9 reasons you should be planning a girls trip!

February 25 2018

This month, I met up with one of my very favourite people, SW, in Byron Bay for a giggle-laden, sunshiney, instagrammable, girls-only mini-break. It was one of the most soul-filling 72 hours I can remember. So good in fact that I’m 100% convinced we should all be doing this more regularly, so in this post, I’m going to give you the complete business case for planning your own girls trip!

So here it is: my 9 reasons you need to be planning a girls trip ASAP!

1. Our friendships have milestones worthy of celebration

In Australian culture, we’re pretty good at celebrating milestones in our intimate relationships with anniversaries, Valentines Day etc. And for good reason: deciding to choose a partner for life is a big deal! But the other people we choose to be closest to in life – our friends – are also a big deal. Many of us have friendships that pre-date or outlast our intimate relationships.

SW and I booked this trip to celebrate twenty years of friendship. We met on the first morning of the first day of year 8 and 20 years, 4 degrees, 2 marriages, 1 baby and about 28,912 hours of shopping later, there is so much life we have shared and it was so worthy of celebration! (Though we are both certain we don’t need to wait another 20 years to do this again!)

A younger version of SW and me on one of those wedding days!

2. Great relationships – including our friendships – deserve nurturing

Of the 20 years we’ve been friends, SW and I have spent a little over half that time living in different cities. We are excellent at keeping in touch, but there’s nothing quite like time spent face-to-face. While the time off and the sunshine and the naps were definitely refreshing, there’s something about spending time with girlfriends that makes your soul smile.

SW + Me, smiling inside and out. 

3. You’ll probably want to do lots of the same stuff…

Shop! Nap! Eat! Swim! Shop! Cocktail hour! Did I mention shop!? Also, total snaps to Byron for being such a fabulous mini-break destination with all of these things!

4. … and if that’s shopping you won’t have to do any polite sightseeing first!

I didn’t marry a man that loves shopping. I married a man who loves me and accepts that I love shopping. When we travel, the shopping usually comes after the general exploring and that suits me fine. But I love exploring a new location through its retail opportunities (even if you’re not buying anything) but usually it comes on day 2 or 3, or squeezed in, intermittently, around other events. Not when you’re traveling with your like-minded gf/s! Check in, bags, down, explore the retail offerings!

I am also the only person in my marriage who loves a nap! Not the case holidaying with SW! As a mum of an adorable small person, we were 100% on the same page with nap-hour.

5. You’ll probably laugh ’til you cry

And maybe even snort-laugh, or choke on your food in the process, regardless of how it happens, it’ll be a wickedly good workout for your abs.

girls trip lols

Lighthouse lols.

6. You may also just cry

So it turns out that after a seriously great day with reptiles at breakfast, lighthouses, Hugh Jackman as The Greatest Showman, and a friend who knows me nearly better than I know myself… if you plant me in front of a beach where dogs are playing on the sand as the sun sets, I may well up with tears, confess my undying gratitude for aforementioned friendship and be laughed at by aforementioned friend.

girls trip

Meeting the locals at Halcyon House! #mixedfeelings Once this lizard (named Gordon, BTW) came even closer to eat SW’s crumbs, I told SW she couldn’t move (cause she might hurt Gordon moving her chair!) but that I was leaving and went inside! The HH team came and shoo’d him away and SW then thought it was HILARIOUS to take advantage of my now-jumpy demeanor and intermittently grab me under the table. #thingsfriendsdo

If you find yourself in this emotionally overwhelmed position, I suggest following this sequence with fancy drinks, woodfire pizza and icecream.

7. You’ll have some excellent opportunities to be matchy-matchy

Because who doesn’t like twinning!?

girls grip wicker basket

Wicker baskets make for happy holiday style!

 

girls trip

Sunshine, sunhats and big smiles.

 

Frankie4 Nat Sneakers

Go with everything: FRANKiE4 Nat Sneakers, available here.

8. You may get to enjoy a beautiful part of the world you don’t always see

We seriously rated Byron for it’s great food, gorgeous beaches and laid back vibes. We stayed right in the centre of town and it was great to have so much to explore on foot.

We also drove up to Cabarita to check out the much-instagrammed Halcyon House which was even more gorgeous than pictures do credit.

My favourite pic from our mini-break, moody skies, glistening sea, lovely friend.

9. You will remember it fondly always

As long as I can hold onto my memory, I will remember this three days as some of my favourite of my life.

girls trip

Thank you, SW, for knowing me, loving me, laughing at me (not a slip of words!) and taking three days out to celebrate having a pal who’ll do all these things in return. x

I am psyched to share that it’s only another couple of months before I’m headed away for the weekend with a bunch of girlfriends again. Extravagant? Maybe a little. But I can’t think of anything I could buy that will bring me as much joy as these weekends away so happy to save some pennies to make it happen!

Do you have a girls trip on the horizon? Do you think it’s time to book one in? (Hint: it is!) 

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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