Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Villa Vivante

For 5 nights I am holidaying in Coffs Harbour, staying at a fabulous mansion called "Villa Vivante". My friends and I found this Villa on Stayz.com and after looking at more photos on the Villa website we decided to book it, even though it costs $1,200 a night!
So we got together a group of 8 of us (two couples, and 4 singles) and decided to make a holiday of it at the end of January. The week before our holiday we were starting to worry because of the threats of floods in the area, and we weren't positive we'd be able to even get here! But we all made it, and we've been greatly enjoying the mansion, especially today since the sun has finally come out!

The photo above was taken earlier today from the steps leading out to the infinity pool. Impressive, I know. But the water is pretty darn cold!!
This mansion has a lot of great features but it's not without fault.

  • The 8 person spa was broken, so we haven't been able to use it until today (with only 2 days left in our stay).

  • The beautiful kitchen is missing a standard spatula/egg flip, the blender leaks, the dishwasher takes forever, and the large plates don't fit in the dishwasher!

  • Due to either bad craftmanship or just bad weather, there are wet spots around the house, and the wooden frames of the doors seem to expand and then make it difficult to close the doors.

  • The rain-type shower in one of the rooms has barely any shower pressure, and therefore is a bit of a waste.

  • The fancy bath in my room has one of those plugs you usually see in hotels where you have to turn a silver knob and the plug comes up/goes down. This doesn't work, and it takes a lot of fiddling to get the plug to go up so you can empty the bath.

  • There are no fly-screens, which is great for the open-air vibe, but I'm sure there are other kind of fly-preventing devices which could have been installed.

  • The drive way is an absolute bitch to get up and down - pretty dangerous and scary - and the parking situation is also difficult.

But really, these are only complaints because this house is so fabulous that it seems strange you wouldn't strive for perfection when you're building it. The fact that the spa wasn't heating up really is a first world problem!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Over the Christmas/New Year break I went a little bit mental in regards to the little garden in my courtyard. It was so overgrown with weeds and this big annoying pink flower thing that I hate. So one day I got home and just started ripping everything out of it. Yep, mental!
I wish I had have taken a photo of it before I got to ripping, but I was just too mental to stop and think. So everything got ripped out and then I went to Bunnings to find some flowers to plant. I have succeeded beautifully!!

Check out this photo, taken shortly after planting:

And now, just 1 month after planting:

I have to say, I am pretty damned impressed with myself! I have managed to remember to water them, and weed (bloody grass-like weeds), almost every day! And I am reaping the benefits!! I think I might get some more, they make me happy. Snapdragons always remind me of the talking flowers in Alice in Wonderland. Although when you watch the following YouTube video you'll see that there aren't any Snapdragons in that scene!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby got back

I've always been a relatively petite person, and have often received comments about how tiny I am. I went through a stage when some size 6 clothes would be too big for me, and even though I ate lots of bad food and never exercised, I never put on weight.

All of that has recently changed and I have been putting on weight! I blame turning 30, and falling in love. I'm now all kinds of content, happy and chubby! Although that being said, I'm still wearing some size 6 skirts, and I don't own anything bigger than a size 10, so I really shouldn't be complaining.

A couple of weeks ago, however, I tried to wear a dress to work and there were 4 dresses that I had made that no longer fit me!! What a depressing morning! My fiancé tried to help my by using his strength to do up the zips, but I had to point out that if the two sides of the fabric don't meet, no amount of strength will close that zip!

With that in mind I started making some new dresses, but I found that my trusty dress makers form (made in 2009 by a friend wrapping me up in duct tape) doesn't mach my shape as well as it used to. So I am endeavoring to pad out my dress makers form and I have had to take some measurements in order to do this. Ignoring the addition of up to 4 inches in places, I found a really interesting measurement and I wonder if other people have similar figures.

My waist measures 29", my bum (at the largest part) measures 39". Yep, I have a 10" bum! Even more interesting than that is the fact that once you get two inches below my waist, I expand by about 4 inches straight away! This is best illustrated in the great dress that I have, check out the pictures below.

Luckily I have always enjoyed classic movies, and therefore the idea of having a small waist and a larger bottom is fine by me! I think it makes me look a little bit more vintage, and a lot more interesting than a straight up and down stick figure. The one thing I wish though, is that my bust measurement would be in proportion with my other measurements. According to most pattern sizes, I'm a size 10 in the bust, and then a 14 everwhere else! Luckily this dress, from Kitten D'Amour, fits quite nicely and isn't too big in the bust area.

I have just done some quick googling of some of my favourite actresses measurements, and it turns out that a 10" bum isn't that strange after all!!

