The A to Bee

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Truffle Kerfuffle

Truffles have a rather hoity toity reputation and, being priced at $2 per gram, it’s well deserved. Little attempt has been made toward bringing truffles to the people – at least, to the people who can afford them – until some bright spark dreamed up the idea of a truffle festival. Although we Aussies love a good festival, there was still the issue of making that beloved fungus sound more accessible… Hence the name Truffle Kerfuffle. It’s fun, it rhymes, it’s easy to remember, and it still sounds decidedly upper class (honestly, who else would use the word ‘Kerfuffle’?). Now, with my predisposition to leap at any chance to get away from the city, I was thrilled by the idea of spending a midwinter weekend road tripping into the heart of truffle country – not to mention cheese and wine country – onwards toward the sleepy town of Manjimup, WA. (They also have a festival for cherries – this is a town after my own heart.)

Truffles, truffles everywhere! Truffle in the soup, truffle on the marron tail, truffle in the honey, truffle in the beer, truffle in the doughnuts! Sounds weird… And it was. Delicious and decadent… But weird. You have to admire the ingenuity of some of the producers; the stranger the truffle pairing, the more curious customers would be queueing up to sample the wares. Honestly, though, I believe the best combinations were the simplest. Give me some truffle butter or oil anyday: it’s easy to use, a little goes a long way, and you get the best out of the truffle, as it infuses well in fats and oils. Win, win!

Eventually tiring of truffle everything, I moved onto the wine tastings, of course. With so many brilliant winemakers in the Great Southern region, it could only be fair to sample everything. The region boasts some excellent cool-climate reds which were fantastic, if unsurprising (hardly a complaint in this instance). One particular gem, however, was a lovely little dry rosé from Lost Lake Wines. Yes, I could easily drink a couple of those on a crisp, sunny afternoon. The bargain game was strong, with most wineries offering package deals and special Kerfuffle discount prices, sure to tempt wine-lovers, big and small.

Other unexpected delights included locally smoked chicken and fish, fantastic coffee (remember to bring your KeepCup), freshly baked sourdough, and delicate green tea – grown, harvested and dried in the South West. My admiration for this little corner of the world and its people continues to grow.

How could the highlight for me be anything other than the truffle dogs? I met Charlie the Staghound cross – a prolific truffle hunter – and Molly the golden Labrador, who is more of a giddy, adorable, work in progress. After learning about where these wonderful animals come from (all rescue dogs), how they are trained (with a lot of love) and how much truffle they find (many, many tonnes in a lifetime) I have a new found respect for both the animals and their handlers, who really do work in partnership to make Manjimup into what it is very quickly becoming – the largest truffle producer by volume in the world.

Clear my schedule; Truffle Kerfuffle, I’m coming back for you next year.

No truffles were harmed in the making of this story.

The Right Stripes

While I am stripe fan, I do tend to keep it all up top, with striped pants only bringing to mind images of dated stretch pinstripe pants. Instyle’s May perfect pair, of striped trousers and statement flats, has me reconsidering my prejudice. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, I say.

These pants are technically not pants at all, but the bottom half of a lovely Bardot jumpsuit. Not having any other suitable candidates in my wardrobe however, they get their moment in the sun. I don’t like to purchase new clothes for any of these looks, as it really should be a reworking of what’s already in the wardrobe. I find the diagonal stripe refreshing – and a long way removed from the dreaded businessy pinstripe.

So, my shoes also aren’t technically flats. What’s a rule if you can’t bend it a little though, am I right? Kitten heels give that tiny extra little bit of height – which I personally feel that I need – while still being comfortable and relaxed enough for day to day. Zara nailed the Dior vibes with this gorgeous pair, and I honestly can’t wear them enough.

Finally, there’s nothing like a splash of red to jazz up a one dimensional outfit. With the added quasi-feminist slogan, this boxy, cross-body from ASOS is an absolute winner.

Shop it on ASOS

Beyond the 9 to 5

Anyone working a full time nine to five knows how hard it can be to get that work life balance right. All too often, you find yourself rushing from work to dinner or drinks with friends, or maybe even saying no to social engagements due to the lack of time available to get yourself organised in between. It doesn’t have to be this way! In this post, I’ll be styling one dress two ways so that it can take me from work to play with minimal fuss and effort expended.

