Ever had a dream within a dream? It could be amazing or a nightmare. I guess Freud would have had an explanation for it but I believe our subconscious manifests our dreams, feeding on our fears, expectations, and, I am told by some, flashbacks from past lives. One could lose your marbles trying to debate which is which, so, I prefer to dissect dreams and turn them to my advantage. Got to stay positive, right?

While contemplating how to spend the Easter weekend, starting with Good Friday, a message from my sister appeared on Whatsapp, and it just seemed so apt:

The Irony of Life: it takes sadness to realise what happiness means, chaos leads to appreciating silence, and absence leads to the value of presence. Food for thought.

Don’t get lost in love – stay true to you and if love is worthy it will stay. I wish I could say this to folks on the train, when I cannot help but overhear their conversations. Okay, I do have great hearing and find it intriguing. Mia culpa!

One such conversation, a while back, took place between two thirty-something women. One was advising the other on the way she always fell in love. It seemed the one telling her story was compromising and not always showing her authentic self. This reminded me of what a classic actress once said about being divorced so often, the fact that men went to bed with one of her sexy, romantic characters, then seemed disappointed when they woke up with her.

I believe this is something many of us are or have been guilty of. Is it because we don’t think our true self is good enough? One of the many things I like about ageing is a better understanding of what makes me happy and who I am. We need to appreciate who we are. Finding too many flaws? We are the masters of our souls. We are good enough. If someone makes us feel like we are not their first choice, smile, shake hands, and walk away.

I see plenty flirtations on social media. Many of these people are married or in a committed relationship. Why does the grass always seem greener on the other side? Often, it’s simply because we are not watering our own lawn. If we treat our loved ones as if they don’t matter, they will behave as if they don’t matter.

Enough with the agony column, on with what was a much-deserved long weekend!

I believe long weekends are sent to rejuvenate us when we need it the most. I plan weekends and cherish at least one quiet day to regroup, potter, listen to music, and have peace.

It is a privilege to have my adorable little family nearby. Nothing is more joyful than watching kiddos hunt for those sweet delights, getting hyper-active on all that chocolate, then crashing early when Mom and Dad are in need of a respite, bliss, I’m told.

My pixies are lucky as they have a balanced upbringing, with plenty crafting to develop their imagination, reading, outdoor activities and occasionally, a movie to get them to relax before bed. I got my fix of plenty hugs, delicious food I did not have to prepare, bubbles, chocolates, great company, giggles and catching up with my adored family and their friends on Sunday. I sang in the car all the way home as it made my heart soar, these precious moments in time!

I did not hunt for Easter eggs but as my lovely neighbours are away, I’m collecting fresh eggs daily from their chooks, as those hens get all my leftover scraps. A fair deal, I’d say… but I must also mention how fond I’ve become of those feathered darlings. We have lively conversations.

Dining pleasures

After the lengthy forced abstinence from dining out, namely lockdown, my friends and I are making up for lost time. Things we took for granted for too long are now so much appreciated. Just being in the company of caring friends who support each other, is now a treasured occasion. Thank you Covid, you got something right…

Whenever I venture to the Mornington Peninsula, sweet friend Rika takes me on a grand tour of the beautiful surrounds as a prelude to lunch. So, when she visits to explore more of the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges, I am more than happy to return the favour as I love this region of plenty.

Our recent lunch at the Healesville Hotel was scrumptious and we opted for the alfresco experience, dining under the trees and umbrellas on a perfect late-summers day.

The thinly beer-battered, generous portions of fish, chips, duck croquettes, crab and avocado salad, washed down with some local Yarra Valley bubbles, were sensational.

Pictured above, clockwise, from top left: avocado and crab salad, beer-battered fish and chips, outdoor dining, the road to Healesville, and the duck croquette at The Healesville Hotel.

The drive back to my village, through the back of Healesville, past the Tarrawarra Art Museum and vineyards, green pastures, paddocks with healthy livestock and rolling hills, where kangaroos usually appear before sunset, proved yet another sweet distraction and we agreed, we were both ready to address life head-on again.

Did I mention alpacas are also popular livestock here? When they are not actively bred for their luxuriously soft wool, they also serve a vital purpose, protecting lambs from foxes, as alpacas stomp and foxes are not stupid.

On another occasion, we took one of my favourite drives in the world, up there with Big Sur in California, Chapman’s Peak in Cape Town, and the Garden Route of South Africa, Mount Dandenong Road to the charming village of Olinda on top of the mountain.

