Category: Daily Life

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

The following blog post about fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney has been sponsored by Holiday Inn Old Sydney. I love partnering with brands who align with my values, and that I know you will love too.

Have you ever had a free day in beautiful Sydney and were wondering what some fun things to do in The Rocks would be? At the beginning of winter in Sydney this year, we had the exciting opportunity to spend a fun day in The Rocks with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. We got to see the sights around the historical Rocks area, enjoyed a high tea at the Tea Cosy cafe, visited The Rocks markets (where my lovely hubby bought me a bunch of flowers!), tried on some new clothes at DENHAM, checked out the modern Australian Art in Atty Gallery, smelt some gorgeously scented candles at DUX Collection, went up to the hotel rooftop to take in the 360 degree views of Circular Quay and the city, and then after a big day, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Playfair Terrace Restaurant in the Holiday Inn Old Sydney. We made a photo diary of our adventures during our fun day in the Rocks, I hope you enjoy it! Check out all the fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney in the image gallery below.

If you want to spend a gorgeous day (and night!) right in the heart of The Rocks, then the family-friendly Holiday Inn Old Sydney is the place to stay. The location is so convenient, with all the best attractions literally on the doorstep of the hotel. Honestly, we’ve had so many family friends stay here too, and they always have the best time in Sydney because of it! You can check out all the latest deals here. Why not plan your stay today?

As a quick heads up to my readers, Holiday Inn Old Sydney is now offering a great value Winter Escape Package with up to 30% off!

The deal includes:

  • Accommodation for two adults at Holiday Inn Old Sydney.
  • Your choice of buffet breakfast for two OR hotel vehicle parking.
  • Kids 12 and under eat and stay free.*

*Up to four kids ages 12 and under eat free any time of the day at Holiday Inn Old Sydney when dining with two paying adults. Children 12 years and under stay for free at Holiday Inn Old Sydney when sharing their parents room.

You can get the Winter Escape 30% off package right here.

The Tea Cosy Cafe is a quirky little cafe with a unique collection of teapots, tea cups and of course, tea cosies! We enjoyed a high tea in the vine-entwined courtyard garden out the back. Each table has a delightful basket of wool on it (so you can knit one, pearl one while you are waiting for your scones and tea to arrive). The babycino was a fun touch, with Alira being the most delighted by the chocolate swirls and sprinkles on top.

The Tea Cosy Cafe is a quirky little cafe with a unique collection of teapots, tea cups and of course, tea cosies! We enjoyed a high tea in the vine-entwined courtyard garden out the back. Each table has a delightful basket of wool on it (so you can knit one, pearl one while you are waiting for your scones and tea to arrive). The babycino was a fun touch, with Alira being the most delighted by the chocolate swirls and sprinkles on top. Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

The Tea Cosy Cafe is a quirky little cafe with a unique collection of teapots, tea cups and of course, tea cosies! We enjoyed a high tea in the vine-entwined courtyard garden out the back. Each table has a delightful basket of wool on it (so you can knit one, pearl one while you are waiting for your scones and tea to arrive). The babycino was a fun touch, with Alira being the most delighted by the chocolate swirls and sprinkles on top. Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

The Tea Cosy Cafe is a quirky little cafe with a unique collection of teapots, tea cups and of course, tea cosies! We enjoyed a high tea in the vine-entwined courtyard garden out the back. Each table has a delightful basket of wool on it (so you can knit one, pearl one while you are waiting for your scones and tea to arrive). The babycino was a fun touch, with Alira being the most delighted by the chocolate swirls and sprinkles on top. Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

The Rocks Markets features an eclectic blend of local food products and local designer brands – not to mention the colourful market florist where my hubby picked up a bunch of flowers for me!

The Rocks Markets features an eclectic blend of local food products and local designer brands - not to mention the colourful market florist where my hubby picked up a bunch of flowers for me! Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

The Rocks Markets features an eclectic blend of local food products and local designer brands - not to mention the colourful market florist where my hubby picked up a bunch of flowers for me! Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

At DENHAM the Jeanmaker, we tried on some new clothes. Driven by the pioneering spirit of the original blue jean, DENHAM approach their design process with a passion for meticulous detail, and it shows in the superior cut of the clothes and quality of the fabric.

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

If you are an International tourist looking for some original Australian art featuring iconic Aussie animals with a colourful twist, then it’s worth checking out Atty Gallery by Sydney-based digital artist Graham Atwell. You can meet the artist himself at the gallery, and ask him about his creative process, or even “adopt” one of his animals to take home!

