Archive for April 2016

 

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My Bali Trip: Suarga, Padang Padang

29 April 2016

Last week I headed over to Bali with my mum, to meet up with my sister, girlfriends and relatives… to attend a girlfriend’s wedding.

It was my first time in Bali! (I know. I may have been the last woman in Australia to visit Bali.) Anyway, despite having a million friends who have visited Bali, I did my own research on places to stay.

We were in Bali for 6 nights; we stayed 2 nights at an eco-sustainable boutique resort, 1 night at a moderately cheap and cheerful hotel and 2 nights at a inner city 9 bedroom villa (which we shared with the wedding party).

The venues were not sponsored. I wasn’t planning to write about any of them, but my mum and I had SUCH an amazing time in the eco-sustainable resort that I just had to share :)

Suarga at Padang Padang

We stayed at the Suarga Resort at Padang Padang

I had never heard of this resort before. No one recommended it to me. I found it on Trip Advisor, because it was close to the wedding venue and it stood out with its amazing photos and super-high ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor.

Suarga combines modern luxury of a resort with an environmentally sustainable ethos. It’s about 35 – 40 minutes drive from the airport, near Uluwatu, on the south west coast of Bali.

Perched on top of a cliff, the whole lounge, pool, and restaurant area of the resort had spectacular views of the ocean!

The main pool was gorgeous. I had a swim in the morning, afternoon and night time :)

Suarga at Padang Padang

The main structure was made out of recycled wood and bamboo – it was architecturally stunning.

In the hottest part of the day, we sat in the open-air, shaded lounge area. With fans and the gentle breeze from the ocean, we hardly felt the tropical heat and we were very comfortable. There also seemed to be no mosquitoes.

There were only ever 5 or 6 other couples in the lounge area. Maybe there were more, but it was always so deliciously quiet.

Suarga at Padang Padang

The whole place felt very secluded, peaceful, calming and relaxing.

We read novels, we had a cup of tea, had cocktails, had an afternoon nap on the lounge, ordered some nibbles, my mum did some tai chi on the balcony, I did a bit of wonky yoga – which my mum managed to snap before I lost balance!

All the other hotel guests did the same; they just chilled out quietly and calmly.

(At the other accommodation we went to, there were bus loads of tourists dropping in to gawk at the clifftop views, or huge wedding parties with camera men and people with walkie talkies – it was so noisy and it felt like a theme park. There were so many guests and strangers around that I felt I had to keep watch and stay on edge all the time.)

Suarga at Padang Padang

Breakfast was included in the price at Suarga and it was pretty damn good. There were a choice of eggs, and a whole spread of locally sourced fruits and homemade organic cereals, breads and jams.

We also had some tea and cake for lunch, and ate dinner in the resort for both nights. It was really good quality, restaurant level, fresh, local dishes.

Suarga at Padang Padang

My mum and I booked some in-room massages, which were excellent.

The ladies who did our massages were definitely more skilled and experienced than the massage salons we went to in Seminyak.

Suarga at Padang Padang

Unfortunately for our first evening, our air conditioner ran poorly, so it was a bit warm in the room.

So for the second night, the management upgraded us to a larger room, which was brand new and had a private infinity pool!

I woke up at 7am to have a dip. It was divine.

Padang Padang Beach

One morning we took a walk down to the beach. I discovered that I had booked at the Suarga Resort not knowing that it was right next to the beach featured in the movie, Eat, Pray, Love, with Julia Roberts.

The beach is called Labuan Sait Beach, or Padang Padang Beach, and it seemed like every person and tour group wanted to visit this place. It cost RP 10,000 (AUD 1) per person to enter the beach and the actual entrance to the beach was cut through rock and you had to walk down some steep steps.

We went there early, around 10am. It was a 2 minute walk from Suarga. It was a good idea to go early, because by 2pm I saw three buses pull up and huge groups of people were trying to get onto the beach.

Padang Padang Beach

I had a swim out into the ocean. The water was lovely and warm. There were seaweedy bits floating on top, but that was fine. The gentle ebb of the water was soooo relaxing.

