Exciting things ahead

2018 is not just a brand new year, it’s a brand new opportunity for me and this blog.

Now I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say I was more than happy to kiss 2017 goodbye. I’m not meaning to sound cliche, but it really was the worst year of my life thus far.

So 2018 has come around and there are some exciting things happening for me. Aside from getting married in August, I have some big articles coming up that I can’t wait to share with you all. I’ve made this blog my priority this year so I’m definitely going to pour my heart and soul into bringing you some interesting articles.

Just over a week into the new year and I have 5 interviews set up. Sami Cooke from Young, now residing in Newcastle, will be one of my first stories for the year. Sami boasts an amazing talent and has some big things happening with her music career this year.

Kate Hindle, another musician who  resides in Western Australia, has overcome some pretty big things lately and will be releasing her new album later this month. I will be interviewing her to find out more about that.

16 year-old singer/songwriter Lili Crane has an amazing talent for someone so young. I will be chatting with her to talk about her current music career.

This one is for the older readers. You probably all know him as ‘King Brian’ from the Retravision commercials, but lately Brian McCombe has made a name for himself as one of the most photographed people on Facebook. Just how does he manage all these selfies with people? I’ll find out when I interview him.

Finally, Alex Shepherd A.K.A Asylem is an up and coming rapper from Newcastle. The 18 year-old will be releasing an EP at some stage this year and will feature in one of my articles this year.

I will also be following and updating news from Georgina Grimshaw and Kendall King.

I really can’t wait to share these articles with you.

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Wedding Tips for a budget conscious bride

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, maybe even expecting. He’s finally popped the question. You tell all your family and friends, post it on social media. But then the reality settles in- you have a wedding to plan. If you’re a budget conscious bride like I am, then just thinking about the cost of your wedding could be enough to give you cold feet. But weddings don’t have to be expensive. Now I’m no expert, but hopefully these tips that I’m about to offer you, will help you save on your big day.

The average Australian wedding costs around $40 000, which for somebody like me seems too much to spend on one day. In fact, I am doing my wedding for just a quarter of that and not skimping on anything. Yes, I still have the dress of my dreams, a photographer and videographer, lovely flowers and cake and a venue by the water. You just have to be clever and shop around.

The first thing my fiancé and I did as an engaged couple was sit down and decide on a budget. We looked at how much each of us is earning and how much we could put away each week without breaking the bank. This is how we came up with our budget of $12 000, plus we’d still have money left over for our dream honeymoon to New Zealand.

With our budget in focus, we began to look at venues that would suit our budget. I really didn’t see much point in even considering venues that we knew would be way out of our price range. That way we couldn’t fall in love with a place where we would have to live off 2-minute noodles for 18 months in order to afford it. We’ve chosen a beautiful place by the water in Newcastle where, for just over $100 per head, it includes canapes and 3 courses; beer, wine and soft drink; table centrepiece and chair ribbons plus more. And because we knew we would only be having a small wedding, we looked for places that specifically had a low minimum number.

Through my research, I found that most places can be quite a bit cheaper if you have your wedding during Winter or through the week, so also consider this as an option if you are looking to save money. Most venues will also give you a discount if you wanted cake as dessert.

Once we worked out the total budget for our wedding, we were then able to put on a budget on all the different elements. So for my dress, the limit was $2000. I think it’s important to know your limit when it comes to dresses and only try dresses on within that budget. The last thing you need is to fall in love with a dress that you can’t afford. Thankfully I found the dress of my dreams for only $700!

In terms of photography, it can be one of the most expensive things on the day. In fact, most photography companies charge in excess of $2500 just to capture your big day. For some people, they wouldn’t mind paying this much for photography but for couples like my fiancé and I, we just can’t justify spending that much. So we shopped around and asked friends and family for recommendations. We have found a photographer who takes amazing pictures and doesn’t actually earn anything from doing so. As a couple, we make a donation to the charity of her choice and she then photographs our day. For us, this was an easy decision because helping charity is the ultimate gift.

The same went for videography, we could not justify spending $3000 on someone to video our big day. Again, we have shopped around and found a lovely couple to video our big day for a fraction of the cost of what most people pay. We get 2 videographers for 14 hours who follow us from preparation until our first dance. We also get a 2 hour feature length film of our wedding day completely edited. This is only costing us $1800, nearly half of the average video company charges, Again, every couple is different and may wish to spend more money on videography than other things.

One can also save money by DIYing. We are making all our stationary (invitations, place settings and cards), saving hundreds by doing so. We are also using the help of family and friends to help us save money. My dad is making the wishing well, saving us a couple of hundred dollars.  Our MC is a family member and our wedding performer is a friend. Our cake is being made through a friend and is costing less than $200 and because I know a florist, I am getting the bouquets made way cheaper. I also know the Hair and Make-up artist so am getting a great deal on these also. Use your friends and family’s talents to your advantage, then you are saving money and can spend more money elsewhere. Trust me, friends and family will actually feel privileged that they can help you out on your wedding day when there are so many other vendors out there you can use.

