What’s in a name?

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For your messages, calls, DMs. For your kind words and support. It means the world to me that you’ve embraced the concept of Sisu & Finn. It is an exciting, albeit very scary, adventure which is driven by wanting to give women of all shapes and sizes clothing options.

Since the announcement, I’ve had quite a few questions about the name; so here is the context.

The last two years have been particularly challenging for me. Through that process I’ve had to look into the black abyss that’s inside all of us and use sheer grit, and determination to overcome the challenges that presented themselves to me. With most things in life, nothing is absolute. So the process continues for me. However, I knew that to support my big, ambitious soul, I needed to create something which reflected me, my passion for pushing boundaries and serving the broader community.

With that in mind, the words which helped create the name were always going to play an important role in the overall ethos of the brand. And when I stumbled across Sisu, it instantly resonated with me and I loved it. It felt right. It’s a Finnish word (hence the Finn) which means stoic determination, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness. It’s about taking action against the odds and displaying courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity. Doesn’t that perfectly describe what’s needed to live an authentic life?

It summed up what was required of me the last two years, but on further reflection, my whole existence. Being what society hasn’t considered ‘normal’ has always demanded an extra level of grit and determination. I see that grit and determination in your words and faces too. And Sisu & Finn’s purpose is to help support you; to give you options and to be a place where you can be comfortable to express yourself.

So that my dear (petite, curvy, ‘normal’ and plus sized) friends is how Sisu & Finn came to be.

Feel free to check out the site. As it is a work in progress, feel free to send feedback to info@sisuandfinn.com.au and tell me what you want from the site. And if you agree with the ethos, please share the post with your friends and family.

Electrolysis – what’s it really like?

Last week I wrote about wanting to get electrolysis done on my face due to a hormone imbalance as a result of my PCOS.

I went, I tried it and I am going back for more.

The building for the Advanced Electrolysis Centre was a lovely converted terrace house discreetly located in Paddington’s leafy back streets. I was so nervous because my friend had mentioned the process is quite uncomfortable. Also, the concept of permanently doing something to my body also makes me very nervous – but I am so pleased to take the risk.

As a new client, my technician led me into the consulting room and sat me down to talk through the process and answer any questions or concerns I had. For which I had quite a lot. I was nervous about scarring, pain, the process etc etc. Nerida patiently answered all my concerns and was generally quite lovely. She then suggested we try one hair to see if I wanted to proceed. Surprisingly it didn’t hurt but it was slightly uncomfortable.

As I was happy to proceed she recommended a 30 minute session and take it from there.

Me being me, I asked all sorts of questions about the types of people who visit. I wanted to know the worst case scenarios. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. And, while keeping it professional, gave me some gems. After mentioning that I have PCOS she made the comment that many of her clients have PCOS. Women who have tried all other options but haven’t had any permanent success.

The 30 minutes went much faster than expected, but the process is slow; each hair follicle is zapped separately. And there are a lot of follicles over your body. Luckily, I am only interested in some on my face. She mentioned one guy who had his shoulders done; he flew in from New Zealand and spent two full days with two machines working on him. Now that would have hurt…..

So, because I was happy with the result I decided to go back ! Yesterday was that day….for a full hour.

Please note, that if you’re interested in electrolysis,  research your options before deciding to proceed. Not all electrolysis suppliers are equal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic dress

With the sun coming out to play, so do my dresses!

A Quaintrelle Life

In January 2014, I spent an afternoon taking photos with a mate. Do you remember my favourite dress for all year round? It was part of the same shoot. Yes, towels, hands flying everywhere and awkward positions outside the local private boys school were necessary to keep myself a modest woman during all the costume changes.

Well, I am super excited to have some more pictures.

The dress I am about to feature divides people. Some really love it (including yours truly) an others not so much. In fact, a good friend of mine told me I looked like a nurse.

It is by one of my favourite brands, Layfayette 148 New York which I have mentioned many times on this blog. The clothes are of a very high quality. They are classics. They use beautiful materials and are cut well.

