Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Utimate Christmas Classics playlist & a reason to be thankful on the hill..

What is it about Christmas music and the old time classics that just transform life into a perfect holiday movie? A dreamy, timeless state where all you can think of doing is feeling all warm & fuzzy inside. I love Christmas music and these holiday favourites are some of the best. Even in the Tropical heat of Noosa it's a Winter Wonderland and I'll be singing Santa baby drinking French Martini's come Christmas Day.

Somehow in the sunshine of this week, everything changed when the unthinkable happened - our littlest angel Ruby Two Shoes was diagnosed with Pneumonia. Christmas was suddenly looking rather dim. The world wasn't so magical after the longest most worrying night of my life watching our baby trying to merely breathe. Our Christmas cheer was replaced by a hospital emergency department where I realised again just how precious life is.

After a rollercoaster of emotions we are all so thankful to be back home together and so grateful that Ruby is recovering well. Christmas just got even sweeter after such a scare.

This playlist is again filling the house with old Hollywood cheer. We are making wreaths and piling gifts under the tree. My family is gathering, the kids are counting down and soon these world famous tunes will be the soundtrack to our day. For my Grandmother in her mid-nineties and our little precious Ruby and to all of you - here's to everyone sharing a magical Christmas Day...

Enjoy the preparations, the anticipation and especially your loved's all a part of the spirit of Christmas and don't you just love looking around at it all and getting swept away?

Playlist thanks to

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ikatan Day Spa - A Balinese Paradise in Noosa

There are lots of hidden gems tucked into the wildness around Noosa. My new favourite? A peaceful sanctuary in a magical garden setting where you can enjoy life in the style of a Balinese Princess. Just ten minutes drive from Hastings Street you will find the Ikatan Balinese Day Spa just off the Eumundi-Noosa Road.

Ikatan Spa promises to be a place of tranquillity for Body, Mind and Soul. In this fast-paced, fast-tracked world it can be hard sometimes to live in the moment and just breathe. At Ikatan from the moment you wander through the gate you enter another world.

A spa treatment in a Balinese garden sounds like a perfect escape and on making my booking at Ikatan, I couldn't help but imagine I was headed for a far off place, with minimum travel time and no passport required..

On arrival at the Ikatan reception, I was greeted warmly & offered the choice of champagne or Iced Tea. I already felt like a much welcomed guest of an island resort who will definitely be staying a while. When you get the chance to escape to a tropical hideaway you should embrace the pleasures in life and naturally I chose the champagne.

Deciding to sink further into Bali style, I purchased my own slice of Ikatan to wear post pedicure and take home. My new Batik Island Flip Flops will help Ikatan to raise money for a Balinese Street Kid Orphanage, a project dear to their hearts.

Life doesn’t get much better than walking through a tropical garden being led to a Balinese pavilion champagne in hand. The only task is to relax on a daybed and take in the surrounds. A tranquil pool lies next to the pavilion in which I would enjoy my chosen treatment - the Ikatan deluxe pedicure.

A tropical Hibiscus flower lies as if in offering outside and Balinese handmaiden statues gracefully caress the Koi filled pond . Sitting back on my daybed with my feet lovingly placed in a Zen bowl of calming water, I felt like I was on my own beautiful island. I was so relaxed and calm, this was an island I could stay on a long time.

Subtle music floats through the air and a large glass wall next to me lets me watch the paradise outside. Beautiful white gardenia flowers spread across the ground. It is all so wild and green and fertile and seems the perfect match to really awaken all your senses and finally just breathe...

Occasionally a goddess of Ikatan wanders past along the garden pathways wearing Batik trousers and bearing trays of refreshments to hidden destinations throughout the rainforest. As my feet are lovingly restored, the atmosphere of this peaceful secret garden and the soothing sound of a small fountain lulls me to another level of relaxation.

Butterflies dance and small birds come down to drink from the pond next to my daybed – it’s like you are a part of the garden, the nature around you keeps going and immerses you in this much slower and more detailed world. You are conscious of minutes stretching – our fast-paced world completely forgotten inside this Balinese retreat.