Now, I don’t need to go through all the elements of planning with you, but what I will say is that every decision you make needs to be one that both of you are happy with. Remember to shop around and do your research- attend wedding expo’s, join social media groups, negotiate prices etc. Above all do what you want. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone by feeling obligated to invite all of your cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, your mum’s best friends friend etc. We are only having parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and our closest friends because we want a wedding of about 50 people. We haven’t let anybody influence that decision. Your day is about you as a couple, and you need to be happy with what you have planned together.

So when you’re planning your wedding with a budget in mind, remember to research, shop around, negotiate, do some things yourself and utilise the talents of family and friends.

Featured Image: KLK Photography



The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara


Forget the Sugar Plum Fairy and everything else you ever thought about ‘The Nutcracker’, for this production is about Clara and the life she leads, weaving in both the history of ballet and its revolution in Australia, and history itself.

It has been 25 years since Graeme Murphy conceived this extraordinary production of the classic ballet. Murphy, who has danced with the Australian Ballet and was the artistic director of Sydney Dance Company for over 30 years, has become known to take classical ballets and delve into their deeper stories.

“When you take something that’s inherently fanciful and weave some truths into it, that for me works. And if you can find a context dancers can relate to they will invest so much more,” Murphy says of his work.

Since this work, Murphy has reinterpreted ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Firebird’, to name just a few, for The Australian Ballet, cementing his place as one of this country’s most creative and cotemporary choreographers.

‘The Nutcracker-The Story of Clara’ follows the back story of the protagonist. The ballet opens on Christmas Eve in the 1950s somewhere in Melbourne. Children are playing and Clara, a former Russian Ballerina, returns home from shopping. As she turns on the radio, the sweet sounds of Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Nutcracker’ fills the small room as nostalgia hits Clara.

Clara’s Russian friends visit her and they share a few drinks and dances together. Clara’s doctor arrives with footage of Clara’s performing years with the Russian Imperial Ballet. Her body weakening, the guests leaves and Clara is ordered to rest. And so her hallucinations begin.

Through Clara’s hallucinations we discover that as a child she strived for perfection in ballet classes which lands her an acceptance into the Imperial Ballet. We also learn of her love affair with a Russian soldier, who upon the Russian Revolution breaking out in 1917, is killed.

What is most significant is how Clara’s performances weave in the traditional story of ‘The Nutcracker’ and the history of ballet in Australia. As a prima ballerina, Clara performs the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy for the Tsar and Tsarina. When her beloved dies, dancing becomes her only companion whereby she joins the Ballet Russes. She spends years touring the globe with the Ballet Russes, arriving in Australia in 1940. Due to the second World War, she is forced to stay in Australia, taking her last curtsey at war’s end.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ offers an intriguing 2 hour performance for the audience as the story unfolds in different ways. For starters, this ballet opens with characters speaking dialogue rather than dancing it, which is almost non-existent in ballets. In fact, the dancing doesn’t actually begin until nearly 5 minutes into the performance and even then it isn’t your traditional classical ballet. A lot of the choreography we see from the elder Clara and her friends is influenced by styles other than ballet: folk, contemporary and character. As the performance progresses, we begin to see more of the classical ballet through Clara’s performances as a ballerina. Act 2 showcases Tai Chi and Contemporary dance as a homage to the original Chinese and Arabian dances in the classic Nutcracker. Clara’s final performance in the ballet mimics the choreography of the Ballet Russes production of ‘The Nutcracker’ truly tying her story into the original. Murphy’s choreography is unique, thoughtful and executed well by the performers.

There are three Clara’s in this production- Clara the Elder, Clara the Ballerina and Clara the Child; all of which play a vital role in the story.

Clara the Elder was performed by Ai-Gul Gaisina, a Russian Ballerina and former Australian Ballet dancer. Gaisina captures the essence of Clara the Elder perfectly, with her theatrics and dance talent conveying the role as the storyteller to perfection.

Principal artist Leanne Stojmenov shines in her role as Clara The Ballerina. Her talent is alluring, her stage presence felt by the audience. The expressiveness in her movement tells of the beautiful and sad life that Clara lead. She possesses a particular grace that makes her dancing truly mesmerising. Stojmenov is partnered perfectly with Kevin Jackson who fulfils the role of the Doctor and Beloved Officer. Jackson’s strength and skill shines in his performance.

Clara the Child was performed by Emma Gavan, a guest artist of the Australian Ballet. Other guest artists included founding Australian Ballet performer Colin Peasley, Graeme Hudson and Audrey Nicholls who dance the roles of Clara’s Russian friends.

