REVIEW: Winter Weekend Escape in Healesville

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Dreaming of a winter weekend escape? Healesville has long been known as a foodie’s destination. Here, in the heart of the Yarra Valley, you’ll find a vast selection of wineries, cafes and bakeries, food stores, gastro pubs and fine-dining restaurants. In recent years, Healesville also welcomed renowned gin distillery Four Pillars…yet one more reason to make the one-hour drive from Melbourne.

We found a cosy 4-bedroom house on Airbnb, just a stone’s throw from the main street. With a roaring open fire, big comfy sofas and electric blankets on all the beds, this was the perfect base for a cold and wet weekend. On Friday evening, we arrived with our bottles of wine, lots of cheese, and enough Haighs chocolate to sink a ship.

After eating and drinking our way around town, we’re pleased to bring you our weekend notes. Plus we’ve included some insider info on the best way to serve your G&Ts!

Friday Dinner - Giant Steps Wine Cellar

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Only 5 minutes walk from home, this was the perfect dinner spot, with a mouth-watering menu designed for sharing. After some advice from our helpful waiter, we settled on the arancini balls to start, followed by a bowl of mussels cooked in tomatoes and fennel, and the 12 hour braised lamb shoulder. The sides were hard to resist so we ordered one of each: the locally-sourced Brussels sprouts with jamon, manchego and sherry vinegar; the witlof salad; and parmesan and truffle oil fries. And all washed down with a Giant Steps Chardonnay.

To finish, we were tempted by both desserts, so we shared the melt-in-your-mouth bread and butter pudding (made with croissants and quince) and the Valrhona chocolate tart.

Saturday Lunch - 400 Gradi, Rochford Winery

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Set in its own separate building on the Rochford estate, 400 Gradi is an impressive modern building with huge glass windows that overlook the adjacent dam. Given the rainy weather, it was a muddy walk to the entrance - just make sure you don’t wear your best shoes if it’s wet!

The Italian-inspired menu offers a delicious selection of wood-fired pizzas, pastas and risotto, and once again, a tempting range of sides. All the food was impressive, but we voted two stand-out dishes - the olive ascolane (giant olives filled with veal and bread crumbed) and the risotto al porcini, a creamy risotto of porcini mushrooms, gorgonzola and walnuts. To drink, we enjoyed the Sparkling Blanc de Blanc.

Saturday Late Afternoon - Four Pillars Gin Distillery

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This was a much-anticipated feature of our weekend - and it was discouraging to see a longish queue when we arrived. But the staff managed this well, with frequent updates on the length of the wait (about 20 minutes in total). And note - if you’d rather wait until the queue is shorter, Payten and Jones wine bar across the road is a great place to pass the time.

At Four Pillars, there are several options - either head straight in to the retail counter (no waiting in the queue), or sign up for a gin tasting / educational class ($10 per person, redeemable on purchase of a bottle), or wait for a table in the bar area to enjoy a gin cocktail. We were keen for all three options, so hence the wait!

The gin class involved 5 different tastings - with an explanation of the ingredients in each. Our host also explained the best garnish to serve with each - so pay attention if you enjoy a G&T!

  • Traditional Four Pillars - serve with tonic and garnish with sliced orange

  • Navy Strength - serve with tonic and garnish with lime kaffir and ginger

  • Spiced Negroni - serve with tonic and garnish with grapefruit or blood orange

  • Chardonnay Barrel Gin - recommended without tonic, but serve with a honey ice cube

  • Bloody Shiraz Gin - recommended with tonic and garnish with grapefruit, orange or blood orange

After the tasting, we settled down in the bar and ordered our Spiced Negronis - very nice! There is no kitchen at Four Pillars, but you can buy a dish of olives if you’d like something to accompany your cocktail.

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Saturday Dinner - Healesville Hotel / Cellars

As 7 o’clock rolled around, it was time to head back out into the cold night air for a brisk walk down the street to our dinner venue. If you’re familiar with Healesville, you might remember the cafe/food store Healesville Harvest right beside the pub. This was renovated late last year and is now the Cellars - a very cool wine bar. Enjoy a bottle of wine with a cheese platter - or order from the pub menu and they’ll serve your meal in the Cellars…which is what we did. To be honest, I doubted I would need dinner after our late lunch, but once again, the amazing food on offer was enough to tempt even the most reluctant among us!

The menu included traditional pub classics like cheeseburger and fries or pasta bolognese. Alternatively you can opt for the barramundi, the pork cutlet or the lemon and thyme roasted chicken.

As you’d expect for a place called The Cellars, there is an extensive selection of wine, along with very knowledgeable staff to help with your selection. We decided on a Pinot Noir.

Healesville Hotel also includes the casual bar area with open fire, and a more formal dining room. In summer, the beer garden is a great spot to spend an afternoon.

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Sunday Morning Coffee

Head to Habituel . They also serve a range of food that includes muffins, pastries, soup and loaves of bread to take home for lunch. We were tempted by the raspberry muffin and the breakfast muffin - both varieties were incredible.

