About kaymarieloves

I am a writer living on the Sunshine Coast and filling my days with adventures, gardens, dogs, interior design, baking, pretty clothes and good books.

Stanthorpe winery tour.

Our only real ‘planned event’ on our weekend away was a tour of some local wineries. We booked a twilight tour from 1-8pm with Filippos Tours. At $125 per person it wasn’t cheap, but when you take in to account that it finished with a three-course meal at a fantastic local restaurant, it was pretty great value. We had a lot of fun learning about the local wines and the Queensland wine industry – for example, did you know that more than 60 per cent of all wine consumed in this state is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand? Guilty.

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There were 28 people in our tour, which was a little on the large side. If you can stretch it, I would recommend organising a private tour to make things a little more personal. Otherwise you inevitably end up with a couple of loud-mouthed yobs and spend a lot of the tour wishing someone would tell them to shut up. Or maybe that was just me.

The tour description says it takes visitors to three local wineries and a ‘place of interest’, which it purported clients could choose from a list of local attractions including a lavender farm, cheese making place, a bramble patch for local berries or an apple farm. We were pretty excited at that prospect, but our tour operator decided we would visit a fourth winery instead, because it was across the road from the third place and obviously more convenient. Still a fabulous day though. IMG_1757 IMG_1759 20130804-162428.jpgThe highlight for me was definitely Symphony Hill Wines – we were given a tour by the owner, before sitting in the barrel room with the winemaker for a brilliant tasting. The winery was only established in 1999 and had a lovely family-run feel, plus their sparkling and Sauvignon Blanc were incredible. Now I just have the find the right occasion to pop a bottle of it at home.

Also, fantastic fact – apparently every ‘real’ winery has its own resident pooch and there is even a book called Wine Dogs that features photos of all the different vineyard dogs around Australia. Symphony Hill had Merlot, a loveable border collie who stars in that book. I didn’t get a picture of Merlot though, because I was too busy patting him.

To finish the night we dined at Shiraz Restaurant and Wine Bar – a restaurant at Ballendean that exceeded all expectations. I couldn’t fault them on service, quality of food or atmosphere and they even had this guy across the road. Fruitasaurus.IMG_1765

Stanthorpe weekend.

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Winter weekends away are up there with my favourite things to do. My family has had a ‘Christmas in July’ tradition for the past couple of years, where we explore different Queensland locations, but this year it was ‘Christmas in August’ at Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe is a beautiful town in the Granite Belt, about 220km south-west of Brisbane, known for its cool climate produce like apples and grapes (and therefore wine). It’s a gorgeous rural location and the perfect place to take a wine tour, explore antique shops and settle in to a more relaxing pace.

Given that Stayz came through for us with our Eumundi accommodation, we tried it out again for Stanthorpe and it did not disappoint. We booked the delightful Maison De Meres for two nights, which slept up to 8 people very, very comfortably. It had everything you would want from a winter getaway – large verandas, a log fire, private bedroom suites and beautiful decor.

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We left Brisbane at about 11am on Friday and made the three hour drive to our new weekend home. It was so easy to settle in, explore the property, chop some fire wood and light the fire before the cool afternoon breezes came in. It was enough to make anyone second guess their city lifestyle.

IMG_1736 L100672420130804-162408.jpg20130804-162341.jpgAfter our first night of shinanigans at the homestead, we set off on Saturday morning to explore the main street. Stanthorpe may not have the grandeur of close-by Warwick, but it had its own quaint and welcoming feel that you couldn’t help but enjoy. I loved the little creek/ stream running through town and judging by the number of people out walking their dogs, feeding the ducks and picnicking along its banks, so do the locals.IMG_1744

I would recommend the High St Salvation Army store for its incredible bargins and lovely, country op shop vibe. I picked up two day dresses and a skirt for the grand total of $8. You can’t do that in Brisbane anymore. It was the perfect way to spend a few hours before a wine tour in the afternoon.