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

Upon entering the DUX Collection store we were greeted with the most luscious scents coming from their range of candles. My favourite was the Australian natural beeswax candles with Eucalyptus essential oil, a smell that I miss whenever I travel overseas for extended periods of time. These handcrafted candles would be the perfect gift or souvenir to bring home for international travellers – the scent of Australia! They also had a lovely range of natural skincare products and creams to try – my hands definitely felt softer after leaving the store!

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

Next on the list of fun things to do in The Rocks was to head back to the Holiday Inn Old Sydney, to check out the view from the hotel rooftop. The afternoon sunshine had just come out with perfect blue skies to match, so the view was absolutely breathtaking. You can see the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Circular Quay, the city CBD, Luna Park and all the Sydney Harbour surrounds with 360 degree views.

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

After our fun day exploring The Rocks, we rounded off our experience by enjoying a delicious dinner at the Playfair Terrace Restaurant on the mezzanine floor of the Holiday Inn Old Sydney. The chef cooked my salmon to perfection, and was happy to accommodate my gluten-free dairy-free dietary requirements (and he made Alira’s favourite – spaghetti!).

Fun things to do in The Rocks, Sydney with Holiday Inn Old Sydney. Travel, wanderlust, guide, tour, vacation, vacay, Australia, New South Wales, explore, food, foodie, traveller, travelling with kids, children, Aussie, Circular Quay, shopping, activities, historical, explore, visit, tourist, Australian, international

 

 

 

Girl, interrupted* : Learn to say NO so you can say YES to the things that matter

Learn to say NO to the non essential so you can say YES to the things that matter | inspirational quote

*Absolutely nothing to do with the movie and book of the same name.

Does anyone else feel constantly interrupted?

My name should not be Jessica Lea Dunn… because at the moment it feels like I can never get anything… Dunn, I mean, done! My name should be Jessica Lea Doing… because I’m always trying to push through some project or another but have so much trouble finishing. And all I want to do is tick things off my list! My dilemma is as follows: I have no problem starting a project (the amount of fantastic new ideas that flood me daily is phenomenal which is both incredibly inspiring and somewhat overwhelming). I have no problem inventing new things, getting fired up for the start up. But then – another interruption. Life. An appointment. Mama duties (this is a big one, and while I love being a mama, there is simply no “off” button). Housework to do. The constant gear-switching, on/off… losing my place, finding it again… losing my muse, and then having it flood back at the most inconvenient of moments, such as when I’m playing with Alira, supposed to be cooking dinner, or trying to get ready for bed. I’ll start juggling the ball and bouncing another… but then I eventually end up dropping both.

But still – I try to squeeze as much out of every day as possible… just half an hour more, an hour more, three, four, five hours later I’m stumbling into bed in the wee hours – and I’m STILL NOT FINISHED. Does anyone else feel like this?

Admittedly, I’ve a lot on my plate this past and coming month, but the irony is that it is entirely self-inflicted. I’m learning to drive with my test on 28th Nov – eek! I’m trying to build this blog into a little virtual home for myself and find my online tribe. I’m doing more cooking as Chief Nutritional Officer in my house (those who know me, know that this doesn’t come as naturally to me as some of my other talents). I had to process my tax return before 31st Oct so I’m still recovering from the backlog of putting everything else on hold for that. And, of course I’m still trying to do everything that I was before (getting out to see friends, play time in the park with Alira, managing my modest portfolio of shares, making sure the bills are paid on time, hanging out with my Pinterest community, keeping the house, um, sort of in order – if a tornado path could be considered orderly – ha!) I could say no to some of this, but the truth is that everything is important in different ways, some of it urgent, some of it essential, some of it necessary down-time, some of it an attempt to plant seeds for the future.

I’ve come to the realization that the only secret to doing it all is – NOT, at least not all at the same time. The activities will ebb and flow, as our focus shifts from one thing to another. We humans KNOW in our bones that we can’t do it all… and yet we still keep trying. Stop. Just stop. Breathe. Learn to say NO to anything that is not essential… so you can say YES to the things that matter.

Much, much, easier said then done.

Especially when there is money to earn, bills to pay, laundry to do, mouths to feed, souls to nurture, creativity to express, and worlds to conquer.

Women (and men) who seem to do it all – please tell me all your secrets!

