A foreign rendezvous, a blizzard and a few dirty martinis

February 18 2018

Sponsored by Diamondport

This is a bit of a personal, loved-up post. Along with Valentines Day, this week also marked five years since JS and I got engaged. I’m feeling a little sentimental and I’m going to tell you about how I came to be Mrs Smith.

I was 20 when I met JS, he was 21. We were so young: studying, living at home and yet to dip more than a toe into ‘adulting’.  JS wasn’t ever romantic in the traditional sense but he’s always been very charismatic and I had little control over how hard I fell for him. A few years later we’d moved in together (which, quite honestly, was nearly a non-starter after we decided we were capable of moving all of our own things using a horse float #PoorJudgement #NoCharismaThatDay). A few more years on, we’d learned a lot about ourselves (like, that my cooking skills leave a lot to be desired) and each other (like, that JS may never outgrow his youthful love of a good party). After seven years together, we’d bought a home and welcomed a schnoodle, Archie Boo Smith, into our lives and I’d known for a long while that in JS, I had found the love of my life.

Engagement ring/s Brisbane

Archie Boo Smith, firstborn schnoodle

Our time together has been perforated with JS traveling for work, often on extended trips. In mid-December of 2012, JS took off to Panama for a ‘two-week’ work trip. By February 2013, we’d been apart more than six weeks and there was no sign of the work being completed anytime soon. We had three options: JS could come home for a visit, I could visit Panama OR we could meet somewhere else. After some quick maths, we planned a meetup in New York!

A snowy NYC rendezvous

With barely a few days notice we both set off: me, burying my near-paralysing travel anxiety deep inside and J navigating several missed attempts to make it out of Panama. Finally, we met up in New York City for five very chilly, and very magical, New York City days.

Good morning NYC – sunrise on my first morning in town. JS didn’t make it ’til later after delays out of Panama. [Engagement ring/s Brisbane]

By day three, a snowstorm had rolled into the city. Through crazy coincidence, JS and I have been in NYC for two of the biggest snow events in the past couple of decades. Let me tell you this: the ‘city that never sleeps’ shuts down in a blizzard. It is not a time to be outdoorsy. After braving the increasingly wild weather in the morning, we took refuge in an old-world cigar bar on 50-somethingth street for the afternoon. Rugged up indoors, we watched snow billow past on the street. Several hours and several more dirty martini’s later, we went in search of some food and found a steakhouse where JS had ‘the best steak of his life’. (Later, he’d claim the steak was ‘the turning point’ toward our impending engagement.) After dinner, JS told me he wanted to take me somewhere.

People asked later if I had any inkling as to what was about to happen and the answer is yes. I knew something was up. There was a bit of magic in the air. Which is why I allowed myself to be led in circles around New York in a blizzard (an afternoon of dirty martinis doesn’t help one’s sense of direction) before we arrived on a deserted 5th avenue, nowhere in particular and certainly not the at aforementioned ‘somewhere’. JS spun around to face me and grabbed my mitten-clad hands. “Rara, will you marry me?”. There was no bended knee, no ring, but it was every inch JS: a little bit intoxicated, not entirely sure of our destination but up for anything and perfect in every way. More than a little giddy myself, I asked several questions before blurting “yes!”.

Engagement ring/s Brisbane

A blurry, blizzardy, squinty selfie on Fifth Ave, moments before JS ‘popped the question’. Also, this hat! Desperate chilly times result in desperate fashion choices! 

Choosing an engagement ring

After our five days of glorious, snow-covered escapism, JS went back to his project in Panama and I came home. It was another two and a half months before he followed me, which gave me plenty of time to contemplate the type of engagement rings Brisbane had on offer. JS knows I am very particular and I was glad to have the opportunity to choose a ring together. My googling told me we’d have better value for money buying from a wholesale diamond merchant. We found someone locally and after considering a whole range of options, we picked a cushion cut diamond and a halo ring design.

A torturously long wait

Despite me thinking I’d just had the longest wait of my life hanging out for JS to return from his ‘two-week’ work trip, the wait to receive the ring felt even longer. We had several missed delivery dates and a whole range of infuriating customer service.  The finished product is a ring I love dearly, but the process we went through was enough to evoke one’s inner bridezilla and take joy out of what was otherwise a wonderful time. I wish we’d done a bit more research beyond stones and price to find someone who would have guaranteed a great experience.

How to have a great engagement ring purchase experience

So how do you know who are good providers and who are not? Five years later, we are now pretty spoilt with Google and Facebook reviews which quickly give you a sense of customer sentiment. I was invited to write this post in partnership with specialists in engagement rings Brisbane, Diamondport. I was initially a little cautious… I’m out of the engagement ring market and wouldn’t ordinarily recommend someone I haven’t purchased from. So instead, I did the research I wish I’d done 5 years ago.