The beach was actually quite small. And by noon, it was rather crowded that I was almost stepping on other people’s beach towels to let people pass me.

Suarga at Padang Padang

Even the cocktails (I mean, mocktails) were delicious! What an amazing view!

My mum and I had a fantastic time. I would LOVE to come visit again with my husband.

Personally, I wouldn’t bring my three kids here because they are too active and jumpy (they would want to do bombies in the infinity pool, play basketball on the wooden platforms, throw a football across the garden beds)… and they would spoil the peace and quiet for everyone else. I wouldn’t bring toddlers here either, because there are lots of wooden steps and I would spend all my time nervous and edgy that they might fall over.

We paid AUD$380 per night for a Muso Pentroom, with two single beds, and it was totally worth it.

We also paid an additional AUD$200 for 2 evening meals, 2 cocktails, several cups of tea and cake, 40 minute drive from the airport, and 2 one hour massages.

A humungous thank you to the staff and team at Suarga!

Of course, there were tonnes of other places I wanted to stay in Bali, which all looked equally amazing all with  great reviews, interesting features and near different locations around Bali.

So if you need a few places to start your research (or a few quick pointers) I found a list of 7 Best Value Hotels to Relax in Bali, which you might find helpful.

Enjoy!

xxx


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Reading The Classics: Great Expectations

24 April 2016

Last month, I mentioned that I was on a quest to read some classic literature.

I know what you’re thinking… it sounds super dorky… bordering on pretentious.

Haha whatever.

Great Expectations

I finished up Great Expectations by Charles Dickens the other evening.

I actually wrote out 7 huge paragraphs about my thoughts on the book, but I decided to condense it all into 7 snappy sentences, since this is, like the internet and all. I mean, I almost titled this post, “7 things you need to know about Great Expectations”.

1) The novel is NOT : a cute, children’s story like Oliver Twist. (That’s what I thought it was!)

2) Pace of the story : Slow and rambly to start. The story picks up in Chapter 20!

3) How’s the old fashioned language? A bit tricky to read. I had to re-read some sentences a few times to get the hang of it. But by Chapter 3, I was all good.

4) Words I didn’t know: Perspicuity, remonstrance, penitentials, farinaceous. What the heck?

5) The ah-ha moment at Chapter 19: We were FINALLY told WHY the story is called Great Expectations. I was tempted to google it before I found out, but I was happy I didn’t.

6) Plot Summary: A story about a good-hearted boy with lofty goals; an unexpected gift that changed his life; how he rejected his family and friends, and his moral journey through life after that.

7) Best parts: I adored the language and the found the story quite compelling in the end. It had some unexpected twists and surprises.

I really liked it and might pick up Tale of Two Cities next time.


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What I Wore: The Simple Silk Shirt

19 April 2016

Blush Silk Shirt

Hey everyone!

Last week I raced out the door and headed into the city wearing this very simple outfit.

Simple, casual, minimal, tailored and polished.

I’m not going to win any street style fashion awards with this one, but who cares really. I felt lovely, put together, confident, comfortable, happy and completely at ease with myself and the world.

I walked along the footpath, enjoying the twinkling sunshine, the footsteps of the crowd around me, the silky softness of my shirt against my skin, the soft leather soles of my shoes and having a bright smile on my face.

Life is good when my perspective is sweet and simple.

Hope you all have a gorgeous week ahead!

Wearing: Equipment Silk Slim Signature Blouse | White jeans from Fendi (ebay) | Acne Studio Pumps | Loeffler Randall Handbag | Gorjana Earrings


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Lover Poppy Fitted Dress

18 April 2016

Lover Dress Poppy

I’m off to Bali for a girlfriend’s wedding soon, and I finally bought a dress to wear!

I splurged (kind of) on this Lover Poppy Fitted Dress in blue. Eeep it’s so pretty!

It wasn’t really a splurge, because it was on sale here, and I also received an extra 25% off (the sale is still on, just enter the code “EXTRA25″ at the checkout). So it was really just the price of a normal dress :)

There are other Lover dresses in a similar style in nude, black and white here at Revolve (with significant markdowns).

Can’t wait to wear it out!