Jess - Find me on Pinterest

Food Design: 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas - Boo-nanas, Mandarin Pumpkins, Ghost Eggs, Mini Cupcake Spiders, Tim Tam Tombstones | A Designer Life

Today, I’m sharing 5 easy Halloween food ideas that I made especially for the HelloSociety Halloween Potluck Pinterest Party! I’m so excited to participate in this, especially since I had so much fun making dishes for the Easter and July 4th Potluck challenges earlier this year. It’s a really great way for me to get out of my cooking rut, and get my hands (and kitchen bench) dirty in a really creative way. Not to mention, I get to share lots of awesome yummy treats with whoever happens to be nearby!

1. Boo-nanas!

Inspired by seeing Sharpie drawn on just about everything these days, I made some screaming bananas. It’s such a simple and easy idea for when you can’t possibly face another handful of candy, piece of cake, or pumpkin-flavored whatever. And of course, bananas are a great gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free, everything-free snack. Except if you are allergic to bananas. Sorry.

Boo-nanas! | 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

2. Cute Halloween Ghost Eggs

So, this is not strictly something you can serve at your next Halloween party, but it is a cute little idea to surprise your loved ones when they go to make some eggs in the morning. I was inspired to use my Sharpie to create little haunted egg faces after seeing this idea on Pinterest. The only trouble is… Our eggs aren’t exactly white in Australia. So they don’t quite look like ghosts. But you get the general impression!

Halloween Ghost Eggs | 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

3. Mandarin Pumpkins

I was inspired to create these mandarin pumpkins after seeing this idea on Pinterest. Anybody would think that this post is sponsored by Sharpie, the way these ideas are stacking up (it’s not). However… I’m a big fan of simple, quick, healthy, and fun, and these little guys tick all four boxes! And not to mention, it’s naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. A good tip: Draw the outline of the pumpkin face shape you want with thin Sharpie, then fill it in with a thicker Sharpie. You’ll save so much time!

Mandarin Pumpkins | 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

4. Mini Cupcake Spiders with Pretzel Legs

So I cheated a bit with this idea, as I used store-bought mini cupcakes. But, paired with Smarties for eyes and Pretzel legs, with a dash of chocolate icing to stick the eyes on – you wouldn’t know the difference! These little spiders are bright, colorful, and combine an unexpected savory touch to an otherwise sweet dish. The original recipe uses donuts instead, but you can see how much I was inspired to make something very similar and just as visually effective.

Mini Cupcake Spiders with Pretzel Legs | 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

5. Tim Tam Tombstones

This one is an original! I don’t know whether folks over in the States can obtain Arnott’s TimTam biscuits over there, but they are a cult classic quintessential food here in Australia. So, my dad came home with a packet the other day and I was busy thinking up ideas for the Halloween Potluck Party. Anyway, as he was munching, I said “your TimTam kinda looks like a tombstone!” and he promptly bit the biscuit he had right in half, pulled out a fresh one, laid that flat on the bench, and stacked the bitten half-TimTam on top to make a proper tomb-like shape! Horrifically morbid, but also pretty funny at the same time. Thanks Dad!

Two days later… I prettied the idea up a little bit by using a knife to cut the TimTams, with some white-chocolate writing icing to create the RIP detail. I also used a smear of caramel icing and a couple of toothpicks to join the two biscuit pieces together. You can see something similar here.

(Oh, and by the way, did you know that TimTams only come with 11 biscuits in the packet now?! Talk about the opposite of a baker’s dozen. I felt slightly ripped off by that number, its very cheeky, since I’m sure their used to be 12 in a packet.)

Tim Tam Tombstones | 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed these 5 Easy Halloween Food Ideas, as much as I enjoyed making them! Now, please excuse me while I go and eat one of those cupcakes… I mean… mandarins.

Jess - Find me on Pinterest

Free Printable: Be a Lighthouse Not a Lifebuoy

Free Printable: Be a Lighthouse not a Lifebuoy by Jessica Lea Dunn | quote wall art

Be a lighthouse, not a lifebuoy – Jessica Lea Dunn | original quote, October 8th, 2014

It means… be a leader and a beacon of light for others to follow, not a rescuer jumping into the water after them. A message of love, a reminder to myself and an affirmation for you.

To download: Just click on the picture above, which will open up to the full size image in a new window. Right click on this image, choose “Save image as” and you too can have this 8 inch by 10 inch high-quality image to print and frame at home. It is my little gift to you this week!