Dudley’s in Olinda was buzzing with good cheer and the delicious mezze and sizzling haloumi cheese with olive paste did not disappoint. In fact, we loved the Helen’s Hill bubbles served with our meal so much, we traversed back to the Yarra Valley to purchase a few bottles from their cellar door, which is not far from where I live.

Another delectable lunch with my South African tribe living in Melbourne was at The Beach Café in Seaford. My BBQ Ocean Prawn salad was simply delicious. Pity they are not licensed but they are working on it, I’m told.

During my recent visit to the Peninsula, I revisited The Rocks in Mornington, which is great value. You can’t find a better seaside location, right up there with The Baths in Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Rocks restaurant overlooks the yacht basin of Mornington and is conveniently situated in the Yacht Club. This just always brings back happy memories of my teens, when I lived in a sailing community overlooking an estuary in South Africa.

Again, the food and service at The Rocks were sterling and the conversation effervescent between three good friends. Nothing beats bonding further over a delicious meal, sipping something heavenly and savouring a panoramic vista.

My linguini marinara was laden with plump prawns and succulent mussels. The chef even obliged by omitting the tomato at my request. We’ll be back!

Dining at Bond Store in South Bank in Melbourne proved a less enjoyable experience with my friends, though. An extremely rude waitress with a French accent put a dampener on our lunch.

However, the manager was extremely apologetic and compensated generously for his staff member’s bad service and shocking attitude. I’d give the restaurant another go as I believe regular staff are now returning to their old posts as Job Keeper has run its Covid course. It’s a charming location in the city, close to the Yarra River, where old architecture meets modern skyscrapers in this still most liveable city.

I know I’ve mentioned my neighbours owning a dream wedding event destination, surrounded by verdant vineyards, rose gardens and a lake in a previous, in fact several, blogs. Last year was a disaster for that industry because of the lengthy lockdown, as we know only too well, but it is heartening to see business picking up again.

On weekends, when there is no wedding party in progress, Immerse, in the Yarra Valley, is open for lunch to the public – always good to make a reservation as the food is fabulous and the restaurant is popular.

What I love about Helen and Stephen Myles, is not only are they good friends, they seemingly read my mind too. I was indecisive as everything on the menu was calling my name! So, they suggested we order several smaller portions to sample and enjoy between three.

Their bread is a treat, and I’m not a lover of bread! Served with the chef’s choice of dip, olives, parmesan oil and Murray River salt flakes, it is pure sour-dough heaven.

We relished the confit duck arancini with pear and fig relish, parmesan, pickled vegetable salad and pomegranate; the chorizo and manchego croquette, chickpea, corn, roast pepper salad and smoked paprika aioli hit the spot; and the kuro prawns, soba noodles, edamame, radish, cucumber, coriander, roast sesame dressing and renkon proved a sensation.

I’m no longer a dessert fan but again, my arm was twisted easily and sharing the lemon meringue tart with passionfruit sorbet, blood orange puree and yuzu syrup, plus blueberry cheesecake with lychee, cream and glass shards, as well as a sinful chai and almond panna cotta with vanilla tuille, coconut and mango sorbet with pistachio crumble, proved the perfect finale to a superb experience.

Of course, I’ve always been a fan of Immerse Sparkling Chardonnay and I was not shy to indulge on this day, again…I did find the energy to report my experience on TripAdvisor as it was the very least I could do after such a glorious spoil. Then I had a late afternoon snooze…

Dining at Immerse in the Yarra Valley, pictured clockwise, from top left: views of the gardens from the restaurant, setting up for a wedding dinner, raspberry cheesecake, and a symphony of flavours in: confit duck arancini with pear and fig relish, parmesan, pickled vegetable salad and pomegranate; kuro prawns, soba noodles, edamame, radish, cucumber, coriander, roast sesame dressing and renkon; and chorizo and manchengo croquette, chickpea, corn, roast pepper salad with smoked paprika aioli.

On the couch

So many choices of sofa bingeing and when in doubt, I tend to return to old favourites as I’m looking for a happy ending, just common old feel-good viewing of a story that feels like a comfortable blanket, almost like a home-made quilt, not always perfect but cosy. Sabrina, starring Harrison Ford, Julia Ormond and Greg Kinnear, is one of those indulgences. I still love the soundtrack too – evergreen.

Speaking of security blankets, How to Make an American Quilt, with the late and forever inspiring Maya Angelo, Winona Rider, Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft and Dermot Mulroney, still gives me that warm, cosy feeling.