My measurements - 34 (bust)-29(waist)-39(hips)

Jane Russell - 38-24-36
Marilyn Monroe - 36-23-37
Heddy Lamar - 33-22-34
Betty Grable - 34-24-36
Vivien Leigh - 32-23-33
Ava Gardner - 36-23-37
Ann Miller - 35-22-34

Some modern day starlet measurements:
Rachel McAdams - 34-25-37
Anne Hathaway - 34-26-34
Kate Beckinsale - 34-24-34
Natalie Portman - 34-25-35
Jessica Biel - 34-24-34

So my analysis of those figures implies that Hollywood actresses have an amazing ability to keep a tiny waist (maybe these measurements are taken while sucking in!), and some bums have gotten a little bit smaller - they seem to be more align with bust size, rather then a little bit bigger. Hmmm...interesting.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fashions on the Field - part 1

Every year during the Spring Racing Carnival I think that I should have made an outfit and entered Fashions on the Field. But of course, by the time they're promoting Fashions on the Field, and I realise that I should have made something, it is way too late. So last year, during the Mebourne Cup Carnival, I decided that I was going to enter Fashions on the Field at Canberra's biggest race, the Black Opal Stakes.
Last week I had a meeting with my milliner, Viktoria Novak of Viktoria Novak Design, and we started planning my custom designed headpiece to go with my outfit that I will be making. I'm pretty excited, because I've decided to go with a headpiece that is a little extravagant - if you're going to dress up for the races, you may as well go all out!
Today I started working on my dress, well I started on the toile - that is, I'm making the dress in calico first so that i don't end up wasting the silk that I bought. Calico only costs a couple of dollars a meter, so I'm fine with making mistakes. And considering I'm using a very vintage pattern, it is a very good thing that I'm making the toile first.
Here are some photos from todays work:

This is the vintage pattern that I'm working off, my interpretation and what the dress will hopefully look like, a shot of some vintage gloves that I have bought online, and some notes from Viktoria about shoes and embelishments for the dress.

This is a piece of the pattern that I have based my dress on. It is actually so old that there is no printing on it - they have used punched out little holes to write the letters, and to indicate other marks. The instructions are also not especially clear - but unfortunately that happens with current day patterns as well.
Below is a shot of what I have done so far. I'm actually pretty happy with it - it looks a lot better on me than it does on my dress makers form. I made that form out of duct tape a couple of years ago, and it was an exact model of my body. Unfortunately I have since put on some weight - damn being happy and content - and the form is no longer representative of my form!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Naughty shopping

This past week has been a very bad week in regards to shopping. Well the shopping has been quite good, but that fact that I've been shopping at all is the bad thing.

I think it could have been a reaction to the fact that I recently donated some clothes and shoes to the Salvos. After New Years I decided to clean out my closet and throw out the things that I haven't worn since I moved into my Granny Flat. The throw-out bag ended up containing a number of nice shoes, dresses, and things that I had bought thinking I was still a size 6!

And so, in reaction to this clean out, I have bought 3 pairs of shoes in 3 days! Argh! But they were all on sale. Pair 1, pictured below, were only $30 reduced from $80. Pair two are potential wedding shoes from Tony Bianco, rrp:$190 - on ebay:$90! And then pair 2 are for my Black Opal Stakes Day outfit, and I was told to buy them by my Milliner. But they were also on sale, rrp:$139.95 - online price: $41.95.

So really I actually saved $258!!

But I really do need to save more and spend nothing - I really want to buy a house, and so I really need to pay off my debts and save for the deposit. Hopefully writing this blog will help me, because I will share my shopping exploits with you and you can publicly shame me!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Love Never Dies - Review

This weekend I went to see Love Never Dies courtesy of tickets that I won through the 'City News' magazine.
Love Never Dies is the sequal to the The Phantom of the Opera. It is set 10 years after the original, and in Coney Island in America. The Phantom has moved here and set up "Phantasom" which is a freak show of sorts. By chance, Christine Daaé, the Phantom's past love/obsession, shows up in New York and of course this brings up the Phantom's obsession once more.
This review won't go into too many details, and won't include any spoilers (unlike a review I read recently, in which the title of the review totally gave away a key story line!).
I was very hesitant in watching this show as I am a huge fan of the Phantom and I was really worried that I would see the sequal and just hate it. Thankfully that didn't happen, I loved it. I didn't love it as much as the original, the songs aren't of the same calibar, and the original will remain my favourite. However I did enjoy it, I liked the way it continued the story, filled in what happened after the Opera House burned down, and brought the relationship between the Phantom and Christine to a conclusion...of sorts....
The show itself is a spectacle that encourages the imagination. The sets are amazing and some of the special 'Coney Island' features are truly impressive.