Why? This week has been a week of healing for me. Of quiet time away from the city, of paddling and splashing in shallow ocean water, pottering about the backyard and lunches out with family. I have also finally had a chance to visit my favourite Naturopath on Tuesday, and a chiropractor for the first time on Wednesday. One of the big lessons (and there were a few) for me during my chiropractic consultation was to stop being a rescuer of everybody and everybody else’s hearts, as it is severely draining my energy – and has been for a long time. You see, I need to learn to empower people to save themselves as opposed to being the one jumping into the murky water to save them. Instead of being the hero, I need to focus on being a leader and a beacon of light so that they can find their own inner strength. And by doing that, I need to also re-balance my energy so that the focus can return to nurturing myself and my immediate family, and listening to my own inner voice and heart guidance.

Who was/am I trying to save? I could easily make a list on more than two hands. It includes both people from the past – lovers and friends as far back as 2007 and beyond – right up until this very moment. It will take time and attention to change the pattern, but since it a pattern that’s not serving my greater good anymore, I need to release it. And I’m not allowed to feel selfish or guilty for doing so!

So – completely inspired by this life lesson yesterday, I created this quote wall art so I can remember. If the message resonates – it’s for you, too. As soon as I get home from my coastal break, I’m going to print it out, frame it and hang it somewhere where I’ll see it everyday!

x Jess

The post Free Printable: Be a Lighthouse Not a Lifebuoy first appeared on A Designer Life.

UPDATE: The font I used is Canter from Font Fabric – isn’t it grand? And it’s free!

Jess - Find me on Pinterest

15 things to do while commuting on public transport

Bored on your commute? Here are 15 things to do while commuting on public transport that will make your journey go quick!

Bored on your commute? Here’s a great list of things to do while commuting on public transport. I’ve been catching buses and trains as a commuter for as long as I’ve been working, and while I know it can be a luxury to have your own transportation, and of course the trip sometimes takes longer when you travel on public transport, the fact is that it’s easy to get a LOT done when you are not having to worry about driving and traffic conditions. It’s a far less stressful way to travel, and not to mention that it is SO much cheaper to live without a car.

So what can you do with all this “free” time – so that you feel more productive and that the time is not wasted? I have divided my list into two sections, depending on whether you are “technology equipped” ie. have a smart phone or tablet with a fast connection, or whether you prefer to enjoy the rare time to be disconnected from the internet for a little while.

LOW OR NO-TECH ACTIVITIES:

1. Practice meditating, letting go of thought and judgement and being still. Enjoy the journey and breathe. You’ll feel great upon arrival at your destination.

2. Eat a nutritious breakfast/snack/meal that you prepared for the journey. For those who are too busy to eat a good meal during the day, the time on the train can be used to make sure you eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables/salad per day or 3 serves of fruit. Nuts are also a great portable snack.

3. Read an industry trade journal, and impress your colleagues with news of the latest trends & technologies during the day.

4. Read a good old-fashioned book – fiction or non-fiction – make a dent in that long reading list! One of my favourite things to read is a quarterly “mook” (halfway between a magazine and a book) called Dumbo Feather, full of interviews with inspiring people doing unique and fascinating things with their lives.

5. Plan your day/evening/week. Choose the 3 most important things that you wish to achieve in the day, and commit to it!

6. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. The evening journey is best for this – unless your friend/relative is an early bird, too!

7. Practice sketching. All it takes is a sketchbook and a pen which is not too much extra to carry – contrary to popular belief, sketching while in motion is a fast-track training ground to develop your skills and achieve a super-steady hand! Even if you think you can’t draw, with daily practice you will very soon find that you can.

8. Have a nap! I have difficulty with this one but envy those who do, as getting enough sleep is one of the major challenges in our modern society and if can get as much as possible, your body and mind will thank you for it in the long-term.

9. Make a list of things you are grateful for. This list could be about something or someone specific eg. “Mondays”, “my job”, “my partner” or it could be about life in general. Give thanks for everything on your list at least ten times.

10. Enjoy the view! Try to notice something new.

CONNECTED-TO-TECH ACTIVITIES:

1. Write a blog post. Believe it or not, I wrote this one in the space of two trips! (With a quick tidy up of the formatting at home before posting).

2. Make online purchases. Are there items on your wishlist that you never get around to ordering, or do you want to avoid the crowds at the mall? Order online during your transit time – and await delivery at your leisure.

3. Do your banking. Pay your bills, pay your rent, but most importantly, pay “yourself” – and watch that savings account grow!

4. Catch up on your RSS feeds. Have them categorised into theme and topic area so you can always read your favourites first.

5. Spend some of the limited time in travel to nurture your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn networks, so you don’t have to disrupt your active life with it later, prioritising enjoying real-life interactions and relationships in the moment.

x Jess