What I learned about Diamondport

I was enormously impressed to find that Ashley Portas at Diamondport has 166 x 5-star reviews on Google and 49 x 5-star reviews on Facebook without a single review of 4 stars or lower. Plus Ash – a self-confessed romantic – has received a whole bundle of detailed, gushing customer testimonials about his care and attention to detail. Ashley is also a wholesale diamond merchant, so if like we were, you’re looking for the very best price on a diamond, he’s got you covered. Next time we’re shopping for diamonds (because honestly is there such a thing as too many diamonds!?) or I’m asked for an engagement ring recommendation, I will absolutely be pointing to Ash.

Engagement Rings Brisbane

Engagement rings Brisbane: some of the gorgeous designs from Diamondport pic via @diamondport_brisbane

Five years on

We were married in the November 2013 (some pics here) and life has continued to deliver us love and lessons and schnoodles (Sadie Sue Smith joined our family in 2016).

Sadie Sue Smith, our schnoodle #2

JS hasn’t become a romantic, but I’ve learned that love comes in forms other than red roses or meticulously executed proposals… like a custom-built wardrobe. Or taking care of dinner while I write a blog post. Or advocating for gender equality. Or a tag on a cute dog meme during a tough day.  Sometimes great acts of love look different to the ones we see in the movies.

Are you a romantic? Is your partner? If you’re engaged or married, how did your proposal happen? 

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Running on empty.

December 7 2017

I feel as if I’ve run out of steam.

The 11 months of 2017 soared by at warped pace, with assignments and research and events and travel and fash-un and laughs and friends and family and fundraising and work and progress. 11 busy months. 11 amazing months. 11 months where I stayed true to my inner over-committer. 11 months where I kept it together… just.

And it seems as if my body has had enough, done enough and is boycotting December.

I was struck down by a migraine last Friday, barely 12 hours after signing off from the final 2017 event of the not-for-profit industry association I’m involved in running. Wiped out, two days. I dragged myself into work on Monday and went downhill, seemingly succumbing to the head cold that everyone in my office had this year – except for me… until now. I’ve been in bed since, a congested ball of germs. I swear this sort of thing didn’t last this long when we were kids? Why am I five days in and still thick with lurgy?

I have an assignment yet to complete this month, I’ve sought an extension to buy me some time. Who on earth decided it was appropriate to run university during December? This is my 36th university subject and I’ve despised every occasion I’ve been required to bunker down in the books during party season. This subject will be no exception.

This is clearly a ranty germ-addled post from someone who’s seemingly got some cabin fever setting in. And let me acknowledge my complaints are mild ones, I know there are scores of people dealing with very real issues of a whole range that make my whinging look like a picnic in the park on a sunny day.

The point I want to make is this: I know I’m not the only one running on end-of-year empty. Maaaybe we need to be a little kinder to ourselves, a little more inclined to say no, plan in a little more roses-smelling time and find some marker for a life-well-lived that isn’t doing All Of The Things.

And maybe, perhaps, possibly, kinda I’m really trying to make these suggestions to myself.  

Wherever you’re at as we reach the end of the year, my very best non-germ-infested vibes to you. Four years in, this space on the internet still brings me so much joy, which comes through sharing it with you. Thank you x

The Girl Power Gift Guide

December 3 2017

Christmas season is upon us and if you are wracking your mind on what to purchase for the women in your world I have some ideas for you! In a year of #metoo’s and Trump, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give a little lady-themed joy to brighten the sparkle of the women (and equality-campaigning men!) in your life. So this year the Sublime Finds gift guide is 25 entirely girl-power-themed pressies! I hope it may inspire the feminist in you!

1. SHE: Muses, Visionaries and Madcap Heroines by kate spade new york

There’s so much to love about this exquisite coffee-table book by kate spade new york. Perfectly styled, packed with women equal parts inspiring and fashionable, SHE: muses, visionaries and madcap heroines celebrates the women whose bold personalities and styles play an important role in the lives of women today. With rich photography, spirited quotes and profiles, amusing anecdotes, words of wisdom, personal essays, and signature kate spade new york “she” statements, every page of SHE is a feast to devour. One of my absolute favourite gifts of the season.

2. Feminist with a To-Do List tote

For the woman going places and getting shizzle done!

3. Female Fortitude Socks

Emblazened with ‘I’m a girl, what’s your superpower?’ these eye catching socks celebrate what it is to be a girl.

