If you’re thinking about giving your beauty bag a makeover, these product gems are a must.
Kitsch is positively cool again and retro, vintage and rockabilly have made a huge comeback if popular, new free events like Queensland’s Kitsch in the Swich 2015 are anything to go by.
Thousands of people from all over Australia are expected to flock to this year’s third annual vintage festival at the Ipswich Mall on Saturday, September 26 from 2-7pm. Ipswich is an urban centre in south-east Queensland, about 40km west of the Brisbane CBD.
Picture more than 250 cars lining the CBD, a traditional 1950’s beach, pinup parades, live rockabilly music, the Prom King and Queen Pageant, vintage and retro markets, swing dancing and bombshell babes galore and you get a good idea of what’s in store for this year’s Kitsch audience.
The one-day fiesta, part of the Ipswich Fashion Festival, will see thousands flock to the mall for a day of fashion and fun, with special guests including West Texas Crude, Miss Chrissy from the Lindy Charm School, Swing a Billy Ray, the Eastside Belles, Bonnie Rose Burlesque and Miss Katrina Lee all hitting the stage with live music, swing dancing and more.
Local pinup babes and cool cats are invited to strut their stuff in the Prom King and Queen Pageant, where the winners of each category will win a vintage fashion shoot and the chance to appear in all Kitsch 2016 advertising and media. The Pinup Parades will feature retro, vintage and rockabilly fashions from local and visiting fashion specialists and designers, while the Pamper Parlour will be open all day to give visitors a touch of vintage va va voom with free make-up touch-ups throughout the event.
And this year’s Kitsch will also feature two new attractions: vintage photo booth Mavis the Caravan, via www.frankieandmavis.com, will be on-site for free photos and the Brighton Beach ’53 pop-up will feature all of the traditional 1950s seaside treats – seaside donkey rides, a Punch and Judy puppet show, canvas deck chairs for visitors to relax in and a sand area.
Kitsch in the Swich 2015 is a huge national draw-card due to the fact that the whole retro, vintage and rockabilly market is exploding, says event organiser, Ipswich City Square marketing executive Rachel Vickary (pictured).
“There are so many avid followers now and they all seem to travel big distances to attend various vintage events like ours,” Rachel says. “They also all seem to know each other and will see each other at different events. There are even lifestyle vintage gurus who make a full-time living doing pinup shoots, workshops, hen’s parties, swing dancing nights and more. And there’s also been a resurgence of burlesque, with women of all ages, shapes and sizes learning the old art.
“I think all this is partly due to the fact that 1940s/50s fashion was all about curves and the female shape. Back then, the women were most universally agreed to be the sexiest – Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Jane Russell – were all voluptuous ladies with big busts, butts and curves. I think part of the attraction to the retro and rockabilly lifestyle is that women don’t feel as pressured to be thin in retro wear as they do in modern designs where you need to be a size 6 to wear the clothes. With retro and rockabilly, it’s possible for plus-size women to feel really sexy and pretty without the whole fat-shame thing.
“That time was also strongly influenced by music and a big step away from modern electronic music and metal. There’s been a big resurgence in swing dance music, blue grass and traditional rock in recent years, all of which have strong ties to classic car culture – think T-Birds from Grease. I’m constantly fascinated by this whole sub-culture.”
For more information on Kitsch in the Swich 2015, visit www.ipswichcitysquare.com.au.
“You shouldn’t have to sacrifice who you are just because somebody else has a problem with it” – Carrie Bradshaw.
Sassy, smart, beautiful, single women, one and all: stand tall! Are you feeling plagued by the pressure to constantly explain why you’re flying solo? This is a very common complaint from single women I know. Indeed, when I was single, I too felt hassled by the need to incessantly justify why I was unattached, whether it be to a colleague, family member or a friend. Even perfect strangers at social occasions will have no qualms about asking you, in full condescending tone: “So, why are you still single?”
Being single is a powerful, positive choice for many women – after all, there ain’t no better time to find out what you want in life and in a partner, than when you have to stand on your own two feet and learn to like your own company. Leading Australian sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein, 28, who is happily single herself, says she’s often forced to defend her singleton status.
“There are so many positives in my life to being single in my 20s, but people still comment negatively on it all the time,” Dr Goldstein says. “Women should never be ashamed to be single. It can be a very positive choice – you do not need to be loved by someone to have high self-esteem.” But how do you stay sane as a singleton, no matter whether you’re happily dating or not, when rogue relatives/colleagues/strangers are killing your buzz?
Short of telling said nosey, conservative types you’re batting for the other team (not that there’s anything wrong with that) in a bid to silence and/or shock them, you may want to try these quick and easy Singleton Sanity Savers:
Quote marriage stats: Make the Australian Bureau of Statistics your friend. The next time sleazy, old Uncle Graham asks you why you’re still single, try boring him senseless with endless divorce statistics. For example, “Did you know, Uncle G (insert relative name here), that approximately one in three first marriages end in divorce? And, in 2012, there were 49,917 divorces granted in Australia; that’s a two per cent increase compared to 2011?”
Turn the tables: This was a personal favourite of mine, when single – the next time some smug married (may I never be one of those) asks you why you aren’t married and knocked up, ask them loudly and pointedly to the point of rudeness: “How’s your love-life? Had much hot sex lately?” That should do the trick quite nicely.
Tell tall stories: Climbed Mt Everest lately? Travelled to the Valley of the Kings and Queens in Egypt? Been parasailing, paragliding or skydiving? If you answered no to these questions, fret not – life can be a grand adventure when single, and chances are, the person giving you a hard time about your lifestyle choice will be jealous of all your free time, no matter whether you put it to good use exploring the Seven Wonders of the World. So, exploit this by telling tall tales about what you got up to on the weekend and your exciting plans for the future.
Images via wikipedia.org
Life can prove eternally interesting and problematic at times when you unwittingly have a resting bitch face (RBF), aka Bitchy Resting Face (BRF). I’m talking about a puckered-up, cats-bum facial expression you regularly adopt when relaxed, which is often misinterpreted as rage, contempt and sadness.
Think Hollywood RBF-aficionados such as actors Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Jeremy Renner; singer Avril Lavigne and rapper Kanye West; fashion designer Victoria Beckham and arguably the most famous one of all, US editrix Anna Wintour of Vogue, second only to the original RBF: her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Of course, for these A-list celebrities (and fashion/British royalty), it must get a tad wearing having paparazzi follow you around 24/7, but their famed surly facial expressions as a consequence of resting bitch face syndrome are a true joy to behold.
Sadly, in real life you can’t make like fashion icon Anna Wintour and scowl your way through the day without offending someone. I should know – I too have a serious resting bitch face myself, which has landed me in a lot of hot water over the years.
At 41, I’ve gotten much better at adopting a poker face, but it’s taken many years and patience to perfect. My involuntary RBF has offended everyone from high school teachers through to newsroom bosses over the years – there have been some seriously awkward moments when I’ve had to explain myself.
And what can you really say? “Sorry, my face just does this on its own?” Or what about: “I was just born this way – sorry.” Once, I felt compelled to explain away my RBF to a close work colleague, a fellow journo I’m still friends with to this day, by saying: “Look, when I concentrate, I look really cranky, sorry in advance.”
You see, unfortunately I frown a lot when I’m working – it’s just what I do, I can’t help it. It doesn’t mean I’m remotely unhappy, sad, angry or being judgmental. Hell, maybe I should get a face full of Botox so no one can ever accuse me of having any facial expression!
And so I really relate to and empathise with Twilight actor Kristen Stewart’s RBF trauma in particular, which always seems to get her into trouble. I mean, why should she have to smile all the time – wouldn’t that look even weirder?!
Recently, when asked about her RBF, she told ELLE UK: “The whole smiling thing is weird because I actually smile a lot. I literally want to be like: ‘Dude, you would think I was cool if you got to know me’.” I’m feeling you, K-Stew.
What do you think? Do you have a RBF?
Images via bustle.com, defamer.gawker.com, croissantbouffant.com, linkedin.com
Have you ever had a mini-panic moment, when you looked around and wondered if you were only person not having work done to their face? I recently attended a fashion festival and was immediately struck by the plethora of super-shiny, unlined faces around me.
Was everyone else lining up to get Botox aside from me? I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with that – if that’s what blows your hair back, do it I say. But how did this become the norm in certain sections of the community? And is it a societal faux pas for a woman like me to be in her 40s and – gasp – leaving her house without a trace of injectibles? Is it now so commonplace to get Botox – an alleged safe and effective anti-wrinkle treatment – that we’ve lost sight of what it actually is? Why is it now commonplace to pay top dollar for poison – aka Botulinum toxin – to be injected into our faces, to plump out our wrinkles and make us appear less like ourselves?
No longer just for TV types and A-list celebrities, Botox is positively mainstream: it celebrated its 13th anniversary this April after being approved for the treatment of lines between the eyebrows in April 2002. And nowadays, the number of people who get it continues to rise; by 2018, the global market is forecast to hit $2.9billion.
I’ve previously written several features about the rise and rise of the plastic fantastic Botox age, which even saw me get my face jabbed full of injectibles once in the name of journalistic research. I have to say – I didn’t hate the results – and this is what scared me about it. I could see how easily you could become addicted to Botox – it’s a totally weird, yet wondrous thing to see lines on your forehead erased, if you ask me. And, being on a newspaper journalist salary at the time – you’re never going to earn a millionaire’s wage – I had better things to spend my money on, like say food, running my car, a mortgage, books, travel and shoes (always, the shoes).
