Monthly Archives: November 2012

Get the Look for Less!

I always said I wouldn’t do a fashion blog, but after my recent blog on Shopping Centre Fashionista—where I commented on ‘Get the Look for Less’ from the Canberra Centre Culture magazine—which advertised a lovely look that included a dress for $899; I made it my mission to seriously get the look for less. Well, less than that anyway.

Today summer has arrived, so I did hie myself off to Belconnen Mall (note: not the Canberra Centre) to peruse the shops.

So my look for (considerably) less starts with a sweet little sundress from Crossroads. It may not look much in the photo, but it looks lovely on. It’s well-cut and has hidden side pockets and a nice flattering V back, and comes with the belt. At $49.95 it’s a snip and will take you from work to drinks by the lake, and it comes in a size 8 to 22. Awesome! And yes, I did buy it.

Next up are the shoes. Because the dress is multi pinks, blues and greens you can choose your colour to match. I went for blue—‘cos I’m not really a pink person—but I’ve given you a choice.

You can skip along to the lake in a nice pair of comfy suede flats from Novo at $39.95, or cute sandals at $49.95, also from Novo. If you really want to dress it up, the pink wedges would look great and won’t break the budget at $59.95. Novo strikes again!

Team your shoes with a clutch or tote bag. The pink clutch is from Novo and costs $39.95. The other bags are from Colette—with the little blue clutch a bargain at $39.95.

The pink tote bag is real leather and is simply gorgeous—it will hold everything you need including your iPad, and for the quality it’s a fantastic bargain at $99.95, and it also comes in blue. The blue tote is soft faux leather with lots of inside pockets and an extender shoulder strap, and at $54.95 it’s a steal. It also comes in red—which I bought … yes I know I’m meant to sticking with blue and pink but I got side-tracked.

Finish your look with some Diva jewellery—both items less than $20.

And there you have it—the look for damn site less than a Hugo Boss dress! Enjoy…!

The Scandinavian God of Shopping

So we’re driving through St Peters towards Sydney Airport when on the horizon—there it is! We didn’t go looking for it; we just stumbled upon it, but while we’re here … why not …

This is our first visit to Ikea and we have no idea what to expect. Parking is like parking at Disneyland with rows and rows of cars as far as the eye can see, and each row has a large alphabet letter (we park in C) so you don’t lose your car, and follow the crowds. Neither of us like crowds so this should set off alarm bells right at the start, but for some reason we don’t hear them, and continue into the store.

Now I’ve heard of Ikea and all the jokes about flat packs, and needing a Masters in Engineering to put your purchase together, but somehow I never really thought that everything came in flat pack. Quelle surprise … but surely you don’t have to put together a lounge suite from a flat pack?


We follow everyone else to a sign that says ‘Showroom’. At the foot of the escalator a lady in the blue and yellow uniform welcomes us to Ikea and shoves a card in our hands. It’s at that moment I realise I’m probably one up on everyone else because I can speak Swedish. 

Well, no not really, but many moons ago when I was in high school, I had a pen-pal (remember those—they came before email, Facebook and tweeting) and the aim was to correspond via letter (that’s post) and impart information about your country, your life, your customs and culture, and anything else, and hopefully learn a bit of the language along the way. I was handed the name and address of a young girl called Cristina who lived in Gothenburg, and we corresponded for well over 30 years—yes, really! And, she was a bridesmaid at my wedding. Obviously her English was miles ahead of my Swedish but I did learn some—including the words on the card the Ikea lady shoved in my hand. It said:

“God Jul och Gott Nytt År på Ikea”

And that’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year at Ikea. Didn’t think I knew that, did you?

Anyhow, back to the store, which not surprisingly; as the card conveyed; is Christmas themed.

Christmas Lounge – complete with roaring (fake) fire

The Showroom is quite amazing with little alcoves done out like lounge rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, kitchens etc, so you can see what the stuff looks like in situ as it were. It’s around this time that we realise everyone is going in the same direction. No-one is meandering like people do in Myer or David Jones. Everyone is being herded around the store by following large glowing arrows that flicker on the floor—it’s done by lighting, so they can change the arrows and herd the customers towards specials or sale items. But on this particular day we are going round in some sort of order—we think.

Ikea Modern Lounge with study area

After the showroom we arrive in the lounge area, followed by the dining area, then led to the bedrooms, then the kitchens. How do you get an oven in a flat pack? No that’s not a riddle. I don’t know the answer either.

Coffee tables, and more coffee tables

Then we are guided to manchester and soft furnishings. I think we’ve followed the arrows for about 5 kilometres by now and have probably walked as far as Mascot. But wait there’s more! Around the corner—and there it is … the perfect Swedish Christmas. There are fir trees, pine trees, and white, silver and gold trees, and more baubles and bows than you can poke a stick at. And I dare say the trees do come in a flat pack.

