Category Archives: Reviews

Mrs Ginger Fox Visits Ikea for the First Time Ever (Week 45 Update, 2015)

Last week’s update (apologies for the delay) is based around my very first trip to Ikea. Seriously, I can’t believe that I’ve managed to avoid Ikea until now…I must have been living under a rock, or was a very poor uni student (or both). But anyway, it may have been a good thing that I avoided it for so long, as Ikea has now given me a massive list of ideas and products to investigate. Anyway, here are my overall thoughts on surviving Ikea as a complete noob to the Swedish mega-store:

-Ikea is big. BIIIIIIIIIG. And it feels like so much more of an adventure with the mapped-out trail of the store. Hubby and I hadn’t figured out the quick escapes, and ended up walking through the entire store to exit as we missed the sneak-out exit in the food court after lunch. Oops. Oh well, there was much adventure and gallivanting as a result! So, if you’re low on your daily step count for your Fitbit device, Ikea is a great place to go. by browsing and walking through the place pretty much twice, I almost racked up my whole daily step goal.

-Thank goodness we were there to mainly purchase things for other people! I spent the whole walking trip around the store needing to convince myself about not getting a filigree-detail vintage style mirror. Unless you have a game-plan, this store is deadly.

3f28c5b6-de9c-4226-8a87-88c40e373d52

Oh mirror, stop tempting me so.

-It’s definitely a great place to gain inspiration for redecorating or revamping worn-out rooms. However, it is a challenging place to go when you’re renting. There’re so many cool shelving systems and cupboards that can be mounted onto walls, and mega walk-in wardrobes…but unfortunately, due to rental laws we’d be unable to put them into our current place.

One day, I'll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

One day, I’ll have a walk-in-wardrobe. But today is not that day.

-There appears to be two types of affordability for items at Ikea. There are items which are bargains and affordable, or items that are overpriced. There are a couple of things that hubby and I were looking at, until we realised we could get pretty much the exact same thing at a discount warehouse, but for even cheaper. However, Ikea does have lots of strengths in the storage solutions they offer, as well as the quality of the storage furniture.

-Food was a bit hit and miss. As a coeliac, the meatballs were definitely not gluten free, so I couldn’t try the main item everyone raves about on the menu. In fact, hubby did try them and was a) not impressed and b) felt very sick for hours after. I’m pretty confident we wouldn’t write home about the food, and will probably shop on a full stomach next time (a convenient way to also try and avoid grumpy-husband-when-hungry-and-surrounded-by-too-many-shoppers syndrome).

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

Pretty lights and windows. And pre-grumpy shopping husband, haha.

-Speaking of the above, like many major mega-outlets, you’re going to have to deal with many, many shoppers being there who don’t understand how to be polite and not strike up a conversation with a group of trolleys in the middle of a busy t-intersection walkway. It’s a grumpy shopper’s nightmare (aka, my hubby). So…if you or your significant other is a grumpy shopper, plan ahead and give yourself extra time, or try to go at a non-busy time (aka not the weekend).

Overall, if you know what you’re going to purchase at Ikea and have a small game plan, Ikea is wonderful. If you have a budget to stick to, it can be a nightmare. However, it appears to be relatively easy to compromise between the two. I now have many ideas about getting a more organised sewing space set up, and hubby and I have some good ideas for making a more solid gaming area. Plus, we now have our mega-cute house terrarium structures to start developing our inside-herb garden. Anyway, Ikea is something everyone should experience at least once, in my view, while I may find myself venturing back there in the not-too-distant future.

Our cute little herb garden glass-house :)

Our cute little herb garden glass-house 🙂

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

The Picton George IV Inn First Annual Rockabilly Festival

Image by Love Stories by Kate (previously Gaia Photography)

Image by Love Stories by Kate (previously Gaia Photography)

My hometown of Picton held its very first rockabilly festival last weekend. Held at the George IV Inn (one of the oldest pubs in New South Wales), the event was attended by a large and diverse crowd. Luckily, the day had clear, sunny skies after a week filled with gale force winds and rain. Overall, the event itself was a fun-filled day and a relative success for the first ever rockabilly festival in Picton, however there was some room for improvement for next year. Here’s my highlights and not-so-highlights from the day:

Highlights

-Live Music: The Voodoo Rhythm Shakers, a Sydney-based rockabilly band were definitely the main reason behind the great atmosphere of the festival. The band held up a steady collection of rockabilly classics from Brian Setzer, the Stray Cats and much more with a strong-voiced female lead singer. Not only did these guys do a show at the inn the night before, but they also played for the majority of the festival held the following day. They were able to keep the dance floor open, and they didn’t stray from upbeat foot-tapping songs – there was never a ‘slow song’ to give the dancers (and the band) a break, so I do admire their stamina. I’d love to see these guys perform again at the festival in the future, and would love to see some other gigs they’re in!

