Thursday, 30 April 2015

Rocking the Cliches When Buying Gifts for Mum

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Do you have your Mother's Day gift covered? Some people do, because this limited edition sparkly Opera Crystals Cinderella Clutch from Oroton (AU$1500.00) has SOLD OUT!

Or are you yet to turn over the calendar page from April 2015, and hence haven't twigged that MOTHER'S DAY is fast approaching!!??

There are plenty of ways to buck the trends and avoid the cliches when searching for a Mother's Day gift. Perhaps your Mum would like to go abseiling or on a bridge climb? Maybe she's dying to see Spandau Ballet in concert and hasn't got around to buying tickets yet (oh, is that just me?).

None of us like to revert to the old cliches when it comes to gift giving, but often we don't have the time to think too far outside the square. If you are finding yourself time/money/creativity challenged, then use these ideas to delight and spoil your Mum.

In the Kitchen:

This vibrantly patterned china jug by Christopher Vine holds 3.5 litres and comes in a dazzling array of other patterns and colours. This red beauty will give any table setting a lift, making a great statement without clashing. Fill it with flowers or use it for cool drinks. It's $49.95 from Myer.

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And if you have fallen hard for the current craze for all things copper, then these mixing bowls by Australian House & Garden are definitely a thing. This large bowl will add a glamourous gleam to any kitchen. Only $24.95 ea from Myer.
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Stationery:

They say that snail mail is almost dead, and with the increase in postage stamps pricing it possibly soon will be, but in the meantime, giving Mum gorgeous good quality stationery will always be appreciated.
Who knows, maybe you'll get a lovely thank you card coming right back at you!

Kikki.K has some super sweet ranges of memory books, journals and notebooks. Don't just buy a memory book - try writing in some favourite memories and sticking in some photos of happy times. It may take you hours to do the night before - but it will be worth the effort! And do remember, if you buy Mum a Thankful Journal, don't be offended if she chooses to write in it about things other than you… just saying.

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Flowers: 

Saying it with flowers is always a good idea. I'm actually a big fan of buying a few less expensive bunches (from say a local fruit shop or even, ahem, the supermarket) and combining them for a sort of large tousled arrangement that has a carefree cottagey edge to it. It will hopefully also be attractive. Add stuff from your own garden if that's an option. Raid weedy patches beside the road, within reason, and only if it's safe. Mum shouldn't have to spend her special day visiting you in the hospital!



And if you wanted to make up for enhance the wild DIY flower arranging, then buying a WOW factor vase will have your siblings gnashing their teeth! (not that that's the goal, obviously). This hammered copper heart is by the amazing Helen Bayley at LOVESTAR. Her family business was launched in 2012, and this super mum and her team hand makes each beautiful vase. The hearts can either stand upright in a clear perspex frame, or be hung on a wall. They are stunning.

Plant pots are also a good idea - particularly if they are filled with something like a succulent that is very hard to kill. Kmart has some really stand out examples of pots with gold details that are frankly, fantastic. For $10 a pot, you could even afford to add some potting mix which I'm told may prolong the life of the plant even further!

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Hampers:

I'm a big fan of the hamper. I come from a family that is mad on hampers. Over the years some have proved better than others. My brother wasn't overly impressed the year (it may have been his 21st, I can't recall) my parents gave him "a hamper" that was actually a plastic washing basket filled with no-name tinned food. Let's just say it lacked a little on the glamour side of things..

Mother's Day Hampers should be filled with items that your Mother would actually like to receive, and which she may not be inclined to buy for herself. Sometimes a themed hamper is the obvious gift. For example, if she has a beloved pet, choose pet-inspired presents that will appeal to her (and the pet). You could include doggy gourmet treats and chocolate for her; a mug with a pic of her favourite pooch/moggie; matching bows for her hair and the pet's; a pet magazine and maybe a nice brush or spray (for her or the pet, depending on who needs it most).

Follow this list for general hamper items for Mum - that can even be picked up from your nearest supermarket if you are doing it last minute!
Place items in a crisp paper gift bag with a sparkly bow on top. Or do something crafty like paint dip a second-hand basket. Give it a go - come on!!

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Cinderella Hamper:




Magazine options could include a mini subscription, offered by some publications, which means you don't have to pay a massive amount, and it gives your Mum a taste of a mag without the commitment of a full year. 

HOORAY! is a bi-monthly Australian mag offering sustenance, styling, atmosphere and celebrations! Perfect for any Mum who likes a party, a high tea or having everyone over for a swish soiree. 