I love the colour, and I love the fabric is…

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Q&A: Shelly Horton, Journalist and Founder of ShellShocked Media

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Shelly Horton and Philippa Giles @ The Wine Library Woollahra

Shelly Horton is journalist with one of the bubbliest personalities in Australian TV; one of the most opinionated too.

At the end of 2015, and with nearly two decades of journalism experience under her belt, Shelly and her now husband Darren quit their jobs, moved house, got married in Mexico and founded a video proaction company, Shell Shocked Media.

The name, a play on her name, also fits with the type of clients the dynamic duo want to represent; those who are happy to be a bit controversial or need to shock to get attention. Her personality shines talking about topics that would make most people blush.

 

I have followed Shelly’s story through Instagram over the last few years. I love her boldness, and openness to share a variety of life’s challenges – including her challenge with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS); a condition I have too.

I am so proud to have had the opportunity to sit down with her and share her story with you as the inaugural Q&A on A Quaintrelle Life Blog where we discussed love, work, family and PCOS.

Q&A: Shelly Horton, Journalist and Founder of ShellShocked Media

 

When did you launch Shell Shocked Media?

We launched in late January 2016 but I feel like I was working on the business for a year! I was surprised at how much went into starting a company – legal, website development, business names – it’s overwhelming. But six months in everything is calmer and we’re kicking goals!

Who are your first clients?

Our first clients are Target, Vagasil (because I love talking vaginas!) and the McGrath Foundation for its new campaign. I’ve also been brought on by Triumph bras as an ambassador to discuss minimizers (which I incorrectly thought were just for old ladies) It’s like shape wear for your boobs! Did you know you can choose your breast shape? You can choose to be round or tear drop! Who knew?

 

How does Darren deal with constantly discussing ‘lady issues’?

Well, it’s not just listening to it. He does all the video editing so he sees and hears it on loop. When we did the Vagasil video, he joked he heard the word vagina 4000 times in one day. He said never wanted to hear that word again. Poor guy. He has been amazing.

How has it been working with your husband in a new business? 

I love it but it has been a huge test on our relationship. During our four year relationship he has worked six nights a week which gave me plenty of me time. Now, we work together 24/7 in the same space. We work and live in the same loft so I cannot even slam the door and have some alone time. The bathroom is the only alone space we have. But we are ying and yang; I am on camera and doing various activities off camera, while he is the workhorse behind the camera. I am finding his work ethic is harder than mine, and I’m a workaholic.

How do you like working for yourself? 

It’s not all roses! But I like being my own boss. I have a bit of an issue with authority – I can be quite lippy! I’ve had a few jobs where I’ve felt I could do to the job of the boss but it wasn’t my dream to do so. Even when I had a team of 30 staff, I didn’t enjoy it – most of it was management work and I wasn’t doing the work that I love! So, my plan with ShellShocked Media is to keep it small and niche.

How do you manage the pressures of a new business?

We’ve only just started having one day off on the weekend because we were working seven days. I was getting quite antsy but my agent reminded me to breathe and have a day off otherwise I’d likely fall in a heap. If I collapsed what would the point be of having these dreams?

How do you unwind? 

We’ve starting going for a swim together at the end of the day. It’s so nice because the stress of the day is wiped off. During summer we did go down in the middle of the day but when you go back into the office, the work is still there.

What else keeps you busy?

We are also working on a travel series. We even did some work in Mexico while on our honeymoon. We did a story about the Day of the Dead, which is a really beautiful way at looking at death – it takes the sadness out of it. We then travelled to the Bahamas and did a story about swimming with the pigs – friggin giant, wild pigs! The story is awesome! The pigs have learnt to swim. You look at them and think, ‘what the hell’. I was actually a bit scared but some of piglets were cute.

When we went back to the Gold Coast over Christmas, we also did a story about catching sand worms with our hands. I grew up doing this, so it was really nice to relive a childhood memory. I interviewed my Dad, Kev. He was amazing on camera. Darren said, ‘Now I know where you get it from!’ Dad has the gift of the gab – his nickname is Captain Have A Chat.