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Catching Up With The Kids

15 April 2016

Being a mum of three, it’s no surprise that my life pretty much revolves around my kids.

So what’s been happening in our household these last few weeks?

Elizabeth Quay March 2016

1. We’re going hiking!

We’ll be doing a bit of wet-weather mountain hiking soon, so I bought all my boys some waterproof, leather, hiking boots. Usually these kinds of boots can be $250 for a pair, but I found some for around $60 and had them shipped over from the UK. Hope they hold together!

We went for a long practice hike around Kings Park and I’m happy to say that there were NO BLISTERS. Phew.

 

2. My two older boys (11 and 13 years) play basketball for local teams.

One boy’s team reached their Grand Final Championships – and won!

The other boy represented his school in an Inter-School Basketball Championship and they won too!

I’m crazy proud that they play and love so many different kinds of sports. And I love it that they give it their best each time.

 

3. We had a medical emergency on the weekend (as you do!) 

One of my boys woke up with a crushing pain in his lower abdomen that caused him to shake, cry, was unable to urinate and it affected his breathing. He usually has a very high threshold for pain, so it was really unusual for us to see him curled up in a ball.

I went from… making fun of him “Bah, you probably have a fart coming!” to… RACING out to the doctor and literally packing our overnight bags, expecting for the worst – Kidney failure! Emergency surgery! Ruptured appendix! Ruptured bowels! Internal bleeding! Death! OMG!

HOURS LATER: After a dose of pandadol and close monitoring from the doctor, it turned out that he was just dehydrated?? What. The. Hell??

Yeah… I’m so happy and thankful that it was nothing worse. But that whole adventure took up the whole day. 8 hours! It tested my threshold for anxiety and panic. It made me cry. It turned our weekend plans upside down. Just because my kid forgot to drink water after his cross country run?! Ugh seriously?? So bloody annoying!

 

4. My boys are into coding and making their own games. Even the 7 year old.

Yes my boys are bright. Yes they are creative. Yes I appreciate the benefits of learning how to code, I’m aware of the new “cool” factor surrounding science and technology, and that computers are the way of the future…

But do they have to be so obsessed about it all? Do they have to be on a computer all the time? Do they have to regard American ‘YouTube Gamers’ like heroes? Surely there is more to science and technology than being a YouTube Star? Surely there are greater life goals for young boys??

So, quietly, I am not too pleased about my kid’s new computer-game making hobby.

But I shall shut my mouth and not say a word about it… and hopefully this craze will end soon!

 

5. They are cooking more family meals.

They are just making hamburgers, nachos, omelettes, bread and pizzas from scratch, baking scones and brownies.

Aside from the mess and the huge piles of dirty dishes… I’m pretty happy with that.

 

6. Another medical emergency involving brain-eating amoebas.

We were recently on holiday, swimming, kayaking, bush hiking and sand-boarding around Moore River in the small town of Guilderton. There was large amounts of warm, stagnant, fresh water and warning signs about the possible risk of amoeba meningitis.

Yes! Amoebas that eat your brains! Holy crap! They enter through your eyes, ears or mouth, so you’re not supposed to submerge your face and head underwater. You can be sure that we took a lot of care whilst doing all our water activities.

We were all good, until we decided to go for one last sand boarding session.

While coming down a slope, one of my sons crashed, tumbled down and got his head buried in the sand. He staggered blindly towards some people who helped him wash his face and eyes – IN THE RIVER WATER! OH MY GOD!

On the car ride home, there was still sand stuck in his eyes, causing him a lot of pain.

Over the hour, his eyes became more and more red, puffy and inflamed. His face turned red too. OMG I was FREAKING TERRIFIED about the amoebic meningitis, I was literally trembling with horror and going through wave after wave of panic attacks. I tried SO hard to be calm about it on the outside.

We went straight to the doctor. Antibiotic eye wash. Pain relief. Dark sunglasses. Rest. A cry (me). 12 hour sleep (him).

After all that and another check up with the doctor, all was good. No need to go to hospital. Life goes on.

I’m sure life will get even more dramatic once they all become proper teenagers!