-Great use of the layout of the George IV Inn: The inn itself has just been freshly renovated, with a big barn/shed area opened up. Because of this, they were easily able to accommodate a car show outside the back, a band at the front, markets and stalls around the sides of the inn and keep the inn itself relatively not too busy with the flow of crowds. Throughout the day, we were easily able to pop out back to the outside dining area to have a break and grab a few drinks and some food, which was very convenient.

-Free entry: Who doesn’t love free entry?! I’ve been to so many era-themed events recently, where an entry fee or participation charge was required (and it definitely was not worth it). So, it was really refreshing to have an event where anyone was welcome. The friendly feel and relaxed nature of the day may be a result of this.

-Family friendly (to an extent): there was lots of activities for the kids (well, enough that you can run outside of a pub), including face painting, colouring in competitions and temporary airbrushed tattoos. It can be hard to have many kid-friendly activities at an event held at a pub, however the kids present found many things to do to entertain themselves (including having a go on the dance floor). In future, I’d suggest that there be more things to get the kids involved – perhaps a kids ‘best dressed’ competition (or a better title…’pinup competition’ for kids is a bit inappropriate) would be a good idea!

Not-so-highlights

-Not enough food options, and expensive food: as someone who suffers from coeliac disease, I was pretty disappointed to discover that unless you really liked bread and pizza, there weren’t many options for food. As the staff couldn’t guarantee that the hot chips were gluten-free, I had to take a chance and hope I didn’t get glutened after. Surely I wouldn’t have been the only person with issues in getting food at the event: anyone who was vegetarian, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant may have had issues as well. That being said, what was on offer (other than food directly from the inn) was from one stall only – serving up hot dogs costing $10 made from the cheapest looking ingredients. I’d pay $10 for a decent Subway sandwich (if I could eat one), however this was definitely not worth the price that was being charged, and there weren’t any other choices available to patrons. However, due to the location of the inn, many food outlets were close by which could accommodate instead.

-Some parts of the day were poorly organised, particularly the Pinup Competition. The Pinup Competition had been advertised as commencing at 4:15pm, with interested contestants being told via the Facebook event page that they just needed to show up at the pageant to be able to enter. However, these ladies then discovered at the festival that ‘try outs’ and heats were taking place at 2pm on the day, without any advertisement of this happening. As a result, there were many ladies turning up to the pageant who were then told they could not enter. On top of this, many children entered the contest as well as there was no age limit or restrictions advertised: while I am happy for children to have a go at things, this wasn’t very appropriate as it was a ‘pinup’ contest advertised and aimed at an older audience, where all other contestants were older women. In fact, many adult contestants were knocked out in the heats due to the ‘cute factor’ of many children who entered. It has already been advised that there will be a separate category for children next year, which will be much more suitable (hopefully it’s just a ‘best dressed’ contest, rather than being ‘pinup’ themed). Also, the competition was judged based on audience approval alone, giving an unfair advantage to locals or many who had supportive friends come along. In future, there should be a combination of a designated judging panel, as well as audience participation.

-Not enough stalls and variety of stalls: I understand that it can be hard to have a large variety of stalls in the first year of a festival. Plus, when you’ve got limited space, you can only select a few stalls for the day or otherwise risk WHS issues. However, there really wasn’t that much variety in the stalls and shops on the day. Some of my favourite local sellers were there (which was amazing), but other than that, not many other stalls stood out with their products. In fact, many didn’t really align with the theme of the festival very well (or, they attempted to try and ‘fit in’ and didn’t really cut it). In future, hopefully the word gets out about the festival, with more peeps getting involved who are in the rockabilly culture and industry.

