7 Things I Learned About Myself When I Quit Alcohol

Most people don’t understand why someone would choose not to drink anymore.

Pleasuring Myself Isn’t Shameful It’s Self-Care

As an adult woman, I have granted myself full permission.

My Marriage Ended When My Husband Accidentally Sent A Sext To Our Daughter

After I found the messages and told him I was leaving, that’s when it started to get really bad…

At 35, I’ve Just Lost My Virginity. This Is What It Was Like.

It wasn’t like I intended it to work out this way.

It Felt Like Something Was Falling Out Of My Vagina. It Kind Of Was.

I was irritated at the lack of knowledge, and angry, because this shouldn’t have happened to me.

I Was Sexually Harassed At Work And Didn’t Tell Anyone

To the casual observer, I was taking his ‘jokes’ with a grain of salt. Inwardly, I was panicking.

What I Learned From Having 7 One-Night-Stands In 7 Days

Sometimes you need to taste all the colors of the rainbow…

Two Weeks After My Abortion, Blood Soaked Through My Office Chair

I knew something was wrong. Something was trickling down my legs.

Vaginismus: The Silent Condition I Discovered I Had By Accident

It all began with adolescent me, a bathroom, and a box of tampons.

Why I Grieved For My Single Life When I Got Married

Does saying “I do” have to mean saying goodbye?

I’m A Woman, And I Like Porn

Studies show one in three porn viewers are women. So why the silence, shame and stigma?

4 Lies I’ve Told Everyone I’ve Ever Had Sex With

I’m sorry, but men, you make it criminally easy to play you.

I Hate You. Now, Take Your Clothes Off.

Why do jerks make such great lovers?

I Seduced The Pizza Guy And Had The Best Sex Of My Life

I was hungry for something, and he delivered. 

How To Talk To Your Kids About The Syria Crisis

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the horrible scenes in Syria, neighbouring countries and Europe right now. Sometimes children don’t have ways of understanding what they see, and can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. But having an open, supportive discussion with your kids can help them understand, cope and even make a positive contribution.

RELATED: Angelina Jolie Warns: ISIS Dictates Rape As A Weapon

Here are seven important things to keep in mind.

  1. Ask open questions and listen

Start by asking your kids’ permission to talk about the issue. Follow their lead and if they don’t want to discuss it, don’t push the moment. Just make sure they understand that they can talk to you, their teacher and other trusted adults whenever they like.

Encourage your children to talk freely in a safe environment. Drawing, stories and other activities may help to open up a discussion. Don’t minimise or avoid their concerns. Be sure to acknowledge their feelings and assure them it’s natural to feel sad or scared about these things. Demonstrate that you’re listening by making ongoing eye contact.

  1. Be honest: explain the truth in a child-friendly way

Children have a right to truthful information about what’s going on in the world but adults also have a responsibility to keep them safe from distress. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions and be sensitive to their level of anxiety.

This video from ABC’s Behind the News explains the current refugee and migrant crisis using safe images and language that’s easy to understand. If you can’t answer their questions, use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. Websites of international relief organisations, like UNICEF, are great sources of information.

  1. Emphasise that Australia is a safe place

When we’re seeing lots of confronting images, it can sometimes feel like the crisis is all around us. Kids may not distinguish between images on screen and their own personal reality, and they may believe they’re in imminent danger.

Explain that Syria and other conflicts are very, very far away and there isn’t any fighting like that in Australia – we’re safe, and we’ll be alright.

  1. Show them all the good people trying to help

It’s important for children to know about the acts of bravery, generosity and kindness from ordinary people trying to help in Syria, Europe and right here in Australia. Share stories of aid workers, community leaders and humanitarians who keep children safe and help them continue their education.

Show them the incredibly beautiful scenes of people welcoming refugees and migrants as they arrive in Germany. And tell them how thousands of Australians want to help too.

  1. Help them take positive action

It’s hugely empowering for children to contribute to the relief effort. Get together and brainstorm ideas about how you, your kids and their friends can raise money to help refugee families. Suggest a gold coin donation day at school, a cake stall, concert, fun run or any other creative idea that springs to mind. Check out UNICEF Australia’s fundraising guide for help.

6.Take care of yourself

You’ll be better able to help your kids if you’re coping well too. Children will pick up on your own response to the news, so it helps them to know you’re calm and in control.

If you’re feeling anxious or upset, take time for yourself and reach out to other family, friends and trusted people in your community. If you want some extra help, get in touch with beyondblue. Make time, however small, to do things you enjoy and join your kids in doing something constructive to help the situation.

  1. Close the conversation with care

It’s important to know we’re not leaving children in a state of distress. As your conversation wraps up, try to gauge their level of anxiety by watching their body language, considering whether they’re using their usual tone of voice and watching their breathing.

Remind your kids they can have other difficult conversations with you at any time. You care, you’re listening and you’re available whenever they’re feeling worried.

This article was written by UNICEF. If you’d like to make a donation, please do so by visiting unicef.org.au/donate/donate-once.