4. Leaders in Heels Phenomenal Woman Planner

The Leaders In Heels Phenomenal Woman planner is on my Christmas Wishlist this year and this is why: it’s beautiful (comes in three finishes), mongrammable, packed full of pages promoting planning and intention setting plus structured prompts to make 2018 a super meaningful year!

5. We Can Do It! Cross Stitch Kit

Know a craft-loving feminist? Treat her to a little girl power cross stitch. This is one of MANY different designs and styles, varying in complexity (and profanity) available on Etsy.

We Can Do It! Cross Stich via Etsy, $15.61

We Can Do It! Cross Stich via Etsy, $15.61

6. I’m a Grown-Ass Lady and I Do What I Want mug

For the lady in your life who likes to let her coffee mug do the talking!

Grown-Ass Lady Mug via Emily McDowell, $18 USD

Grown-Ass Lady Mug via Emily McDowell, $18 USD

7. Misogynist Tears Flask

For the vocal feminist in your life with a wicked sense of humour and tough skin to boot, you can’t go past the misogynist tears flast from WildFang. <insert giggles here!>

8. Rules of the Game: Women in The Masculine Industries by Teagan Dowler

An essential read for any women interested in or currently working in the masculine industries of engineering, construction and mining in Australia. Following her own experience and interviews with more than 50 women and Teagan Dowler reveals the realities of life for women working in masculine industries. The good, the bad and everything in between, Teagan’s writing style has you turning pages. Rounded out with a dose of excellent suggestions for women finding their way, this book is a comforting friend for any woman finding herself among the minority, or wanting a better picture of what life is like. A great gift for the enlightened bloke in your life too!

9. Wild Feminist Snapback

What’s a snapback? I have no idea, but I sure do love this one from Wild Feminist. Plain black up top and adorned with Feminist under the brim, this is becoming a bit of a cult item popping up on well known peoples around the traps.

10. Nevertheless, she persisted tee

From the smart and gorgeous dames at Champagne Cartel, the Nevertheless, she persisted tee is the reminder we all need at some point. And yes, the text is pink glitter. One of my faves!

11. GRL PWR notebook by Words with Heart

Not only are these gorgeous notebooks from Words with Heart adorned with inspiring messages for the gal in your life, each one funds a day of school for a girl in Cambodia. This gift gives twice!

12. Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History bangle

A beautiful piece of jewellery and a subtle reminder to paint the town red in this fabulous bangle from Be Bangles. It’s one of a whole range adorned with inspiring messages for women.

13. The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

‘I need a wife’ may be a common joke among women juggling work and family. But it’s not actually a joke. Having a spouse who takes care of things at home is a Godsend on the domestic front. It’s a potent economic asset on the work front. And it’s an advantage enjoyed – even in our modern society – by vastly more men than women. In The Wife Drought Annabel Crabb dissects the domestic and workplace inequities that serve men and the status quo. Rich with research but as witty as ever – a must read for every Aussie feminist.

14. Misogyny Speech Tea Towel

If Julia Gillard’s famous parliamentary misogyny speech had you fist pumping in the air, capture this little piece of history with it in full on a tea towel. If the irony of the tea towel is a litte too much, you’ll also find a poster in the Emily’s List shop.

15. Smash the Patriarchy Black Sparkle Pen Set

Personally, if I’m going to be reminded of my patriarchy smashing responsibilities, I’d quite like it to be via a set of sparkle pens. I also think these could make for quite interesting ‘could I borrow a pen’ scenarios!

16. Feminist Prints

Let the inspiring women of history adorne your walls with these minimalist, bright and bold prints from PoppermostPrints on Etsy. Also available in singles or sets of 4!

17. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls

I loved this book SO much I bought seven copies when it was released earlier this year and gifted them to the girls in my life. Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls is the brain child of Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo who started what went on to become the most successful book go-fund-me in history, raising over $600,000 against their $40,000 target to write a storybook telling the tales of incredible women throughout history. Packed with gorgeous illustrations and inspiring stories, it’s a book girls of all ages (yes, including your age!) should know the contents of.

18. Women of NASA Lego kit

The perfect gift for the lego-enthusiast or aspiring astronaut in your life (male or female)! Making both a great lego experience and a fantastic bit of history, this set is a fabulous gift fo ages 10+.

19. Hidden Figures

The perfect accompaniment to the lego set, the Hidden Figures movie tells the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe). Moving, inspiring, and memorable – hold the mascara.

20. The Future is Female Kids Tee or Onesie

Raising a feminist? There’s a onesie or tee for them! From 3-6months up to kids size 12.

