Summer Home – Rustic Glam

Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

For my avid readers, you’ll know that I have a penchant for interior decorating programs. To fuel my addiction, Summer Home is the latest series I’ve added to my growing list of favourite home makeover shows. What makes this series unique is its focus on renovating summer homes – or holiday homes as we call them here in Australia. In each episode, host Samantha Pynn, aims to update rundown retreats trapped in a time warp, and transform them from boring to delightful getaways.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/9

 The program has a laid back vibe that’s reflected in Samantha’s signature style. I have an affinity for her refreshing approach to decorating; it’s what I define as casual chic. With Samantha, you won’t find ostentatious fixtures, opulent or ornate focal points and quirky decorating concepts. Instead, Samantha’s creations are bright, cosy and inviting. Her designs are based on restrained elegance, understated rustic glam. She combines country with a classic, timeless comfort, yet modern feel.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/15

Samantha provides practical solutions to breathing new life into a home. Where possible, she retains existing furniture to minimise costs but refreshes the pieces with new slip covers or re-upholstering. In addition to custom fixtures, Samantha also favours vintage accessories found in local thrift stores or antique shops to maintain a cottage charm.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/19

As the homes of her clients are often located along rivers, lakes or set amongst wooded areas, her designs are often nature inspired, so as not to divert from the character of the house. To keep the look fresh, she uses pops of colour with visual elements such as pillows, throw blankets, rugs and ornaments with soft colour pallets, floral prints mixed with muted geometric patterns and delicate textures.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/32

In some episodes, Samantha’s major challenge is maximising areas with limited space, creating a room that is both functional and flexible in terms of their layout, purpose and usage. She often achieves this with a splash of paint, new flooring, re-positioning furniture, adding fixtures with sleek minimalist features, dismantling walls or building cabinetry upwards instead of outwards – all to create the illusion of space.

Image Source: hgtv.ca/summerhome/photos/#!/40

In summary, Samantha manages to combine both function and form, transforming rooms that once lacked any artistic direction, and injecting a dash of glam that is visually eye catching yet comfortable and casually stylish.

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Image Source: facebook.com/SamanthaPynn/photos

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Me, Public Speaking? I’d Rather Go Nude!

One of my greatest fears in life is public speaking. I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Recently, my little sister asked me to make the customary ‘family member’ speech at her engagement party. I was deeply touched and honored that she considered me, but at the same time I wanted to wet my pants (and throttle her)! Deep down, I secretly thought this was payback for all the times I threatened to flush her down the toilet when we were younger. My stomach began to churn and twist in knots. I had two months to come up with a speech and the pressure was on!

Image Source: publicspeakingtraining.biz/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Suit-guy-infront-of-big-corp-audience-iStock-CROPPED.jpg

Some people are gifted speakers, me….not so much. As a student, at the end of each term, my report card read – “C is a conscientious student but needs to participate in class discussion”. It was a recurrent theme throughout primary school and high school, much to the disappointment of my parents! Despite the many lectures from both my teachers and the folks, it was a lesson never learned and haunts me to this day.

 I can’t recall the source or quote the exact statistic, but according to a survey conducted, a significant number of people would rather die than engage in public speaking. OK, it’s a tad extreme but I can more than empathize with the thought.

I’m painfully shy! I liken myself to an awkward, country church mouse with hermit tendencies. I was the wallflower in high school that never got asked out because I was socially inept with zero personality. Men weren’t exactly queuing up for a date during my footloose and fancy free twenties because I couldn’t chat any guy up (it didn’t  help that I tried to save myself for Brad Pitt)!

Image Source: publicrelationssydney.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Microphone-at-conference.jpg

I’d still be single, desperate and dateless today if the better half hadn’t have made the first move. He was brave enough to introduce himself when we first met. I think he felt sorry for the loner in the tight skirt and knee high boots leaning up against the bar with vodka in hand.

Some people love the sound of their own voice; you know the ones who could talk under water? I’m in awe of those who can dominate conversations over the dinner table or board room meetings. I envy people who are gifted speakers, the best of which can mesmerize and captivate an audience. It does help if you ooze a little charm, personality and charisma. Personally, I believe you’re born with it, it’s an innate talent.

By contrast, talking is my weakness, my Achilles heal. Place me in front of a group of people and this weakness is elevated ten fold and I’m overcome with paralyzing fear! I start to quiver, sweat uncontrollably and I turn into a jibbering idiot. My mind freezes up and turns blank; I struggle to articulate what’s in my head (which isn’t much). Don’t get me wrong, I love attention. I don’t mind walking into a room, wearing something glam with a touch of bling and turning heads. However, when I open my mouth, I struggle to come up with something sharp, witty or profound to say. It’s a challenge to convey a message in a succinct, articulate manner – instead, I fall flat on my face (I guess this explains why writing is my escape).