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I hope these ideas inspire you to think a little creatively within the common cliche'd gift item categories that are wheeled out every Mother's Day!
Let me know what you end up with..

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Accidental Bargains!

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A story popped up on the net this week about the website of the luxury goods company, Balenciaga.

It was the stuff some dreams are made of (Well, my dreams. Can't vouch for yours..) The term "accidental discount" is music to any shopper's eager bargain-hunting ears, and when it's coupled with a company that make amazing handbags… you know it's gotta be good!

You see, Balenciaga's website went kind of psycho. For just one day, bags that used to be thousands of dollars, were down to just hundreds (I know, still not a bargain for some of us, but you get the picture!) Apparently as the news spread, women were texting each other with emoticons of unsurpassed excitement and joy - as they raced to their devices to pick up a luxury (and presumably, previously unobtainable) accidental bargain!

Well, that is until the company realised what was happening and shut down the website for 24 hours and cancelled all the erroneous (says who?!) orders. Blugh!

Not nice Balenciaga! Imagine the appalling precedent good will you would have installed in women around the world if you had honoured these orders that were simply taking advantage of your mistake?

Oh, okay, further research has shown that they did release this little statement: “Because Balenciaga values their patronage, clients who have been affected by the error will be reimbursed for their purchases and will be issued a gift certificate that will be redeemable at Balenciaga retail locations within the United States. Balenciaga customer service will contact each person individually with information on the gift certificate process.”

But still….

So I started thinking, what other items of pure loveliness could do with being accidentally discounted?

I thought I'd start with three random items.

The Watch: It's called the Arceau Ecuyere (whatever the heck that means) and is made by Hermes (that's pronounced her-may, if you were wondering). Any watch can tell the time. But this Hermes timepiece takes that practical notion to an entirely new level of gorgeousness! There's a touch of whimsey in those slanted numerals. Oh and of course there's the usual diamonds. Sparkle! The red alligator band keeps it real, don't you think?

Not real is the price tag. I'm embarrassed to say how much it really costs. Suffice to say if they took off about $19,550, I might consider saving up for one.

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A Rug. Why not? They can make all the difference in a living area feeling cosy and pulled together, or devoid of character and bitsy. However, I have found over the years that there is a BIG difference between cheap and generic rugs, and the designer variety where no costs have been cut on on the quality and feel and the design, colour and visual appeal.
Yes, I am saying that most cheap rugs are ugly and will fall apart. It's a decorating fact.

So, a new rug. Custom made is best, so that it perfectly fits your space. (Read this Houzz story for more info on choosing the right sized rug) The experts tell us that the front edges of your furniture should overhang the rug, or even sit entirely on the rug. Most off the rack (?) rugs are not that big. So my custom made rug of choice with a strong design and colour (neutrals begone!), a vintage feel and a floral theme is this one designed by Julie Paterson of ClothFabric. It's called Rough Rose, and it is beautiful!

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And if you have the stupendous rug then you need some decent furniture to put on it.
I choose this! Thank you accidental bargain fairy! If this dropped in price from US$12,400 to oh, say  $400, I'd be most grateful.

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Enough already?? I'm kind of excited at the possibilities here. I think the accidental bargains theme could keep me going for many years, possibly forever.

So tell me, if you could have something beautiful and unobtainable at an accidental bargain price, what would it be????

Mother's Day is fast approaching. Gift giving guide coming soon!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mountains getaway




This photo proves that even when you leave the city in glorious sunshine and arrive in the Mountains to rain, fog, mist, hail, wind, cold, and more rain… our family has FINALLY reached the stage where the kids can cope; where I don't go totally (yep true, not even close) insane, and no one got sick. Well nothing bar a sniffle.

Let's just all take a big happy sigh of relief on that one.

Last year I got pretty euphoric buying my last packet of nappies - but this beats that. Past Easters involved everything from communal throwing up to toddlers with broken collar bones (Jesse when he was two).
So this is a milestone that feels worth celebrating!

In the light of our interactions with THE ROYALS from last Easter (click here to read about when Eleanore gave flowers to William and Kate!) it was going to be hard for this year to match the hype.

However, on arrival, this idyllic view always seems to calm the mind and soothe the soul. Yes okay it lacks the excitement of mixing with Royalty, but peace and harmony are not to be sneezed at.

On our annual Easter trek to the Blue Mountains we've stayed for a number of years now in a gorgeous renovated cottage complete with cottage garden filled with lavender, roses, camellias and dahlias. Heavenly! Outside the front gate are spectacular views of mountains and valleys - the kind that tourist buses drive past. Quite regularly.