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And after all that eating and drinking, we recommend a walk in the beautiful surrounding bush. Head to Donnelly’s Weir (if you don’t drive a 4WD, be prepared to park up by the creek and cross by foot - we found a plank of wood left by a previous walker). There are several trails depending on how energetic you’re feeling.

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REVIEW: Milk & Honey Remedial Massage

You’ll feel your stress melt away as you step through the doors of Milk & Honey Remedial Massage, a stylish new therapy space in West Melbourne. There’s an instant calming effect – the shoulders drop, heart rate slows, and you’ll take a deep breath – as you close the doors on the bustling outside world and enter this tranquil oasis.


Milk & Honey’s philosophy is to offer all the physical benefits of clinical remedial massage, but without the bright lights of a typical clinical setting.  Instead, this beautifully designed space truly feels like a luxury day spa, complete with warm fluffy towels and aromatic essential oils.  Quite simply, it’s the best of both worlds – and it’s worth crossing town for.

Housed in a two-storey Victorian building, Milk & Honey has all the architectural features we’ve come to love in period homes of this era – high ceilings, ornate cornices and ceiling roses, and grand open fireplaces. But with clever interior design by Grace and Martin at Milligram Office this traditional space has been brought into the modern era, with Scandi-inspired touches that include freshly painted white walls, oak floors, natural stone features and beautiful linen curtains.  No detail has been overlooked.


Plus, with soothing music piped through the sound system, comforting organic herbal tea on arrival, and a warm greeting from behind the reception desk, you’ll feel relaxed before your massage even begins.


Simplicity is key at Milk & Honey, not only with the clean lines and uncluttered interior design, but also with the user-friendly massage menu. Instead of a long overwhelming list, simply choose from three options – remedial, pregnancy or relaxation. Each offers a range of possible durations, to suit your cost and time restraints, from 45 minutes through to 90 minutes.  Pregnancy massage is a key feature of the offer, with specially trained therapists who love working with women throughout their pregnancy and post-natal journey.

Before commencing your treatment, your experienced, fully qualified massage therapist will ask targeted questions to understand your specific needs and priorities, while also offering advice about the best way to avoid these aches and pains in the future – for me, that included making smarter ergonomic choices and being diligent with my post-exercise stretching routine.

The massage itself was expertly delivered, with just the right balance of pressure, pain (the good sort!) and relaxation. It was such a treat to escape to this beautiful calming space; even though it was a remedial massage, I still felt like I’d been pampered for an hour.

With such a winning formula, it’s no surprise that business is booming. The current space has been open since June 2018 – the third location for this 6-year-old business – as demand was once again exceeding supply.

The current location now employs ten fully qualified remedial massage therapists, all of whom are registered providers for health funds, and undergo regular professional development to maintain this standing.


If you’re keen to experience Milk & Honey’s unique offer for yourself, check out  Online bookings are preferred, and be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment. Please note that relaxation massages cannot claim the health care rebate.

While you are in the hood be sure to check out our Top 3 Hangouts in North Melbourne

Netflix - Must Watch Top 11 Series

A little late to the game, but I’m here and I’m hooked! Over the summer I discovered Netflix. What are you doing watching tele when you should be at the beach, I hear you saying? Well, we are talking about Melbourne summer and it’s fair to say that we do get the odd (or maybe a few) cold rainy days thrown into the mix.

Whenever I have down time, I’m now torn: Do I read my book (I have a never-ending list of book recommendations) or do I watch Netflix? These holidays Netflix won hands down. I’m not sure whether I’m noticing it now that I’m officially in the ‘Netflix Clique’ – it’s a bit like getting your P Plates and you start noticing every other P plater driving on the road and you realise there are heaps of you... well, that’s how I feel about my Netflix addiction. It feels like everyone is watching Netflix and has been for years.

So, why was I so late on the uptake? Maybe the weak wifi connection in my house had something to do with it – thank you Google wifi booster for fixing this problem. I’m so many series behind on so many of the favourites and most are original and made exclusively for Netflix. There just isn’t enough time to watch TV!!!!! It is not like Netflix doesn’t make it easy for you to spend all of your spare time watching the god damn thing. Login to any device: smart TV, ipad, your kid’s ipad, PC, laptop and probably your iphone and you can continue streaming the show from where you left off. 

Life does get in the way and I now refuse to stay up until 1am watching ‘just one more episode....’ it’s not worth the sleep deprivation. But, if you find yourself with some spare time, then I have some recommendations for you. I’ve asked almost everyone I know what they’re watching on Netflix and here is our must-watch top 11 series:

1.       The Crown (2 seasons) 


God love the Queen. I have never been more fascinated about the royal family. I found myself googling after every episode, craving more information on the historical facts. Claire Foy plays the role of ‘The Queen’ just brilliantly. Love love love this series and can’t wait for season 3, currently in production.




2.       The Sinner (Just 1 season, 8 episodes)


You will easily smash this out. Wow can Jessica Biel cry. She is fabulous in this thriller trying to uncover ‘why’ instead of the ‘who done it.’