Overall thoughts

It was really fantastic being a part of the first rockabilly festival in my hometown. Having an alternative, classy and trendy themed festival become a part of where I grew up means that I’m pretty excited about where this festival will go over the next few years. It was a great ‘first go’ of the festival, however with better promotion, more diversity of the stalls involved and better organisation, the festival is surely going to become bigger and better than ever. Congrats to all who were involved on the day – can’t wait to see what’s in store next year!

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Eurovision: Mrs Ginger Fox’s Favourite Entries for 2015

Well, it’s getting close to being one of the best times of the year – the time that the Eurovision Song Contest is held. There’s something about Eurovision that makes it so very special for so many viewers around not only Europe, but internationally. Whether it is the celebratory efforts of each country involved, the dedication towards sharing a country’s culture with the world, or even those entries that appear to be for the ‘shock’ factor or a pure joke, the Eurovision Song Contest has been embraced and loved by Australians for many years. This year marks 60 years of the contest and is a very special year for Australian fans of Eurovision, as we will be participating with our own Guy Sebastian representing us. Every year, I like to listen to all entries and select a few favourites, as well as a “what the!?” special mention.

This year, it seems like there’s plenty of power ballads (what happened!? I’m looking at you, Moldova…where are your typically quirky entries from a few years ago!?), songs trying to send an important message to the world, and dodgy pop renditions about rejection.

Here’s my picks for Eurovision 2015:

I had to include these guys in my favourites. Firstly, it’s punk. Secondly, it’s Finnish punk. However, most importantly, these guys are showing that no matter what obstacles life throws at you (all members of the band have a disability), you can still rock. This entry, therefore, ticks all the boxes for me as to what Eurovision is all about.

“I’m different, and that’s ok. Here I am!” This song is an anthem, with a singer with such a powerful voice. Awesome work, Serbia! However, what won me over for this song was the film-clip: showing individuals around the world singing along to the song (aka Chat Roulette-style). The positivity and passion in this song, as well as the message makes it a powerful contender, in my opinion.

Definitely my sentimental/moving pick for this year. After last year’s hipster entry from Hungary, this entry seems to be more serious, with a global message of such relevance. Again, the film-clip is such a heart-warming piece in the form of a flash-mob choir from a street performance. The harmonies are so, so perfect in this, with the voices blending together so well and the guitar accompaniment perfectly balanced. This is such a beautiful piece for such a tragic reality in today’s world.

Let’s face it: this song is catchy. The ‘twang’ in the singer’s voice at the start, and that the lyrics are pretty nicely written. Overall, I feel this song could do quite well.

YES, I ADMIT IT. I really like this song. Guy really found his niche in doing Motown-esque music, as it really suits his voice. This song also is majorly catchy. Plus…it’s OUR FIRST EVER ENTRY, and I’m proud of it. Here’s hoping it helps us be victorious.

Um, wow. WOW. Italy has traded in Il Divo, and has upgraded to a younger, hotter version, it appears. Also, one of these guys (the one wearing glasses) totally looks like Gideon from Scott Pilgrim vs the World (now you see it, you’ll be unable to un-see it!) Yes, I know this is pop-era to an extent, but it’s such a STRONG song. Italy hasn’t sent as strong a song for such a long time (last year *almost* got there, and the year before was so bad that the version of the song I got from the internet had a random loudly wailing in the background, haha).So many ladies around the world will be flailing over this one, for sure.

And, lastly, my “What The!?” favourite for this year…

  • Israel: The guy got his heart broken, but that’s ok – he is the King of Fun and wants to show you Tel Aviv and ask you if you like his dancing in the song, Golden Boy. Riiiiight.

Special mentions: both of the entries titled Warrior. Malta’s entry with the string musicians wearing hoodies was pretty awesome, as was Georgia’s with an epic video clip. I couldn’t decide between these two as to which was the better version!

So, who will you be backing in Eurovision this year?

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

My Favourite Bloggers and Online Communities

As a casual/amateur blogger, I am always seeking to find inspiration and support through following some amazing people and communities. These blogs and websites continually motivate me to stay positive, be creative and also to go after what I am passionate about. I am so thankful for finding these incredible people, who I follow on a regular (sometimes daily) basis, and am happy to share them with you now!