Besides which, I had some ethical and moral misgivings about Botox – is it so wrong for a woman to let nature take its course? Did I want to come one of those super-vain types who can’t let themselves age gracefully? Would I really want to erase all those – dare I say it – lovely laughter lines that give our faces such beautiful life and character? And did I want my children to not be able to play with mummy’s face – eyebrows/frowning games amuse them no end – and not know when I was truly happy, sad, or angry? Thankfully, my husband would also kill me if I ever touched my face – not that it’s up to him – but I imagine life would be so much harder if your significant other was constantly begging you to get work done, as is the case with some heinous men I’ve heard of.
Some of my closest friends and numerous acquaintances have succumbed to the pressure to get Botox and it makes me a little sad and disappointed every time I witness someone’s newly frozen-face. I know and understand that if Botox makes women feel better about themselves, I have no right to judge. But for me at least, a more natural beauty is what I aspire to. Mind you, I’m constantly told I have very youthful skin for my age so I have my mum’s good genes to thank for that, for she too looks a lot younger than she actually is.
I foresee that the dangerous vanity of Botox – the never-ending search for the fountain of youth – will be a horrid conversation I’ll have to have with my daughters, in time, and I’m already dreading it. How do you explain it? I want to raise two proud feminists who constantly question society’s determination of what constitutes beauty, just as I do: that it’s far from OK for male (and female) plastic surgeons to decree that a woman’s smile/laughter lines and those fabulous crinkly bits around your eyes are unattractive – ugly, even.
And then, there are the safety concerns: do you really know what Botox is doing to your face, long-term? Is it really safe to get done at parties? And what if the nurse/doctor/surgeon who does your Botox has a bad day and makes a mistake?
While it’s fair to say the number of Hollywood celebrities who Botox the f*** out of themselves far outweighs those who haven’t had the jab, it’s refreshing to find in my research that some brave big names in the entertainment biz are still allegedly refusing to adopt the frozen-face trend. Among them are Salma Hayek; our “own” Cate Blanchett; Gwyneth Paltrow; Angelina Jolie; Jennifer Aniston; Tina Fey; Lady Gaga; Kate Winslet (pictured above); Sofia Vergara and Julia Roberts (pictured below).
Pretty cool, huh? I mean, it can’t be easy for A-list female celebrities to be bucking the trend in such a sexist, misogynistic industry as Hollywood. I adore luminous beauty, actor Kate Winslet for one – and love her even more after I found this delicious, feisty quote: “It [Botox] goes against my morals, the way that my parents brought me up and what I consider to be natural beauty. I will never give in.”
Here, the last word must go to the the ever-wonderful Julia Roberts who recently said of Botox: “It’s unfortunate that we live in such a panicked, dysmorphic society where women don’t even give themselves a chance to see what they’ll look like as older persons. I want to have some idea of what I’ll look like before I start cleaning the slates… Your face tells a story… And it shouldn’t be a story about your drive to the doctor’s office.”
What do you think? Are you all for or against getting Botox?
Images via generationnext.com.au, medicaldaily.com, sheknows.com, popsugar.com.au
“Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all” – Whitney Houston, Greatest Love of All
Learning to love yourself as the imperfect being you are sometimes ain’t easy to do, but do it we must for the sake of healthy personal relationships and our ability to make smart, healthy choices.
After all, if you can’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to do it?
And I’m not talking about vanity or narcissism, I’m talking about the kind of self-love that spurs you to make healthy life choices and treat yourself with loving kindness. Experts say developing a healthy level of self-esteem will help us to be less sensitive and more able to accept constructive criticism, express ideas in a calm way, be less dependent and more likely to have our needs met.
We’ll also inevitably be much healthier, happier humans, thus improving and strengthening our personal relationships. Maybe it’s a hard life lesson that comes in your 30s – at least, it was for me.
The minute I truly learned to be comfortable in my own skin and accept and enjoy my singleton status, I met my husband soon after.
Coincidence? I don’t think so. But it was a hard-fought lesson; instead of looking for someone to fill a void – a self-love deficit, if you will, as I had done in the past – I made the conscious decision to really work on developing my inner happiness and self-love on my solo journey.
A clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, says our level of self-love is inevitably shaped by childhood upbringing and experiences, as well as personality traits.
“Life can be difficult for someone who has low self-esteem, for example: someone who doesn’t like him/her self, judges him/herself harshly and expects bad things to happen often. Expectations of negativity can be self-fulfilling, so if you anticipate that there will be lots of criticism and stuff-ups in your life, then these things will often happen. You’ll question your own judgement and will consequently make poor decisions that lead to negative outcomes,” she says.
“Conversely, if you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’ll be able to face the challenges and difficulties that life throws at you in a positive way. You’ll have more faith in your own choices and decisions. You’ll be able to assertively stand up for your rights without being aggressive and without allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or pushed around. You’ll feel comfortable with who you are and like yourself, so you’ll be less susceptible to depression and anxiety.”
But how do we foster such self-love and inner confidence if it’s lacking? Here are some handy expert pointers:
- Be kind to yourself. If something goes wrong, don’t beat yourself up. Ask yourself what you could have done differently and determine to do better next time.
- Avoid people who pull you down – those who are critical and negative towards you. Seek out people whose company you enjoy and in whose presence you feel good about yourself.
- Give yourself positive messages, don’t self-criticise. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, such as: “I’m always messing up, I’ve failed again”, challenge this and change your thinking to something more positive like: “I’ve made a mistake, but what can I learn from this? How can I do better in this situation next time?”
- Learn to see difficulties as problems to be solved rather than catastrophes. Develop your problem-solving skills and you’ll have more confidence in yourself and your ability to cope with difficult situations, thereby developing your self-esteem as a result.
Of course, if this all seems too difficult to achieve on your own, seek help from a professional relationship counsellor or psychologist.
Images, in order, via www.thetruthaboutbeauty.co.uk; www.freespiritgirl.com and pixabay.com.
Are you stuck in a rut in a job you despise and/or suffering under a moronic, lazy boss who is literally sucking the life out of you? Are you half expecting to wake up with a grey patch in your hair from all the stress?
If you answered yes, you might need to find your self-belief fast, sister, in order to take a leap of faith and achieve your full careers potential.
When *Sally, 35, (not her real name) was retrenched from a major media company, she felt sick to her stomach, shocked and utterly lost. What’s more, her former bosses were anything but enthusiastic about her unique skills set, so her self-esteem also took a giant hit.
But as the weeks ticked by and Sally regained her inner strength, composure and sense of humour, she realised being made redundant was actually the best thing to have happened to her in ages. She was bitterly unhappy in her job anyway, detested her misogynistic, bullying middle-manager bosses and felt she’d never really reached her full potential. Redundancy was just the push she needed to achieve her goals.
So, never doubting her abilities, she realised she could now look forward to the future with hope and bag that exciting, new career. She started applying for jobs, and mere weeks later, Sally landed a dream marketing position at a major property firm, thereby doubling her annual salary.
This is a true story, with only the person’s name changed to protect their privacy.
Psychologists say self-belief is vital in achieving our career goals in 2015 and living our best life, with passion and gusto.
Why? Because if you truly believe in yourself and that you can achieve what you set out to do – ala Sally – you will have the motivation to move forward to achieve your goals and the determination to overcome whatever obstacles stand in your way. Conversely, if you don’t believe in your ability to achieve, you’ll give up when the first hurdle arises or worse – you won’t get started at all.
What’s more, calculated risks can really pay off, just like Sally’s, and really help you achieve your goals.
But, of course, with great change comes unease. It can take a lot of courage to embrace change because it’s often challenging to move out of our comfort zone, but for many, it has proven to be well worth the effort.
Before embarking on a new career, job experts say to carefully research your options and think about what you really love doing – find a job that excites you. And, if like Sally, you’ve encountered some “haters” along the way – bosses who undermine and underestimate you – you gotta rise above, the experts say.
After all, most of us at some stage have come across someone who, for their own reasons, wants to put us down. Maybe your bosses feel threatened by your potential success or just don’t want you to succeed?
Self-belief will also get you through this. If you believe that you can achieve something you will be able to ignore the nay-sayers and achieve your goals in spite of them.
And one final bit of advice from careers experts: do all you can to avoid these people as much as possible and instead seek out positive mentors and friends who will inspire you and encourage you to achieve your full potential.
Go get em’, tiger!
Main image via www.cseba.eu; secondary image via www.renewable-health-site.com and final image via www.thegrindstone.com
Remember the hilarious Sex And The City episode when prudish Charlotte became no enamoured with her “rabbit vibrator” – that she didn’t leave her house for days and her BFFs had to perform an intervention? Do yourself a favour and check it out if you’ve never seen it.
But can a new buzzy friend for your top drawer actually strengthen your relationship, as well as boosting your sex life? Ooh yes, yes, yes!
That’s the finding of the inaugural Durex Sexsus Report – an online study conducted this June among more than 1000 Australian men and women aged 18-39.
Key report findings include:
- Three in five (59 per cent) respondents who own a sex toy feel more intimate with their partner when using it.
- Aussies are “getting busy” using their sex toys a whopping 3.6 times a week.
- Four out of five Australians believe it’s more acceptable to discuss sex toys than ever before, but more than half wish they owned one but are too afraid to try it out.
