Kylie Purtell - A Study in Contradictions

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Thirty-Nine {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
{Punky} Who could resist pulling over their bike to check out a beautiful rainbow. Not this kid, that's for sure!

{Zee} My cheeky, cheeky, Daddy's girl. Her cheekiness knows no bounds!

If you would like to book a family or kids photography session please head to my website at for more information and keep an eye on my Facebook page for details of upcoming Christmas mini-sessions in Sydney.

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

What have you been reading lately? {Chapter Nine} | Reading Writes

I am currently reading my 34th book for the year. Yes, you read that right. I have read 33 books so far in 2015 and am on my 34th. I know a lot of people hear that number and they can't believe that I've managed to read that many books while also studying full-time and raising two small children.

Sometimes I can't even believe it myself!

There are a few ways I've managed to read so many books this year though. The first is that I make a point of reading at least a couple of chapters every night before bed. It's a deeply ingrained part of my bedtime routine and I find I struggle to get to sleep without reading these days.

It helps me to relax and switch off for half an hour before I hit the sack and it also gives me a chance to have a little pre-bedtime snack or milk!

The next way I've managed to get through so many books this year is that most of the books I've read have actually been re-reads. I started the year off on the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series, which was a new series to me. They were such engaging books that I just couldn't put them down and I found myself snatching a moment to read whenever I could.

After that I re-read the Harry Potter series which is a very easy read when you've read them as many times as I have, and also when you consider how quick and easy the first few are to read. I then followed that with The Passage and The Twelve by Justin Cronin. Then I read a couple of new books, World War Z by Max Brooks and the classic Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

After that I dove back in to the Hunger Games trilogy and then started on a new trilogy, Divergent by Veronica Roth. I didn't mind the Divergent series, but I did find they weren't as engaging as The Hunger Games. They were relatively short books, and I felt that Roth could have really done more in building the world of the Divergents.

To be honest, I felt like the books jumped around a lot and found myself flicking back a page or two to figure out how the characters had gone from situation to another. Of course some of that confusion may have come from the fact that I was reading verrry late at night! After reading the series I checked out the first two movies in the Divergent series and I actually really enjoyed them a lot. Four is HOT!

After I finished reading the Divergent series I headed off to my local Dymocks to have a browse for some new reading inspiration and came across Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series. It was listed in the favourite books category, and seeing as there were 6 of them in the series I figured it would leave me with at least a few more books to read if I enjoyed the first one.

I quite liked The Mortal Instruments series, they were enjoyable books and I found I was very keen to find out how they would resolve. The series is really more like a set of two trilogies, as the first three books deal with one villian, and then the second three follow-on with a new villian that was introduced in book 3.

While I enjoyed the books I can tell you I categorically did NOT enjoy the movie. It was beyond TERRIBLE!!! Do not, I repeat do NOT waste your time watching it. Reading the various one-star reviews on IMDB (which I didn't read until after I'd seen the movie! Stupid) was way more enjoyable than the movie itself.

As soon as I finished the Mortal Instruments series I jumped straight in to it's companion series, The Infernal Devices. These books are set about 140 years before the Mortal Instruments, and feature some of the characters from those books and a couple that we were introduced to in the last pages of the final Mortal Instruments book.

I must admit I'm enjoy The Infernal Devices more than Mortal Instruments, but that has a lot to do with the fact that I'm a sucker for fiction set in historical times, and these books take place in London in the late 1870s. The story in both series' revolves around the world of the Shadowhunters, a special breed of humans with super strength and skills, whose task it is to protect "normal" humans, or "mundanes" from demons and the more nefarious aspects of the Shadow World. It's full of warlocks, vampires, fairies and werewolves, and they are definitely good for something fairly light and entertaining.

I'm currently about a quarter of the way through the second Infernal Devices book, Clockwork Prince and it's not disappointing me.

I honestly don't know what I am going to read next, I've treated myself to reading some absolutely fantastic books this year and I'd like to end the year on a high note. I was hoping that the final book in The Passage series would have been out this year but alas no luck, so I am searching for my next read (even though I still have one more left in the Infernal Devices series after this!).

I am secretly hoping that I win Lisa Heidke's new book The Callahan Split which Lisa Berson is currently holding a giveaway for on her blog. It sounds like a great book and you should totally pop over to Lisa's blog and be in it to win it (or not. Better odds for me!).

And now to tell you the final way that I have managed to read so many books this year. Simply put... I'm a fast reader. Really fast. I've even been known to speed read on occasion with high comprehension but it's a skill that needs to be practiced if you want to make sure you actually take in and retain the information you're reading. More that another time though.