3.       Bloodline (3 seasons)


With our very own Ben Medelsohn playing the bad boy that you can’t help feeling sorry for. Filmed and set in beautiful Florida Keys, you’ll be inspired to consider this as your next holiday destination. It’s a very dramatic thriller following the dark secrets of the Rayburn family.


4.       Narcos (3 seasons)


A series that my husband actually wants to watch with me. It’s the true story of Colombia’s violent and powerful drug cartels.  Bring on this gangster series.



5.       Alias Grace (1 limited series, 6 episodes)


We have all fallen in love with Margaret Atwood with her Handmaid’s Tale, this series is based on another one of her award-winning novels. Set in 19th century Canada, a psychiatrist decides whether a murderess should be pardoned due to insanity.


6.       Peaky Blinders (3 seasons)


Set in 1919 Birmingham in the aftermath of the Great War. It’s about an ambitious gang moving up in the world, no matter the cost.



7.       Victoria (1 season)


I’ve been told that if you enjoyed The Crown, you’ll love Victoria. What I do like is that it is only one season. The show draws on real-life events and personal diaries of Queen Victoria.


8.       Stranger Things (2 seasons)


This will take you back to your childhood with Winona Ryder. Science fiction isn’t usually my thing, but I will give it a go for Winona. A young boy vanishes and as they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries and a very unusual little girl.



9.       Cable Girls (2 seasons)


I had to throw a romance in there.......hard to believe this job ‘cable girl’ actually existed. Set in 1920s Madrid, the series follows four women working at the National Telephone Company. Managing romance, friendship and the modern workplace.


10.   Seven Seconds (1 season)


We are really drawn to darkness...A 15-year-old black cyclist dies in a hit and run accident, with a white police officer behind the wheel of the vehicle.  Racial tension and police cover ups will keep you intrigued.


11.   Ozark (1 season)


Starring Jason Bateman (yes, that’s Mel’s brother from Family Ties). He’s a financial adviser who relocates his family from Chicago to the resort community in the Ozarks, where he must launder $500million in five years to appease a drug boss.

REVIEW: Flatiron Side Door, Kew

I just wish this place was walking distance from my house, because I have a feeling it would become my second home – you know, like a modern-day version of “Cheers” - a place where everybody knows your name. Of course, Flatiron Side Door is nothing like the pub ‘Cheers’ though – it is far too elegant and designer savvy. After all, the ever-so-cool wife and husband duo Emma and Ben Bangay are the people behind this little gem.

Owners Paul & Emma Bangay

Owners Paul & Emma Bangay

Flatiron is located in Kew, an area that has changed so much over the last decade.A plethora of young families now reside in 3101 and they desperately seek local businesses that can relate to them. Like many other inner-city suburbs, cafés in Kew were quick to the game. You’ll find many local places that offer smashed avo and a good coffee, but the team at Flatiron has brought something truly unique and beautiful to the local ‘hood.


There are two parts to this corner wonderland. The first half of the business was launched over a year ago where Emma’s sisters run a successful fashion and homeware boutique. HINT:  Dads – with Mother’s Day around the corner, it’s a safe bet that any gift from Flatiron is sure to be a winner.

The second half, with entry via the ‘Side Door,’ is the magical wine bar. The attention to the fit out and decor cannot go unnoticed. Beautiful textures, colours and artwork make the space both inside and out, a warm, welcoming chic place to hang. Carmen and I visited on a warm Sunday afternoon and sat outside absorbing the autumn sunshine in the beautiful leafy garden; enjoying a lovely pinot gris from the Adelaide Hills, some carefully selected cheese and homemade pizza. If you are struggling to get a babysitter, children are welcome with toys and books to keep them busy, or better still, leave them at home with dad, grab a few girlfriends and make a night of it by hitting the cocktail list.


Flatiron Side Door is open from: Thur- Sun 3pm until late and is available for private functions, from 40th birthday parties through to school social nights. It also hosts women’s workshops and events. Recently, sub-urban was invited to meet the founder of the skin-care brand Rationale, Richard Parker for a Q & A. It was truly an inspiring afternoon.

For more information visit

Photography: Mandy Couzens








REVIEW: Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Peninsula

Awarded: Hotel of the Year; New Hotel of the Year and Regional Hotel of the Year in Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards 2017.

Jackalope is located in Merricks North, just an hour out of Melbourne, in the heartland of world-renowned wine regions, farmland, rolling hills and one of Victoria’s most famous coastlines - there really isn't anything else quite like it along the Mornington Peninsula.

I started following the development of Jackalope over a year ago, months before its official opening, because I was captivated by the artistic direction.  Owner Louis Li has collaborated with some of Australia’s most creative influencers to bring to life a style that is bold, modern and luxurious: a confident juxtaposition to the surrounding country landscape. This is a truly unique concept for regional Victoria - to have a luxury hotel with fine dining, casual dining, a vineyard, cellar door, day spa, cocktail bar and art installations on such a grand scale.