- Men are more likely to purchase a sex toy for their partner’s enjoyment, or to increase intimacy with their partner.
- Women are more likely than men to buy a sex toy for their own pleasure.
In addition, the warmer weather in Queensland makes for hotter sex too: the “sunshine state” is getting more buzzed in the bedroom than any other Australian state or territory – 70 per cent versus the national average of 62 per cent.
The findings – which coincide with the launch of Durex’s new adult toy range via www.durex.com.au/adult-toys – reveal couples are achieving a new level of playfulness, passion and intimacy into the bedroom, says Durex Brand Manager Suzanne Legg.
“Adult toys are a completely normal and healthy part of our sex lives,” Ms Legg says. “The Durex Sexsus Report confirms what our sexy-radar has been telling us for a while – adult toys are no longer a taboo.
“It’s fantastic to see that more than three quarters of Aussies believe adult toys open up a whole new spectrum of sensual possibilities – we’re really pleased intimate pleasure is being taken seriously between the sheets.
“For those who are still a little shy, the new range of Durex adult toys are available online and delivered super-discreetly to service the one in four respondents who have not bought a toy because they feel too uncomfortable going in to a store.”
From vibrating massagers and bullets through to sensational rabbit vibrators, the toys are ergonomically and elegantly crafted with a velvet-soft finish (pictured). Prices range from $49.99 for the Durex Teasing Touch stroker, through to $149.99 for the Durex Extreme Thrill rabbit vibrator (pictured).
And Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being, concurs: she too believes sex toys are good for relationships.
“Sex toys add a bit of excitement to a relationship and can liven up your love life – as long as it’s a good quality sex toy and not a novelty item; make sure you do your research to get the full effects of a high-quality one,” Dr Mars says.
“You don’t want hard, inflexible sex toys and make sure you also use a good quality lube and the right kind of lube for your particular sex toy. A good lube is a bit stringy and you want to use a different one for vaginal sex than anal sex. Anal lubes can cause changes in the pH of your vagina so you need to be careful that you use them carefully and don’t cross-contaminate.
“Sex toys can take you outside of your comfort zone, increase your pleasure and expand your repertoire.”
“I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” – Sam Wood to Snezana Markoski.
And the shock The Bachelor Australia 2015 winner is: Snezana. And thank God for that – after the previous horror of seeing this year’s Bachelor, Melbourne personal trainer/entrepreneur Sam Wood, 25, let crowd favourite Heather go – he has far surpassed my expectations of him by choosing classy, gorgeous and genuinely lovely Perth single mum Snezana Markoski, 34, for the win.
At the final emotional rose ceremony, Sam – aka Woody, as I like to call him – tells Snezana he’s madly in love with her and praises her inner strength, warmth and beauty and for making him a better man. He also reassures her he’ll also love and cherish her nine-year-old daughter Eve – thereby making me, and no doubt the rest of Australia, finally fall a little bit in love with Woody ourselves.
“You are the first girl that I met and you are the last, because I’ve fallen in love with you,” he tells a stunned, and stunning, Snezana, who’s been a early favourite of Woody’s – and mine – from the beginning.
Beautiful, inside and out – Snezana’s impressive composure, maturity and womanliness put so many of the much younger, silly, game-playing, fame-chasing girls in the lady prison, sorry mansion, to shame. From the start, Snez really seemed to be in it for the “right reasons” – to find love – and her style and sophistication was a joy to watch. And there’s no denying the firecracker chemistry and spark she’s shared with Woody from the get-go.
After Woody sent Sarah, 26, home in the second-last episode, runner-up for Sam’s heart, Lana, 27, while also an impressive and accomplished human – give the girl’s gorgeous side-hair a Gold Logie! – bizarrely didn’t seem all that upset that she wasn’t the last one standing at the end.
Was she perhaps – like many of the other girls – purely more interested in winning than in actually forming a life-long partnership with Woody? Didn’t she grasp how serious – and refreshingly so – Woody was in getting married and having kids pronto?
I’ve got to say – this The Bachelor Australia 2015 series was everything I wanted and more. Woody has WAY more heart and grit than I thought, as evidenced by him choosing Snezana and Eve. Blended families are very common these days, but Woody could have taken the “easier” way out by opting for a much younger woman with far less baggage. So, huge congrats to Woody for shocking and surprising the nation with his depth of character and ability to cut through all the bullshit to follow his heart and choose the lovely sophisticated Macedonian beauty.
I mean, remember the horror of last season’s fake Blake Garvey and his brutal dumping of Sam Frost – this after he proposed to her on live TV?! It’ll be cool to watch Frost get her groove back as The Bachelorette Australia, which airs next Wednesday, to soothe the giant gaping hole left in our TV viewing now that The Bachelor Australia has come to a close.
And while Woody didn’t get down on bended knee and propose to Snez, he did present her with a cute locket gift for Eve and a $22,000 custom-made diamond encrusted promise ring, which he designed with the help of luxury jeweller Zamels (cue sponsor spotlight here).
This series end was oddly – and pleasingly – heartfelt and emotional. You couldn’t help but cheer for Woody as she chose Snez – especially after meeting his lovely family, including his delightful Poppa Sam, who declared of Snez and Lana: ”They’re both lovely kids”.
And now, after finally revealing his true heart and manliness, I’ve not only got a wee crush on Woody, but on host Osher Günsberg too, whose lovely manner with the women and the Bachelor makes me wish we could fix him up with the love of his life too.
One final thing: let’s hope Woody didn’t let Snez watch that footage of him in a hot pool make-out session with Lana, from the second-last episode. That’d be enough to give champion side-eye giver Snez a serious hernia.
From 21 women down to just one: well played, Woody – well played. Snez is a hell of a catch – let’s hope their fairytale continues.
NB: By all accounts, the cute couple are still together and Sam has said he is “totally in love” with his chosen one. Ah, true love – isn’t it the best?
What do you think? Did Sam pick the right woman?
Images via news.com.au and au.news.yahoo.com
Are you single and ready to mingle? Singletons (women, that is) often have it rough: constant, invasive questioning about why you’re flying solo and/or childless; dirty looks and poor behaviour from smug marrieds at parties (clearly, you are a husband stealer); and then there’s other people’s rude and awkward fascination with your interesting sex life (or lack there of).
I know – I’ve been there. I once made the mistake of wearing a daring, low-cut dress to a New Year’s Eve party almost entirely made up of married people, at which I had countless Bridget Jones’ Diary-esque cringeworthy moments of my very own. If I wasn’t having to explain why I was single, I was getting serious side-eye in my dress, not that I had absolutely any intention of getting cosy with someone that night. I mean, God forbid a single woman could be happy in her own skin and just enjoy herself at a party? Sometimes, your singleton status can make others really uncomfortable.
So, what’s a single gal to do? For starters, you could empower yourself by checking out Dr Nikki Goldstein’s new book: #singlebutdating: 10 Steps to a More Dateable You (pictured). I wish this book, and more like it, were around when I was single.
Dr Goldstein, herself a sexy, young singleton, is a leading Australian sexologist and sex and relationships commentator. Her life experience – coupled with her psychology degree, postgraduate diploma in counseling and doctorate of human sexuality, make her a credible authority on the subjects.
And here’s what I love most: she wrote #singlebutdating women to arm women with the tools they need to not only survive in the #singlebutdating world, but to revel in it. Isn’t that refreshing?
Here, Dr Goldstein reveals her top sex and dating tips, her inspiration for the book and what she hopes to achieve with it.
What inspired you to write a book on single but dating (SBD) women? I felt that I was left without a label to describe my love and dating life. There have been moments in my life where I was not exactly single, but when asked if I had a boyfriend, I was unsure how to answer. It’s not like there were a lack of men in my life and I definitely wasn’t waiting at home for the phone to ring, but I didn’t want pity for my so-called “single” status. I also felt like so many of the dating books out there were telling women to change in order to trap a man and there was nothing empowering them to work out how they wanted to date. We don’t need set-in-stone rules – we need advice, empowerment, information and knowledge of possible outcomes so we can make better and healthier decision for ourselves.
Are you currently SBD? When writing the book, I went on a man ban for 18 weeks and it was one of the most interesting times of my dating life. I learnt so much about myself and got to take a good look at how I had been dating from a distance without the distraction of men and really take time to explore what I wanted from the opposite sex. Since publishing the book, I am back dating and currently an SBD woman (and having more fun now knowing what I want and how I want to date than before).
What makes you qualified to give dating advice? For this book, I was able to reflect from my professional life as a sexologist and relationship expert with a history of academic and clinical experience, but also my own dating life, as I had had years of colourful dating experiences. It was the first time I decided to get really personal with my work and share my own stories. This is the book I wanted years ago, so in a way I am my own audience.
Have you had many long-term relationships? I have had one in particular that lasted about six years and after that have had a series of what I like to call “mini relationships”: (under six months) flings, holiday romances and dates with some great men. With each person, I feel I have learnt more about myself and who I am and I’m so appreciative that these people were at one stage in my life.
What are some top benefits for SBD women? They have a chance to discover what they want in their love lives and their lives in general before they enter long-term or more committed relationships. How do we know what we want if we haven’t explored different options and sometimes had what we don’t want? Love is not always enough in relationships and even if it is we need to experience what love is and what love isn’t so we can identity the right feelings when they come along.
