It’s all about the lace….

Mariana HardwickHaving hosted the Logies red carpet special for Nine a few times, I’m lucky enough that a few designers contacted me about wearing their dresses. It’s so fantastic to try on all these gorgeous dresses, but its so awkward when they just don’t feel quite right. How do you explain that to a designer who has spent hours creating these gorgeous gowns? Marina (my stylist at Nine) is very tactful and diplomatic…so she did all the talking and I stayed in the background. I wanted a dress that was classic, old Hollywood but still with some sex appeal. My idea of a winning dress, is one that hints at sexiness, without revealing anything exciting. Not an easy line to walk at times!

Mariana HardwickMariana Hardwick sent over a few dresses and I loved the way this dress fitted me, but it was too plain for the Logies. We started playing around with the silver lace which would photograph really well. I found some inspiration on Pinterest and an idea was forming. We went to Marianna Hardwick and asked if they could layer the lace over the black base of the dress. After countless hours of Marianna’s talented ladies choosing lace, stitching it and attaching scalloped lacework, my dress was nearly complete. We chose a solid, modern belt so that the completed look wasn’t too vintage. It needed a very subtle modern edge to it, whilst still retaining a classic look.
Black nail polish also added to a contemporary feel…the finishing touch.

Sky high heels and teasing in my hairdo added a few inches to my height as I’m a vertically challenged 5″7. It’s a dangerous game to play though as I certainly didn’t want to topple over in front of a wall of cameras! An hour later, and I’d navigated my way into the Palladium room at Crown, ready for the big show. Or is the red carpet the big show? It’s hard to tell, these days!

A huge, bottomless pit of thanks to Annalise, Franca and the hard working team at Mariana Hardwick. You were wonderful!!

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Logies

As a guest, the word can either send shivers down your spine or a thrill of excitement. It’s fun catching up with people that I don’t get to see often….or people that I think I know. One year, I had a great chat with Alf from Home and Away until I remembered that we’d never actually met before. I’d seen him in my living room for so many years that I felt like I knew him. I’m sure he and his wife had a great giggle about that nut bag he met at the Logies.

Nut bag or not, it’s crucial to look the goods on the night. Fifteen years ago, I’d find a dress a few days before the event and then iron my hair on my ironing board before hitting the red carpet! These days, a dress has to be cross-checked with other attendees, approved by different departments and get the fashion nod by the critics. Basically, the planets have to align.

My style lends itself towards classic Hollywood glamour. I’m not fashion-forward, retro is jarring to me and its hard to criticise old world glamour. I’ve hosted the red carpet special for Nine many times and the stand out dresses are always classic with a dash of sex appeal.

Below are some of the creations I’ve worn over the past 17 years of attending the Logies. Most of them are there, but I couldn’t track them all down as social media wasn’t around in the late ’90’s! Some good, some questionable…but this time, you be the judge!

Livinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - Logies
Livinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - Logies
Livinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - LogiesLivinia Nixon - Logies

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How to holiday like a celebrity…without paying the price.

How to holiday like a celebrity. It sounds expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. The answer is online, baby!

1. Rae’s on Wategos

Byron Bay is famous for its gently rolling waves, natural beauty and bohemian lifestyle. You might be thrilled to surf on one of Wategos long waves, but it becomes a life experience when you’re sharing that ride with a pod of dolphins. No wonder Byron attracts everyone. Being the ultimate beach babe, Elle McPherson, stays at Rae’s on Wategos in the Ocean View Penthouse. Oscar winners Baz Luhrman and Catherine Martin are regulars in the Mirabella penthouse and were the first couple to use the day spa. Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson were also guests, enjoying the delicious food in the beach front setting.

Raes on WategosMirabilla - Baz Luhrman

2. Semara Uluwatu, Bali

With the high Australian dollar and our proximity to Asia, Bali is a no-brainer for Aussies. Breathtaking scenery, amazing food and serious luxury are a magnet for the well heeled! Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Wall got married at Semara Uluwatu in front of 70 friends and family. The ceremony was held under a beautiful white marquee on a lawn that overlooked the Indian Ocean. This hotel is right next to the famous Potato Head Beach Club although the resort has three great restaurants if you don’t want to venture too far from your villa.

Semara Executive BathroomJennifer Hawkins

3. Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa – Blue Mountains

If a tree change is your scene, it doesn’t get more beautiful than the Blue Mountains, just an hours drive from Sydney. Michael Clarke and his wife, Kyly, stayed here for three nights after their secret wedding, codenamed: Operation Snow White. They indulged in spa treatments, horse riding, mountain biking and wildlife treks. Delta Goodrem is another home-grown star who has stayed at Wolgan Valley, spending time playing tennis and having candle lit dinners with Nick Jonas.