Image via UNHCR

3 Easy No-Bake Desserts

Invite some friends and family over just as an excuse to try these three delicious desserts that don’t require any baking whatsoever. Treat your guests to a mouth-watering cheesecake, mousse or raw cake which are all made from scratch, and simply require some spare time, and a lot of room in the kitchen (and the refrigerator!).

Nutella Cheesecake

This recipe for a no-bake Nutella cheesecake is so rich and creamy, that you probably won’t have any leftovers, which isn’t exactly a bad thing, is it? Get started on this recipe the day before your special event, since it requires a night of refrigeration to gain it’s texture.

Ingredients

250g digestive biscuits

75g soft unsalted butter

400g jar Nutella (the smallest size available) at room temperature

100g chopped and roasted hazelnuts

500g cream cheese (feel free to choose a light option)

60g icing sugar (sifted)

Method

  1. Break the digestive biscuits into large pieces, then add into a food processor. Add the butter and a tablespoon of Nutella to create the base, then mix until it combines. Measure up 3 tablespoons of the roasted hazelnuts and mix until it’s sandy and damp.
  2. Spray a 23cm round springform pan and then line it in baking paper. Tip the mixture into the bottom of the pan, and press the base in evenly with your hands or the back of a spoon. Place in the fridge to chill.
  3. Combine the cream cheese and icing sugar into a large bowl and use an electric mixer until smooth. Then add the remaining jar of Nutella, and mix well until completely combined.
  4. Take the springform pan out of the fridge, and tip in the Nutella mixture on top of the base. Make sure to take time and smooth it over evenly, then scatter the remaining hazelnut pieces over the mixture. For some added flavour and texture, chop up Ferrero Rocher and sprinkle over the hazelnuts. Then cover the tin and place in the fridge to set overnight.
  5. By the next morning, the mixture will be set and ready to eat. Yum!

Chocolate Mousse

If you have some unexpected guests arriving and don’t have time to leave the mixture in the fridge overnight, try this no-bake recipe to achieve creamy chocolate mousse.

Ingredients

150g mini marshmallows

50g soft butter

250g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)

60ml hot water (from the kettle)

284ml double cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

  1. Add the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water into a saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is deep enough to hold all these ingredients beforehand.
  2. Put the saucepan over gentle heat to melt the mixture and make sure to stir it every few minutes so it doesn’t stick. Then remove from the heat.
  3. Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until the mixture is thick, then add into the chocolate mixture which is cooling. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is cohesive and smooth.
  4. Place into glasses or small bowls and eat straight away, or put them into the fridge if you would like them to chill.

Raw Chocolate Cake

A delicious treat if you’re hosting a dinner party with guests who have a real sweet tooth.

Ingredients

300g pecans

150g dates

150g dried figs

2.5 tablespoons raw honey

35g raw cacao powder

1.5 tablespoons vanilla extract

Base

60g cacao butter

150g hazelnuts

2.5 tablespoons raw cacao powder

1.5 tablespoons honey

Icing

200ml coconut oil

100g raw cacao powder

2 teaspoons raw dark agave nectar

Method

  1. Line a 23cm springform pan with baking paper, or alternatively spray the bottom and sides with canola or cooking spray.
  2. For the base, shave the cacao butter finely, then place into a bowl of hot water and allow it to melt. Place the hazelnuts into a food processor and then combine with the melted cacao butter, cacao powder and honey. Then press into the bottom of the springform pan.
  3. Place the pecans into the food processor and remove only until they are very finely chopped. Then add the remaining ingredients and don’t stop until they make a cohesive mixture. Add this into the pan, then place into the fridge to chill for 3 hours.
  4. Now for the icing, combine the coconut oil, raw cacao powder and the dark agave nectar and chill for 20 minutes. This will allow the icing to set perfectly.
  5. Remove the cake from the pan, spread the icing and dusk with confectionary sugar or hazelnuts for added texture and taste.

Recipes via Nigella and Taste; Image via Buzzfeed

By Felicia Sapountzis

6 Reasons You Should Listen To Music While Making Love

Marvin Gaye and Chris Isaak exist for a reason: the bedroom. Whether you religiously press play before you jump into bed, or have never reached for a sexy soundtrack, listening to good music before, during, or after sex can be fantastic.

  1. It gets you in the mood

Instead of wondering who’s going to make the first move or whether your partner is in the mood tonight, putting some music on can act as a signal which takes the guesswork out of it. A lovers’ code, if you will. Not only this, but once you know your partner’s keen, the right tunes can help get you a little tingly too.

  1. You can keep the beat

Have you ever been mid-rhythm, completely lost in the moment, only for things to come to a halt because of a frustrating loss of momentum? It could be an awkward slip, a phone call, an unsubtle adjustment, but for whatever reason, you both lost your groove and need quick repositioning/restart. Music isn’t going to stop the interruptions, but it will help you find a beat and get back into it faster than you can say ‘libido.’

  1. It can hide the awkward sounds

Sex sounds are inevitable. There are a lot, from creaky beds and squeaky springs to groans and body fluid squelches. You don’t want to cover up all of them, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable about the involuntary body sounds if there’s music on to help hide them. Plus, you’ll feel more relaxed and less self-conscious about making them in the first place if you’re lost in the moment with Frank Ocean crooning out of a speaker next to you.