I would definitely recommend this show to people who have either never seen The Phantom of the Opera before (a friend who went with me has never seen the original show), or have seen the original and loved it. Don't expect to have a strong urge to buy the soundtrack, and I personally don't have an urge to see the performance again (although I could watch the original again and again), but it was enjoyable with a good plot, strong characters and a nice twist at the end. Even my fiancé enjoyed it!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lana Del Rey

In December last year, one of the girls at work introduced me to a song called "Video Games" by an artist called Lana Del Rey. It has such a nice sound to it and I really liked it, so I started searching for more....and I found some gems!!
My favourite song by Lana is "Kinda Out of Luck". Listen to it, and watch the very cool film clip, here:
Some of my favourite lines include:
  • Femme fatale, always on the run. Diamonds on my wrist, whiskey on my tongue.
  • Tittering off of the stage yeah!
  • Is it right or wrong, that I think it's kind of fun, to hit you in the back of the head with gun?

Her flim clips are really interesting, she's gorgeous and I'm just loving her music. Highly reccomended!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

By Madame Clochette

For Christmas my sister gave me this lovely handbag. She makes them and sells them on Etsy - in her store Madame Clochette. I was going to buy one last year, but she wouldn't give me a family discount!! I'm glad I waited so that I got this one as a gift - its so lovely! It matches my engagement ring, and most things that I wear.
She makes them using bangles as the handles. This means you can put it on your wrist and keep your hands free for a glass of champage and a canape! Instead of having to hold your clutch under your arm and then drop it as you titter around in high heels....not that I'm often tittering in high heels, but it has been known to happen.

The bags are surprisingly small, but look at everything I fit in it:

And I could fit some more in as well! On Christmas day I also had a compact in there...but I wasn't using this purse. My friend Sharon gave me this little silver purse for my birthday and it fits my licence, key cards and money in it perfectly.

I am going to comission Madame Clochette to make a bag to match my Fashions on the Field outfit. But more of that later.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Creme Brûlée

For Christmas I received the gift of a Brûlée torch, and so tonight I am making Creme Brûlée, actually a dark chocolate and raspberry Creme Brûlée.

We are going to have these for desert, since I'm making egg rolls stuffed with chicken and vegetables for dinner.
I forgot to take a photo before we ate!! So I only have a photo of the aftermath of what was a very nice meal. It was a little bit fiddly, but worth it because it was quite tasty. I had to find a bottle of "Ketjap Manis", which is a kind of soy sauce. It took me ages to find it, and it turns out it's with all the sauces, not the Asian foods (which I initially thought).

Turns out the Creme Brûlée was awesome!! I'm not sure if I put too much brown sugar on, or if I didn't have the torch hot enough to start with, but it took a while to actually "brûlée" them. Luckily I have two more in the fridge that I can do tomorrow....maybe I should take them to work? But probably not, as there aren't enough to go around!

Cross Stitch for JJ

My current Cross Stitch project is going to be a present for my fiancé's nephew, JJ. He is about 14 months old at the moment, so when I saw this in <i>The World of Cross Stitching</i> I thought it would be perfect for him....at least by the time I finish it! He'll be walking soon, and if I wait until his birthday, in September (I think), then he'll be able to use it for toys or crayons or something.

This is what it is meant to look like:
And this is what I'm up to at the moment:
I'm pretty happy with my progress so far. Since I've been off work I've been churning through them fairly quickly. I have probably only be working on them for a week, so with only three more to go then I should be finished pretty soon. Although then I'll have to do the actual putting together, which I think I will leave until later. I like to do some cross stitching while I'm watching TV so I'm sure I'll start a new cross stitch soon enough.

Day 1, 2012

This has been the first day of a new year, and this is the first blog post of my new blog. My old blog, which I started in 2009, can be viewed at www.duchess-theduchess.blogspot.com. I decided to start a new blog because, in a way, I'm starting a new life.

In the past six months my life has changed drastically.
Work: I stopped being an event coordinator and started being a team leader for eHealth and Pactice Support. One day I may write a post about eHealth and/or Practice Support, but it won't be today.
Love: I got engaged to the man of my dreams and he moved in and became a reality. The reality may not be the same as the dream, but I still like it and I'm very happy.
So you could say that I went from being a spinster shit-kicker, to being loved and in charge of stuff! Pretty good change if you ask me!

This has meant, however, that I don't find myself with a lot of spare time. Where my last blog had a number of posts about things I had made, I really haven't made many things in the past year. I am determined to change that because I really do like doing crafts and I enjoy it. It is also a great way to save money, either in regards to clothes or gifts.

The following are my goals for 2012:
  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Eat healthily
  3. Save money
  4. Get crafty
  5. Blog consistently
Hopefully you will be able to follow my blog and see regular updates. Wish me luck!!