There is a lot of confusion over what constitutes love, lust, validation and security. You might think it’s true love, when it actual fact the relationship you are in is validating your sense of self-worth and those feelings lead you to believe that it’s love. It’s important for woman to take time to work on themselves so they are able to enter relationships based on what they want not what everyone else around them is telling them they should want. Being an SBD woman just gives you the time and permission to work all of that out.
Why should women entertain the idea of a man ban? I think it’s great for women every so often to step back and have a good, hard look at their love and dating lives. It doesn’t have to be for too long. Given we are in a world which preaches the strong message that a boyfriend or partner means worthiness and validation, we need to be very careful of our dating and sexual behaviours. Sometimes, it takes that distance to be able to analyse and assess what is really going on in your own life. Are you sleeping with that guy because you really wanted to, or because you were feeling a little low and thought it might give you a self-esteem boost? Did you go out on a date with that guy because you really did like him or because it was nice to have someone who was pursuing you? When we are in the midst of it it’s hard to tell why we do what we do, but some distance can give the most insightful view.
What was the book writing process like? It was very quick; it was something I had wanted to do for some time and an idea that had been sitting in my head, but from contract to holding the first-bound draft in my hands was 18 weeks. I went into hibernation and worked like I’ve never worked before. It was not only a challenge professionally, but personally too. When you take yourself out of the society you live in and stay at home in gym clothes and sweat pants, you really need to look to yourself for confidence, validation and positive vibes.
Do you have any other books in the works? I loved writing #sinlgebutdating and found a new passion. Four weeks into book one and I was already looking at what was next with ideas flowing fasting than I could type. There was so much more I could have put into this book that I had to start to consider book two. Let’s just say this is a first, but will not be an only for me. I’m getting ready to go back into hibernation with my laptop again soon.
How will your book aid SBD women? Hopefully it will empower them to think differently about the dating game. I wanted to give permission to women that it’s OK and even amazing to be #singlebutdating right now and that maybe for those who are considering this as a lifestyle choice, to let them know it’s not so scary and can actually be very useful in the long-term. With this book, I wanted to empower women so they are able to make choices from their own internal wants and desires, instead of acting in response to the influences around them.
It’s OK for women to have one-night stands, booty calls and date multiple people if that’s what they want, but they first of all need to work out if it’s what they really want and understand any consequences and risks attached. My book #singlebutdating will not only empower women, but help them to become the most datable versions of themselves, not from changing every aspect of their lives, but by bringing out the best version of who they really are on the inside.
How can women combat society’s negativity towards SBD women? They can continue to challenge the messages they get fed; ask where it comes from and also why it’s there. Often, we take messages of what is sexy and attractive from the society around us and accept them as the status quo. It’s important to continually analyse these messages and think: “Is this so-called ideal one that I believe in and one that works for me?” It’s also useful for women to have a voice and not be afraid to share their thoughts and opinions, even if they feel they are different to everyone else.
Why are you passionate about sex education? I’m passionate about it because a lack of education is what lets us down on so many levels. We get minimal sex education, nearly none about relationships and dating and then we are expecting to get it right. We put so much importance on relationships and our sex lives that it’s unfair we do not have the right information to work on it. We will never get to a stage where we say “OK, this amount of sex education is enough and adequate now,” because it is multifaceted subject which impacts so much of our lives. Sex education and the delivery of information and thoughts, whether for adults or teens and children, should not been seen as a niche or something that we should get to if we have time – it should be a priority.
What are some top sex myths in Australia as pertaining to SBD women? I think it’s this idea that stems from the Madonna/whore complex that if we have too much sex we are ruined in some way. Some men want woman to be kinda sexual, but then are turned off by a woman with too much sexual experience or desire (but please note I said “some men”, not all). There is still this feeling in our society that a women who expresses herself too much sexually is not a good thing. But why is that? I would think that – especially from a man’s point of view – a woman who was sexually enthusiastic (doesn’t that sound better than “slut”) would make a better lover as hopefully she would know what she wants and likes in the bedroom and is better able to connect emotionally and physically. We have always tried to control woman’s sexually with this fear of degradation and maybe it’s time we were more aware of where it seeps into our society. Virginity does not mean innocence and sexuality should never equate to guilt, slut and whore.
Any final tips to help wome feel empowered and fulfilled while SBD? A lot of single and SBD women can feel a little down about the dating game and there are a lot of pressures out there and emotions attached. It’s important to look at the positives and what you do have in your life, not focus on the negative and what you are missing out on. Once women are in a negative head-space, it might only send them further down, so it’s important to stop yourself and flick that switch to positivity. And people are more attracted to happy, positive people, so it will help in the attraction stakes too. It’s harder than it sounds, but once you can master that art, dating and even self-esteem really does become a lot easier. Find little ways to make yourself happy and acknowledge when the world around you is bringing you down.
#singlebutdating, $29.99, is in all good book stores now and is also available as an e-book. Visit drnikki.com.au.
Do the words “bikini season” strike fear and angst into your heart? It doesn’t have to be that way, says Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell.
Susie (pictured), who’s pregnant with twins due in early 2016, says you can develop better body confidence via a healthy spring diet plan which will not only see you look and feel better, but you’ll lose kilos fast in the process. And if, like me, you’re looking at dropping winter weight in the lead-up to Christmas, Susie says you can do it simply and effectively. The secret? Delicious and nutritious salads are your summer diet go-to.
Susie has just released a new Shape Me Salads e-book via her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, via shapeme.com.au which now includes a new free trial offer. Here, Susie dispenses her usual wise and pragmatic diet and weight-loss advice as the warmer weather approaches.
What are your top spring diet and weight loss tips?
The key is to pace yourself, there is still plenty of time to lose 5-10kg before Christmas – but you must do it the right way without resorting to unrealistic fads and extreme diets. The first rule of thumb is to look for diet options which are sustainable. This way, you will not waste your time and money on short-term programs and options. Next, look for options you like – if you do not like the food, you will not continue it. Finally, simply focus on eating less and more vegetables: smaller dinners, more salad and vegetables at lunch and dinner and exercise most days, it really is that simple.
What are some quick and easy food hacks to lose a few winter kilos?
Have an early protein-rich breakfast, for example: an omelette, Greek yogurt, protein shake by 8am. Next, have a salad-based lunch by 1pm. Then, schedule a protein-rich afternoon snack of nuts or cheese and crackers mid afternoon and then a light early dinner. Simply leaving 12 hours without food overnight is often all we need to reset our appetite and wake up hungry, so we end up eating more during the day and less at night.
What salad pitfalls do people fall prey to?
It’s usually going too strict too early and then feel hungry and deprived and falling off the rails. A lot of people mistakenly eliminate whole food groups such as dairy or carbs and then crave them. Other common mistakes include people eating well for two-to-three days then binging all weekend, or not eating enough during the day and then overeating at night.
What are the best spring salads or meals to eat?
The perfect salad balance will include one carb, one source of protein, two-to-three cups of salad or vegetables and one source of good fat, such as olive oil or avocado. Chicken quinoa salad with avocado is a perfect mix, but just make sure your salad base is always 2-3 cups of salad/vegetables.
Is the warmer weather a prime time to cut out heavy carbs?
One cup of cooked rice or pasta is equal to three slices of bread, so an easy way to reduce your fuel load at night is to stick to a hand-size serve of protein and plenty of vegetables.
What are your golden rules of spring eating?
- Focus on light meals of fish, salad and vegetables.
- Make the most of warmer temperatures and longer days and commit to regular training, especially if you can prepare for an upcoming event.
- Limit alcohol to two glasses per week.
- Drink more water – at least 1.5-2litres in total each day.
- Use the next three months to get your body in great shape by committing to healthy eating and plenty of exercise so you can enjoy the summer and feel great, both mentally and physically.
Images via Cleo, walesonline.co.uk
“Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?” – William Shakespeare, As You Like it.
Some people fall in love with the swiftness of an electric shock, while for others it’s more of a slow burn. But does love at first sight actually exist – or is it merely the stuff of fairytales?
Cynics say people confuse intense sexual attraction with love at first sight; that it takes both time and knowledge to really deeply know and therefore love someone. But if you’ve ever felt something akin to a lightening bolt, or a quickening of your heartbeat and a sharp intake of breath at the mere sight of someone, is this not a prime example of love at first sight?
This is exactly how I felt the moment I met my husband, and at the end of our very first date, we enjoyed a passionate, old Hollywood-style kiss in the street, completely oblivious to passers-by. He was intoxicating: I couldn’t get enough of him and I’d certainly never experienced such a strong meeting of the minds and physical attraction like this with anyone else.
Happily, he felt the same: within six months we were living together and then married and pregnant with our first child within two years of this meeting. In fact, in hindsight, it seemed like we’d been quite cautious and overly careful in waiting that long; I knew this man was my true life partner and the future father of my children very early on.
And if we look to pop culture, take TV reality dating show The Bachelor Australia – while an unrealistic setting – it does show in vivid technicolour that it’s possible to have incredible chemistry with someone the minute you meet them. This year’s Bachelor Sam Wood, aka Woody, as I like to call him, seems to have experienced love at first sight with both front-runner Heather and now with newcomer, “intruder” Lana in particular.