The hotel experience is chic. The hallway is flooded with neon lights, and the rooms have floor to ceiling windows that look out to sweeping views of the infinity pool and vineyard. The decor is modern and luxurious with custom mosaics, bronze and copper finishes, and Japanese bathtubs. Plus, if you're lucky enough to check in to one of their signature suites, you'll experience a double sided indoor/outdoor fireplace, cocktail bar and a personal wine cellar.


However, you don’t need to be a hotel guest to absorb the Jackalope experience: a few sub-urbanites spent an indulgent afternoon there a couple of weeks ago. Greeted at the end of the driveway by the enormous Jackalope sculpture, we made our way to the bar at the cellar door, where we sampled wines from the surrounding vineyards and some from their very own grapes at Willow Creek.


After we'd decided which wines to order with our lunch, we headed to Rare Hare Wine and Food store - the more casual restaurant in the establishment. The dining room is spacious and full of light, with breathtaking views of the Willow Creek vineyard. The menu is seasonal and ingredients are sourced from local farms. We opted for the set menu - our food was delicate and fresh, bursting with crisp, fresh flavours, and generously portioned. The various sharing platters included salumi, sardines on toast, harissa carrots and tender beef flank - and for something sweet at the end, a milk chocolate brown butter tart. A la carte menu options are available for smaller groups. Making the most of the lovely sunny afternoon, we continued our post-lunch wine tasting outside on the terrace. It really doesn’t get much better than this - until we were told at 5pm that the wine store was closing. However, it was not home time yet...


With a seamless transition to Flaggerdoot, the cocktail lounge situated in the original Edwardian McCormick House, we continued our fun by progressing from wine to spirits. With the drinks menu focusing on experimental spirits and some classics, the bar staff worked their magic and pumped out an array of cocktails. It is here that the edgy installations are displayed: a one-off electric blue pool table, and open fires in the winter.


If you're here for dinner, the hatted restaurant Doot Doot Doot offers a five-course tasting menu in their dining room, which is home to a 10,000 lamp chandelier lighting installation. With a garden to plate philosophy, it’s an experience that's sure to be memorable.


Jackalope is the talk of the town - it’s new, bold, creative and an experience like no other. A must visit this summer!

Check the website for opening hours.


Visiting the Mornington Peninsula has never been easier - visit to organise a tailored wine tour including transfers for your private group.



Need a good book to read this summer?

If you’re like most people, you’ll be starting to think about which books to buy (or borrow) for the relaxing summer days ahead. But where do you start? The world is full of wonderful books, and it’s hard to whittle down the list. So, we’ve done the hard work for you and come up with a selection of enticing possibilities.

First up, we’re sharing our 12 holiday reads – the stash of books sitting beside our beds, waiting for the 26th December so we can dive in head-first. We can’t give personal recommendations yet, but according to our research, these novels are creating a buzz in the bookshops.  

Then, we’re listing our 12 favourite novels from the past couple of years. These ‘must-reads’ are always on the tip of our tongue whenever we’re asked for book recommendations. Click on each title to read our reviews.

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Here’s what we’ll be reading these holidays…

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman. A friend in the UK recommended this after it was voted the best book of the northern summer. I’ve flicked through the first few pages and it’s instantly readable. Can’t wait to get stuck into this one.

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead. This first crossed my radar when it featured among Barack Obama’s holiday reading – and again when it won the Pulitzer Prize.  This is the story of Cora, a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia, who makes the perilous decision to escape to the North.

Force of Nature – Jane Harper. I’m crossing my fingers that Harper’s second Australian crime novel is just as captivating as her first, The Dry.  Five women go hiking in the rugged Giralang ranges, as part of a corporate retreat – but only four come out the other side.

The Museum of Modern Love – Heather Rose. Winner of the 2017 Stella Prize, this original novel is set in New York and explores themes of art, life and love. It comes highly recommended by the staff at Readings – and apparently is enthralling even if you’re not an art aficionado.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky – Mark T. Sullivan. With a whopping Goodreads score of 4.43, this historical fiction novel comes highly recommended by a friend with very high literary standards! If you’re interested in WW2 history – from the perspective of an Italian – this is your holiday read.

The Life to Come – Michelle de Kretser. A mesmerising portrait of modern life set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka. Described as “smart, politically engaged, timely and funny; a book for writers and for people who love books, and especially for those interested in contemporary Australian society”.

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Jean Harley Was Here – Heather Taylor Johnson. Searching for the perfect book-club read? Look no further. Jean Harley is a wife, mother, lover and dancer – a shining light in the lives of those who know her. But what happens when tragedy strikes? Described by Hannah Kent as “a book to savour”.

Pachinko – Min Jin Lee. Last summer I devoured The Orphan Master’s Son, set in North Korea – so when I spotted this sweeping saga about a family who escaped from Korea to Japan, it caught my attention. Plus, this was recently placed in the 2017 Top 10 Staff Recommendations at Readings.

Alias Grace – Margaret Atwood. I first read Alias Grace more than 20 years ago, but I’m keen to re-read this gripping tale before I watch the new Netflix series – hopefully it’s just as brilliant as The Handmaid’s Tale TV adaptation (series 2 will be released next year).