Online prices vary but it is possible to nab a luxurious holiday at an affordable price. Luxuryescapes.com has some amazing deals and with the Australian dollar so high, its a terrific time to travel internationally or enjoy our own world-class resorts. Either way, its about relaxing and enjoying life!

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So I did a juice cleanse….

There’s nothing new about juice cleanses. In fact, juices even rate a mention in the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are however, new to me. The idea of only putting liquids into your body for up to five days seemed ludicrous to me. Then I did one…and it was even more absurd. 

As I was about to return to work after a long maternity leave, I wanted to look fresh and healthy. Ten months of nurturing two little people – night feeds, daytime tantrums, cooking, cleaning, washing, bathing, food shopping etc. etc. had left me feeling anything but refreshed.

I figured that in my lifetime I’d had 10,000 days of eating pretty much whatever I wanted. Three days of giving my system a good rest seemed only fair.

For me, it was crucial that my husband join me for a liquid lunch, dinner and breakfast, or I was going to crack. Someone else needs to understand why you’re suddenly pyscho, obsessed with food, tired and really angry… All day, every day. 

There’s six juices that you drink at two hour intervals, with aloe vera water and chlorophyll that you sip throughout the day. The juices taste great but the fillers are horrendous. Oh, and you can drink as much tea and water as you like. Gee, thanks. 

Day one went well. We were on an adventure – trialling different juices, comparing how we were feeling, waiting for some incredible body transformation. We were so bored that we went to bed at 8pm. You don’t realise how much your life revolves around food until you’re drinking all your meals.

Day two rolled around and I started getting tired. Its not that unusual since we have two young boys and had just moved house, but this was a different type of lethargy. Compounding it was the fact that I still had to cook meals for the boys. Preparing a steaming spaghetti bolognaise whilst sipping kale/spinach/parsley juice (your fifth juice for the day) is torturous.

In desperation I checked the company’s website. Yes, I was allowed to eat salad and raw vegies (they didn’t tell me that in the store). No, we weren’t meant to do heavy exercise (they didn’t tell me that in the store either).

No wonder my husband nearly collapsed after his 80 km bike ride, although I’m not in danger of doing heavy exercise at any time, so was perfectly safe at home lolling about on the couch, shovelling lettuce and avocado in my mouth as though it was chocolate cake. I really missed chewing. Such a simple act that we take for granted but I really missed it. My jaw thanked me for the salad.

Day three and the end was in sight. I wasn’t  feeling “amazing” as the girl in the store said I would by the third day, but the whites of my eyes were unusually clear. The rest of me was pretty much the same, just hangry (mixture of hungry and angry). I reasoned that once I’d finished the juices, the cleanse was over. So I set about drinking them as fast as I could. My tipping point arrived when I was cooking a toasted sandwich for Henry – the prosciutto was truly irresistible! I then felt absolutely no guilt in nailing two toasties, a Picnic bar and Ted’s cruskits. From then on, it was game on…I had a lot of eating to make up for.

Maybe I’m not the right person to do a juice cleanse. In fact, I now know that I’m definitely not the right person for it. I just love chewing too much and plan on doing it for a very long time.

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You want dinner every night??

Tips for shortcuts in getting through life with kids.

Life is busy. Kids are demanding. As much as you might want to do a job properly, sometimes shortcuts are required just to stay sane. Here’s a few I’ve collected along the way! Lets just hope my husband (neat freak) doesn’t read this.

1. I have been known to vacuum crumbs from the kitchen bench. It’s allowed.

2. Getting dressed “off the rack”.This ain’t no fashion term, just pull all the clothes required for the family straight off the drying rack. No folding or putting away required. The downside is that you tend to wear the same clothes on a three day cycle.

3. A lady with four kids, yes four, puts them all in the bath together. She gets one big bowl of dinner (risotto or short pasta would work) and feeds them all in a row. Then she washes the food from them, pulls the plug and rinses away all remnants of dinner. No dishes, no benches to wipe and no messy kids. The downside is that bath outlets aren’t made for food scraps so the plumber might need to pay a visit after a while.

4. Shut the kitchen. I give my kids a five minute warning that the meal is over and then the kitchen is shut! Otherwise breakfast can go for two hours. I leave out a plate of cut up fruit…and they’re on their own until the kitchen opens again. Tough but fair.

5. A midwife in hospital said to me “always get your dinner done in the morning”. Great advice as I tend to get crunched around 5pm with bath, bottles and tired babies. So I either stick on the slow cooker around 10am (perfect if theres two dinner sittings) or peel all the vegetables and put them in a steamer. I even put the water in so all I have to do is turn a dial and cook some meat. It makes life so much easier!