Recent releases that have proved enjoyable, with staying power for me, include: The Dig, with the adorable Lilly James and Ralph Fiennes; and Yesterday, again with Lily James, Himesh Patel, featuring Ed Sheeran in a cameo role. Sanjeev Bhaskar and Meera Syal, both from a British sitcom I used to take great delight in, The Kumars at No. 42, are good value, as always. Get ready for sweet, happy tunes to get good memories flowing. Especially if you are old enough to remember The Beetles, (chuckle).

Sleeping Beauty

Health, beauty and fashion cannot be ignored as, after all, it is the very essence of my expanding Instagram following. It simply goes to show starting a hobby with stuff we are passionate about, we will be rewarded, somehow.

One of the many rewards is the support and inspiration most of the Insta tribe members I interact with offer each other. It is a joy and, especially during these trying times of lockdowns, illness and struggles, they are there for each other. So many people get lonely and sad, and this is a great way to offer some solace, albeit from a distance.

One of the many thrills of my Sixty_is_the_new_40 page is the fact that I get to collaborate with some incredible people, who produce superb skin and beauty products, not to mention glamorous fashion!

I wish to remain authentic and will not test, wear or promote anything unless I have tried it for a while – or the design fits my form. If it does not come up to par, I will report this to the product representatives.

The highly professional and courteous publicist for i-On Skincare contacted me several weeks ago. We negotiated and now, after having put the Age Disrupting Skin Cream and Age Disrupting Total Performance Eye Cream to the test, I am delighted to share the news of my rejuvenated skin.

Featuring DII technology, a proprietary age-disrupting technology that safely removes excess iron from the skin to prevent formation of free radicals, which produce lines, wrinkles, loss of elasticity and uneven skin tone, commonly known as ageing skin, I’m now convinced @iOnskincare is delaying the ageing process in my skin.

Founded by Dr Xi Huang, one of the world’s leading researchers on the correlation between iron levels and health, the publicist informed me the product would reduce the appearance of wrinkles rapidly.

The range contains the latest scientifically advanced anti-ageing ingredients, whilst it also, in the case of the Eye Cream, reduces dark circles under the eyes. After several weeks of using the products continuously, I see a visible improvement in my skin and am in total agreement with these claims.

Key ingredients include: De-ironizing Inducer (D.I.I.) – a blend of reducing agents, such as vitamin C, and high buffering capacity clearing agents, such as pearl powder, which removes excess iron from ferritin in the skin to prevent the formation of free radicals; Key Peptides – includes acetyl tetrapeptide-11, which helps skin look and feel healthier, and tetrapeptide-9, which restores the skin’s natural support system and stimulates collagen production for smoother, firmer skin; Portulaca Oleracea Extract – a herb with anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties to benefit sensitive and/or allergy-prone skin; Different Molecular Weights of Sodium Hyaluronate – two super-charged forms of skin-replenishing hyaluronic acid formulated to provide deeper and longer-lasting hydration; and Fucus Vesiculosus Extract – a heme oxygenase-1 inducer, which acts to degrade hemoglobin, thereby reducing dark circles.

After the first application, I awakened with my skin tingling, but in a good way. I knew I’d not see results after one night but checked in the mirror anyway. No rash, no allergy, a great start.

I can honestly say that after several weeks of applying the eye and skin cream daily, my skin seems plumper, and the fine lines I’ve been dreading seem to have gone undercover!

I highly recommend @iOnskincare and would happily continue using it. We all say age is just a number, and to defy it, not deny it. So, for now, this over-sixty gal is feeling extremely lucky as my skin is positively glowing.

See more at www.ionskincare.com – tell them Sixty_is_the_new_40 sent you! You’ll thank me later…

 

In the mix

Autumn is slowly winding her way through the final throes of summer and I could not be happier. Layers, mixing, matching, not working up a sweat, totally my thing!

I’ve always enjoyed autumn colours as they are warm and seem to complement my skin. However, I’ve had such encouragement from my Insta fashion gang about wearing pastels and pink, I’m clinging to it as there is no rule for colour and seasons. I’m loving the jewel colours coming into the fold again, gone for so long, and I even see some of those colours reflected by the fashionistas across the waters, now entering spring.

Someone recently said, the trick was to be the trend, not to follow the trend. I like that as I believe we should wear what brings us joy. To many of us, clothes are an extension of our personality as well as a mood-changer. When we feel good, we act good.

Dressing for oneself is so much more rewarding than dressing for others. One of the many things I love about ageing, I don’t care what others think of me. I know who I am, I know what makes me happy, and I try to avoid anything or folks who make me unhappy. Simple. Easy.

So, cheers to us owning who we are, and cheers to a good life, darlings, we only live once…twice, if we are really lucky!

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