Look #1 – WORK

Having picked this silky French Connection dress up at an op shop for a steal, I knew I was onto a winner. The pussy bow tie at the neck keeps the outfit demure and the knee length, flowy skirt is perfect for workwear, without limiting movement – an important factor when your job involves occasionally running after small children, as mine does.

A big bag is a work essential – something that can hold your laptop, lunch, water bottle, plus any outfit changes for later. This Oroton tote has capacity in spades and is crafted in a beautiful durable textured leather.

Simple, strappy, low block heels complete the outfit for a relaxed dress code but you could just as easily swap them for pumps or ankle boots, depending on preference.

Look #2 – PLAY

A few simple tweaks takes this dress from office appropriate to bar/dinner ready. Just by untying the bow at the throat, this versatile dress exudes a relaxed glamour that pairs perfectly with a messy bun.

Faux suede thigh high boots are the perfect footwear to keep your toes (and entire legs) toasty and they roll up surprisingly tiny – small enough to fit inside my work bag, in fact! A small satin clutch in a pop of colour adds some interest and texture to the look.

The finishing touch is jewellery. I always turn to pearls for their raw loveliness – there’s something about the gentle lustre I just can’t get enough of. Pearls are also much more versatile than semi-precious stones, as they lend themselves to being dressed up of down equally. This lariat necklace and twist in hair pin were both purchased from a local small business in Broome – click here to shop.

See, it can be done! See you at the bar!

Perfect Pairs – April Edition

Given the weather we’re still getting (most of the time) here in Perth, a trench coat just isn’t part of my current wardrobe. This month’s perfect pairing is a trench coat matched with a sporty sneakers but I felt the need to add my own little twist! While not technically a trench coat, this snazzy vest from Dotti has a similar vibe and is still wearable in this early autumn heat wave.

The sneakers, in a pale beigey gold and retro style, are the perfect foil to keep the outfit nice and casual but still pulled together. They are also the perfect example of not having to spend an arm and a leg to get something on trend. A sub-$10 Kmart steal (on special), I’ll have no qualms about literally wearing these beauties into the ground.

It is easy to skew too relaxed whenever sneakers are involved but this can be averted, as in this case,  by keeping the fabrics sleek, the colour palette neutral and the silhouette tailored. A silky tuxedo stripe on the side of these Seed trousers put the luxe firmly in the current trend of the moment; sports luxe.

How to Op Shop Like a Pro

Looking through my wardrobe, I’ve realised that I am incredibly lucky. Stocked with workwear staples from brands such as Country Road, Cue, Zara and Witchery, it would be pretty easy to assume that I’d spent a hefty percentage of my pay packet on clothes for much of my life. But it isn’t so, for I have a secret… Alright, alright, it isn’t really a secret at all – just a passion for bargain hunting that has led me to become an intrepid and skilled op shopper.

Op shopping can be a daunting task, especially if you have no plan of attack. On my last excursion into the world of second hand clothing, I had a bit of a think and came up with a couple of tips I would offer to have the most rewarding and successful experience.

Know your style

This doesn’t mean you have to know exactly what you’re looking for – you probably won’t find it – but it does mean being aware of the styles you usually wear and like. It’s easy to get suckered into buying something secondhand just because it fits and looks nice but it will ultimately end up gathering dust at the back of your wardrobe until you eventually send it on its way. This being said, go in with an open mind! You never know what you might find and fall in love with…

Get touchy feely

The best way to evaluate the quality of a garment is by assessing the material. Obviously, different fabrics are suited to different items but, essentially, if it feels like good quality, it probably is. Natural fibres are also a good way to go, in terms of longevity. So just check the care label and, while you’re there, have a read of the washing instructions – good stuff to be aware of.

Always read the label…

It’s possible to pick up some incredible pieces from op shops, you just have to hunt them down. Check what brands pieces are from, as this will give you a reasonable indication of quality.