6. Clean up only at the end of the day. I struggle with this one as a messy house does drive me crazy. My busy friend (two kids) only wipes down the kitchen bench at the end of the day. Not for me, but if I could guarantee no-one was going to drop in, then maybe….

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Get out the straighteners, im going back to work!

Being a mum is the hardest job in the world. If you advertised for it, it would read:

WANTED – someone to work 7 days a week, including nights. You need to be a cook, nurse, negotiator, cleaner, ironing lady, story teller, stylist, driver, activities director and preferably good at ball sports. Also, you wont be paid. This is a love job.

Hmm, tempting??  No wonder I’m keen to go back to paid work and outsource some of the less palatable jobs listed above.  Since my school days, I’ve been told that our generation of women can “have it all”. For a few moments in time, I have had it all…but it’s exhausting, requires military precision to achieve and I’m not convinced that its worth it.

My day swings from gorgeous moments- the cuddles, tickles and unique conversations – to the drudgery.  You know what I mean – wishing the day away as it stretches out before you, the inane questions, the groundhog feeling that exists even on weekends. Paid work is so much easier as there’s one task to concentrate on and the people around you generally don’t throw tantrums, vomit on you or accidentally head butt you nearly every day.

I miss the feeling of being part of a work team – together, having a giggle and being in control of your time. I know I’ll never have this time again (especially as we’re not having any more kids) but I can’t help but feel that the world is flying by without me.  Some days that scares me and others its a blessing. It’s a treat to take your time, put off jobs and literally smell the roses.  On rainy days, we head back to bed at 9:30am for a cuddle and stories. Precious times that won’t happen when my boys are at school and “on the clock”.

Our little family is a vibrant, noisy unit. When we’re at home together, we’re in a ten metre square radius at all times. When life eventually speeds up again, I know ill take sanctuary in my little family. Even if the cuddles with ted leave me splattered with dribble.

Let the juggle begin!

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The great escape: Daylesford

There’s gangs of women trawling the streets in daylesford . Women rushing to relax as the hours tick by until they must return to the kids, the washing, the dog and a husband in need of cuddles. Daylesford is the go-to Victorian country town for relaxation. There’s natural springs with the massage centres bubbling up around them, the cute antique stores and the delicious restaurants all only an hour from melbourne.

Our book club group of ten women left 28 kids* at home and while we thought we’d have lots of sleep and come back refreshed, the reality was very different. We regressed to our childhood, giggling in our rooms until 2 in the morning. We drank far too much wine, had scones and pavlova for lunch before rolling to dinner and ordering nearly the entire menu. When the waiter offered to “put on a show” we thought all our Xmas’ had come at once!( the show never eventuated although we did drink a few cocktails while waiting for it. Smart move by the restaurant!)

We all went on an unannounced cleaning strike for two days. Our rented house looked like a bomb had hit it while we gossiped, laughed, spaa’d and discussed every aspect of life. To debrief like this is essential and nourishing for life. I’m a big advocate of my marriage being a solid unit that allows us both to go do our own thing. When my hubby says he wants to spend two weeks cycling around Belgium with mates, I say go for it! It’s not something i wanted to do but it wasn’t long before I went to Switzerland filming with getaway for two weeks. It all evens out.

The only problem with our girls weekend away was that we all came home exhausted, but there’s that unwritten rule that you can’t state how tired you are when you’ve been away gas bagging all weekend. Suck it up, sister.Next year, we’re thinking about the Yarra Valley. Somewhere close if we need to rush back, but somewhere far enough away that the screams can’t be heard- ours and the kids!

The great escape: DaylesfordThe great escape: DaylesfordThe great escape: DaylesfordThe great escape: DaylesfordThe great escape: Daylesford

*the average number of kids per Aussie woman is 1.9 so clearly we’re not doing enough reading!

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Top ten books

I’ll admit it, I’m a book nerd. I’ve always loved escaping into a good story whether it was mums bedtime tales, an action movie or novel. Ive been in a book club for five years now and my mouth waters when new books are presented to us. . I must be the only person in their 30’s who has a library card nestled in their wallet.

Those lists of “top 100 books” of all time make me excited. There’s an intellectual pleasure in ticking off all the ones I’ve read and the excitement of knowing that there’s still, at this stage, 47 books to devour.

One day, I’ll tick off all those suckers. Here’s our list (yes, I’m in a book club!) of favourite books:

1. Into thin air – John Krakauer. A true story about three different hiking groups facing a killer storm as they cling to mt Everest. Truly amazing. Can’t believe there hasn’t been a movie made about it

2. On Chesil Beach– Ian McEwan. It wont take you long to read this short book, however you’ll think about it for a long time. Lifetime regrets, missed moments in time and lost love. A true downer but a great read.