Image Source: speechmattersaustralia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/public-speaking.jpg

My saving grace has always been my writing. Whenever I had to conduct presentations or meetings at work, I had notes prepared for my own sense of security. So, that’s where my mission began. I began to draft my speech until I realized I had no idea what to write! The avid blogger was suffering from writer’s block! I had to get down to the basics. Like with any good story, you need a captivating introduction, a memorable plot with a middle section that takes the audience on a joyride and a conclusion to tie up the yarn.  I channelled in my marketing experience and similar to a sales pitch, you need to have key objectives and an understanding of your target audience and what they’re after. Research is the key – a broad knowledge and understanding of what you’re talking about!

My ultimate goal was to create a light hearted message about my sister’s road to romantic bliss while hoping the audience didn’t suffer through sheer boredom, and the means to achieve this was to add some humor to the speech. I didn’t want to go down the path of the boring mushy lovey dovey clichés that you find in a Hallmark card – love is a journey not a destination, love is patient, love is kind – Blah! Blah! Blah! What a crock! That makes me gag. Instead, I wanted DIRT, that is, the crazy shenanigans that the youth of today get up to (ideal for my young audience). So I contacted close family and my sister’s friends to dig up some gossip which would form the bulk of my speech.

I certainly didn’t want to write a thesis. I wanted to keep the speech short and sweet – the less time I have to spend talking…the better! Once the speech was written up, the next stage was to practice, because practice makes perfect! I began to rehearse, I’d pace up and down the hallway rehearsing, varying my tone of voice and ensuring the delivery of each joke was perfect. On several occasions I even sat in front of Winston the Wonder Dog and read through my lines. After several rounds, eventually my own dog got bored! He’d look at me perplexed before dozing off. It got to a point where he’d walk the opposite direction as soon as he saw me approaching him. The paw thing, even my own dog got sick of the speech. That wasn’t a good sign!

As the date of the engagement party loomed, I couldn’t sleep. I began to get hives! Even as I slept, my mind raced through what I was going to say. On the day of the soiree, I needed a calming mechanism…..booze! Copious amounts of alcohol helps…it’s the best social lubricant….as they say, booze make men brave and women loose! After a few glasses of vodka, Bacardi and gin – I was rockin’!!!

Image Source: openspeaking.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/public-speaking-coaching.jpg

With paper in hand, I began the speech. I started off strongly, despite the fact my hands were trembling. If I could measure the amount of quivering, it would be off the Richter scale. I lost my spot once but quickly brushed the mistake off. Once the audience laughed at a few comical gags, I knew I was on fire. To my sister’s relief, I didn’t disgrace myself!

In summary, I survived! Woo hooo! Would I ever volunteer or yearn to be nominated for any future public speaking events? Well, like I said earlier, I’d rather jump out of a plane nude, or walk barefoot through a pit filled with hairy tarantulas!

Christmas Greetings! With Love, Melbourne

Flinders Street Station Image Source: The Vibe 101

Flinders Street Station Image Source: The Vibe 101

There’s nothing like summer in Melbourne, especially as Christmas approaches. The city’s lively atmosphere steps up a gear and comes to life even further as the festive season kicks in. Christmas brings such a spirited, vibrant buzz in town. The garlands are hung, decorations adorn street lamps and shop windows are decked out with glistening ornaments and flickering party lights.

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

The Block Arcade Image Source: The Vibe 101

The Block Arcade Image Source: The Vibe 101

The mood around the CBD is laid back, yet pulsating and infectious. As you stroll along the city streets, you’ll find yourself weaving in and out of the large crowds of people, some of whom have taken to the festive spirit by donning reindeer antlers or Santa hats. It’s hard not to be captivated by the light entertainment performed by an eclectic mix of buskers and carollers scattered on the corner of busy intersections or positioned outside retail department stores.

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

Image Source: The Vibe 101

The smorgasbord of bars, cafes and restaurants is the heart and soul of Melbourne. Personally, it’s a great city to wine, dine and ultimately to relax as you gear up for Christmas celebrations. The tantalising aromas wafting through the air from some of Melbourne’s finest eateries combined with the large number of funky pubs and clubs only adds to the sizzling energy and ambiance of this great city.