… but ignore the number

Size really is just a number! It’s a good starting point to work out whether something is going to fit but many op shops have clothing with the label cut out or from other parts of the world that use different sizing systems. Worth a look but that brings me to my next point…

Try before you buy

So often, things don’t look quite how you expect them to, especially if it’s an unfamiliar brand or style. Trying things on is an essential part of the way I op shop and, if trying on clothing previously worn by someone else bothers you, why are you here? Washing machines are wonderful inventions and you’ll just have to stick it out in store until you can get your new purchases home. (Many pieces I pick up have never been worn anyway.)

Be willing to operate

Handiness with a needle and thread is a great skill to have – you can turn a dress from a 7 to a 10 with just a nip or tuck here or there, or maybe all it needs is a button sewn on. In any case, if you can do these little alterations yourself, you’ll save a ton of money and end up with garments that fit your body perfectly.

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a mini op shop haul for you! It is very workwear themed but that’s what I always find myself needing more of. Enjoy!

Dress – Witchery

Shoes – Aldo

Jumpsuit – Zara

Shirt and pants – Zara

Stay shiny! x

Part of the Family

I honestly can’t help it. I sign up to every loyalty program going in a flash – even faster if there’s a birthday reward, I love those. Unfortunately, though, not many pull their weight and make the incessant emails worth my while. Not many, other than the IKEA Family program. As an IKEA fanatic, they had me at hello (or hej) and there are so many wonderful reasons this is a family you should be a part of. As well as regular discount vouchers and member only pricing on many items, IKEA holds invite only workshops and events – which is what I’m about to wax lyrical about right now.

Swedish Food Tasting

As you may know, IKEA not only dishes out the goods when it comes to flatpack furniture, they also have a range of edible offerings. Including smoked salmon, crispbreads, plenty of sweets and much more, this makes me very, very happy. At a recent food tasting event, the awesome IKEA staff demonstrated how to put together an easy assortment of nibbles and sweets using their products. Everything you need for entertaining really can be found in IKEA’s hallowed halls.

Living with Textiles

Silly me, I always thought cushions on sofas were just thrown there, maybe with some thought to colour, pattern, size – whatever. Turns out, no. There’s an art to it, and IKEA has let me in on their secret.

The 3+1 Rule

Start with a plain coloured cushion, add a simple patterned one (checks, stripes, etc.) in complementary colours and then go wild with the third. That’s your party cushion. As long as you can pick out a colour theme between the three, it seems to work. Then to complete the whole business, add a throw rug. Go for a cosy knit in the cooler months and something lighter for summer to stay temperature appropriate.

Rugs on rugs

Did you know you can layer rugs? I didn’t – but then, I’m no interior design whiz. That said, this is my new favourite trick for making a room extra cosy and interesting. Lay down a large flat woven, natural fibre rug – as big as you can manage. I love the way it frames a space, which is especially lovely in an open plan living area. Now, just lay on top whatever rug you would normally put down – et voila! A big bonus is that even thinner mats won’t crumple and move around as much if they have a good base layer.

To find out the many other ideas, tips and tricks that were revealed to me, just sign up and join this wonderfully welcoming family here!

Perfect Pairs – March Edition

Perfect pairs continues! This month, InStyle has presented me with a greater challenge – pairing a full skirt with the item featuring extensively in all of this season trend lists, the belt bag. Now, a year or so ago, I was all about pleated midi skirts so the only difficulty was choosing one from my collection. However, the belt bag, being a trend piece, isn’t something I’ve splashed any of my cash on – time for a DIY. Almost any cross body bag can be converted into a hands free belt bag with a little creativity. Of course, it’s easiest if the strap is adjustable and detachable but a carabiner type clip or key ring will do the trick in a pinch.

Without further ado, here is the outfit I put together. I chose this gorgeous silver midi skirt to be a base for the look, as metallics can play the role of a grown up yet still fun neutral.

This bag is delightfully quirky, and helps to keep the whole outfit from taking itself too seriously. Who doesn’t love lobster?

By keeping the top half simple, the focus is firmly on the cinched in waist. Flat sandals work to keep the look casual and daytime appropriate.

While this isn’t a combo I would have necessarily reached for before this challenge, I can see it working for a chilled Sunday – from Farmers’ Markets to brunch to Sunday afternoon drinks in the sunshine and everything in between. Plus, with the added convenience of having your hands free, this is a look I’ll be tempted to try out on the regular.

Shop it!

Stay shiny! x