Love at first sight is why I also think you shouldn’t ever judge someone’s love timing. When my own mother found true love for the second time at age 63, and was engaged and married to her now-husband in just over a year, I remember being skeptical and worried at first. Who was I to judge? How hypocritical was I? Didn’t my own love connection with my husband very quickly change everything in the blink of an eye? I guess I was feeling a tad overprotective. And here’s the thing: friends and family might caution you to be careful, but you know true love when you find it.
There’s no right or wrong way to fall in love; it can occur at first sight as well as on the second or the third meeting, or even several years down the road. But I believe love at first sight can and does exist, even if some of us are lucky enough to have several soul mates in one lifetime. Meeting your soul mate for the first time is something so delicious, exquisite and wonderful we all deserve to experience it.
What do you think? Have you experienced love at first sight?
Images via Mirror.co.uk, Bluelabellife.com.au
When it comes to Australia’s $128 billion-dollar, male-dominated mining industry – one high achiever stands out from the rest: MEC Mining’s general manager Maria Joyce.
Maria, 33, is at the helm of MEC, a Brisbane-based, global mining consultancy which recently capped off its milestone 10th anniversary year by being selected as a finalist – as only a first-time entrant – at the prestigious 2015 Telstra Queensland Business Awards.
With a Brisbane HQ at 215 Adelaide St, and an office in Santiago, Chile, MEC Mining specialises in mine planning, onsite management, training and innovative and flexible technical services solutions for the international mining industry.
In its 10 years of operation, MEC has contributed to a total value of $140 billion worth of projects and provided expertise in 13 countries and across 11 commodities. In addition, it has completed 400 projects and consulted for more than 100 clients since its inception, specialising in both open-cut and underground mining for the coal and minerals sectors.
A highly capable senior businesswoman, armed with 12 years’ industry experience and a UQ Bachelor of Engineering Mining (Honours), Maria represents the future of both MEC and the Australian mining industry.
And whereas once it was unheard of for a woman to be running a mining company, Maria is also joined by another highly accomplished businesswoman – MEC’s commercial manager Julia Kouba – at the top, alongside the company’s founder/director Daniel Chippendale, co-director Ted Boulton and managing director Simon Cohn.
However, this is far from the norm: mining remains Australia’s most male-dominated industry, with men holding more than 90 per cent of executive positions. And in the global mining industry, women hold just eight per cent of executive committee positions reporting directly to the chief executive officer, according to a recent study.
So, how did Maria do it? By being a first-class businesswoman first and a woman, second. She’s brought a wealth of knowledge, skills and proven competencies to her challenging and rewarding role, such as strong leadership and outstanding professionalism, experience and dedication. And never one to shy away from any obstacle in her path to success, Maria has always relished defying industry sexism.
“Having worked in a variety of roles, different operations and on studies both domestically and internationally, I have been constantly challenged both as a woman and a professional in the industry,” Maria says.
“I have never been afraid to take on a new challenge, but more-so I look to seek them out and conquer them. At times in my career when I feel I wasn’t taken seriously because of my gender, I dusted myself off and worked even harder to earn the respect and support of these individuals and to date I have been successful.
“Throughout my career I have always maintained my core values as a person and as a professional and this is something I am very proud of. Working in a leadership position at MEC has been my most challenging and rewarding role yet. The key leadership team, outside of the company owners/directors, are all women and we support/mentor one another on a daily basis.”
Maria’s current role sees her work closely with the company directors, commercial department and the HR and recruitment team to ensure MEC maintains its first-rate reputation for delivering proven and quality outcomes to its clients.
In addition, she oversees MEC’s Australian-based office and site-based consultants and manages the company’s varied client base, which ranges from pit engineers in the Bowen Basin all the way through to CEOs across the world.
She first joined MEC as a senior mining engineer in 2007, working her way up to the role of Technical Services Manager of the company’s Townsville office, at which she led a team of consultants through the mining industry downturn.
And Maria is also busily supporting other women’s ascension through the ranks in the mining industry as a mentor for Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ), a voluntary, not-for-profit group supported by The Queensland Resources Council.
“I am enjoying the opportunity to encourage and empower other women in mining through WIMARQ,” she says. “Throughout my career, I feel I have encouraged and supported both women and men alike within the mining industry and it’s great to have the occasion to turn this into something more formalised.
“It is a pretty amazing opportunity to have a real impact on the lives of young women entering the industry and I take this on with great seriousness and consider it a privilege.”
Maria sees her biggest challenge in her current role as striking a work/life balance, but luckily for her, she’s got a massive backer in her husband.
“I constantly battle with maintaining a work/life balance and this is something I have honestly struggled with my entire career,” she says. “I finally feel as though I am maturing in this space. I have an extremely supportive husband and we have both made sacrifices in our careers for one another.
“He followed me throughout my career in the Bowen Basin and then when he had his opportunity to take on a new challenge in Northern Queensland, I followed him to Townsville.”
Outside of her work, Maria’s interests include health and mental fitness – she’s even a qualified CrossFit Level 1 trainer. “I challenge myself not only at work, but at CrossFit, which is another passion of mine in life,” she says.
“It builds mental confidence and strength to take on challenges in life. It also instils important values such as compassion, integrity and a sense of community.”
Images via businessreviewaustralia.com, sourceable.net
If you’re old enough to remember a topless Fergie’s 1992 toe-sucking Texan scandal in St-Tropez – while the Duchess of York was still married to Prince Andrew – you’ll recall the somewhat cringe-worthy tabloid photos of said hot foot lovin’.
The photos, which showed American financial manager John Bryan with a mouth full of one of Fergster’s feet while they holidays and canoodled by the pool in full view of the world (and Fergie and Andrew’s toddler daughters) in southern France, were first splashed across British tabloids.
And the Queen was not amused – the Duchess is said to have been at Balmoral with the rest of the royal family when the story broke, with Her Majesty effectively banishing Fergie from the royal household henceforth.
Whether this was due to the Duchess’ refusal to toe the line (pardon the pun) or the royals’ horror at the said foot fetishism, I guess we’ll never know, but public toe-sucking has arguably suffered a tarnished public image ever since.
However, fast forward some 20 plus years and foot fetishism (er, arguably best celebrated in the privacy of your own home) is seemingly now so popular, it’s virtually cool. However, it does seem to be more popular among men.
Famous foot fetishists who’ve gone on the record of late include perennial-cool singer/songwriter Pharrell Williams, actor Jack Black, singer Ricky Martin and director Quentin Tarantino.
What’s more, Elvis himself is arguably one of the best known foot fetishists, with a well-documented obsession, allegedly as a result of having to massage his mother’s feet as a child – shudder. There’s some serious Oedipus complex going on there! And The King’s handlers are even said to have screened the rock’n’roll icon’s female love interests on the basis of their feet attractiveness, er as you do.
While foot fetishism is nothing new – indeed, it’s the most common form of sexual fetish related to the body – it’s certainly not something I’d personally encountered prior to the advent of social media. You see, I recently joined Instagram and wow, what an eye-opener it was for me when I recently innocently posted several random pictures of my feet post-pedicure, one of my favourite beauty indulgences.
A recent such pic I posted got a lot of attention from said foot fetishists in Insta-land: countless pervy comments and requests this time to both share and repost said pic to others in the foot-worshipping community. In addition, it gained me no less than nine new foot fetishist followers?! What rock had I been living under? Was foot fetishism really that much of a thing? Apparently so!
Foot worship, or podophilia, is a pronounced sexual interest in feet. For a foot fetishist, attractive traits include the shape and size of the foot and toes; foot jewellery, such as toe rings and ankle bracelets; treatments, such as pedicures or massaging; state of dress, such as barefoot and/or thongs; odour, and/or sensory interaction such as smelling, licking, kissing, tickling and biting the foot.
As we all know, it takes a lot of different types to make the world go ‘round and if feet (mine included) blow your hair back, I say go for it, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone.
The hilarious part for me though, and I mean no disrespect to said foot fetishists, is that my feet are my least favourite body part; indeed my right foot has been damaged beyond repair by years of high-heel abuse. I’ve even got a small bunion, for God’s sake! Are bunions hot?!
Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being, says foot fetishism is so popular, in part, because feet are fairly non-offensive.
“One reason we hear about foot fetishes so much is that as far as fetishes go they are quite vanilla; it’s okay to admit you have a foot fetish in comparison to BDSM [bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism] or being into golden showers, for example,” Dr Mars says.
“It can be a submissive act for men and they can enact that without going too far down the submissive path and compromising their masculinity.
“Feet are accessible. There are lots of options, toes, shoes, stockings… And the options are often elegant.
“In addition, feet are an area of the body with lots of nerve endings!”
And while feet aren’t my thing, shoes are another story altogether…
What do you think? Have you ever encountered foot fetishism in a partner?
Images, in order, via www.popsugar.com; theurbanrooms.co.uk; topnailideas.com and supplied.
Will you vajazzle yourself this spring? It’s the season of the fake tan and vajazzling, whereby if you so desire, you can have a sparkly secret in your pants just begging to be celebrated.
Vajazzling, which has taken the US by storm and been popularised by the likes of actor Jennifer Love Hewitt (pictured), is like Mardi Gras for your lady parts. It’s a spring/summer beauty trend which is the act of applying glitter and jewels made from Swarovski crystals to your pubic area.
A portmanteau of the words “vagina” and “bedazzle”, vajazzling is typically performed at a beauty salon. It follows a Brazilian wax treatment, whereby all the hair is removed from your lady garden, and sees crystals applied to your bare pubic area using adhesive.