The Woman Who Fooled the World – Beau Donnelly & Nick Toscano. This journalistic detective story uncovers the case of Belle Gibson (the woman who made a fortune by dishonestly claiming that she’d survived brain cancer through diet and lifestyle) and raises important questions about accountability in the current world of social media.

On the Java Ridge – Jock Serong. A very topical story about the plight of asylum seekers and the Australian government’s laws on border control. Described as “a literary novel with the pace and tension of a political thriller”.

Tin Man – Sarah Winman. This is reportedly a moving and beautiful story about life, love and friendship – and is also highly relevant in light of Australia’s recent marriage equality survey.

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If you need to catch up on past favourites…

The Dry – Jane Harper This was the talk of last summer and claimed quite a few literary prizes to boot. A gripping whodunnit set in a small country town in the midst of the Australian drought. It’s a genuine page-turner – a perfect holiday read.

The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman. Ah, sigh! This is one of our all-time favourites. Highly recommended for any woman who has ever loved a child. Set at the end of WW1 on a remote island off the coast of WA, this novel will keep you enthralled until the past page. PS. you’ll need tissues.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr. Voted the Number One Book of 2017 by Dymocks booklovers. A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France, as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey. No doubt you’ve either seen the film, experienced the stage production or read the book – but if not, now’s your chance to read this Australian classic. With themes of racism and prejudice, this is a compelling mystery set firmly in the 1960s, during the Vietnam War.

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty. If you’re looking for an easy poolside read, then Liane Moriarty is your woman. Another of our favourites is What Alice Forgot. Her writing style is contemporary and relevant, with relatable female characters. But as well as the pilates and coffee mornings, her books tackle very real issues such as domestic violence, infertility and bullying.

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Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. This is a brilliant book, based on a historical account of the last women ever to be executed in Iceland. Meticulously researched, beautifully written and emotionally heart-wrenching, this book deserves all the accolades it’s received.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara. If you’re looking for something to really sink your teeth into, this is it. But be warned – once you’ve read this book, you’ll never forget it. Set in New York, the story follows the lives of four male college friends. You’ll need to push through some harrowing scenes, but it’s well worth it.

I am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes. This is the best crime thriller I’ve ever read – hands down – and I’m counting the days until Hayes’ next novel, Year of the Locust, is released. (For the record, 195 days to go, as of November!)

Nine Days – Toni Jordan. Highly recommended for anyone who lives in Richmond or Hawthorn. Set during and after WW2, this sprawling family drama unfolds in the working-class laneways of Richmond, with glimpses of a better life across the river in Hawthorn.

The Mothers – Brit Bennett. A compelling story that touches on some confronting issues within a black American church community, including abortion, parent-child relationships, ambition, grief and sexual abuse.

Wonder – R.J Palacio. Adored by children and adults alike, Wonder has just hit the big screen. Auggie has a confronting physical disability – and now he’s starting mainstream school, where he’s an obvious target. A touching story of friendship, resilience, and beauty on the inside.

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes. Everyone loves a love story, but this one is unique. Wealthy and good-looking, Will is struggling to adjust to his new life as a quadriplegic. Lou, his upbeat, quirky carer, does her best to keep his spirits high. A tear-jerker that explores the topical issue of assisted dying – and whether anyone has the right to decide whether a life is worth living.

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Happy reading! For more recommendations see our Book Club page.

INSPIRE: Gorgeous handicraft projects for the school holidays

I’ll let you in on a secret – my very talented friend Kerrie has designed some beautiful wall hangings that have featured on The Block this season (visit honeyhoneycreations on instagram for a sneak peek). And, what’s more, Kerrie has inspired both her own daughter, Gabriella, and my daughter Eva, to make their own handicraft projects - perfect timing for the school holidays!

So, if you’re looking for ideas to entertain your kids, then you’ll love these great suggestions involving good old-fashioned yarn – no screens in sight.

Traditional crafts are beneficial for several reasons. Not only is there an immense sense of achievement that comes from finishing a beautiful piece of craft; but the practice of crafting has been shown to produce benefits that are commonly linked to meditation and mindfulness. In fact, weaving classes have helped to regulate the moods of women suffering anxiety and depression. But mental health aside, weaving is the perfect activity for holiday downtime, after a busy term of school work and routines.

So, here are the details for two rewarding holiday projects – including all the information you need to source your materials. First up, a luxurious knitted 'snood' scarf; and second, a beautiful weaving for your wall.

Gabriella with her snood

Gabriella with her snood

Knitted snood scarf

There are several great yarn shops around, but the one we visit is called Wondoflex Yarn Craft Centre, located at 1353 Malvern Road, Malvern. The staff in the store are ever so helpful, and very keen to help young knitters with their projects.

To make this stylish snood, you’ll need 15mm knitting needles, which are very chunky. There are several different price/quality options of knitting needles, but to be honest, I just chose the cheapest – less than $10.