With a large online following, is trolling an issue?

I typically only get trolled when I say something on TV and people don’t like it – they just attack and say the most horrible things. Doesn’t matter what I say, they will get really personal and makes comments about how fat I am. In one particular incident when we were discussing the dog laws, I had over 100 messages saying things like ‘I am going to bring my dog around and have it rip your throat out’.

Do these threats scare you?

I’m not scared people will follow through; I am more scared that it will affect my mental health. I was friends with Charlotte (Dawson) and she committed suicide two years ago because of online bullying. That’s where I am very aware and I have been very vigilant. So, if people put nasty comments up I delete it straight away. I used to leave it there because I thought people had a right to say what they want but then I thought no they don’t – it’s my page, my profile. Some of my followers would then defend me but I didn’t want them getting involved in those types of conversations either.

You’re confident and vocal about issues important to you – do you think that’s why some people follow you?

Absolutely. That’s why I have no problem posting photos of me beetroot faced at the gym or the one when my cyst burst and I had a massive hormonal break out – not many people would do that – that’s our PCOS life! And it sucks!

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a topic you’ve helped bring to mainstream media. As it manifests differently in each person how do you manage your PCOS life? 

I would bleed for three weeks at a time. So many years ago I had an IUD inserted; it goes up your razoo and my period completely stopped. That was really good but then I was still getting the ovarian cysts and they were bursting, so I had three operations to help manage those. If you’ve ever had a cyst burst, you will know that it is horrendous! Your body freaks out because it thinks it’s bleeding internally; at one stage I was projectile vomiting and had diarrhea at the same time. The pain at times was also so bad. Since then, I’ve seen Dr Ginni Mansberg as she specialises in hormones and women’s health. She wrote a book called “How To Handle Your Hormones” which was really helpful, because I gave it to Darren for context. When we were really trying to lose weight I would lose 600 grams a month and Darren would lose 6kgs; I was doing more exercise than him! It completely destroyed me. So he came to Dr Ginni with me because I needed her to give him the medical advice first hand. He even asked Dr Ginni if I had secretly been eating mars bars! It’s clearly a hard situation anyway but particularly when that’s what people think.

Dr Ginni then put me on the pill and that controlled the ovary pain. I’m still getting the hormonal pimples, and back acne, which is charming! Really! It really is the most unattractive syndrome to have. Hair growth can also be an issue. Early on in the relationship with my husband, we were having breakfast at a local cafe and while he was reading the menu, he looked up to see what was on my face – it was a long chin hair! I was mortified and called my laser service straight away.

Why do you think PCOS isn’t talked about very often?

A lot of doctors don’t seem to understand it and it doesn’t help that the symptoms are so different in each person. My mum was never diagnosed but she had a hysterectomy at 32 because she had so many problems – now they have a definition for it. When I was 13 my doctors put me on the pill because of my extra long periods. Unfortunately what that did was mask the bigger issue, and just dealt with the immediate symptoms.

How do you deal with having PCOS?

It has been a long battle, and honestly, I still battle it with.

In addition to your intense gym sessions, what else do you do to build exercise into your daily life? 

Walk and talk meetings! Everyone has embraced it.

You recently got married, tell me about the dress. 

I bought mine for $187 from Etsy! It was a size 20 so I knew it would be too big and would require being taken in but it was exactly what I wanted. I also had to buy a corset, which meant going to a fetish shop in Newtown. As I’ve never had a waist in my life, it was awesome; even though I couldn’t breathe. I was so happy!

I paired it with a Viktoria Novak crown and as I walked down the isle, Darren was crying. The first thing he said to me was ‘It looks like you’re going to the Oscars’. And that’s why I married him!

Where was the ceremony? 

In Peurto Vallarta in Mexico. It was a gorgeous restaurant called Le Kliff; I changed into a reception dress designed by my talented friend Catherine.  I wanted something feminine that I could dance in. And boy did we dance.

How did you meet Darren?

