simple!

Why you should Contour your face

The products I used

  1. Motives Shape & Sculpt Duo
  2. Brushes. A contoured tip brush, a thinner one and a big blending brush
  3. Nars Orgasm blush
  4. Face of Australia Mineral Theraphy Illuminator in Angel Mist
  5. Youngblood Eye-Illuminating Duo. I actually use this to draw a line down the centre of my nose or highlight under the brow
  6. A cheaper contouring option is the L’Oréal Glam Bronze. Fantastic product!

Why you should Contour your face

Behind the Scenes: How I take an outfit photo

One of the questions I get asked almost daily is about how I take an outfit photo. When I started blogging, I would snap the photo in the mirror. This was fine, but I realised I already had the equipment and minions to take it to the next level.
How I take an outfit photo

Behind the Scenes: How I take an outfit photo

What you need:

  1. Camera that is remote friendly. I use a Nikon D40 with a Nikkor 35mm lens.
  2. Battery remote. I have a Nikon one but also bought a few extra ones from Ebay for about $2 each and these work just as well
  3. Tripod. Try to get one that is eye height. I use a Manfrotto that goes to about 165cm-170cm. I think it cost about $100 or $150. Very light and great for travelling.

This is so easy!

PS: One of my patient minions also gave me a lesson in iMovie. They are super handy!