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My $2 dress

The antique store on the way into town from Brisbane was also fantastic, we stopped there on the way home. Prices were reasonable and you could tell the lovely woman working there really cared about what she was doing. The only thing I would note was that a lot of the other places were closed on Sunday, so if you’re planning a real treasure hunt, best to start on Saturday to make the most of the many other stores.

I picked up an absolute treasure of a 1950s hat made in Paris, for $30. I hardly ever find vintage headwear that fits my big head, so I was chuffed to take this beauty home.20130804-162251.jpg

Have you been to Stanthorpe? Let me know what you thought, I’d love to swap stories. I’ll post a review of our wine tour with Filippos tomorrow.

a timely story.

This is probably quite a well-known little story, but it struck a chord with me when I read it earlier this week so I thought I’d share it. ‘Busy’ is my default answer whenever anyone asks me how I’m going, and while it’s true, it’s also a little misguided. ‘Happy’ should be the goal, not busy.

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The Mexican Fisherman

An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.  Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.  The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”

The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos.  I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you.  You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat.  With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.  Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery.  You would control the product, processing, and distribution.  You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”

“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part.  When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire.  Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

AK turns 30, and other such things.

I feel like I’ve blinked and the past month has flown by. Being busy at work and quiet at home doesn’t really lend itself to the most inspirational blog posts (I’ve watched a lot of Dawson’s Creek, but Frannie beat me to that). However I do have a few fun things to share.

1. We went to a 4th of July dinner in celebration of our wonderful sister-in-law. So much delicious food, and great company as well. L1006010

I discovered that strawberry shortcake is an actual thing, not just a cute cartoon. Here’s the recipe for this AMAZING dessert.

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup pure cream
  • 1/2 x 300ml tub double cream
  • 250g strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • Icing sugar mixture, for dusting

-Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Grease and line base of a 6cm-deep, 20cm (base) round cake pan with baking paper.

-Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add sugar. Using your fingertips, rub butter into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk egg and pure cream in a jug. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix with a flat-bladed knife until a soft dough forms.

-Place dough in prepared pan. Using fingertips, press evenly over base of pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

-Using a serrated knife, cut shortcake in half crossways. Spread double cream over cut-side of base. Top with strawberries. Sandwich with shortcake top. Dust with icing sugar. Serve and eat it all. Yum.

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Then AK had his birthday party – the big 3-0, dirty thirty etc etc. As I tend to do with all major events, I took a whopping 3 photos. Despite my flu, I was just having too much fun catching up with everyone and chatting and drinking and eating and accosting a girl from ‘Australia’s Greatest Bake Off’ in the bathroom… there simply was no time to play paparazzi. Here are the only photos. L1006706L1006714

(This was supposed to be for an outfit post – ASOS faux fur coat, Stop Staring dress… but really there’s not much point. Fail on my behalf.)

Ooh and here’s Frannie and I.20130730-074932.jpg

Anyway, suffice to say the party was a lot of fun. We held it at Crosstown Eating House in their private bar – Uptown. Great venue, people, food and beverages.

I’m off to Stanthorpe for a winter getaway on Friday so I promise to take lots of photos 🙂

ceil chapman was one stylish broad.

Weddings are some of my favorite events – celebrating the love of two people, surrounded by dapper men, pretty frocks and champagne to boot. I’ve got a couple coming up and have found some lovely vintage dresses to wear, all from Etsy and all reasonably priced. Along the way I stumbled across a spectacular American designer who worked in New York from the 40s to the 60s. Obviously those more in the know than I have already heard of Ceil Chapman, but I am only just becoming familiar with this classic fashionista. Her dresses fetch up to $6000 these days and are definitely out of my price range but hey, a girl can dream.

Apparently Chapman was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite designer and after seeing some of her designs, it’s not hard to see why. She used decadent fabrics (lots of silk and lace) and was an absolute master of draping. Her creations truly showed off the feminine form without being too revealing.