Plus, you’ll need 2 bundles of thick yarn – there are a couple of appropriate options, which retail between $9-$19 per bundle, but we selected the gigante wool/acrylic yarn, at $13.50 per bundle. You’ll find some really lovely ‘on trend’ colours, including blush pink, creamy whites and soft greys.

Finally, the knitting pattern is available for the very low price of $2, if you’re also buying your materials at Wondoflex.

Eva taught herself the basics of knitting over summer, largely thanks to youtube. Here, she learnt how to cast on, cast off, basic stitch and purl – which is all you need for this gorgeous snood.

Eva and her snood

Eva and her snood

And now, for the best bit – because you’ll be using large needles and thick yarn, this really is a very quick knitting project. In fact, the girls completed their snoods in just one day, including stitching them together at the end to create the ‘loop’ effect.

However, this meant that we were off to the wool shop again, a few days later, to restock…ready for snood number two!

In Gabriella's words: "I enjoy knitting because I love creating, and when you knit, there are lots of different things you can make, like scarves, neck warmers, jumpers, gloves, hats and blankets. It is also very relaxing because while you knit you can go off into your own world. My last knitting project was a snood, and it was very quick to make because I used big needles and nice thick wool. I did this project in one day."


Textural weaving – wall hanging

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The sky’s the limit when it comes to the traditional craft of weaving. So many different textures can be used to great effect – plus, you can then embellish with features such as tassels and pom poms, to make something that is truly unique.

But before you start, you’ll need to order your materials. Kerrie’s research led us to, where we placed our online order for the 44cm weaving loom ($39.95), cotton warp thread ($15) and a short weaving needle ($4).  Finally, the booklet ‘Line Shape Texture’ also has some great tips for beginners ($11.99). Delivery was really quick, and our order arrived within 2 working days. For more inspiration, follow loom_and_spindle on Instagram.

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Next, you’ll need to stock up on yarn. If you visit Wondoflex on a Friday or Saturday, head out the back to the clearance section, where you’ll find balls of yarn for as little as $1 each. Kerrie advised us to choose our favourite yarn first, then select some other complementary colours.

Wondoflex really is a treasure trove full of wonderful surprises – it’s worth perusing the shelves to see what you can find. We also walked away with a pom pom maker ($12), so Eva’s been making her own little pom poms to attach to her wall hangings.

So, there you have it! We really encourage you to have a go...and please share your success stories here at sub-urban. Happy weaving!

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INFORM: New screening test for inherited Fragile X syndrome

When Kerry Moore’s first son, Oliver, wasn’t reaching the usual developmental milestones for a 6-month old baby, she raised her concern with her paediatrician. Understandably, she was shocked when the test for Fragile X returned a positive result.  At that stage, she’d never heard of this genetic condition – sadly, a condition that can result in behavioural challenges and intellectual disability.

Upon learning more about Fragile X, Kerry realised that she was a carrier for the condition, which means she’d passed on a ‘fragile’ X chromosome with a mutation. Both males and females can be affected, but the symptoms are more pronounced in boys, who only have the one X chromosome. For girls, their normal X chromosome can compensate in many ways for the abnormal X chromosome, so that often, affected girls may only show mild learning difficulties.

Typically, children with Fragile X receive lots of targeted intervention from specialists, including occupational therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy, which all help with their development. While there are typical symptoms, it’s worth remembering that each child is unique, and not all Fragile X children will share the same profile. For example, autism and epilepsy are often linked to Fragile X, but Oliver doesn’t show symptoms of either.

Now 15 years of age, Oliver has the intellectual capacity of a 4 or 5-year-old child. He doesn’t speak, other than very short sentences of 2-3 words, and suffers high levels of anxiety. He attends Ashwood School, which has been very supportive, allowing Oliver to learn life skills that will aid his independence.

Oliver, Jonathon (Kerry's husband) and Kerry.

Oliver, Jonathon (Kerry's husband) and Kerry.

Oliver is a happy, family-oriented teenager with a great sense of humour, who thrives on task-oriented activities and loves helping around the house. His concentration is limited, so he isn’t able to follow a game of footy or watch a movie. But bike riding is a different story – Oliver has proudly mastered this activity, so it’s become an enjoyable and inclusive pastime for the whole family.

Parenting can be challenging with all teenagers, but Oliver’s challenges are different to your average teenager – teaching Kerry a new level of patience. However, he’s very content, and unaware of his differences; therefore, many typical teenage worries are not a concern for Oliver – he lives in his own little bubble. But for Kerry, his lack of awareness is a heart-breaking reminder of the severity of his condition.

You may have seen Kerry interviewed on TV recently, as she’s been promoting the benefits of having the genetic screening test for Fragile X. This test has been around for 5 years, but is not routinely offered to women who are thinking about starting a family. It’s a straightforward non-invasive test – either conducted as a blood test or a saliva swab – and alerts women to the fact they may be a carrier for Fragile X: according to the statistics, 1 in 250 women carry the gene. If you return a positive result, you’ll be informed about the condition and can then choose whether or not to use IVF to screen embryos.  