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Meal Prepping with Vegetables

14 April 2016

Veggie Meal Prep

Because I like a bit of order and efficiency in my life, I’ve been trying to prepare my daytime meals.

Yes it’s a great way to maintain my weight and a healthy eating regime. Yes it really helps me NOT eat crappy food.

But it’s not easy to stick to.

It comes and goes. I’ll do it for 4 days, then skip 2 days, then back at it for 5-6 days, then stop for 7 days, then back for 5 days… etc.

LIFE HAPPENS and it’s OK really.

Sometimes I go out for lunch. Sometimes I have delicious dinner leftovers in my fridge (hello beef rendang!).

Sometimes I eat such a large breakfast that I skip lunch, then find myself impossibly hungry at the end of the afternoon, and I eat everything in sight!

The truth is, I like food and I get bored eating the same thing every day.

So typical meal prepping doesn’t really work for me.

However these last few weeks… I have found a nice compromise.

I spend Sunday making FIVE simple salads, as shown above. After I took the photo above, I actually added a large handful of spinach to the containers. So there was a bit more to my salad than pictured. It’s not pretty. I just shove as much as I can into a 250ml container.

Then: Every day I eat something proteiny with my salad… like grilled chicken, a slice of fish, can of tuna, two boiled eggs, a scoop of leftover beef rendang, steamed tofu, or a slice of sourdough bread that I made the day before, or soba noodles.

That way, I know I fill up on a nice yummy salad for most days of the week.

The variety makes it much easier to stick to!

(Having said that, I have been known to have a piece of KFC chicken with my salad haha!)


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Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Butter Cream

13 April 2016

Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently invited a few girlfriends over for an afternoon tea and catch up. And since it was after Easter, I used up the last of my chocolate eggs as cute cupcake decorations. They looked so pretty!

I used a recipe based on Donna Hay’s Chocolate Cupcake recipe, but I just used less sugar.

It’s a pretty good basic chocolate cupcake recipe. I would have liked it to be a bit more moist, but it has a nice chocolatey taste.

Donna Hay’s Chocolate Cupcake
(Makes about 16)

125g butter, softened
½ cup milk
¾ cup caster sugar (I used ½ cup)
100g dark chocolate, melted
2 eggs
1¼ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
12 small chunks of dark chocolate, extra

Chocolate Butter Cream Icing
250g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar mixture, sifted
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 160°C. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well after each addition. Sift over the flour, baking powder and cocoa and beat until combined. Fold through the milk and stir in the melted chocolate.

Place a piece of the extra chocolate in the base of each cupcake case. Spoon the cupcake mixture into the cases and bake for 20–25 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool.

To make the chocolate butter cream icing, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar mixture, cocoa powder and milk and beat for a further 6 minutes or until light and creamy. Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes using a star-shaped nozzle, decorate and serve. Makes 16.

Enjoy!


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Street Style and Fresh Hair

8 April 2016

New Hair Cut

Super Soft Grey Tee ($35) from HelloParry | Denim shirt from The Iconic | Frame Jeans from Shopbop | Hi-top sneakers from Ecco Shoes | Ray-Bans from Sunglassesshop

 

The other afternoon I was out with my 11 year old boy. We were buying a new school sweater for him, picking up some vegetables from the Asian grocery store and then heading over to the bank.

It was one of those rare afternoons, where we just hung out, walked down the street together, chatted and laughed about stuff, and bought a sneaky pack of chocolate biscuits to share. We were on a mission, but it was like a crazy road trip with my best buddy.

Our conversation floated between basketball, teachers, coding video games, sports brands and Instagram.

So as we walked past a white garage door… I took the opportunity to take a few street style snaps (and to show off my new hair cut) haha. He was quite good about taking the photos! I might get him to take more!

Fresh haircut by Curi Hair in Subiaco.


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Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

6 April 2016

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

I have been stalking Flora and Fauna Cafe on Instagram for months now.

Their food creations and floral decorations are such a delight to look at – that my heart goes into an excited flutter every time I see one of their photos pop up onto my feed!

Anyway, I finally popped in with a girlfriend to try it out and it was just lovely. They specialise in super healthy, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free breakfast/brunch/lunch dishes.