Here are some of my favorite pieces available now on Etsy.il_fullxfull_344182224($588, the perfect LBD)

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($1,344, such gorgeous ruching)

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(I’m a sucker for beautiful red dresses like this one, $2,600)

il_fullxfull_412643551_oxyv(This navy dress is a dream of silk and floral, $445)

hometown tourists.

Kangaroo Point touristsIt was a rainy weekend in Brisbane so husband and I decided to play tourists at some of our favourite hometown spots. AK has just invested in a second hand Leica camera and I’m still learning to master my Canon so we thought we would practise in some scenic spots like Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge. We’ve had no photographic training and are definitely still learning how to get the settings right, but we had a lovely little Saturday nonetheless.Kangaroo PointI think I might have taken the skills of our photographers at work for granted because it is much harder than it looks to get framing, light and focus all right in the one shot. No wonder they take so many. Thank goodness for digital I guess. Our photographers still talk about the days when the office had a dark room out the back and they wouldn’t know until they processed the images whether they had got ‘that one shot’ needed to grab the readers attention and make them want to read on. Because if the picture is lacklustre, it’s likely readers will flick to another page.

IMG_1673Unknown-3 Unknown-2I’m starting to get really excited for our one year anniversary trip to Tasmania later this year. It’s a beautiful part of Australia I’ve been dying to visit and I imagine we’ll be spending a lot of time crouched behind the lens.

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(This was AK staying very still trying to capture the majesty of the beautiful scrub turkey. City wildlife at its best)IMG_1719We love you Brisbane.

come on Cleo Magazine, you can do better.

I want to start by saying I read a lot of magazines. It’s my guilty pleasure, the antithesis of my job writing community news. I love to flick through NW on the treadmill, or Who on my lunch break and I totally accept these publications for what they are – light-hearted escapism.cleo.jpg

That being said, I was reading Cleo Magazine this morning at the gym and it made me angry. Like smoke coming out of my ears, had to throw the magazine away, vowed never to buy it again angry. I’m not a regular Cleo reader, but it’s my understanding that since the new editor came on board at the end of last year, the magazine has been touting itself as a new, more dynamic read for its target audience (which is professional 20-somethings like myself). As part of the relaunch in April it was announced there would no longer be any big ‘sex sells’ cover lines, so it gave the impression the magazine was angling towards a smarter, more well-rounded reader.

This month’s cover has the flashy headline ‘Sexism exposed!’, which seems like a pretty decent concept to explore. But the article I took issue with was the interview with Girls creator Lena Dunham. I’m no die-hard Dunham fan, but I know she’s an educated, articulate woman with a progressive agenda challenging the status quo of how women are presented in the media. She would be in my top 3 entertainers I would love to interview and I can think of dozens of things I would want to ask her and write about her.girls

I always take note of how writers put together a celebrity profile – sometimes they lead with a description of the interview setting, what the subject is wearing, what their demeanor is like. Or if it’s not a face-to-face interview, writers often try to sum up all the milestones or recent achievements of said talent. Now, think for a minute of all the ways you could sum up Lena Dunham and what she has achieved in the past couple of years. Got it?

Now here’s the actual intro:
“You’ve probably seen Lena Dunham naked as many times as you’ve seen your boyfriend in the buff.”

Really? That’s the most newsworthy thing this writer has taken from two seasons of Girls? That she gets naked a bit? Cool.

And just in case you think I’m taking one line out of context, here’s the second line:
”In hit TV show Girls, the 27-year-old writer, creator and actor flaunts her tummy wobbles in a way most actresses would never dare.”
Yeah…. The show isn’t about a flagrant nudist running around the streets of New York flashing her ‘tummy wobbles’. It’s about the uncertainty of graduating in a recession and trying to figure your shit out in your early twenties. Dunham is naked the same amount of time normal people are naked in their normal lives.

It doesn’t get any better. Continue reading