Reassuringly, there’s a lot of community support for families with Fragile X children, and Kerry generously volunteers a significant amount of her time for the Fragile X foundation. If you’d like to find out more, visit:,au


Links to Recent Media Coverage

Channel Ten Eye Witness News 31 July 2017

Sydney Morning Herald 31 July 2017

ABC Radio - The World Today 31 July 2017     

The Age

ABC News

ABC News Radio

INTERVIEW: Attention females in your 40s - here's why you should be doing Pilates

Let’s face it: your body isn’t what it used to be. As you age, it starts to show signs of wear and tear especially if you’ve experienced pregnancy, childbirth and lugging around toddlers. There’s lower back pain, pelvic instability, neck and shoulder pain, abdominal separation, and of course, the dreaded leaking pelvic floors. 

Well, here’s the good news: Pilates is the perfect way to repair and strengthen your body for the future. And what’s more, it’s never too late to start. Many women in their 40s are keen to start exercising. With more time for themselves, their own wellbeing becomes a priority. Pilates is a safe and effective way to get back into exercise and because it’s slow and steady, you might not think you’re experiencing benefits; however, if you stop, you’ll quickly notice the difference.

Also, Pilates helps in other ways. As you approach menopause, it’s important to look after your bones, to reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Bone density increases with strength training, such as Pilates, because you’re stimulating the bones through resistance work. 

So, if you’re keen to start Pilates, where should you go? This month, we interviewed our local physio clinic, Renew Physiotherapy in Hawthorn, which has just celebrated its 5th birthday.

Anyone who has stepped through the doors of Renew will vouch for the strong sense of community and family warmth. The owners, Steph and Andrew, are a husband and wife team; Steph’s mum is a friendly face behind the front desk; and her dad’s honey is for sale in the reception area. 

Steph & Andrew

Steph & Andrew

Other personal touches include a book swap in the waiting area; and a bowl of homegrown lemons from Steph and Andrew’s backyard tree, with a sign to ‘help yourself’.

The 5th birthday celebration was the perfect time for physiotherapists Andrew and Steph to stop and reflect on the journey so far. They dreamed of starting a clinic that represented everything they loved about their work. They envisaged a happy, relaxed environment, with a like-minded team that got along well and supported one another. And this has certainly been achieved, judging by the big smiles from the loyal staff. 

Reassuringly, beneath the smiling faces, there’s also a lot of knowledge and experience. The clinic employs three additional physios (5 including Steph and Andrew) and two myotherapists.  Most of the physios have or are currently completing their Masters in Sports Physiotherapy, and the staff are always encouraged to undertake further professional development to ensure they stay up-to-date. Renew Physio also provides Physiotherapy and Myotherapy services to Rowing Australia, Tennis Australia, Hockey Australia and the Victorian Institute of Sport and AFL teams. 

Steph and Andrew both emphasised that at Renew, their focus is on treating musculoskeletal conditions, with evidence-based treatments. Where other Pilates studios have adopted more of a wellness clinic with an earthy ‘day-spa’ look, Renew’s look is more ‘clinical’, with a cool blue and white colour scheme and minimalist, functional furniture. 

Says Steph: “Our priority is not to have a studio that just looks pretty. People might think we should line the reformers up in nice straight lines so they’re all symmetrical. But everything at Renew is considered. Reformers are set up so that instructors can see each client's movements at a variety of angles and mirrors are positioned so that clients can correct their posture.”

Despite their clinical approach, Renew appeals to a broad demographic, not purely people with serious sports injuries. A quick glance in their Pilates studio reveals a mix of stay-at-home mums, retirees, professional athletes, recreational fitness enthusiasts, children and young adults, and corporates. 

Currently, 38 Pilates sessions are scheduled each week, and all sessions are run by fully qualified physiotherapists – which has several advantages. Firstly, you can be guaranteed that your exercises are perfectly suited to your body, reducing the risk of injury. 

Secondly, if you’re being treated by a physiotherapist at Renew, there is open communication between the physios, so you can rest assured that your Pilates instructor will be fully informed as to your injuries or requirements. Lastly, you’ll save money, because it’s likely you’ll be covered by your private health insurance. 

Each class is capped at 4 participants, enabling your instructor to individualise the exercises so you receive the care you need. Steph points out, “We don’t group people according to their conditions – for example, a post-natal class – because even though they may have similar conditions or injuries, their bodies are all different and they have different needs. Every class is individualised, so if you’re in a class with 3 others, you’ll all be working on different exercises”.  

To celebrate their birthday, Renew is offering all sub-urban subscribers an exclusive 15% discount on consultations and treatments, until end September. Plus, they’d like to say a big THANK YOU to both their supportive clients and their loyal staff for their support over the past 5 years. Here’s to many more years in our local community!  

The Team

The Team

REVIEW: The Handmaid's Tale (TV Series)

If you watch TV, read the newspapers, or follow social media, you’ll know that everybody’s talking about the TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted from Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. It’s brutal, frightening, intense, confronting – truly horrific, yet compulsive viewing.