The sign no mobile phones or children ensures this solitude and quiet time is all for you and nothing will disturb your inner Zen as your attentive therapist caters to your every whim.

My feet were massaged, exfoliated and buffed to perfection. Not long into my treatment they took on a polished and pampered holiday glow. At one stage my ankles and heels were painted with a nourishing poultice with the gentle strokes of a paintbrush. This was definitely heaven and I could have easily drifted off to sleep and missed the huge lizard that wandered past the window in the rainforest outside.

If you were coming with a partner or girlfriend you are welcome to bring your own bubbles for post relaxation and pre-order a delectable Meze platter for two to enjoy in your own sanctuary of the garden. I think this is a perfect excuse to stay longer – after my treatment I really don’t want to leave.

As I am gently led back along the path to reception in my batik flip-flops with my perfectly polished toes, I pass doorways and wonder at what bliss some lucky person is experiencing behind it, and start planning my next visit to this little Balinese village of peace.

The owners of Ikatan have created something really special. Their love for the Indonesian island of Bali is apparent in the environment they have created and the ingredients and treatments on offer at the Ikatan spa.

I am so glad they had the vision to bring to Noosa such a perfect piece of paradise and can't wait to sample more. The Tropical Luxe style of Noosa and the Island Style of Bali is a marriage made in heaven and the setting and decadent spa treatments on offer at Ikatan has seen it listed as one of the top five Best Destination Spa Experience in Australia in the Australian Travel Awards.

If visiting Noosa without transport, Ikatan will personally transfer guests booking a minimum 2 hr treatment to and from your hotel.

Ikatan also offers a decadent High Tea in the gardens with a package of spa treatments for the ultimate girly gathering, birthday celebration or bridal party. There is also has a range of couples packages for those looking for a romantic holiday escape to Bali, Ikatan Style...

Visit the Ikatan Website here

Ikatan can be contacted on (07) 5471 1199

Find Ikatan Balinese Day Spa at
46 Grays Road,
Doonan - Queensland - 4562

Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm - Sunday by appointment

For more spa stories check out Would you pay for a fish to eat your feet in the name of beauty?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Sunflower Rampage & How Wild Does Your Vege Patch Grow?

Our new rural life in Noosa means we are the proud growers and gatherers from our new adventure - The Vegetable Patch. Moving from Sydney, this was our picturesque, country lifestyle dream!

In this dream life we imagined growing sunflowers to shine over what would be our Garden of Eden. Yes! We had grand plans and those giant sunflowers would be the crowning glory of our vegetable garden dream! We couldn't wait for them to grow and when they did, well, that big, beaming face of yellow sunshine was just too gorgeous to be true.

There is just something about sunflowers. They create such a stunning, happy view. We grew them from seeds and felt a motherly love for our new friends..It was all just so perfect on the hill...

Then today...tragedy...

Our morning walk to the vege patch gave us a nasty surprise...That beautiful face of sunshine & joy had been hacked off and eaten. Its mane of yellow flowers munched on..It’s happy face pecked into..Two of our Giant Sunflowers had been attacked!

The harmony was broken, my idealism shot! This could happen to a sunflower after waiting so long to see its big happy sun shine, something could just damage its beauty only a few days old and take our joy away? It's wild out here and in the land of Sunflowers and idealistic farming dreams- we are a little unprepared and always in for a shock...

Today I ran into a friend who commiserated with our Sunflower massacre event and explained they had to cover their stunning sunflower faces in plastic bags!??? What!?? Not quite the picturesque dream I was hoping for! So now in our garden their lopsided sunbeams greet us with the message that anything can and will happen in the garden, reminding us it's just not meant to be perfect and to really enjoy the beauty of what is in front of you now - It might just be stolen or eaten tomorrow!

It's not all bad news though here from the patch. Our gorgeous Zinnia is in flower - a riot of purple magic in our sea of green.

These flowers may be too dreamy perfect but the rest of the patch? Well it's all gone kind of wild. I would love to tell you it was some kind of experiment to see what would happen if we let it run free? How much would flower and what would thrive?