In no particular order…

Frocks and Frou Frou

Image from http://frocksandfroufrou.com/

Image from http://frocksandfroufrou.com/

Frocks and Frou Frou is the very first plus-size fashion blog I ever followed (back in 2009!). From the moment I found the blog through mutual friends on Facebook, I fell in love with blogger Lilli’s classic yet unique and quirky style. Being an Australian blogger based in Melbourne, Lilli also provides some fantastic feedback on purchasing from some of the major plus-size brands, as well as some easy-to-follow DIY projects. Her style of writing is friendly, informative and easy-to-read, and she has a very supportive fan following. For any of my plus-sized friends, I highly encourage you to follow Frocks and Frou Frou!

The Militant Baker

Image from http://www.themilitantbaker.com/

Image from http://www.themilitantbaker.com/

If you’re looking for empowerment and positive body talk, this is the blog to follow. When I first discovered the diverse and supportive community of plus-sized bloggers, this is the blogger that they all mentioned as an inspiration. Jess now not only pursues her body positivity on a full-time basis, but also runs some epic conferences over in the US, which would be amazing to attend one day! In particular, the first post of Jess’ which I read (my favourite too) is this: http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2013/03/things-no-one-will-tell-fat-girls-so-i.html

I highly recommend following Jess if you’re someone who is looking for a body-positive online community, as well as looking at how to love your body better: whether it be plus-size, average or skinny!

Offbeat Bride/Home

Image from http://offbeatbride.com/

Image from http://offbeatbride.com/

If you’re getting married, I am now introducing you to the Mecca of resources. Offbeat Bride was the only blog/medium (they also have a book) that gave me realistic expectations for my wedding, and helped me plan a unique, affordable, quirky-yet-beautiful wedding. After unsuccessfully getting any inspiration through common bridal magazines (seriously…I only found a handful of weddings under $20, 000 in these magazines, which was ridiculous), it was such a godsend to discover this website. The community is HUGE, and the forums are incredible for finding DIY inspiration, advice and ideas. However, this website doesn’t just stop at weddings – they also have a massive section dedicated to life/living/home in general. The posts relate easily to everyday life (especially if you’re a crafty/arty/creative person), and you can easily find yourself spending hours on their sites gaining more and more ideas for future projects.

Gorilla Wolf  (check out their TwitchTV Channel here)

Image from http://www.gorillawolf.com/

Image from http://www.gorillawolf.com/

My absolute go-to for anything gaming-related, Gorilla Wolf are probably the newest group of peeps I follow on a regular basis. Gorilla Wolf is run by Dom and James, who are aiming to make this their full-time pursuit. I discovered Gorilla Wolf through my husband when we started to watch video game streams on TwitchTV. After spending ages trawling through the channels to find an entertaining Zelda play-through, we found these guys doing such an entertaining job at Majora’s Marsk (they were terribly lost though, haha). What kept us watching these guys is their entertainment value, dedication to investigating and reporting on new games, and their massive commitment to making their chat and followers as engaging as possible. We watch their TwitchTV channel on a weekly basis, and are so excited to see where the future takes them. If you’re after good gaming commentaries and play-throughs online with a friendly fan following, check out these guys ASAP!

The Adventures of Modern June Cleaver and Amelia Jetson

Image from http://junebugsandgeorgiapeaches.blogspot.com.au/

Image from http://junebugsandgeorgiapeaches.blogspot.com.au/

June and Amelia, two best friends run an amazing website which follows their retro and vintage-inspired fashion adventures. These two are my absolute inspiration when it comes to perfecting the vintage/retro look. They are such friendly and positive ladies too, and are willing to help out fellow retro fashion bloggers – they are so supportive and active on Instagram! Whenever these ladies share their outfits, they always link to each piece in their outfit, making it so easy to track down. These lovely ladies also host giveaways on their website from some incredible brands such as Erstwilder and Deer Arrow.

Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing

Image from http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/

Image from http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/

This lady and her amazing blog have inspired me to try and re-start one of my favourite hobbies from when I was younger: sewing. When I discovered her blog, little did I know that she also had a book. Within minutes of discovering her blog, I also found myself purchasing her first book, and I now also own her second book based on casual vintage. Gertie has a way of explaining her sewing projects in an easy-to-follow manner, and always includes pictures in her steps (I tend to get lost when following sewing instructions, so this is hugely helpful!) Gertie also creates patterns sold through Butterick, and also shares these through her blog. Her passion for sewing, as well as seeing the projects of her followers, makes this blog a fantastic creative outlet for those wishing to get some much-needed inspiration. She’s made me start the adventure of sitting with my sewing machine and tackling some long-awaited projects!