So tell me, what have you been reading lately?

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Monday, 5 October 2015

One Perfect Moment {Long Weekends} | Life

It's been a long weekend here in Sydney and it's been a pretty one nice in these parts (aside from the scorching heat!). We had a friend round last night for a few drinks and a catch-up, and on Saturday we ventured in to the city to hop on a Sydney Ferry and head out to visit Cockatoo Island.

It was my friend Kelly's birthday last month, but the lucky bitch was in the States for it, so we decided to have a little belated birthday picnic with the kids. We were originally planning on going to Shark Island but the wharf was closed for repairs, so we switched it up and went to Cockatoo Island instead.

Such a good idea.

We had such a lovely day, despite the toddler who has wholeheartedly embraced the year of two with open arms and massive tantrums. We found a nice shady spot and settled in for some rolls and fresh strawberries while the kids ran and played around us.

{I have a kid-friendly Sydney post coming up in a couple of weeks with more info on Cockatoo Island and "proper" photos for those interested}

While the whole day was fabulous, there was one thing that really stuck out for me, and that was just how much Punky has grown up. She is truly beyond the toddler stage now and she was such a dream to take out. There were a few emotional, anxious moments from her, but on the whole she was so well-behaved and just delightful to be honest.

I'm really looking forward to the day when Zee gets beyond this tantrummy-toddler stage and is just as delightful to take places because I love exploring new things and places with them. I am building a mental list of all of the places we need to visit and things to see together.

One thing is for sure, Dave and I are so lucky to have been blessed with two amazing little girls!

Have you had any perfect moments this weekend? Did you get a long weekend like us?

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Top 5 Things You Can Do On Maternity Leave | Motherhood

This post written in collaboration with Careers Australia
When you first have a baby you don't have a lot of spare time on your hands. Your days are filled with feeding, nappies and trying to get your baby to sleep. It feels like the days will never end and you'll never have a spare moment for yourself again. I promise that it isn’t going to last forever though, and the more spare time you do get, the more you’ll want to be making the most of it before you have to start work again.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my time spent on maternity leave and all the things I did and didn't do. Once you emerge from that newborn fog there are a lot of things you can do to use the time wisely, and I've put together a list of my Top 5 things you can do on maternity leave...

1. Learn

When I was on maternity leave with Zee there were so many things I wanted to do. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go back to the career I'd had before going on leave, and so I set about trying to figure out what it was I really wanted to do. A big part of that process, once I'd nailed down some ideas, was to get studying. I undertook an online graphic design course and it was such a great thing to do.

In today’s technology fuelled society, we no longer have to go to campus to study, nor do we have to commit ourselves to learning full-time. Education environments such as Careers Australia offer flexible courses and learning pathways, whether you’re up-skilling or studying something new. From certificates to diplomas, online learning environments are ideal for maternity leave, as you can study when you want and when you’re able—and further your career skills in the process!

2. Hobbies

If you’re on maternity leave and you’ve got some downtime, try exploring some long forgotten interests that you’ve previously had to put aside. Do you love to cook or paint? If so, get out your old equipment and rediscover what you love about it. Have you always wanting to learn to sew, or use Photoshop and InDesign? Download some tutorials and start now.

About 8 months after having Punky I rediscovered two of my loves, reading and blogging. Reading allowed me to leave my messy, baby-centric life behind and journey to new worlds. It gave me back a piece of myself I didn't realise I'd been missing. Rediscovering your hobbies is such a great way to remind yourself that you're not just an extension of your baby. Getting back in to blogging helped me to do the same thing. Which brings me to number 3...

3. Write

Motherhood is not always as straightforward as the books make it out to be, and this is usually because every woman’s experience is different. Oh how I wished in those early months of new motherhood that there was some instruction manual that would magically appear and tell me how to do all of the things I was struggling with.

If you’re feeling a little frustrated about your efforts or ridiculously proud of some technique you’ve just discovered; write about it. It doesn’t have to be in the form of a blog either; it can just be a journal for your own records or to use as a place to vent. It can also serve as a beautiful memoir of those precious moments to look back on when they hit their teen years. I am so glad I have my blog as a record of my life as a new Mum. The victories and the frustrations, the highs and the lows. I hope one day my girls will be able to look back on it and understand me a little better (and if nothing else it will make great fodder for them to work through with their therapists!).

4. Keep Fit

Taking it easy is definitely a priority for the first month or so, but after this, getting back into some form of fitness regime is the perfect way to boost your energy levels, get you outside and even help you to get a better night’s sleep. You don’t have to go overboard either; exercise should be incorporated just enough so you feel healthy and happy. Just because you have a new little person to look after, doesn’t mean you should stop looking after yourself.