I walked into a bar. I was invited to the Vanguard in Newtown for a themed Burlesque night  – batman Burlesque! So six of us turned up, I saw Darren and I was so shy I couldn’t speak. Me? Part of why I couldn’t talk was because he looks like my celebrity crush Michael Chiklis. Actually, Darren is better looking than Michael. I didn’t end up talking to Darren that night – I just smiled at him like an idiot.

What’s the most romantic thing Darren has done? 

Before we even had our first proper date, he asked to be my boyfriend. We were texting back and forth and before we had a proper date we knew everything about each other. He didn’t want to wait till date night, so he invited me over to his place for lunch and my first thought was ‘what do I wear to a day date?’ I got a blow dry and then messed it up so it didn’t look like I had been for a blow dry; matched with jeans, shirt and blazer. As I drove to his place, and turned the corner into his street, he was standing there waiting with a long stem, red rose. I wound the window down, and he kissed me without saying anything. WOW.

What’s the best present Darren gave you?

Darren peeled off the label from the first bottle of champagne we shared, dried the red rose he gave me on our first date, found the text where he first ask to be my boyfriend and then had a calligrapher write it out. He put it all together and framed it. 

Biggest potential dating mistake?

I nearly gave up the initial evening date with Darren to watch The Voice.

What do you drink?

I like red wine and champagne but I love an orange Bacardi Breezer.

Least and most favourite part of your body? 

My tummy. My boobs are awesome, massive but awesome.

What did the teachers say about you at school?

She talks a lot. A guidance councilor even said to me I was too opinionated – I decided then that was what I wanted to do!

Dating philosophy?

Be cruel to be kind.

Life philosophy?

Fake it till you make it. 

What’s your must have winter fashion item?

Knee high boots from Ted & Muffy made especially for girls with big calf muscles. I ordered them from London about five years ago and I still love them. You measure your calf muscle and give your foot size and they make them just for you.

In the cooler months, what’s your must have beauty item?

Moisturiser! I use Evidence Based Skincare (ESK). The bottles aren’t pretty, the product doesn’t smell pretty but it makes your skin pretty and with PCOS that’s what I need.

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Shelly Horton

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Shelly and husband Darren in Mexico

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Shelly in her reception dress

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Honeymoon: Shelly and Darren

NB: Images courtesy of Shelly Horton

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to have a clutter free wardrobe

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As all my friends will attest, I do not lead the clutter free lifestyle. I don’t buy junk or nick knacks, but I have a small apartment with minimal storage space, and I have so many clothes. Most of my ‘stuff’ is clothes. I just really, really love clothes. So in order to tame what some may consider a disaster, here are my top tips to keep my wardrobe functional and relatively clutter free.

CREATE AN ORDERED, STRUCTURED WARDROBE

A wardrobe which has been with designated to maximise the space and with specific spots for shirts, dresses, skirts, pants is an ordered, easy to use wardrobe. When I designed my wardrobe, I specifically wanted sections for clothing categories. This was the best decision! When I’m short on time, I know exactly where to look for the perfect party dress, or that favourite shirt and skirt combo. I even take it one step further and colour code (white through to black); this may be over the top, but again, it helps me make a decision fast while showcasing all my beautiful clothes.

DON’T OWN CLOTHES YOU DON’T LIKE

Why is it that the ugly jumper your mum gave you for your birthday 5 years ago still in my wardrobe?  with several holes you bought five seasons ago still necessary? You might plan on using it to paint your future house, but what purpose does it play in your life now?  How many ugly sweatshirts are you hanging onto just because you might wear them to paint the garage some day? Put those suckers out to pasture. (And when painting day comes, we promise you’ll find a way not to be topless.)

WHAT TO DO WITH CLOTHES YOU LOVE, BUT NO LONGER NEED

Style changes but there are items in my wardrobe which I still love, and no longer need. My size also changes faster than I would like to admit. I find the best way of unloading these items, giving them to charity (the feels are good with this option), sell directly to friends (who get a ridiculous bargain) and eBay . Local markets are also an option but that’s a significant time and energy investment.

HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Clothes are highly emotional tools. An outfit can change the way you feel about yourself, so why would you own clothes which don’t make you feel like the slayer you are or want to be? Unless you feel like a goddess in it, throw it out.

THEY DON’T DISTINGUISH BETWEEN SUMMER AND WINTER WARDROBES

The beauty of buying classic, great quality items is you want to wear them all year round. They look and feel great, so with a few minor additions a summer wardrobe can easily be turned into a wardrobe suitable for the cooler months. A good rule of thumb: Your entire yearly wardrobe should fit in your drawers and closet. If it doesn’t, you need to purge.

WHEN YOU BUY A NEW ITEM, THEY THROW OUT AN OLD ONE

I was discussing space (or rather, a lack of) with my aunty and she told me that for every item she buys, she throws an item out. Ever since I stick to this rule like glue. When I buy a new pair of shoes, I throw a pair out. If I buy a new top, I throw an old, hole-y top out. Because I like to bend the rules, I sometimes throw something else out. I buy a new dress, so I throw some old sheets out. Whatever the case, if I buy something new, another item has to go.

Slow Cooked Green Chicken Curry

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Recipe courtesy of Taste.com.au

The cooler months have finally arrived, so one of the first things I did was pull out my slow cooker.

One of the easiest recipes in my collection is a slow cooked chicken green curry. I put it on early Sunday afternoon and by dinner time, it’s ready ! Quick to prepare, no fuss, easy and plenty of leftovers for the coming week.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do:

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs

1 x 230g can bamboo shoots, drained

1 x 125g pkt frozen baby corn

4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn in half

1 x 400ml can coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons green curry paste (see note)

125ml (1/2 cup) Campbell’s Real Stock Chicken

1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

Fresh basil leaves, extra, to serve

Steamed SunRice White Medium Grain Rice (or cauliflower rice), to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

Method:

Place chicken, bamboo shoots, corn and 2 lime leaves in the slow cooker. Combine coconut milk and curry paste and add to the slow cooker. Pour in stock. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.

Shred remaining lime leaves. Add to the slow cooker. Add basil, sugar and fish sauce, and stir to combine. Top with extra basil. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

 

Review: The Grand National ‘G Nash’

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From the exterior, the Grand National Hotel in Paddington is like any other local pub: It’s located on the corner of an unassuming street, and no doubt a majority of its patrons are locals after a mid-week swig and feed.

But what sets it apart from most local pubs in town is the quality of the food. It may feature the usual pub affairs including steak, chicken schnitzel, burgers, and pie of the day, as well as the weekly specials we all love, but at the Grand National they make the food shines as much as the noticeably industrial-chic decor.

Tonight’s special is two-for-one steak, which for $24 for two 300g rump steaks cooked to your liking plus a generous service of your choice of mash or chips, and salad is not a bad deal at all. Often when rump steaks are served up, especially on specials night, it can be a bit hit-miss as it’s occasionally overcooked, lacks flavour, or the quality of the steak is just a bit battered, but the Grand National has given the steaks a crispy charring while the inside remains rosy pink when sliced.

Alongside our mains, we’re tempted by the “to begin or to share” part of the menu, opting for sweet corn and chorizo croquettes, and salt and pepper baby calamari. Based on these two dishes, the kitchen has some good deep-frying skills; both come out steaming, crispy, and non-greasy.

The coating on he calamari is light, and has a well-balanced level of salt and pepper. It comes accompanied with a sweet soy-based dipping sauce. While it’s appreciated the kitchen is trying to keep with the Asian theme of the dish, the sweetness of the sauce overpowers the salty and pepperiness of the batter. But on request, the creamy aioli does the trick, making it an easy dish to pick at all night.

The chorizo and corn croquettes takes the form of the old chicken and corn roll that we use to be able to pick up at the school canteen or milk bars. The coating is fine, but unlike the stuff we use to get back in the days these croquettes have been deep-fried until golden brown. It’s the generous amount of chorizo littered throughout though that makes the dish unexpectedly fiery, and a step up from your average croquette.

By Aimee C, Community Table – The People Behind The Food.