But we’re over it. Sadly it’s way too much even for me and we start desperately looking for the exits. Unfortunately we still have to follow the arrows (I wonder if Swedish supermarkets are like that?) and after Christmas we have to make our way through babies, kids and toys; light fittings and lamps; accessories; the flat pack pick-up area; the coffee shop and restaurant (well everyone needs coffee and cake after all that …), and finally the Swedish Market, to the checkouts.

Swedish snacks from the Market


People are maneuvering trolleys laden with packs, and I lie through my teeth when I can’t help but stop one couple and say I’m writing an article on home-wares and can I ask some questions—I give them my business card just for good measure.

Helen and Phil (names changed to protect the innocent) have spent over $700 today. This is their third trip this year and they’ve bought a couple of wardrobe inserts; and two bedside tables with new lamps (they’re doing up a bedroom … really?), and some Christmas gifts for family members. Nice. Who puts it all together? “Phil does,” says Helen, “he’s very handy, and we’ve never had a problem—never had pieces or screws missing or anything like that. Of course, you don’t expect it to last forever—it’s not like solid oak or anything, but you get what you pay for, and it’s ideal for a quick makeover.”  I suppose it is.

Helen is on roll, “you can get an Ikea person to install it but you have to pay extra for that. I suppose if you’re getting a kitchen or something you’d need to have it professionally installed.” I suppose you would. 

Back at the hotel I randomly Google Ikea deliveries and discover that a couple of young blokes (Michael and Loyzek) in Canberra are making a motza driving to Ikea three times a week to collect online orders and deliver them to the Canberra region. They charge you 10 percent of your total purchase. So if Helen and Phil lived in Canberra they could have ordered online; contacted and had their delivery within 48 hours. Compared with six hours of driving to and from Sydney; negotiating Ikea (at least another four hours), and getting the goods in the house when you get home, it’s a small price to pay.

And no, I don’t know them—I just think it’s a brilliant idea and I should have thought of it.

Why don’t fat people do yoga?

My 20-something stick-insect work colleague does a yoga class every Wednesday lunchtime. Having cursed her size 6 figure many times, and once again bemoaning that the three kilos that appeared around my middle over the winter refuses to budge, stick-insect approaches my desk.

“Hey, why don’t you come and do a yoga class with me—you’ll feel so much better.” Will I? “Yeah, and the first class is free if you come as my guest, so you can try before you buy. It’s awesome; you’ll love it”. Will I? “Just bring track pants and a t-shirt on Wednesday and we’ll go.” O-kay … well, it’s nice of her to ask—after all she’s 20-something and I’m probably the same age as her grandmother …so I’m honoured. I think.

Now, for those of you who don’t know; I work at a university whose campus spans 340 acres. In order to get to the yoga class we leave our building on one side of the campus and do a brisk walk to the gym on the other side. Consequently I am knackered by the time I get there—let alone ready to do any sort of fitness class.

Target trackies $15

I’m wearing my trackies and t-shirt. Everyone else is also wearing trackies and t-shirts. But not quite. My trackies cost 15 bucks from Target—everyone else is wearing yoga pants. There’s a difference? Apparently. My trackies are just that. Their yoga pants are very nicely cut, and have the brand name embroidered in little letters on the bottom of the leg. Also, and this is a dead giveaway, the label is on the outside! So there they are: 10 size 6 stick insects in trendy yoga pants standing in the middle of their mats. Their t-shirts are actually singlets that hug their waist; my t-shirt is long and baggy. And although I’m the first to admit I could lose a couple of kilos, I’m not fat (my pants are a very respectable size 10); I’m beginning to feel like the proverbial brick outhouse.

Lorna Jane yoga pants $90

And I have to tell you that walking into a room full of 20-something stick-insects in very expensive yoga pants, with their lovely long hair twisted nonchalantly around their head does not make me feel better.

Lorna Jane yoga top $35

Stick-insect colleague takes my arm and we move to the two empty mats at the back. Our instructor (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger version of the late Farrah Fawcet-Major) fronts the class. “Let us sit in the lotus position.” Let’s not. The class sits. “Are you right there at the back?” No I’m not. If I could move from a standing position, into the lotus position, in one seamless, elegant movement I wouldn’t be at the bloody class …

Three awkward, and somewhat clumsy, attempts later and I’m sitting on the mat. Not in the lotus position—just sitting—and it hurts.

For the next four hours (30 minutes has never been so long…) the instructor encourages the class to move their bodies into various positions. Some of them so complicated I start to think I’m watching a performance of Cirque du Soleil. A little tinkling bell announces the end of the session and the class rises to its feet in yet another seamless elegant movement. I, somewhat unfortunately, appear to be glued to the mat and stick-insect colleague comes over to help me to my feet.

I stagger out the door and come face-to-face with a group of people carrying enormous balls. “They’re fit balls,” explains stick-insect, “you balance on them, and do squats and crunches, and lean backwards over them. It’s awfully good for your back. I go every Friday after work—you should come, it would make you feel better.”

 Bugger off.