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

We ordered two dishes to share, plus a coffee for me and a juice for my friend.

First dish was a Green Tea Granola ($20), which they make themselves.

The serving was huge, topped with a variety of fresh fruit, flowers and served with your choice of milk (I chose almond).

It was delicious, crunchy, and fresh. I could taste the green tea, and all the glorious seeds and nuts. But there was a strong flavour of almond essence or organic syrup (I’m not sure!) it was just a touch over-powering because I don’t usually like almond essence.

Nonetheless I happily gobbled up my share. The fruits were so yummy!

Flora and Fauna Cafe, Northbridge

Our second dish was the Heirloom Bruschetta ($19) featuring 3 kinds of tomatoes, gluten free bread, avocado, greens and a sprinkle of feta.

The tomatoes were just lovely, sweet and mellow (not too sour, not too tangy or acidic).

I was absolutely blown away by how delicious this dish was. It was truly bursting with flavour!

I would order this again. In fact, I would take someone special (like my husband) to this cafe and order this for him.

I’ll definitely be back :)

Great: Amazing food, styling, gorgeous cafe decoration, great coffee.

Not-so-great: Price (this cost us $50 exactly), limited seating, no bookings, most of the tables were outside.

 

Flora & Fauna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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Morning Light and a Special Sale

5 April 2016

Loeffler Randall Rider Bag

I have a little treat to share with you!

Shopbop is having a Friends and Family Sale, and you can use the promotion code “INTHEFAM” to receive 25% off full price and sale items (some brand exclusions) until 8th of April.

I managed to nab a little something from Charlotte Olympia, I was much too slow to get the Kitty Flats in my size so I chose a little Charlotte Olympia Purse instead.

I also took the dive and picked up some Acne Jensen Booties, because I have been saving for months and I absolutely adore the pointed toe and the stacked heel. (However they are one of the brands excluded in sale). I chose the suede because I was looking for something a bit different too.

Whilst I was browsing, I eyed this Equipment Shirt, this Diane Von Furstenburg Lace Dress in navy, this Loeffler Randall Saddle Bag in tan, some Alice + Olivia Dresses. All these fall into the 25% off category.

I hope something catches your eye too! Have fun!

Loeffler Randall Rider Bag

As for my photo, I just adore capturing the morning light that comes through in our bedroom window.

This was me getting ready to head out to a meeting with my Loeffler Randall Rider Bag that I purchased during the last Shopbop Sale, YSL Bold 1 Sunglasses and Suede flats by Charles + Keith.


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Bellabox Beauty Goodies

4 April 2016

Hi everyone!

Today I’m reviewing the subscription beauty box service, Bellabox.

They sent me a box to test out and I’m going to try my best to take an objective point of view and answer the biggest question in my head (and maybe yours):

Are these boxes a waste of money??

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

Bellabox was founded in 2011. I believe they were one of the first and one of the most popular subscription beauty boxes in the Asia Pacific region. I certainly remembered when they first came out, there was a huge buzz that surrounded them back then.

Personally I have never signed up for a subscription beauty box. Because…

Firstly, for some reason I thought the price for these boxes was $49 per month?! I thought this was just ridiculous… but the subscription price is actually only $18 shipping per month. That is $15 for the box + $2.95 for shipping.

Or you can choose to pay $16.66 per box, but pay for the whole year.

Secondly, I am drowning in samples already. I am a fashion and lifestyle blogger and I am on quite a few PR companies mailout lists, which means I get sent lots of free stuff to try. For most of the items, I don’t ask for them, so they are not suitable for me, or I am not interested in trying out, or they don’t suit my skin type, so I usually send a note of “thanks but no thanks” back. Then I feel really bad!

Lastly, back then (when considering a subscription box), I felt that I had reached a stage in my life where I don’t like to experiment with new beauty products. I just wanted to stick to my usual stuff.

But funny thing is that, it turns out that in the past couple of years, I have become more experimental and keen to try new beauty products. Maybe a sign of getting older and wanting to stay young? Wanting to remain in the cool gang? Haha!