But...I admit, the real reason was a trip to Sydney for a too fabulous party and a catch up with the girls. It seems you can't do that if you're a farmer and now my manicured vege beds are overgrown, bolted and out of control. I do plan to take charge soon, but it is really such a lovely mess...

Cherry Tomatoes tendrils have latched lovingly onto towers of rocket and sunflower stems..No trellis needed in this wild garden..

The corn didn't make it but what is thriving grows over it - it's an ever-changing picture of life we love to wander through each day...

I realised today a garden is a piece of art you can create that is a constant moving canvas. Never ceasing to inspire and amaze..

Just like this little village of beans - a miniature world of food..

Our cucumber vine climbs steadily up over the trellis. I never knew cucumbers had spikes when they grew? The cucumbers enormous...

The Zucchini’s are monsters...

The lettuce unpicked has become a triffid like tower with a flower like crest - I love what happens when you let it all go...

It’s a living salad with a random Ginger plant that has broken through

Pulling Bok Choy leaves to use in our stir fries was a golden moment but now..Anyone seen a Bok Choy Flower? Well here you go...Our Bok Choy hearts grew skyward and it all looks like something new...

So our sea of a vege patch is abundant and chaotic and we ramble through it finding cherry tomatoes in the undergrowth and maybe under that pumpkin vine a pumpkin...

Today may have been the scene of a sunflower crime but it was also the day we found our first Ginger Flowers of the summer...

Tropical passionfruit growing on the vine..

This garden is always moving and changing and yet somehow magically reassuring.

It's so beautiful and alive. It's said if you want to fall in love forever, start a garden....although I might add, don't get too attached to those sunflowers...

So now I know what happens when a vegetable patch goes wild and now on our minds is a much bigger defence plan. It's time we started thinking we need a Scarecrow for this garden!

Except they all look kind of scary..Which I guess is kind of the point. Ours would have to be female and beautiful. A kind of rustic farmer life size doll. Just a small new challenge in our rural adventure here on the hill!

Does anyone out there have any tips for making a beautiful scarecrow? The joy in life is finding yourself doing things you never imagined you would do...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Noosa Style - Dream Table Settings

It’s the festive season and time for beautiful summery outdoor dining here in Australia. The beautiful countryside of Noosa is perfect for gorgeous table settings inspired by nature.

I am dreaming of a long outdoor table for lunch with food so local it came straight out of the vege patch. Jars full of flowers would run down the centre and in my dreams I would gather all my most favourite people from around the world on top of my hill.

The longer the table the better....just add nature, a rustic white tablecloth and some twinkling fairy lights and watch the magic happen...

Dappled sunlight through a trellis, maybe under a tropical passionfruit vine...

Just perfect – who wouldn’t love to spend the afternoon here?

Love the delicate arrangements in glass jars.

Never throw away a glass jar. Use them as rustic glasses or for sweet bouquets.

If you are ever at the gorgeous Eumundi Markets make sure you visit the talented Natashia on her stall called Heavenly Blooms.

Natashia sells the most divine posies of English cottage garden flowers in cute little jars decorated with lace and ribbon. For around $7 you can bring home the sweetest bouquet in a gorgeous vintage tea cup and saucer to make any table setting perfect...

Fill jars or glass vases with different posies of Sweet-pea, Snapdragons, fluffy white or blue Hydrangea blooms.

Keep it simple but add any gorgeous treasure you find as a centrepiece - a feather, pine cone or olive leaf branches.

The creativity is yours to gather - the memory for your guests is to keep.

In case you have a barn handy!

Barn + Chandeliers = Romantic party backdrop.

Just another reason to covet country living!

Or how about this dream setting, right on the beach? The perfect view of the ocean, the waves as your soundtrack and nothing but sand beneath your feet.

Dream about your own walled courtyard garden with heavenly rose blooms..

Love the goblets and woodsy atmosphere of this dusky mystical setting.

This table is the memory of a perfect feast.

Life should be spent in magical settings sharing beautiful moments with people you love.

So which one is your table?

Images via...,,,
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