What’s more, you can go all out and get the pretty crystals applied to other body areas such as your stomach, back, waist, arm, neck and legs.
A typical vajazzle application only lasts a few days; by the time your pubic hair grows back, the vajazzling crystals will have fallen off on their own. Costs vary and some beauty salons still don’t perform the procedure.
A word of warning ladies: the cosmetic adhesives used in vajazzling – not to mention the crystals – may cause skin irritation to your freshly waxed pubic area, already aggravated by the Brazilian wax. In fact, one US obstetrician recently advised women to spend their money on sexy lingerie or a good pair of shoes instead, as they’ll last longer.
So, what do men think of the art of vajazzling? Is it something they’re into?
My husband is not a fan, preferring my lady garden unadorned. “What on earth do you need that for?” he asked ahgast, when I informed him of this spring/summer beauty trend.
Next up, I asked a male friend – another typical blokey bloke – for his thoughts on the topic. The conversation went like this:
Me: “What do you think of vajazzling?”
Me: “What do you think of women adorning their freshly-waxed pubic areas with pretty crystals and glitter?”
Him: “I think that’s kinda weird. Wouldn’t it just get in the way?”
However, as with any beauty trend, women will do as they damn well please. And if a good vajazzling helps a woman feel great about herself this spring/summer and it honours and celebrates her beautiful, private lady parts, who is anyone to judge?
Interestingly, Ella Baché’s national franchise network is able to perform the procedure if so desired, depending on demand, but it’s not something the brand is pushing as a whole. However, the salons do regularly perform Brazilian wax treatments.
“Ella Baché, and the Ella Baché salons, are not against vajazzling – it’s the individual salons’ choice to offer the service,” says Ella Baché national marketing manager Alison Navarrete.
“However, it is not in the overarching menu of salon services, as we are skincare brand offering skincare treatments which are results-driven.”
What do you think? Do you vajazzle?
Images via theisozone.com, miss.at, theglow.com.au
Calling all single ladies: do you think you should be dating a certain type of man? Has your family and/or friends conditioned you into thinking you can’t be romantically or sexually interested in say, someone from a different socio-economic group than you?
Well, think again: you could be denying yourself an amazing connection and/or a life partner, if that’s what you’re looking for, because love comes in many different guises. You might think you should be only dating white-collar businessmen, while in reality, your perfect match could be a farmer, carpenter or dance instructor.
And while it’s true that dating someone from a similar background to you can certainly make relationships easier in certain respects, if you’re struggling to break bad dating habits like always choosing the wrong kind of man, dating beyond your usual “type” may be the answer.
Relationship counsellors strongly suggest single women try to keep an open mind when it comes to dating and go on lots of dates to find out who and what really blows your hair back. Break the cycle of always dating the same kind of guy; it might be challenging and confronting to try something new, but you never know what might come out of it. In addition, discomfort often equals personal growth.
When I was growing up, some of my best friends at the time were taught to only date “white collar” men. I’ve never adhered to this belief myself, despite a middle-class upbringing – in fact, I think it’s narrow-minded bullshit. However, it took me until my late 20s myself to realise dating high-earning IT types really wasn’t making me happy (see dropped pie face pictured above) and so I started to look outside of my usual preferences in a man.
I didn’t change my list of core values I was looking for in a life partner – such as kindness, compassion, self-respect and a strong work ethic – I just stopped having such a strict list of rules on who he might be and where he might work. And the result? I fell madly in love with a professional musician, with whom I’m now married and have two kids.
When we met, his career was taking off and he was just as busy as I was but – more importantly – he was creative, passionate, emotionally available and really into the idea of getting married and having kids too. I had broken the cycle of only dating career-obsessed, white-collar types far more interested in partying, computers and/or making money than in a long-term future with me.
And if we look to a popular fictional example: did Carrie in Sex and the City (pictured) make the biggest mistake of her life, pardon the pun, when she let Aiden – he of the sexy, manly and earthy carpenter goodness – go in favour of suave, but cold Mr Big? Yes, I truly believe so (I’ll debate this until the day I die). Sure, Mr Big is hot and flashy, but Aiden could have given Carrie a lovely, stable future and kids too, if she ever decided she wanted them.
So, are you dating the wrong kind of man, too? Do you know what your goals are and do the men you’re dating actually match this and measure up? Relationship experts say be as realistic, flexible and open-hearted as you can when man-hunting in the dating game and you can’t go wrong.
What do you think? Do you need to date outside of your usual type?
Images via huffingtonpost.com, ayi.com, zimbio.com
Few moments in life are as painfully awkward as the horror realisation that the person you’re smitten with really, really isn’t that into you, at ALL. And so it is for poor, hapless The Bachelor Australia “intruder” – food blogger Rachel, 29, who – aside from seemingly having an actual, bizarre aversion to food – woefully misinterpreted her fleeting moments with our Bachie Sam Wood, aka Woody, as being positive.
Of course, Rachel’s days were numbered in the previous episode 11, when she failed to show any maternal side at all when each of the six remaining contestants were charged with directing a bunch of actual, real live children – “eww!” – in a sporting obstacle course. C’mon ladies, wise up – any fool can see kid-mad Woody’s looking for an instant breeder?!
Bizarrely, this episode was also characterised by Woody’s apparent meltdown, whereby shit got too real for the manly hair helmet and he flat out refused to send any of the final six women in his harem home in that night’s rose ceremony. After counselling a sweaty, upset Woody, has handsome host Osher actually clocked up enough clinical hours to quality as a practicing psychologist?
In this latest episode, Rachel’s bags were clearly already packed and sitting outside the mansion of misery, with her limo on stand-by, going in to this latest rose ceremony, when Woody finally sent her home. Seriously, what took him so long? Every time he interacted with Rachel he resembled a man who’d swallowed a fly. Or was the producers’ delight in seeing Rachel offend every other woman in the lady-prison too much and what ultimately saved her from eviction the previous night?
And, here’s the thing – we’re down to the final five women now before “home-town dates” and I feel like the series has started to lag. Sure, new “intruder” the very hot and accomplished Lana, 27,(pictured) has clearly turned Woody’s head, but is there any doubt he’s going down to the wire with hot favourites FTW: Heather, 29, Snezana, 34, and Sarah, 26? I could be wrong, but I reckon Nina’s next to get the big boot – there’s a reason she’s only had one date with Woody thus far.
And, aside from the usual ridiculous amount of camera time devoted to Nina’s weird tongue action when she’s fired up and her general, eye-rolling rage, much else of note happened this Ep12. Er, aside from a gratuitous nudity grab where the women’s sexual frustration was further heightened by Woody stripping down to unbuttoned pants at an art gallery group date – hello group assignment hell! Dude does have a good torso and oddly alluring nipples, I’ll give him that.
In other news, WTF is with Heather’s bizarro grandma outfit which keeps flashing onscreen? Did the women also have to play fancy dress as their fave nanna? Our hipster dudess is wearing a furry cardi mess, pearls and ugly hat – where was the Network Ten stylist here? Did she make like Emily, and also do a runner?!
I’m also loving with some ridiculous degree of schadenfreude, the “original” four remaining women’s extreme discomfort at having to share Woody with newcomer Lana. It’s like: “How dare you come in late and think you can date our group boyfriend, bitch?!” And it’s not just the mansion of misery’s new resident bad gal, Nina, (pictured) who feels this way. The gorgeous Snezana has been giving Lana such seriously good side-eye game, that side-eye queen, Italian movie goddess Sophia Loren would be proud.
Ooh and cue much hilarity at watching the lovely luminous Sarah, now the series’ youngest contestant, fawn over Sam’s alleged romantic overtures in setting up a make-out couch overlooking Sydney Harbour and presenting her with alleged diamond earrings he picked out for her. “I can’t believe you did this?!” Um – well – he didn’t, on both counts. Well played, dastardly Bachelor producers. Oh and her cute, OTT declarations that a performance by an Opera Australia soloist “was the most incredible thing I’ve ever experienced” and “she made me feel things I’ve never felt before” left me wondering if she’s more in love with the Bachelor lavish date porn experience, than the actual Bachie Wood.
So, to wrap up, some answered questions: Can Woody actually handle – gasp – harem favourite Snezana having a nine-year-old daughter? When is someone going fix nice Osher up on a date? And can sourpuss Nina cause any more havoc and hate in the house before she too is sent packing? And, above all: when will Heather finally just take home the prize – Woody and his oddly hairless golden torso (pictured) – once and for all?! Stay tuned for more The Bachelor hilarity and humiliation galore…
Images via couriermail.com.au, vavnews.com, news.com.au
No one is currently better qualified to give pregnant women nutrition advice than Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell, who’s pregnant with twins.
Safely into her second trimester at 15-weeks-pregnant and expecting her twins early in 2016, Susie, 37, Susie and her radio host fiancee Chris Smith (pictured below) are currently enjoying a holiday in Hawaii while they process their baby news, recently revealed at a scan.
Susie, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders and who recently launched her new program, Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says twins are a double blessing, but it still came as a shock despite her family history of multiples, thanks to her maternal grandmother.
“My family, including my mum who is a midwife, had joked about it being twins and the thing I said to my sister before my scan was: ‘I’ll be fine as long as there is not 2!’. Then I was in the scan, and Chris was outside, and the lady said: “Hmm you had better get your husband.’ “And since I could still see one heartbeat I just knew! She said: ‘Oh, there’s another in the back, let me make sure there are not three.’ I said: ‘Oh, c’mon!