21. The Good Girl Stripped Bare, by Tracey Spicer

Lucky for us, there’s no shortage of excellent feminist memoirs to devour, but if I’m going to recommend only one, it has to be Tracey Spicer’s The Good Girl Stripped Bare. For several reasons: Tracey is equal parts intimidatingly clever and down-to-earth hilarious. Her memoir is honest and as objectively told as one could possibly expect when reading an autobiography. But most significantly, I’d go as far as to suggest it paints the tale of a generation of women, pushed to the limit of what they’re willing to endure as a result 2of their gender. This is the background story to the history playing out in our media now in the post-Weinstein world, why Tracey Spicer was the one to ask women with stories of sexual harassment to contact her and why she is at the centre of the investigative journalism into claims against 65 men, the first of which was Don Burke. And that is also the final reason that you should buy Tracey’s book – because she is undertaking incredibly difficult work that will benefit all of us as women and it’s the least we can do in return. As I said to Tracey when I met her at a signing earlier this year and I say again now: thank you for everything you are doing.

 

22. The Girl Power: You Are Enough Manifesto

Emily McDowell has beautifully created this print of Jen Pastiloff’s Girl Power manifesto.

23. Men’s Feminist Tee

If there’s a man in your life who takes his equality as seriously as you do, he might love wearing his feminism loud and proud too!

Mens Feminist T-Shirt, $21.41

SaveSave24. Girl Gang Enamel Pin

A little pin to tie your squad together!

Girl Gang Enamel Pin, $17.06

25. Feminist Unicorn Cushion

For the friend who has everything – because do you really have everything if you don’t have a feminist unicorn cushion!? :p

There you have it friends! 25 girl-power gifts. If you’re looking for more I thoroughly recommend popping across to femeconomy.com to purchase from a business at least 50% owned or 30% managed by women.

Yours in festive girl-powered goodness! 

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Do you give girl-powered gifts? Spied a good one, not on this list? Let us know in the comments!

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2017 Beauty Advent Calendars Available in Australia

November 12 2017

It’s that time of year again: the festive season is upon us! Our favourite stores are filling to the brim with gorgeous gifts, yet few products will fly off the shelves as quickly as the 2017 beauty advent calendars!

For the uninitiated, beauty advent calendars provide a calorie-free way for Christmas enthusiasts to embrace the festive season.  Just like the chocolate version you may have experienced as a kid, each day in the lead up to Christmas has the opportunity open a new window or box. Within lies a coveted, mini beauty product from a brand of your choosing making a fun and indulgent way to enjoy the festive season! Additionally, it often provides the opportunity to sample the best products from a beauty brand at a fraction of the retail price for full-sized products. That’s not to say all beauty advent calendars are a steal; they range broadly in price from novelty to the truly luxurious.

Whatever your budget, I have an option for you below! It gives me great pleasure to present the 2017 Beauty Advent Calendars available in Australia… for a *strictly* limited time!

2017 Beauty Advent Calendars!

1. The Body Shop: 25 Day Ultimate Advent-ure calendar

We’ll kick off with the Body Shop who has totally spoilt us this year with FOUR different advent calendars!

Filled with a mix of The Body Shop’s all-time favourite beauty and makeup products, the 25 day ultimate advent-ure calendar is arguably the most coveted in The Body Shop’s collection. In addition to the luxurious goodies, this calendar also includes a feel-good action to complete every day! Plus once you’ve opened box 25, your calendar transforms into a trivia quiz to play on Christmas Day. (I LOVE this!)

The Body Shop’s 25 Day Ultimate Advent calendar, $200

2. The Body Shop: 25 day game-changing advent-ure calendar

The 25 day game-changing advent-ure calendar gives you body care, skincare, makeup and accessories and like it’s big sister above, also contains feel good daily suggestions and a trivia game to complete in the end!

The Body Shop’s 25 days of Game Changing Advent-ure calendar, $170

3. The Body Shop: 25 day Standard Advent Calendar

Bodycare, skincare, tools and accessories – this version has a little something for everyone. Also get your feel-good fix with daily suggestions and a trivia game to play after day 25 with the whole family!

The Body Shop: 25 day Standard Advent Calendar, $140

4. The Body Shop: 24 days of beauty advent calendar

The classic advent – this version is perfect for someone trying The Body Shop for the first time, or keen to revisit a sample selection. Lots to love right through December!

The Body Shop’s cruelty-free, 24 Days of Beauty advent calendar, $100

5. Asos: The Grooming Advent Calendar

Beauty advent calendars need not only be for the ladies – including your man-friend in the action with The Grooming Advent Calendar from Asos featuring plenty of products to keep your hip man friend in check.