Coincidentally, Helen and I started watching the series on the same night – and I quickly decided I couldn’t go on. It was just too harrowing – murders, torture, heartbreak. I found myself checking text messages and making cups of tea during the show, just for some relief. (I’ve since heard others admit to ironing and cleaning the bathroom for the same reason – far more productive!). Helen, on the other hand, binge-watched a few more episodes and was totally hooked. 

You may have seen the Facebook feed on sub-urban’s page, where I confessed I couldn’t keep going. But, comments such as “best TV series ever” and “so worth watching on so many levels” made me feel I was missing out. Plus, I’ve loved Margaret Atwood’s novels for so long now, that it felt disloyal to give up. So, I’ve now finished episode 4, and I have to admit I’m hooked – although I still shut my eyes occasionally. And I can’t watch more than one episode at a time. I need time to process. 

If, like me, you gave up early on, then I’d urge you to keep going. It gets easier, for two reasons. Firstly, you adjust to the horror: sadly, dead bodies hanging by the side of the river no longer make me gasp. Actually, that’s one of the key themes of the show – how quickly society adjusts to a new ‘norm’, despite how horrifying that new norm is (think terrorist attacks in current times). And secondly, future episodes include flash-backs to earlier times, so there’s some relief from the intensity of modern day Gilead. 

Now, if The Handmaid’s Tale is completely new to you, I’ll recap. The story is set in Gilead, formerly known as the United States. Gilead is a near-future dystopia; a totalitarian regime based on twisted Christian fundamentalism, formed in the aftermath of a civil war. Women in Gilead have lost their rights, in a return to ‘traditional values’: they can no longer work, own property or have bank accounts. They’re not allowed to read. Women are prized only for their ability to bear children. However, nearby Canada is still ‘life as we know it’.

An environmental disaster has caused the global birth rate to plummet. To sustain the population, the remaining fertile women in Gilead – including Offred, the main character in the series – have been captured and assigned to childless married couples of the ruling elite. These women are known as ‘handmaids’ and their only purpose is to reproduce. They have no freedom or rights, and are the personal property of their assigned family.

Offred is handmaid to the Gilead Commander Fred Waterford and his wife Serena Joy, and Offred’s name signals the fact she is ‘of-Fred’. Before Gilead, her name was June. She lived with her husband Luke and her 8-year old daughter, Hannah, who was cruelly prised from her arms when June was captured by the Gilead army (the harrowing opening scene of the first episode).

Easily distinguishable in their bright red cloaks, handmaids must adhere to a very strict and horrific set of rules – including forced monthly sexual intercourse with the commander of their household, while the wife watches on (known as ‘the ceremony’). 

But it gets worse, believe it or not. There’s a heavy military presence, with frequent mass shootings. People who identify as gay, transgender or Catholic are hung (unless they’re a fertile woman, in which case they’re tortured but allowed to live); and anyone who disobeys an order suffers mutilation. Offred is subjected to physical and emotional abuse, and teeters on the brink of losing her mind. She is determined to survive purely so she can find her daughter. 

As I said, it’s brutal and disturbing. Your worst nightmare, on the screen in your own living room.

So, why is it the most talked-about TV series at present? Why is it resonating so deeply in 2017? For many, it’s frighteningly relevant given the international political climate. Trump is in power – and we all know his views on women, his extreme beliefs, his quick temper and his popular following. We’ve seen how an unlikely person can gain power when there’s an economic crisis and a desperate desire for change. And is it coincidental that TV production began in late 2016, around the time of Trump’s successful presidential campaign? I don’t think so. This book has been around for 30 years, so there’s been plenty of time before now. 

Many of the show’s confronting episodes actually reflect atrocities that are happening this minute, somewhere in the world: female genital mutilation in Africa; female repression under the Taliban; complete disregard for human life in Syria. That’s why it’s such confronting viewing – this is not some crazy sci-fi movie that's completely beyond the realm of comprehension or possibility. 

Also, there are similarities between Gilead and Hitler’s Germany. Last year, our book club read Two Brothers, by Ben Elton. I’ve read many desperate accounts of life during the Holocaust, but this one in particular emphasised the gradual removal of privileges for Jewish people. Out of the blue, they weren’t allowed to use the public pool anymore. Then they weren’t allowed to own telephones. Then they couldn’t hold a job. 

Reading Two Brothers, and knowing the eventual fate of the Jews, it was hard to believe that most Germans let it happen. But, The Handmaid’s Tale is a reminder that when change occurs gradually – especially if it’s not happening directly to us – it’s easy to turn a blind eye. Think the current Syrian refugee crisis. As Offred says in episode 2, “Now my eyes are wide open; they didn’t used to be.” 

So, not only will I watch the entire series, but I’m also keen to read the book. In part, because I love Margaret Atwood’s writing, but also because I’m intrigued to learn how much has been adapted for the current climate. Did Atwood mention terrorism when she wrote the book back in 1985? Possibly, because although it wasn’t a threat in America, it was happening somewhere in the world. Or did Bruce Millar take some liberties with his TV adaptation, updating the content for the current day? I’m intrigued.