“Chris’s mouth dropped to the floor and trust me, he is never speechless. I saw my sister straight after she was like: ‘No way?!’ What can you do? You have to laugh at the irony for a control freak like me and the wonders of nature. We think we are in control, but really have no control. And now we realise how lucky we are and are really excited!”
So, how does a top dietitian and nutritionist adjust her own eating habits when pregnant? Here, Susie dispels some popular pregnancy eating myths and answers everything you’ve ever wanted to know and more about eating for two, or three, as in her case.
How has your own nutrition changed with two babies on the way?
I am finding it so interesting after seeing pregnant women for years myself in practice and giving them advice to need to turn it around on myself. I felt quite nauseous in the mornings until about two weeks ago which actually helped me a lot managing my appetite. Instead of feeling hungry all the time, I went off most things, even my coffee, so was eating quite lightly – definitely not anything sweet, which was a nice change, instead anything salty like cheese and Vegemite crackers and salmon sandwiches.
Luckily, that nauseous feeling has now largely gone, but I definitely have far less room for food than before and instead have to eat regularly: oranges, crackers, wraps and then something small at night so I don’t feel sick, like soup, vegetables or seafood. I’m also not feeling like anything heavy and even my chocolate cravings have disappeared! My specialist has told me I can only gain 10-12kg so I am pretty motivated by that because I know if you really control things early it makes it much easier later. Especially for me, as I am only short and probably started the pregnancy 5kg heavier than would have been ideal so I only have a little buffer there.
What are the most common pregnancy food myths?
That you need to eat for two (or three), and eating makes you feel better so you should do more of it. When you feel sick, you will feel sick regardless so it does still help to control the food a little and not let all your control go out the window; that is where we see 20kg plus weight gains which can be really challenging to lose.
What’s the best and healthiest eating habits to adopt when pregnant?
Nutrient-rich foods are best – try not to waste your calories on poor choices such as juices, snack foods, toast and starchy foods will make you feel better temporarily, but pack on the kilos quickly if you get into a habit of eating only these. Pregnant women should also try to find a few foods which are nutrient-rich, but still settle your tummy, for example: soda water, plain crackers and cheese and fresh fruit. Try concentrating on these foods instead of calorie-laden ones.
Will any specific foods help curb pregnancy cravings and mood swings?
Eating regularly is important to keep on top of morning sickness as low-blood glucose can increase nausea. I find herbal tea helps, as does icy, cold water. And if you are craving, watch your portions; there is a big difference between a single ice-cream and a tub of Cookies and Cream. If you get into the habit of overindulging early, it will continue and that is when a 10kg weight gain will become 20kg when you let yourself eat things you never usually would just because your are pregnant.
I ate a LOT of Magnums towards the end of my first pregnancy because I was so anxious. Is emotional eating a big problem for pregnant women?
My observation is that we are more likely to give ourselves permission to eat foods we never usually would because of the pregnancy. Like anything, if you eat it in moderation it is not a big deal. For example: eat one mini Magnum per day compared to the whole box. Keeping busy is a big one. And focusing on your baseline nutrition is another; learning to tame cravings with a small treat rather than a binge is a key strategy.
Do you have any other top nutrition tips for preggos?
Keep a close eye on your weight, this will help you track whether you are overdoing things early. And most importantly, keep active in line with what your specialist recommends. I see so many women who literally stop moving the minute that stick turns pink. Initially, it’s because they are tired and then they never start again. You are tired regardless so at least keep walking! Not only does it help to keep your weight and glucose levels under control, but exercise helps keep the baby and aids birth. You at least want to be walking for 30 minutes a day for as long as you can.
As I have twins, the specialist has told me after 28-30 weeks I have to keep off my feet to try and keep them in there as long as possible, which will be very hard for me because I have always exercised for at least an hour a day. So, my plan is to continue gym until late October and do as much walking as I can and then I will swap to swimming. I will also start Pilates as recommended by my doctor, as already I am getting some aches and pains thanks to sitting down so much and things changing in my body.
Images via healthable.org, dailytelegraph.com.au
With Father’s Day fast approaching on Sunday, September 6, SHESAID examines what life is like for modern-day dads and how fatherhood has evolved over the years – arguably, for the better and the greater good of all.
Forty years ago, when I was born, it’s fair to say fathers were mostly absent when it came to child-rearing. Your father was the traditional breadwinner and disciplinarian whom you mostly saw in the evenings and on weekends, if you were lucky.
Back then, dads could hide behind their newspapers or their games of golf, while their poor harried wives primarily raised the kids. And while you adored your mostly hands-off dad – for whom working outside of the family home was the norm – you mainly looked to your stay-at-home-mum for emotional and moral guidance.
Oh how times have changed: thanks to the advent of feminism and women’s growing economic emancipation and independence, today’s modern-day dads have been forced to take on vastly different fatherhood roles than those of previous generations.
Today, fathers are very much hands-on – from pregnancy through to the birth suite and beyond. What’s more, today’s modern-day dads want to be actively involved in raising their kids; it’s hard to fathom this was once not the accepted norm and fathers weren’t even allowed to be present when their wives gave birth! Instead, bewildered dads were ushered out into waiting rooms leaving their wives all alone at such an all-important, life-changing, emotionally-charged moment.
Nowadays, it’s the norm for dads to share in every aspect of co-parenting if you’re fortunate enough to have a loving and supportive partner and the father to your children by your side, just as my husband is. However, the modern-day father comes in many forms: he may be gay or straight; a stay-at-home-dad or office worker; an adoptive dad or step-parent; or a separated or divorced dad, both of whom usually predominantly parent from afar.
Much is written about mother love, but psychological research across families from all ethnic backgrounds suggests fathers’ love and affection is vitally important – indeed, it has been shown to be as crucial, powerful and pervasive as the influence of a mother’s love. Fathers who play a permanent and loving presence in their childrens’ lives boost their social, emotional and cognitive development and functioning. Interestingly, children with loving fathers are less likely to struggle with behavioral or substance abuse problems.
And while father-son relationships are incredibly important – every dad is their son’s first hero – the father-daughter bond is one of the most influential and significant relationships in a girl’s life. In fact, the pivotal role a father plays in shaping his daughter’s self-esteem and social and emotional development cannot be overstated. It’s everything: fathers show their daughters, by example, how they can create a loving, trusting relationship with a man and also teach them how to be self-confident and self-reliant.
Just this weekend gone, I watched, with both awe and pride, my husband happily act out scenes from The Little Mermaid, complete with props, at the request of our feisty, little two-year-old and three-year-old daughters. The girls adore their father and their shared joy was a beautiful thing to behold.
And today, it’s positively trendy to be a hands-on dad, with A-list celebrities the public face of modern-day fatherhood. Look at the pin-up example of hunky, English former professional footballer David Beckham: what woman hasn’t swooned over the endless stream of cute pics in the press of him with his four children, particularly the youngest, his daughter Harper? I don’t know about you, but Beckham and Harper (pictured) are so adorable together, it makes me feel a tad clucky. His wife, former Spice Girl and fashion icon Victoria Beckham is one lucky lady.
And another prime A-list example of a modern-day dad is gorgeous actor/producer Brad Pitt, whom – by all accounts – very much co-parents his six children with his wife, actor/director Angelina Jolie.
So, what’s it like to be a modern-day “rad dad”? An everyday blokey hero, who’s actively involved in child-rearing? And how does it feel to be in such a vastly different fatherhood role to that of your own dad?
Noosa’s Marty Hardinge, CEO and managing director of leading global retail marketing company, 5P, is a busy, hands-on dad to three kids, a 12-year-old son and two daughters aged 11 and 8.
He runs the home-based business along with his wife, 5P founder Jennifer Porter, as well as playing an active role in child-rearing, co-parenting, housework and the endless “taxi service” pick-ups/drop-offs associated with school-age kids. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My dad thought that looking after the family meant working hard, but not being there. I think being a good dad is working hard inside the family,” Marty says.
Meanwhile, Noosa Style Ceremonies‘ popular wedding celebrant Jay Flood, who is also director – head of content at traffic and lifestyle content supplier Flood Active, also relishes being a hands-on dad. He has two sons aged 13 and 11, whom he actively co-parents with his film publicist wife, Nicola Warman-Flood.
“I work a fair bit from home, as much as I can. And in the early days, I used to organise shifts and other work around just being able to be there from when our sons were first born,” Jay says. “It’s huge – Nicola and I have been pretty lucky – we’ve both spend most of our working lives here (Noosa) in pretty flexible roles so we’ve been able to be there for every little thing in our sons’ lives, which has kind of always been a goal.
“That’s what we always wanted to do – if we were going to have kids we wanted to be in their lives. I always talk about it with Nic – I remember coming home as a kid, probably when I was ten or 11, and saying to my mum: ‘Where’s dad?’ Well, dad was at the pub! He’d go straight from work to the pub! I can’t imagine doing that. Our dads were real authoritarian dads, who learned from their own fathers, and I’m sure some of them turned the tide a little bit.
“I’m 40 now and fatherhood has changed so much for the better. I saw my dad, when he got older, he wanted more of that connection with us kids – I have two brothers – but I think a lot of that connection comes from being there when you’re a kid and I could see him yearn for it when he got older. You can bridge those gaps and make it happen, but if you’ve got it from the very start it’s much better for the kids and much better for the parents.