I missed this lesson the first time around with Punky, but second time around it was amazing the difference getting some kind of exercise in each day made to my frame of mind after having Zee. I discovered a love of running, something I have been sorely missing since I had to stop. Even if it's just having a dance around the lounge room with your bigger kids, or packing them in the pram for a walk to the shop for milk, getting your body moving will do wonders for your mental state, I promise.

5. Catch-up

A great tip I got for things to do on maternity leave was to simply catch-up. Clear the clutter from your house, plant those beautiful roses you’ve been wanting to for ages, start a veggie garden, redecorate your house, visit friends you haven’t seen for ages, and finally get those photos printed and displayed.

It's amazing how much you can suddenly start to get done during those small periods of time when your baby finally starts napping through the day. I am way more productive now that I know the value of time and sleeping kids and I try to use that time as wisely as I can. Maternity leave with an older baby is a perfect time to get all the things sorted that you've been thinking about for ages, and you'll feel such a sense of accomplishment even ticking small things off your list.

Although there are plenty of options, the best thing any mum can do on maternity leave is to simply enjoy it—enjoy your baby, enjoy your time, and enjoy the chance to rediscover yourself. Even if you only have a short maternity leave, try to make sure you do at least one thing just for yourself every week, whether it's something from this list or something else entirely. You'll find it makes you a much happier woman which leads to a much happier mother to boot!

What sorts of things did you do on your maternity leave?
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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Floriade 2015 {In Pictures} | Places to See

It's just a quick one from me as I've been soaking up the solitary pleasure of having my own hotel room for one last night before I head home. I've been in Canberra since Sunday so that I could visit Floriade and take some photos for a Tafe assessment that I have due next term. It's been really nice being back in Canberra, a place I haven't visited since my teens.

Floriade is absolutely stunning and I could spend even more time here (in fact I plan to head back for a second quick visit before I leave Tuesday morning), but I just wanted to share with you some of my favourite photos from my first visit. Enjoy...

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Thirty-Six to Thirty-Eight {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
36/52 {Punky & Zee} There's nothing better in the world than when Daddy gets home from work

37/52 {Punky} Usually my wallet is bereft of gold coins, but today was a lucky day indeed!

37/52 {Zee} The warmer weather means it's the perfect time to go sans pants and get your ball on!

38/52 {Punky} Bittersweet moments, watching my girl master riding her bike on her own. So proud yet so sad that she's growing way too fast!

38/52 {Zee} She was so annoyed that she couldn't have a go of her sister's big girl bike and tried to jump on it every chance she got. But all was right with the world when Daddy pulled out her special bike.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Too Busy Sleeping {A Review} | For the Kids

A few weeks ago we received a very special book in the post. This book was written by a beautiful blogger friend Zanni Louise. You probably know Zanni from the blog My Little Sunshine House. I've been reading her blog for years now and I love it. So when Zanni put the call out for people to read and review her very first book, Too Busy Sleeping, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

It's no secret that I'm a massive book worm, and I am trying my best to raise two little book worms. I truly believe their is no better gift you can give someone than a love of reading and if my girls grow up loving reading I know they will never be bored.

Since before I had kids I collected kids books, especially picture books, and we have a rather large library of them now. Despite this I am always on the look out for new additions, and I knew that Too Busy Sleeping would make a wonderful addition to our reading line-up.

It's publication timing was perfect for us, with the arrival of the girls first cousin, Bear. While Zee is not so interested in Bear, Punky is beside herself with love and adoration for him. She asks me every day when we can see him again, and when we do she is so gentle and loving with him, marvelling over his cute little hands and feet.

I tried to prepare her for Bear's arrival by making sure she understood that Bear wouldn't be doing much in the first few months of his life. That babies didn't do much but eat and sleep, and that she wouldn't be able to properly 'play' with him until he was older.

Zanni Louise's book Too Busy Sleeping is all about the arrival of a new baby. Eleanor is excited for her new baby brother to arrive home, but her excitement is short-lived when she realises that Ruben is mostly too busy sleeping to be interesting.

Throughout the book Eleanor asks if she can play with her brother but the answer is always the same, Ruben is too busy sleeping. Eventually though there comes a time in the evening when Ruben is wide awake and ready to play and Eleanor delights in tickling his tiny little baby toes and fingers, until she too is too busy sleeping to read her bedtime story.

Zanni has captured those early days of life with a newborn from the perspective of an older sibling perfectly. The illustrations by Anna Pignatero are absolutely stunning and the girls and I love exploring the colours and textures of the pictures.