6. NYX Professional Makeup Kiss and Tell Advent Calendar

Are you all about the pout? you won’t want to miss this indulgent selection of 24 lipsticks, glosses and lip creams by NYX!

7. Ole Hendrikson’s 12 days of glow

Sample a range of goodies from Ole Hendrikson’s skincare range including brand favourite, truth serum. From cleaners, to scrubs, serums and gels – there’s a lot to love about this pack from Sephora.

2017 Beauty Advent Calendar - Ole Hendrickson

2017 Beauty Advent Calendar: Ole Hendrikson 12 days of Glow, $99 via Sephora.

8. 12 days of Ciate London

Also in the 12 day collection, this calendar gives you the opportunity to sample the best of Ciate London’s cosmetic range with this 12-day countdown.

9. Ciate Mini Mani Month

I received a Ciate Mini Mani Month calendar a few years ago and it was a very fun way to become a bit more playful with nails (including some options for statement nails)! If manicures are your thing, it’s hard to go past this pick which in years gone by has been hard to source in Australia!

10. MAD Beauty Asos Exclusive $22

A perfect pick for the youthful beauty enthusiast in your life – and the most economical selection in this list – this 12-day countdown calendar includes shampoo, lip balms, bath salts and more.

11. Charlotte Tilbury Naughty and Nice Magic Box

12 days of Charlotte Tilbury goodness in the Naughty and Nice Magic Box, including some full-size products! It’s available here and is $295.

12. Look Fantastic

The products inside Look Fantastic’s annual beauty advent calendar are a fairly closely guarded secret, but the reviews on the site speak for themselves year on year! There’s also a number or products exclusive to Look Fantastic – think well known brands partnering with Look Fantastic to develop exclusive shades. Apparently valued at over 300 pounds, the value is good at only $120 Australian. I took a little sneak peek at the contents on a youtube video – I think it looks…. (yep I’m going there) fantastic!

13. 24 days of Clinique

Clinique’s 24 days of Clinique dishes up skincare, fragrance, make-up and tools!

2017 Beauty Advent Calendars Clinique

24 days of Clinique, $165 from David Jones (Femeconomy approved!)

14. The (Australian) Beauty Advent Calendar

The team at The Beauty Advent Calendar have delivered on their mission to compile the first beauty advent calendar with only Australian beauty products! In 25 drawers you’ll find 26 products including 14 full sized items. It’s also 100% cruelty-free. A great way to sample some of the gorgeous products on the Australian beauty market!

2017 Beauty Advent Calendar - Australian Beauty

The Beauty Advent Calendar, $199 – full of Australian, cruelty-free, luxury skincare!

15. L’Occitane’s Advent Calendar

L’Occitane has made two advent offerings this year, the first their standard advent calendar, packed with mini-sized goodies for the festive season!

16. L’Occitane’s Luxury Advent Calendar

24 of L’Occitane’s most coveted products in mini-sizes for an indulgent December. The luxury version appears to have a bit more skincare and a bit less bath and body. I think the packaging is beautiful!

17. Diptique

Diptique truly takes out the title for Australia’s most luxurious beauty advent calendar this year! Featuring best selling fragrance, candles and skincare. No doubt an incredibly indulgent December treat with the most amazing smells!

18. Mecca Cosmetica – The Mecca Spectacular

Mecca is also offering their own beauty countdown calendar this year, with 12 luxury skincare and makeup items from their inhouse brand.

2017 Beauty Advent Calendars Mecca Cosmetica

The Mecca Spectacular, $165 via Mecca Cosmetica

19. David Jones – 12 Days of Christmas

Featuring 12 products from David Jone’s in-house makeup brand, this could be a very fun selection at a great price.

20. BareMinerals Box of Wonder

Behind each of the 24 doors in BareMinerals’ Box of Wonder lays a skincare or makeup delight. If you’re a mineral makeup fan, this calendar would be hard to go past.

21. 12 days of Crabtree and Evelyn

A luxurious selection for the handcream enthusiast!

There you have it, friends, there are 21 x 2017 Beauty Advent Calendars available in Australia this year! Unfortunately, Benefit and Estee Lauder do not appear to have released their calendars in Australia this Christmas. However, we have some great options to choose from! I am most tempted by The Body Shop’s offerings – the ideas for joy and trivia game bonuses sound fantastic to me. My curiosity on Look Fantastic is growing each year too.

Are you indulging in a 2017 Beauty Advent Calendar? Have you had one in the past? Have you spotted any 2017 Beauty Advent Calendars available in Australia and not on this list?  Whatever your thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

p.s. this post contains some affiliate links. Affiliate links provide me with a small commission if you purchase the product, but you don’t pay anymore. 

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