“I much prefer being a hands-on dad – I hated having to leave the boys with Nicola, especially when they were littler. The whole reason you’re going to work and trying to make a life is so you can spend time with your family. When they’re little, your kids really need you to help them get a start in life, but as they go into the teenage years, emotionally they still need you a lot, but I think we’re kind of in-between that and getting ditched!”
Despite juggling two businesses, Jay says he always finds a way to spend quality time with his sons. “Just this morning, the boys came to work with me. The little guy surfs, so he goes out and then I take him to school. Even though it’s maybe a hassle for him to get up at 5am, you get to spend all that time together. And he went to school stoked because he had a surf this morning, hung out and then he had a pie. I said to him: ‘All kids don’t have this life!’ And he went to school beaming and he said: ‘Oh, this is so good.’
“All that hard work in raising kids becomes so worth it. Just this morning, a girl from work said: ‘Gee, your boys are so nice – they’ve got such good manners, they’re amazing.’ And the first thing I said was: ‘That doesn’t come naturally’. It takes time and effort, but it’s a wonderful gift to see your kids grow and develop.”
Images via digitalnewsroom.co.uk, americandaddy.us, eonline.com, healthnews.com
Father’s Day doesn’t have to mean boring socks and jocks; these snazzy and stylish gifts are sure to blow his hair back. Shop to it – Father’s Day looms large on Sunday, September 6.
1. Wax on, wax off: Does your dear, old dad have a moustache that’d make former Australian cricketer Merv Hughes jealous? Gift him Penhaligon’s London Bayolea Moustache Wax, $19. It’s a great facial hair accessory for men to keep their moustache neat, tidy and with perfectly twizzled ends. Find it via www.agencedeparfum.com.au or phone (02) 8002 4488.
2. The smell test: Put your dad ahead in the style stakes with Costume National Scents’ Soul EDP 100ml, $199. Warm, spicy and manly, this unique scent centres around the iconic warm trail of pure amber. It’s top notes include cardamom, pink pepper and bergamot. Find it at leading department stores and viawww.agencedeparfum.com.au or phone (02) 8002 4488.
3. The time machine: Help your active dad beat the clock with these stylish TRIWA watches. The Midnight Hvalen Black, $359, is a contemporary designed diving watch with a classic, sharply defined silhouette with a contemporary twist.
Meanwhile, the Original Duke Lansen Chrono Brown, $399, is a sleek, sophisticated chronograph, set within a polished stainless steel case with push buttons. Find these luxury watches via www.triwa.com.
4. Bring his sexy back: Get your dad to take better care of his skin with this fab Arbonne RE9 Advanced for Men Set, $179. It includes an Exfoliating Wash, Shave Gel, Post-Shave Balm and Facial Moisturiser SPF 15. It’s everything your dad needs and more to minimise the signs of aging, condition and moisturise. Find it via www.arbonne.com.
5. The sky’s the limit: Is your dad a modern-day renaissance man? Chances are, he’ll also love the Arbonne Sky For Men Cologne, $87. It’s a masculine expression of his strength and spirit, with notes of citrus, woods and refreshing herbs. Find it via www.arbonne.com.
6. A happy camper: Does your darling dad loving nothing more than kicking back in the great outdoors? He’s bound to love this Big Foot Chair, $149.99, from Coleman Australia. Designed for extra strength and comfort, with a wheeled storage bag, he’s bound to love baby. Visit www.colemanaustralia.com.au.
7. He’s a master chef: Give dad a real treat with this portable Roadtrip Grill LXE, $349.99, from Coleman Australia. He’s bound to love bringing it along on your next glamping trip. After all, there’s never a better place to enjoy a BBQ than the great outdoors!
Image via coolkidscan.com.
Have you ever committed a business email faux pas so embarrassingly bad, you wanted to crawl under your desk and hide in shame?
Take heart, sister – we’ve all been there. In fact, business email etiquette crimes against humanity are increasingly common and inevitable in the corporate world due to us all being in such a rush, rush, rush.
And it’s all too easy to write inappropriate emails and hit ‘send’ at work when we’re angry and upset. What’s more, many a bully boss is guilty of being a ‘keyboard warrior’ and saying cruel and offensive things via email to you that they’d never have the guts to say to your face.
Nowadays, email blunders are such a serious issue. They can cost you and your company business and/or even put you out of a job, says Jodie Bache-McLean (pictured), director of both June Dally-Watkins (JDW) and Dallys Model Management.
Jodie – who’s a well-respected national and international business and interpersonal etiquette expert – says how you deal with email gaffes can both be a mark of true character and professionalism. First things first – if you commit an email crime, you’re going to have to apologise, sister – and the quicker the better.
“There is really no other option but to apologise,” Jodie says, “And you have to telephone the person and apologise ASAP – anything less than that is rude and unsatisfactory behaviour in a workplace. Business email blunders are so common; some companies have lost business over emails that contain negative comments.
“My top advice it do not write something rude in an email, never ever! I am sure everyone can relate to this situation. The best course of action is never pen your thoughts or feelings when angry in an email. Instead, write it down long-hand on a piece of paper to yourself. This can be calming and a much better way to get the issue off your chest.”
Be wary of gossiping at work via email too, ladies – Jodie says you never know who may be reading it and if it will fall into the wrong hands. In addition – it’s all too easy, when stressed and tired, to accidentally send an email directly to the person you’re bitching about?!
But the etiquette expert’s pet hate when it comes to poor business email communication is not using a salutation in the first point of contact.
“We should always treat an email correspondence as we do a letter,” Jodie says. “It is just common courtesy; remember this may be the first point of contact that you have with a potential client, customer or future employer, so use this opportunity to build a great rapport with them.
“Running a close second in corporate email blunders, I believe, is sometimes we rely far too much on email. We all must be mindful that face-to-face communication is ultimately the best, followed closely by telephone communication.”
Jodie’s top 10 business email etiquette pointers include:
- Always use a greeting at the start of your email.
- Do not use email in place of proper face-to-face communication when trying to communicate important and/or personal matters.
- Do not just rely on spell check – always read your emails; some people may base your character on poor and incorrect grammar.
- Use emoticons sparingly in business emails – exercise extreme discretion.
- Make sure your email signature is visible to all who receive your emails.
- DO NOT USE CAPITALS AND EXCLAMATION MARKS WHERE THIS CAN BE MISINTERPRETED AS AGGRESSION!
- Do not write anything in an email that you would not want to see on the front page of your national newspaper.
- Don’t send emails with irrelevant subject lines – or worse still, none at all.
- Don’t ever attach enormous files! This can cause so many issues for the receiver; work on a maximum of 5meg at any given time.
- Don’t use email to engage in mindless and potentially hurtful workplace gossip – you never know who is reading it.
Images via diginomica.com, nontechforwomen.com
Can couples’ mismatched libidos be cured simply by men doing more housework and occasionally letting their partners sleep-in? I had this revelation in the shower recently, while feeling on top of the world, after my husband granted me a rare sleep-in.
As a busy working mum, I’d felt so pathetically grateful for a few extra hours of sleep – after my beloved husband took the bullet and got up with our two small kids at the crack of dawn and let me stay where I was, blissfully warm and cosy, with one eye open, willing him to get up with them for once.
And you know what? My well-rested state and good mood continued for the rest of the day – especially after he helped around the house too, without being asked – and he got lucky that very afternoon. Coincidence? I think not.
So, ladies – what do you think? What would you much rather: sex or sleep? And are you more inclined to have mad, crazy sex with your husband, if he’d only help out more with the kids and the housework and let you catch up on some extra, much-needed rest?
Now, I’m no sexologist, but it seems to me this could be a solution – if only men would listen up –to many a marital conflict and discord over mismatched libidos. Why? I believe today’s busy, modern woman has more on her plate than ever before. In our quest to try to “have it all” we are wearing ourselves out in our bid to be the perfect businesswoman, wife, mother, friend and the list goes on. It’s called the “superwoman syndrome” and the struggle is real, very real. And so, many busy women I know, myself included, are perpetually exhausted due to struggling to fulfill all these taxing roles at once.
If I’m brutally honest, I’d choose sleep over sex every time right now. I just can’t get enough shut-eye, largely due to the fact I’m juggling so much and our two-year-old and three-year-old daughters still wake many times in the night. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like this. Indeed, a short poll of five of my closest friends – all busy professionals and mums themselves – three out of five would choose sleep over sex also. So, if men just stepped up more – would men and women’s sex drives be more in sync?
I mean, I love sex, don’t get me wrong, I just feel like I don’t have enough energy for it, every time. But should we women instead be focusing more on “getting in the mood” for sex?
Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being, says couples with mismatched libidos need to be open and communicative – and a little kindness and empathy goes a long way.
“Not many people like housework and resentment is a massive turn off,” Dr Mars says. “Signalling that a complaint has been heard and you are willing to do something to make the other person feel better is always likely to ease the pain. So yes, I think in many instances it doesn’t take too much more than a sleep-in and a little housework to boost women’s sex drives.
“Men could try doing little things like a foot soak, a shoulder rub or even making a cup of tea when a partner is a little spent and weary. This can have spectacular results. It doesn’t take to much effort to fill a bucket of water, pour in some bath salts and grab a towel.”
What do you think? What would you prefer: sex or sleep?
Images via irishexaminer.com, mirror.co.uk