‘The Nutcracker- The Story of Clara’ is a fantastic and unique production that cements The Australian Ballet as a diverse company that represents Australia and its history. Through choreographic storytelling, Murphy has created a ballet masterpiece that strongly lives on 25 years later.

2016 Olympic Games begin in Rio

It’s a major worldwide sporting event that happens every four years. Over 11000 athletes representing over 200 countries participate in the Summer Olympics.

The 2016 Summer Olympic Games are the 31st Olympiad in the modern era and they are certainly the games for firsts. These are the first games to be hosted in a South American country, with the city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil being the city of choice. This will also be the first Olympic Games to feature a Refugee team. The Olympic Refugee Team sees 10 athletes competing who have fled countries such as Syria, Ethiopia and The Democratic Republic of Congo in three sports- swimming, athletics and Judo. We will also see South Sudan and Kosovo debut as delegations.

From the beginning of the opening ceremony, it was clear that this will be an Olympic Games like no other. They will be all about celebrating culture, equality and inequality amongst all the nations competing and the opening ceremony definitely was like no other. It may have been the spectacle that London and Sydney were, but it was definitely amazing in its own merit.

In typical Olympic fashion, fireworks ignited the Maracana Stadium, indicating the beginning of the ceremony. Brazilian singer Paulinho da Viola sang the Brazilian national anthem. From there, the ceremony was filled with culture and history featuring the good, the bad and the ugly moments for the host nation. Spectacular laser lights and dances were used to highlight some key moments in history- From the birth of life represented by stick-figured animals; to the natives frolicking in the forest; through to the arrival of the Portuguese and the invasion of the Europeans; the African Slaves brought to Brazil by force. There was an acrobatic and dance spectacular depicting the move to an urban rooftop scene which led into the building of an aeroplane. In Brazil’s history, they flew the first plane which they recreated during the ceremony. Although unpolished in some areas, the entertainment provided was engaging, educational and just a taste of what these Olympic Games will bring.

Following the spectaculars of the dancing and lights and the replica plane flying above the stadium, Supermodel Gisele Bundchen closed the entertainment component of the ceremony, taking her final catwalk to the song “Girl From Impanema”. Then, in true Olympic tradition, Greece began the march of the athletes.

The march of the athletes, although long and tedious, depicts exactly what the Olympic spirit is all about- representing your country. There are 207 delegations represented in total at this year’s Olympics. Each nation that marched, no matter how large or small were excited, happy and proud to be in that stadium. Brazil were the final team to march, resulting in a roar of cheers and emotions from the nearly 80,000 strong crowd.

From lone competitor Etimoni Timuani, the only athlete from Tuvalu, to one of the largest teams Australia, it certainly brings joy to every athlete to be in that position. And it makes a nation proud to see their representatives marching with their flags. Australians were left beaming after watching Anna Meares carry our flag followed by some 400 plus competitors wearing our national Green and Gold. And it brings a smile to my face to watch the other countries, no matter how many competitors they have, march out. Each country was given a different plant seed, as part of Brazil’s plan to combat deforestation, with each athlete planting that seed at the end of their country’s march. Brazil is sending a message loud and clear this Olympic games- the Earth matters and they will do all they can to help preserve it.Anna Mears.jpgSource: Getty Images

Following the march and the formalities, the Olympic flag was raised and a brief celebration of the party culture of Brazil was had. Finally, the cauldron was officially lit, in spectacular style. Although simple, the final effect of the lit cauldron was mesmerizing. Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, a marathon athlete, was the man for the job.

After travelling through more than 25 places in Brazil, the Olympic torch was carried into the stadium by Gustavo Kuerten, a Brazilian tennis player. Kuerten passed the flame onto Women’s Basketballer Hortencia Marcari. Hortencia then passed the flame to de Lima who carried the torch up a flight of stairs before igniting a flower-esque pot. The pot ascended into a hybrid cauldron, with the flame backdropped by a sculpture created by Anthony Howe. The rotating sculpture was lit to represent the sun, and looked truly amazing. Another mini-cauldron will be lit in the centre of Rio, as the Maracana stadium will only be used for soccer semi-finals and finals.

  Source: Getty Images

The lighting of the cauldron and fireworks closed out the show, but only marked the beginning of the next two exciting weeks in sport.


“They went with songs to the battle, they were young.

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,

They fell with their faces to the foe.”

This is the staunch reality for the 416 809 who went to war between the years of 1914 and 1918. This mere number was around one tenth of Australia’s population at the time. 60 000 of those enlisted died; 156 000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner and of those that returned, many would suffer from the effects for the rest of their lives. World War 1 remains the most deadly and costly battles for Australians thus far. 18 000 New Zealand soldiers also lost their lives.