3. The book thief – Markus Zusak. This book is being made into a movie starring Geoffrey Rush. It’s the ny times best seller about life during nazi germany and a little girls love affair with books. She steals them from nazi book burning s and the mayors wife’s library.

4. Sarah’s key – Tatiana Rosnay. Not many books make me cry but Sarah’s key is one of them. Set in France in 1942, it tells the harrowing story of sarah who locked her brother in a cupboard to hide him from the Gestapo. As one of my friends said “why did you make me read this book?!” Well, it’s confronting but it happened and we can’t ignore it. Nor should we.

5. The Paris Wife – Paula McLain. Set in the 1920’s, this is a fascinating account of being Ernest Hemingways wife – the infidelity, the impromptu trips around Europe and trying to fit a child into that passionate, chaotic life.

6. The room – Emma Donoghue. This book is written from a childs oerspective which can be a bit trying but its worth pushing through. The less you know about this book, the better it is when you read it. Don’t talk to anyone about it, just read it if you haven’t already!

7. Sister – Rosamund Lupton. A gripping thriller as Bea searches for the truth about her sisters death and their fractured relationship. My brother is an English teacher and he loved “sister” so much that he’s now trying to get it on the syllabus

8. Breath – Tim Winton. I’ve struggled with a few of Tim Winton’s books but this one grabbed me. It’s about two boys growing up in WA and their obsession with surfing. they meet a big wave surfer and begin a friendship which takes them down an adult path

9. Maus – Art Spiegelman. Don’t be fooled by this book being a cartoon. It portrays a son learning how his father survived Auschwitz. It’s so full of tension that you soon forget that you’re really reading a cartoon book.

10. The boy in the striped pyjamas – John Boyne. Harrowing. A real bawler. Great, thanks, Livinia!

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Travelling with kids. Did you just vomit in your mouth? A little bit?

It’s every parents nightmare. The same routine must be followed but in a totally different, unknown environment. Here’s a few places we’ve been with our two boys and tips to help you out.

Hamilton island:
Hamilton island is easy. Getting there from melbourne is one three hour flight -perfect for feeding babies their 3 hourly bottles and avoiding their ears popping with the altitude.

Minutes after arriving on the always balmy island, you’re in a golf buggy (no cars allowed) and on your way. No car seats to organise and you’re on a small island so your accommodation is never far away.

Let’s be honest, a decade ago Hamilton Island had a shocking reputation as a bogan island filled with drunks. since then, new owners ( the Oatley family) have bought the island and shifted the focus to families and the luxury market.

Here’s a suggested itinerary:
Breakfast with the koalas- start the day with full buffet breakfast amongst the sleepy koalas. Afterwards, you can wander around the zoo and see crocodiles, kangaroos, snakes and wombats. Its a buffet breakfast and Kids under five eat free,adults from $30.

Cats eye beach is fantastic for everyone and I’ve spent many hours there watching Henry build sandcastles. Lounge chairs are provided so its pretty easy to relax while keeping one eye on the kids.

The Bowling alley is great if its raining (well it is in the tropics so when it rains, it pours). The bowling is expensive though ($59 for an hour) but there’s lots of different games to keep the little ones amused.

Take the free ferry to Dent island for lunch at the golf club. Kids are made to feel welcome and the food is delicious. You might even see a few whales as you tour the 18 hole championship course designed by Peter Thompson.

During the school holidays, there’s a free marquee on Cats eye beach with face painting, jumping castle, cupcake decorating and ball games. The kids go ape for it and its a good filler at the end of the day. Then it’s home, dinner, bath, 7 pm bed….easy.

Qualia was recently voted the best resort in the world. Not just Australia, but the world. It’s seriously divine. Put on your best clothes, load up the credit card and enjoy.

Being on an island, means you can be held ransom at the checkout. To cut down costs, organise an online food delivery. Currently, its only a $9 delivery charge so you’ll save lots by planning ahead.

Sydney:
Visually stunning and plenty to do.

Travelling with kidsTravelling with kidsTravelling with kids

Here’s a suggested itinerary:

Taking a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly (prams allowed) is a fantastic way to see the Bridge and Opera house from the water. Once in Manly, if you’re kids are old enough, you could hire a bike from Manly Bike Tours and ride the paths around the beach.
If like me, you’ve got littlies, then perhaps Oceanworld Manly is more your speed (manlysealifesanctuary.com.au)

There’s plenty of family friendly restaurants along Manly’s famous Corso and the beach is patrolled by three life saving clubs, so you CAN swim straight after eating and stay safe!

Jump on a ferry (sydneyferries.info) and head for either

Our next stop is Fiji in July…I’ll keep you posted on international flights with kids. Yes, I did just vomit in my mouth….

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