Burke Street Mall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Burke Street Mall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Myer (Melbourne's equivalent to Macy's, Selfridges or SM Department Stores) Image Source: The Vibe 101

Myer (Melbourne’s equivalent to Macy’s, Selfridges or SM Department Stores) Image Source: The Vibe 101

The hedonistic fusion of awesome music, delectable food, cocktail of drinks and great company is hypnotic to the senses and further intensifies the joy and merriment one would experience at this time of the year. Melbourne certainly knows how to turn on the charm to build up a cheerful party vibe full of reverie. You’ll wish to soak it in and bottle it up

I love Christmas, especially in Melbourne!

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Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 20 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 19 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Visual Light Show at Melbourne Town Hall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

Melbourne Town Hall Image Source: The Vibe 101

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Hardware Lane, worth visiting for a bite to eat
Image Source: The Vibe 101

Pic 3 Mobile Phone Pictures as at 23-12-2012 132

Image Source: The Vibe 101

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Image Source: The Vibe 101

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Image Source: The Vibe 1o1

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Flinders Street Station, Melbourne’s equivalent to New York’s Grand Central Station or The Tube in London
Image Source: The Vibe 101

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Burke Street Mall
Image Source: The Vibe 101

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The GPO at Melbourne
Image Source: The Vibe 101

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Image Source: The Vibe 101

You Are What You Eat – That Would Make Me Sweet Junk

They say love is a journey, not a destination. I guess I could use the same analysis for losing weight. In fact, if shedding the pounds is a journey, I wish there was an accompanying road map with a direct route to the ultimate hour glass figure, with regular pit stops at all you can eat venues, while bypassing the gym!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/22/139760C2000005DC-3300942-image-a-10_1446502158463.jpg

My campaign to transform into a ‘Victoria’s Secret supermodel’ has been a hard slog so far and there is no end in sight. Previous half hearted attempts at fighting the flab only resulted in a measly two kilos being shed over a twelve month period! The worst part, I quickly regained the weight, and managed to pile on a few extra pounds.  Based on my progress so far, the quest to trim down will be nothing short of a saga, longer than the Biggest Loser series. Queue the violins!

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According to Carol Montgomery, “married people don’t have to exercise because our attitude is, ‘They’ve seen us naked already, and they like it’”1. I can relate to this view. Ever since I found a wonderful man to share my life with, I have managed to gain some excess baggage. It was as if finding relationship bliss was a green light to letting my figure go like the Goodyear blimp. It doesn’t help that I too now share in my partner’s passion for all things sweet, especially dessert. That’s in addition to my addiction to greasy fast food. It’s enough to clog up the arteries. No wonder I’ve got so much junk in my trunk (sadly my booty is nothing like Kim Kardashian’s)!

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/13/2E0A3E9600000578-3300156-image-a-57_1446469237206.jpg

Luckily the better half loves to exercise – me…not so much! Since we’ve met, my weight has fluctuated as much as the Australian dollar, and continues to rise or fall as I go through spurts of dieting and exercising. Each time I reach my goal weight I become complacent and fall back on old habits by cutting back on work outs and spoiling myself by raiding the pantry and snacking on chips, chocolate, donuts, cakes, biscuit slices – hence, the never ending vicious cycle.

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Despite my newfound commitment to running, according to the scales, the fat hasn’t budged. We live in a world where we’re driven by instant results, but in this instance, a positive outcome hasn’t been forthcoming which is disheartening. It doesn’t help that running builds up my appetite and all I want to do is head towards the Maccas drive through for a chocolate sundae after a jog. This raises another issue, I want ready to eat healthy food (or at least easy to prepare food) that tastes good – it comes down to convenience.

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/11/02/14/2E0A8D3600000578-3296417-image-a-41_1446474496891.jpg

Everyday I’m bombarded on television by one stop diet solutions that claim to slim down your figure and melt the tummy fat away without the need to hit the gym. I’m sceptical of these so-called ‘comprehensive weight loss systems’ including diet shakes, supplements and pills. Besides, I don’t want to deprive myself of one of life’s most simple pleasures….food!

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So what do I do??? My plan is to continue to jog and work up a sweat; it’s a medium intensity work out that I’m beginning to enjoy. The next stage for me is to do a complete overhaul on what I eat and how much I consume. The aim is to cover the five food groups, eating more fruit and vegetables and taking focus away from the food positioned at the top of the food pyramid – goodbye Coke, Krispy Kremes, baked New York cheesecakes, sticky date puddings, burgers, pizzas (truthfully, it’s enough to make me cry, but it’s got to be done!).

Image Source: i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/03/01/006607E200000258-2974716-image-m-30_1425249418142.jpg

I’m realistic about my goal. I’m well aware that losing weight is hard work and will involve regular exercise and striking a balanced diet with the aim of eating healthier food that tastes great (which is my idea of a ‘happy meal’). This adjustment won’t happen overnight and will require changing a lifetime of bad eating habits and routines. The cravings will continue and I’ll be honest, I’ll still have weak moments but it’s about exhibiting some self-control and discipline over what and how much I consume going forward.  I can feel it in my waters, the path to getting in shape will be a long and winding one. The journey is a lifestyle change!