Punky and I have pretty much read this book every day since it arrived. We sit on the lounge and talk about the story, how Eleanor is feeling, why she gets upset, and how cute baby Ruben is. We talk about how baby Ruben is like her cousin Bear and how she can't wait for him to get older so he can play with her and she can teach him "lots of great things!".

Too Busy Sleeping was exactly the book we needed to prepare Punky for the reality that is a newborn baby. Despite the fact it's not actually a newborn baby in our house, I know if we were ever to have another baby (unlikely!) that this book would be perfect to revisit, especially for Zee, to prepare for the baby's arrival.

Even if you don't have a newborn baby in the family it's still a gorgeous book and one that I know most kids would love. It's the perfect bedtime book, the perfect anytime book actually, as books are definitely not restricted to pre-bedtime around here.

I highly recommend putting Too Busy Sleeping on your birthday & Christmas shopping lists for the little people in your life.

Did you read any special books to prepare your little ones for a new baby's arrival? What are your kids favourite bedtime books?

Thanks to Zanni for sending me her beautiful book, we loved it! And linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT to spread the word.

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Monday, 14 September 2015

One Perfect Moment {Anything Goes} | Life

Two week ago I was so insanely excited to find out that I had won tickets to see the musical Anything Goes from Nuffnang. I am a huge fan of musicals and my Mum, my sisters and I try to get to at least one every year. Tickets are usually a birthday present from Mum and we make a day (or night) of it by having a lovely lunch or dinner somewhere in the city.

So when I won the tickets there was only one person I was ever going to take. Mum. It was a nice bonus that the show was on the day before her birthday as well. Daughter of the Month* right here, people!

So last Wednesday I left Tafe early, grabbed the girls from daycare and headed over to Mum's place to leave the girls with my sister and pick up Mum. We headed in to the city and parked at the Opera House/Botanic Gardens car park and went in search of dinner.

We ended up going to Q Dining, the restaurant at the Pullman Quay Grand at Circular Quay. It;s a beautiful restaurant, right on the waterfront overlooking the Quay. You have stunning views of the City to the left, and the Harbour Bridge to the right. Dave and I had dinner there last year when we stayed in the city for a belated anniversary night and the food is excellent!

We only had enough time for mains, but it was good. We both had the beef fillet and Mum said it was probably the best she had ever had! Mum loves her steak well done and they cooked it perfectly for her. No pink, and not burned to charcoal either. My steak was a perfect Medium.

After dinner we walked over to the Opera House to pick up our tickets. Mum grabbed a birthday Champagne and we took in the view of the City from the Opera House forecourt. I've visited quite a few cities now but no city will ever be more beautiful than Sydney. We are so lucky to call this place home.

The show started and we were not disappointed. It was brilliant! I'd never seen Anything Goes before so it was really cool to see something new and be so entertained. The story, the music, the dancing, it was all fantastic!

Caroline O'Connor is simply outstanding, her voice, her moves, her legs! At first we didn't actually think that Todd McKenny was playing that night, but at half-time we found out which character he was playing and realised he was! He was so perfect he was almost unrecognisable until we knew which one he was. It was a real treat.

The tap-dancing and choreography was so good, you couldn't help but be mesmerised by the dancers and the way they moved. Every single actor played their role so perfectly. It really was an excellent show.

More than anything I really enjoyed getting to spend a night with Mum and having her all to myself. It's not often these days that we get to have one-on-one time, and even at 33 a girl needs that time with her Mum every now and then. It was so good to be able to take her out and show her just a small amount of the love and appreciation I have for everything she has done for me over the years.

It really was a perfect night full of lots of little perfect moments.

Do you like musical theatre and seeing shows? What's your favourite?

Linking up with One Mother Hen & The Multitasking Mummy

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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

How to Rearrange Your Bedroom to Create More Space | PR

This post written in partnership with Super Amart

A pit. A bottomless pit featuring nothing more than junk, a bed and a floordrobe. That is the nicest way to describe mine & Dave's bedroom. It's a small room, and as such it's hard to keep it neat and tidy when we have more stuff than we know what do with it.

Back in 2008, just after we got married, I made an attempt to makeover our room. I re-painted, even wallpapered one of the walls with very cool textured, paintable wallpaper. I got new curtains and bought in a new cupboard. It looked great. For about a day.

Fast forward 7 years and I am desperate to get it back in to some kind of organised order. But cleaning, decluttering and organising is not a strength of mine. I know I need to some help. So I asked the experts at Super Amart if they had any tips to help me transform our room. I was not disappointed.