Like a large number of the population, one of those enlisted was a relative of mine, Abraham Pearce.  Private Pearce fell to his death on August 6th 1915 at the murderous battle of Lone Pine. He would have been my great great uncle. Today I got up at 4am to attend my local dawn service. I didn’t just go to commemorate my fallen relative, I attended the service to pay my respects to all those who have served in the wars from World War 1 right through to the current peace keeping operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Abraham Pearce.JPG

Private Abraham Pearce

For many Australians and New Zealanders, ANZAC day marks one of the most significant days in the calendar year. Millions of Australians have flocked to remember the service men and women for one hundred years. The first ANZAC service took place on April 25th, 1916, one year after troops landed on the wrong side of the Gallipoli peninsula awaiting their deadly fate.

Diaries from those who served in the war reveal that those on the frontline, along with the medics who were largely responsible for the foundation of ANZAC day, went to great efforts to commemorate those who had fallen in the last 12 months since their fateful landing at Gallipoli. The diaries reveal that the day began with a mass at dawn and was followed by a commemorative service that took place mid-morning. After lunch there were organised sports activities including two-up with all profits from gambling going to Battalion funds. Elsewhere in London more than 2000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers marched through the streets and they became known as the ‘Knights of Gallipoli’. In Australia, marches were held whereby wounded soldiers accompanied by nurses took part.

100 years on there is still that same ANZAC spirit that is commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders of all ages. At the particular service I attended there were newborns all the way through to the elderly with one important thing bringing them together- remembrance. From the time the catafalque party mounts to the moment they dismount; through the laying of the wreaths; through the ode of remembrance, the last post and the minute silence and the singing of our nations anthem, we are united as one, remembering those that fought to make our country the fair, beautiful and rich land that it now is.

ANZAC day means different things to everyone but to me it means that I can remember my relative that I never met and thank him for giving his life for his country. ANZAC day also means that I can learn about the lives of those that fought, many of which were not much older than me, in fact many were several years younger. I learn about the horrible conditions that they were faced with on a daily basis for months or even years and cannot even begin to fathom how those that lived even survived these conditions. But above all ANZAC day means I can become a part of the other near 25 million Australians that are joined together by this occasion, which makes me proud to be an Australian.

While many fear for the future of ANZAC day, I believe that as long as we keep these commemorative services alive, the spirit will forever live on.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

Age shall not weary them, now the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Lest we forget”

Scrapbooking 101

Like most people, you probably have thousands of photographs laying around the house in boring old photo albums or on your digital device. There is of course nothing wrong with this but if you are wanting to make those special moments even more special, you might decide to venture into scrapbooking. Not only do scrapbooks show off the images, they add personal touches to the photos and tell a story.

So where does one begin scrapbooking?

Firstly you have to pick out the album that’s just right for you. The standard size for most scrapbooks are 8 inches by 8 inches, but you may decide to go for one larger or smaller depending on the occasion and how many photos you want on each page. Most scrap books come with 20 empty sleeves and space for extra fill-ins.

Now you’ve chosen the colour and size of your album, you need to choose the paper that you will use for the pages. Make sure these are the same size as the album but for a more effective look, also choose some a bit smaller to use as borders. Most art and craft shops sell books of cardstock at a reasonable price with many different colours, designs, textures and patterns. You can also buy individual cardstock but this is more costly in the long run.

The fun part begins where you get to choose the embellishments to dress your pages with. There are endless types of embellishments including: letters/numbers; paper flowers; butterflies; lace borders; diamantes; inspiring sayings and many more. There’s virtually an embellishment for every possible theme. The cost of embellishments is pretty cheap depending on where you source your items from. They also go a long way when scrapbooking and creating cards.

Aside from all the pretty stuff, you will also need to invest in practical things to. Double-sided tape is a must for making pictures ‘pop out’ of the page. ‘Snail’ or glue tape is also good for sticking photos down. You will also need good-quality scissors and a guillotine.

So now that you have everything, you can begin to scrapbook your beautiful pages. There is no wrong or right when it comes to scrapbooking; just let your creative mind do the work. Do, however, follow these simple tips to make your scrapbooking a success:

  • Lay-out your page: Make sure that before you permanently glue anything down, you lay down the images you wish to use and the embellishments  directly where you wish for them to be on the page. Stand back and look at the page from different angles. Are you happy with it?
  • Less is more: Don’t overcrowd a page with embellishments and take away from the image or images you want to shine.
  • Use cardstock to mount your pictures: Create a border for your salient image by using a colour and pattern of cardstock different to the background. This will make your page interesting and your photo stand-out more.
  • Use headings: Give a name to the page and the moment by using letter stickers anywhere on the page. Try to use various types of letters throughout the scrapbook to make the album interesting. Don’t be afraid to hand-write some headings on pages as well
  • Find your theme: Having a theme to each page or the whole album will help the scrapbook to tell a story about the events.

Congratulations, you are now ready to begin scrapbooking! Good luck!