Exhaust fumes aside, it's the kind of place where you really feel you have escaped from the crush of city life. I quickly forget what day it is as I revel in a place where the grandeur of creation is literally right outside the front door! Not that I bush walk mind you. I enjoy looking at it. That's it really.


Over the long weekend, we attend Katoomba Easter Convention - a christian convention where around 3000 people, many of them families, come together to hear talks from the Bible. This year we were blessed to hear Paul Tripp from Philadelphia, USA. Click here if you'd like to read more.

The kids go to a fabulous programme, run by volunteers. They have a ball.

The last few years the weather has been great. Totally great.
It was time for a change (whether we wanted it or not).  Dark clouds were gathering…



The mists rolled in. I took this (not very good) shot, just as the fog descended and everything went white. There was kind of no point in taking photos after that. My worst moment, which I'll share with you (as sharing the pain is good, right?) ..was while trudging ankle deep in mud across an oval, in the pouring rain, while carrying a crying four-year-old + 2 bags + umbrella I thought that I'd probably had enough of mountains weather. I was ready for some sun.


We didn't see the sun again until the third day (Easter Sunday), which was kind of fitting. We felt joy at being able to dry out and warm up. But the joy of reflecting on the great news that Jesus has risen was H U G E!!!!!!

It is heartening to focus on God over the Easter weekend, remembering all that he has done and is doing in our lives.  Paul Tripp talked about us having gospel amnesia, and I knew what he meant. Life gets in the way. We get distracted by the everyday.  We forget that God's great love is life-changing. That we should be living our lives as if He matters, every single day.

Here's a few more happy Mountains shots:

Eggs ready to be hidden


Dahlia picked from the garden


High tea with friends 


Kids at the lake


Feeding the ducks


Autumn splendour at Grandma's House


Happy Easter Everyone!

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Have Courage, Be Kind

It was heartening to take the girls to a movie with a message that was worth hearing. Cinderella was always going to be fun; you expect the sparkle (blue dress and crystal slipper), the loveliness of a girl unjustly made into a servant by unkind relatives, and the righting of that wrong when the (improbable but wonderful) Fairy Godmother appears. And the marrying of a Prince, who recognises true beauty when he sees it...

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But this version of Cinderella sought to delve a little deeper. Was there something about Cinderella's character that warranted her eventual rise to attending the ball and marrying the prince?
Why yes, there was.

She had more kindness in her little finger, than most people possess in their whole body! Her dying mother tells her this and tells her that this quality holds power - power that Ella can use for good. Ella chooses to live with these qualities at the forefront of her mind and actions. And as her circumstances deteriorate, it is heartening to see that her spirit is not broken.

Ella even notices and cares for the smallest of the small, the mice who scurry around her shabby chic house (which incidentally, brought out lots of decorating ideas in me - now, just off to find a castle!) Even the mice deserve a teacup table and lacy cloth on which to eat their tidbits.

And just because hunting is what is always done, does not mean that is what always should be done! Yay, Cinderella is against the cruel hunting of the great stag, and not afraid to tell the dashing young man (who yes, is the prince) in the forest her opinion.

Cinderella has lived with great sorrow - the plethora of parents dying in this movie was a little shocking for my soft-hearted eight year old! But instead of becoming embittered, or nasty, or mean - like her stepmother (M'am) and stepsisters - Cinderella has chosen to see the good in the world, and in the people around her.


The difference between being beautiful on the inside (Cinderella) and having beauty on the outside while being ugly on the inside (the Stepmother and sisters) is a point well made. Somehow a little more pointed than the easy to dislike caricature of ugly stepsisters (both inside and out). And the point is again well made when we are introduced to the hideous hag (Helena Bonham Carter does this sooooooo well!!) who Cinderella, though shocked, is still instantly able to show kindness towards.

When the hag transforms into the Fairy Godmother, we see that Ella's kindness and courage has been rewarded, just at the time when faced with massive disappointment and rejection, Ella is questioning whether kindness and courage are worth the effort.

Reminded me how these qualities of kindness and courage are what followers of Jesus also aspire to. Jesus was the ultimate role model in showing kindness and love to the people the world loved the least. He accepted where others rejected and welcomed the unlovely into his arms.

And as Easter is upon us I'm in awe of the courage it must have taken for Jesus to obey his Heavenly Father and submit to such a cruel death. Yes it was to save the world, but did that make it any easier? It's a message worth telling, because it's about a love and courage that is life changing. And world changing. And I think our world needs to know. Don't you?

www.dearlillie.com