Who do you look to online for inspiration? Feel free to share your thoughts 🙂

This post was polished by Page & Parchment.

Suits me to a “Tea”

IMG_0014

It’s easier to drink tea when it’s out of a Tardis.

 

I’ve never been a tea person before. As someone who became addicted to caffeine when I started university (some days I’d have up to 2 litres of Pepsi Max and live off energy drinks), it was hard to ever try and drink tea. Plus, I grew up surrounded by people who drank plain, normal varieties of tea which did not appeal to me in the slightest. Also, whenever I tried any type of tea, it didn’t have the same effect as the caffeine from coffee did, plus I couldn’t get my taste buds to appreciate tea leaves.

However, after cutting out the majority of caffeine over the past few years (I have one small coffee a day, and the occasional soft drink every week or so), I’ve converted myself over to herbal teas. Since studying abroad in Japan in 2009, I was able to drink so many varieties of herbal teas, from Barley tea (which I can’t have any more thanks to Coeliac Disease), to Jasmine Tea and many, many types of Green Tea. The variety of flavours, gentle pick-me-up and rituals (I have participated in tea ceremonies in a variety of countries now) associated with tea won me over. I’m also trying to drink more water each day; therefore tea is definitely helping me with this!

So, I thought I’d share the teas which I now have on a regular basis and love (warning: there will be a LOT of T2 tea in here).

IMG_0010

My current (and growing) collection of T2 tea. I’m becoming obsessed!

 

-Green Tea with Mint: This is my go-to tea. It doesn’t matter which brand (heck, I have Lipton tea bags at work), but this combination is so refreshing and works as a good morning pick-up for me once my coffee has worn off. It may be because of the years of me chewing gum means I have a love of the taste of minty things, but this combo works so well for me. If you find a combo mixed with peppermint, it is a great start if you’re just trying to move to tea from being a regular coffee drinker.

-T2 Gorgeous Geisha: Sencha (Japanese traditional green tea) is amazing, yet I still can’t manage to enjoy the bitterness of it on a regular basis. The infusion of Sencha with sweet berries and flavours in this T2 combo works so well and has me hooked. Plus…I had to get it for the name as well, being obsessed with Geishas. It also works well as an iced tea too, being a very refreshing summer drink.

-T2 Relax: Every now and then, I will have trouble sleeping thanks to my brain refusing to shut itself down. After trying vitamins and other recommendations of sleep medication, I found that a cup of this an hour before bed helps my brain switch off and helps me sleep. It also smells so much better than a plain chamomile tea.

-T2 China Jasmine: This tea is so fragrant and dainty! It’s great to have with meals as it’s light and not too strong in its flavour. What I like about T2’s version (compared to the watered down versions you usually get at some restaurants) is that the scent and the flavour is so fresh. I love the smell of jasmine!

-T2 Chai: When I’m feeling hungry (but have already eaten), Chai is perfect. I normally have my chai with milk and honey, which is so yummy and also helps keep my tummy happy. Having a chai tea made from a fresh mix makes so much of a difference compared to other “packet-ed” chai teas/latte mixes out there. The cinnamon and other flavours makes this tea a way of also settling my sweet tooth too!

I do enjoy the versions of these in T2 bags, however several of these teas I have in a bulk loose pack. Therefore, I get to use this guy to infuse them, which is always fun!

IMG_0011

Quack quack!

IMG_0017

Ducky even gets to time-travel, thanks to my favourite cup being my Tardis.

 

 

Now that I enjoy many varieties of tea, I have the perfect excuse to collect more pretty and quirky teacups, and perhaps even do high-tea like things. I can’t wait to start growing my collection of the Maxwell Williams’ Kimono teacups…my collection so far is of one beautiful red set (picture below). I’m very lucky in that both of my favourite tea cups (the tardis and my red kimono set) were gifted to me from each of my beautiful sister-in-laws and family.

IMG_0016

The kimono teacup and saucer. I hope to one day have a full set in different colours, complete with teapot.

 

So, tell me…how do you like having your tea?