Bellabox Subscription Beauty Box

March Box ContentsBlue chalk hair colour (probably would have liked pink chalk), Neon & Co Hair treatment. (hair treatment oil is always fab), Bliss Body Butter (I always need body cream for my legs and feet!), Benefit Pore Minimiser (so cool , I have always wanted to try this), MonoDermà A15 Retinol – Vitamin A (yikes, I have always wanted to try this kind of vitamin A capsules to apply directly onto my skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles).

So what is good about these subscription boxes anyway?

I had a good think about WHO would benefit MOST from them, and WHY someone might like to try it out.

1. Samples save you money. I actually love getting samples. They allow you to try before you buy. A full bottle of cream can be $16 – $22 or more! I have bought so many crappy products.

I have many regular beauty items I have discovered through samples. My Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua foundation that I have been using religiously for the last 5 years, came from a magazine sample. Keihl’s body cream, Aesop hand creams, philosophy scrubs, AHA masks and more.

2. Access to product samples. If you don’t have access to product samples, subscription boxes are a pretty good way to get them. Especially because someone else chooses and finds them for you.

3. Value for money. Standard shipping alone in Australia is about $9 – $13 for a small box? So getting 5 samples sent to your door for $18 is pretty cheap.

4. Saves you time. I once had a few hours spare to go shopping… so I went to Priceline. I opened bottles, sniffed products, dabbed them onto my hands, felt the consistency, looked up the products on my smart phone while standing in the aisle, read the reviews. I tried out eye liners, lip stains, tanning creams, bb creams, foaming face wash, oil cleansers. I read the back of packets, looked at ingredients, I just wanted to know what was out there and to test out what they felt like. Suddenly it was 2.5 hours later and I was absolutely KICKING MYSELF that I wasted so much time!!

I seriously would have preferred someone ‘in the know’ to recommend me a few good products so I could try.

5. Trying new stuff is fun. If you enjoy experimenting with new and popular beauty products, then 5 samples per month is a good place to start. If you don’t have any skin sensitivities or allergies, then it can be quite exciting to try new stuff for your skin/body/hair/face. You’ll never know if something will work for you if you don’t try it right?

6. Receiving surprises in the mail. Most people adore this. It reminds us of the good old snail mail days. The box is lovely and the products are very well packaged.

 

So to answer my original question – Are they a waste of money?

YES, if you are completely not interested in experimenting and someone else choosing beauty products for you. or if you have sensitive skin. Or particular about colours. It’s not for everyone!

BUT if you like experimenting, receiving samples, saving money on products and saving time on research… then NO, it’s not a waste of money – it’s actually pretty good value.

As for me…

I pick up a new mascara ($25) or a BB cream ($18) or a new lip colour ($23) or a different nail colour ($17) ALL THE TIME, just because I saw it in a magazine and just to try something new. If I wasn’t already drowning in product samples, I would definitely sign myself up for a monthly subscription.

I’m not getting paid for this review, but if you decide you like the idea of a subscription box, you can check out the  Bellabox Beauty Boxes here and if you subscribe, I’ll get a little commission on the sale. No pressure though. Like I said, it’s not for everyone.

Enjoy!


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My New Love: Yoga

2 April 2016

Yoga Love

Hi everyone! Hope you all had an amazing weekend :)

I want to share my new love… yoga.

Now I feel like I’m 10 years late in the game. But it’s better late than never!

I’ve been to lots of yoga classes over the years and I’ve never really loved it.

I went to classes at general fitness gyms, community centres, specialised yoga studios, a beachside yoga place, hipster/organic/uber cool studios.

They were nice. They were ok. The workout was meh. It was nothing great. I’d rather do a pilates class. Or a Body Pump class. Or hey, I’d rather just go for a run, because that’s much cheaper!

However I’ve recently joined a yoga class in Perth called Bodyscape Yoga and my mind was blown.

I tried out a few classes… and whenever I did a class, the next day I would wake up feeling freaking AMAZING.

Now, I don’t seem to wake up with an aching back, stiffness and soreness in my muscles and joints.

I seriously feel younger and more energetic. I bounce happily out of bed in the mornings!

It’s a crazy feeling and I love it!

It is definitely something I am adding to my overall fitness activities :)

xxx




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