I'm praying I'm not the only one with this problem and that some of you might appreciate these seven tips to claw back space in your bedroom, thanks to the lovely (and way more organised) people at Super Amart...


One scented candle on the bedside table? Yes. An army of aromatherapy supplies... absolutely not. It's time to declutter folks, and ruthlessly. Your bedroom should not be home to telephone bills dating back to 1986 or taxation information that's yet to be filed. If it is, find other places to put that clutter, even if it involves acquiring a filing cabinet for another room.


A successful bedroom is one where items that don't need to be on display, aren't, and that includes clothing. If your wardrobe extends to a floordrobe, it's time to invest in extra cupboards and clothing storage. Furniture specialists like Super Amart have some innovative ways to create more space in your wardrobe, or alternatively, fork out for a new wardrobe or tallboy. Super Amart has furniture stores in Sydney, all other major capitals, and in regional areas.

If your room is the only place available to house extraneous matter like bedding or family photographs, consider under bed storage or blanket boxes and tea chests.

Bed size

Size matters when it comes to your bed, so if the space is small, scale down the bed size. That may mean having an ensemble queen bed instead of a slat bed with posts and frame, or downsizing from a king to a queen in the interests of extra space.
I seriously need this Josee bed. Under-bed storage for the win!!!

Extra furniture

You're seeking out floor space here, so remove all extra furniture that doesn't absolutely have to be in the room. One small ornamental chair might be nice but Great Aunt Ruby's chaise lounge takes up too much space. If it's not necessary and it's in the way, get rid of it.


It's amazing how colour can make a room feel larger or smaller. When seeking space, go for light and neutral colours and use the tones throughout the room. A white doona can make a double bed appear like a king.

Window furnishings

While heavy curtains can dampen sound and block out morning light, they can also consume space in a room. Instead opt for light coloured knockout blinds that create a seamless look.

A little trickery

Stylists have a host of tricks up their sleeve to give the illusion of more space. Their repertoire includes large mirrors and lighting. With your lighting, ensure there are no sudden changes from light to dark, resulting in shadows, and where possible go for slim light fittings.

Whether you're selling your home or seeking more enjoyment from your space, restyling your bedroom to create more comfort room comes down to resizing, removing, storage and a little trickery.

Are you in the process of making over your bedroom? Do have a rather spectacularly-sized floordrobe like I do? What other space-savings tips are out there? 

This post was written in conjunction with Super Amart. Please see my disclosure policy for more info on all things PR and sponsored on A Study in Contradictions.

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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Thirty-Two to Thirty-Five {52 week project} | Photography

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.
32/52 {Punky} Despite the fact that she definitely can eat most foods without making a mess, there is just something about yoghurt that makes her want to make as much mess as possible. I don't know if it's the texture or what, but she can't eat it without getting it everywhere!

32/52 {Zee} When it comes to Zee and yoghurt, the mess is often caused by Zee's food philosophy of more is more. Why take a small mouthful when you can take a giant one!

33/52 {Punky} One of our favourite winter afternoon activities is to go down to the lagoon near our house and feed the ducks. We could spend hours wandering around the reserve, exploring in the trees and watching the water birds swim by.

33/52 {Zee} There are lots of cool trees at the lagoon, and Dave often has to re-live his childhood by climbing in them. The girls are keen as mustard to follow in his footsteps, even if the tree and it's trunk are twice the size they are!

34/52 {Punky} Punky's favourite show at the moment is Doc McStuffins. She begs me to watch it every day. Mum bought her a toy first aid set, and every time we go there she has to give everyone a check-up, listening to our heart, checking our blood pressure, eyes and ears, and giving us an injection. When Aunty Kate, who is finishing her final year of Nursing at Uni, came up to meet Baby Bear she bought her stethoscope and blood pressure cuff so that Punky could have a go of the real thing. Let's just say there were a few tears when she found out she couldn't keep them.

34/52 {Zee} This kid. Such a HUGE Peppa fan. While visiting Mum she sat herself down in the back room on the rocking chair and settled in for some viewing of her favourite show.

35/52 {Punky} I organised for the girls to come in to the studio at Tafe so I could have a photo session with them for some assessments that I have coming up. They had four costume changes, and all things considered they were pretty good. It was pretty stressful though, the studio environment is certainly a new one for this kiddos.

35/52 {Zee} I bought a bag of photo booth props from the Reject Shop for the shoot, thinking they might be something fun for the girls to play with and I wasn't wrong. Some of the best photos I got of Zee were when she was playing with the props. I'm definitely going to be trying this again.

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