  1. It mixes things up

 If you’ve been with the same partner a while, there’s nothing worse than sex feeling like a chore, and for it to be the same every time it does (eventually) happen. Music can be a simple way to change things up a little, with a different sensory experience happening. Maybe you went to a gig for an early date so you put on that album. It doesn’t matter what the music is, as long as it’s different to what you’ve been doing the past 1/4/10/30 years.

  1. It can break the ice

On the opposite end of the ‘mixing things up’ scale is breaking the ice. For a first encounter, self-consciousness can be high and nerves can be running wild. The right music can help you both relax, and if things are looking a bit shaky, can work as a conversation starter. There could be a common interest there, it could bring up an old story, and if you like their choice of tune, could give some assurance they’re normal.

  1. It heightens sensations

A study from McGill University found that when we listen to music, we release dopamine – the “feel good” chemical. So put that together with sex, and there are a lot of pretty “feel goods” out there. Science doesn’t lie.

Should Young Girls Be Idolising Taylor Swift?

Love her or hate her, if there’s one person you want your daughters to look up to right now, it’s Taylor Swift. Sure, she’s got a self-admitted “long list of ex-lovers” but any Instagram follower of hers will see she’s strong, funny, and independent. Sure, that might just be a social media persona, but with an estimated worth of $200 million, she’s got to be doing something right.

RELATED: Is Miley Cyrus A Good Role Model For Kids?

She knows her worth

In the week when she sold 1.3 million copies of her album 1989, Swifty famously decided to pull all her songs and back-catalogue from streaming site Spotify.  “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is,” she wrote in an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal.

More recently, she wrote an open letter to Apple Music stating her music would not be available on the platform, because it was not going to pay artists during their three-month trial period. “We don’ t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”

Apple did an about-face on the same day, announced it would be paying artists for the three-month trial, and 1989 can be listened to on the platform. A woman who values what she does and stands up for what she believes in? Tick. Having the power to trigger a hundred billion dollar global company to change a policy? That’s a feat anyone would be inspired by.

She has female friends

A quick look at her Instagram feed, and Tay Tay is always hanging out with her friends. A network including Haim, Karlie Kloss, Lorde and Dunham makes her #squad look like plenty of fun. Close female friends are crucial for daughters of any age, and seeing Taylor with her inner circle encourages all girls to spend more time with their girlfriends, support each other, and keep that network strong.

She’s real

Whether it’s granting the Sydney Belvoir Theatre permission to use her song in a performance, making multiple references to hanging out with her cats, or just generally making fun of herself, T-Swizzle just seems like such a nice, approachable person. Someone I could hang out with. Someone I want to hang out with. From all accounts, she writes her own songs, plays her own instruments and is heavily involved in the production process.

Working hard and being nice seem like a pretty simple combo, but it’s amazing how many people still haven’t nailed it yet. We could all do with a little reminder from Swift every now and then to not take life too seriously.

Exclusive Preview: Collette Dinnigan Exhibition

By Alison Voight

Mark it in the diary fashionistas – the first exhibition to celebrate trailblazing fashion designer Collette Dinnigan opens this weekend at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Almost 2 years in the making, Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced is a dynamic display of the designer’s signature styles and creative process. With Collette herself closely involved with the project as creative partner, look forward to a unique insight into her inspirations and evolution as a designer.

RELATED: 5 Minutes With Top Model, Ashley Hart

Dinnigan fans won’t be disappointed with the beautiful collection of garments showcased, from glamorous ready to wear dresses shown at Paris and New York Fashion Week, to dazzling embellished evening wear sought by Hollywood’s A list. Featuring ensembles, accessories and archival material from the Museum’s collection and Dinnigan’s personal archive, the exhibition portrays her romantic, feminine design aesthetic in a series of striking themed sets.

Opening with bridal wear, the designer’s meticulous attention to artistry is evident. Hand embroidered and appliquéd floral motifs impressively adorn the bodice of a rustic French inspired wedding dress, while an art deco inspired gown wows with its elegant beaded detailing.

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Exclusive Preview: Collette Dinnigan Exhibition

Dinnigan’s signature use of lace is referenced, a nod to her early beginnings in lingerie design in the 90s and her use of unique French lace finishings in evening wear.

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A virtual catwalk adds an engaging element to the impressive 100 garments displayed, pulled from retrospective red carpet to resort collections.

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Realised by award winning stage designer and artist Anna Tregloan, the themed sets aim to depict the creative perspective of Dinnigan – from the glitzy opulence of dressing the celebrity set, to a whimsical depiction of her children’s Enfant launch inspired by the birth of her daughter.

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Fashion fans will enjoy reading about Collette’s shifting influences and the origins of iconic designs such as the River Snowflake Dress (After reading her daughter The Snow Queen, Dinnigan designed the dress to appear covered in shimmering snowflakes). In editing over 25 years of archival materials for the exhibition, Collette said she aimed to “show what fashion is about – it’s about change and there’s not necessarily just a chronological order of what I’ve done, it’s much more emotive.”

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All images via Voight Photography and Design

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