Source: McMeel, A “Wild words from wild women”, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, 2009 (2009 Calendar)

Citation: McMeel, A “Wild words from wild women”, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, 2009 (2009 Calendar)

Let’s Get Physical – Let Me Hear Your Body Talk

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

I’ll be the first to admit that exercising is a bitch (a bitch I’m more than willing to have a fight with). However, a recent comment by trainer Michelle Bridges  published in The Age – Daily Life in which she stated “You don’t have to be motivated to exercise, you just have to turn up and do it”1 spurned me to get off my podgy ass in my quest against the battle of the bulge.

Michelle continued with the punches saying “This whole ‘I can’t get motivated thing’ is a crock.”2 which was a further eye opening slap in the face that got my pulse racing. But to her credit, Bridges does offer up some sound advice to get me (or you) out of the exercise slump.

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

According to Bridges, be sure to choose an exercise that suits3. I hate exercising. I try to avoid it as much as Superman stays away from kryptonite. Unfortunately, my waistline went missing in action five years ago and I’ve recently embarked on a mission to locate it. Pilates, Zumba, Tai Bo – are just not my thing. Organising a gym membership is too costly, especially with my lack of commitment. So, I’ve decided to take my outdoor exercise regimen more seriously and commit to my running sessions. This routine gets me out of the house into the sunshine (which I enjoy) while I burn some calories jogging.

Michelle believes that exercising should be part of a regular routine and to exercise at any given opportunity4. Lifting up the remote and changing the channels on the TV is the extent of my fitness regime. Yet, Michelle points out that, “You can exercise while watching television”5. So whilst I salivate over the dishes featured on Masterchef, or scowl at the girls on Australia’s Next Top Model, or envy Kim’s curvaceous body on Keeping Up With the Kardashians – I’m in front of the TV screen working up a sweat in my daggy tracksuit performing squats and lunges (I do like to throw in a little Macarena or Gangnam-Style dance moves into the mix as well).

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Bridges advocates that varying your training is the key to maintaining motivation6. My better half bought me a bike which later became a decorative focal point in the garage. It gathered dust and cobwebs faster than Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries. However, with the warmer months looming, he’s encouraged me to ride my bike along the nearby track overlooking the ocean (see, the better half isn’t just a pretty face, he does come up with a few wise ideas). There’s nothing more soothing than a bike ride along the shoreline. I’ve got yoga mats that are lost somewhere in the depths of my cupboards which I need to locate. I need to continue with some much needed push-ups and stomach crunches to say goodbye to my muffin top.

Another tip from Michelle is to set yourself realistic goals7. During a half-hearted sprint session, I once tried to run 100m, Usain Bolt style, in 9.63 seconds…not even close. I was overtaken by a five year old! (At that point, I thought of trying another Olympic sport altogether, like curling. I’d blitz the field and sweep everyone off their feet!).  OK, so the bar was set too high. But, when I first began my jogging sessions, my initial goal was to jog 500m without passing out and it progressed from there – 500m without stopping to catch a breath – 1000m at a slow jogging pace, pausing only twice. I just have to improve on that momentum.

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Bridges recommends finding a training partner8. I must admit, I’ve trained once before with the better half and it was motivating having him with me. Seeing him lap me several times on an athletics track adds a little fuel to the fire, to push myself to jog further and faster. We’ve vowed to make this a routine every Sunday so that we can both improve on our fitness level.

Lastly, Michelle suggests to make firm exercise appointments and not to let exercise slip in the winter months9. Sadly for me, my loathing for training doesn’t begin or end at winter; it’s an on going drama regardless of what season. Even the thought of exercising is so exasperating it tires me out. I spend hours psyching myself up to put the trainers on, but it’s one excuse after another, ‘it’s too hot’, ‘it’s too cold’, ‘it’s raining’, ‘I’m having a bad hair day!’ Bottom line is, I have all the time in the world to exercise. I have no excuse not to! It goes back to Bridges’ original comment ‘you just have to turn up and do it!’.

So, with this in mind, I think there is still hope for me to become a Victoria’s Secret model – it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!

For further information, check out Michelle Bridges’ 12 Week Body Transformation website on http://www.12wbt.com/

Image Source: michellebridges.com.au/aboutmish/

Source:

http://www.dailylife.com.au/photogallery/health-and-fitness/dl-fitness/michelle-bridges-top-workout-tips-20120920-26890.html

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Citations On Request