Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm Watching You..

This morning my five year old daughter looked at me accusingly and asked, “Mum, have you guys been cutting my dress?”

Not sure where this was going I replied, “No – why do you ask?”

“Because my dress is getting shorter and shorter!”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Ironic!

This news piece gave me a chuckle, hopefully it will do the same for you.

Environmental activists Raoul Surcouf and Richard Spink set sail from Bristol, England, in May on a 40-foot boat outfitted with solar panels and a wind turbine to attempt the first carbon-neutral crossing of Greenland's polar ice cap (a journey being monitored eagerly online in Bristol by 25,000 schoolchildren). However, 400 miles off the coast of Ireland, hurricane-force winds destroyed the boat, and the crew was lucky to be rescued by a nearby ship, which was a tanker carrying 680,000 barrels of crude oil.
Image courtesy of
[The Guardian (London), 5-6-09]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Savvy and Successful - Viktoria Darabi

Viktoria Darabi always has plans brewing for the next Hawkesbury tourism event or advancement for Renaissance Rocking Horses. Finally, she has put to use her many years of marketing and publicity experience and has founded her own business, allowing her to do what she loves – help people and their businesses.

Savvy and Successful, Viktoria’s new business provides a coaching service offering business and marketing advice to businesses owners.

The new business venture is something Viktoria has had ‘brewing’ for a long time. “It’s probably something I should have done sooner, but with a young family and growing a business, I didn’t have the wherewith all or time to think it through completely and put the wheels in motion.” But when Viktoria became a mentor and speaker for the Young Entrepreneur’s Stepping-Up Program she realised she had everything she needed to start the business.

Viktoria’s favourite part of the job? Working with young people. “I love their bravery, passion for what they are doing and of course the delicious potential that they represent.”

Despite her high-achieving lifestyle, Viktoria is under no illusion about the fact that, underneath it all, she is just a normal, busy mum and admits that her daily motivation is quite simple; “Getting the children ready for school is what makes me get up every morning.”

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Overcoming the Odds - Rachel Warner

It's that time of year again and the Cancer Council is holding their annual Australia's Biggest Morning Tea rally. To commemorate the difficult and often heartbreaking struggles many face due to cancer I decided to share the story of Rachel Warner who has had a tough few years but has come through it with a refreshingly honest and insightful take on life.

At 27, Rachel was thrown into a storm of uncertainty, tests and surgery after a grim discovery was made just after giving birth to her second son.

“I’d been told that it’s quite common for adults to have nodules on the thyroid,” Rachel explained, “but I wasn’t prepared when the specialist rang me and said, ‘Hi Rachel. It’s got to come out.’”

Rachel was prescribed surgery (total removal of the Thyroid) and Radioactive Iodine Treatment and was booked into hospital almost immediately.
At the time of the surgery Rachel was still breastfeeding Campbell and the operation required a four day hospital stay. Rachel’s husband, Justin, spent those days by her bed, there with Campbell, so she could still breastfeed.

The Radioactive Iodine Treatment (RIT) was much more complicated than the surgery but fortunately it was able to be postponed until after Campbell turned one and had been weened.

“I had the RIT in an isolation room at the hospital and no one was allowed in and I wasn’t allowed out of the room for 24 hours,” Rachel said. “It was a very lonely experience.”

“Even after going home I spent ten days alone in my room, not allowed to kiss or hug anyone (especially my boys). It was a frustrating and went very slowly but we had a lot of family and friends from church who brought us meals and we knew we weren’t alone.”

Rachel and Justin explained everything to their eldest son Jake, who was three at the time. He understood that he needed to stay away from his mummy so that the medicine in her body didn’t make him sick but it was tough on baby Campbell who was too young to understand why his mum couldn’t hug him.

There are two types of Thyroid cancer which are fatal. Fortunately, the type Rachel suffered with was curable. “Surprisingly, there wasn’t a time when I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Rachel reminisces. “It did get hard though. I just wanted to enjoy my new baby but had this hanging over me for the first 15 months of his life.”

Even though life has changed forever for Rachel, she’s confident about the future. “Whether the cancer returns or I’m faced with more mountains to climb, I know I can do it,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll ever go through something I can’t come out of stronger.”

Rachel is now fully recovered from the cancer but will undergo tests every six months and requires medication everyday for the rest of her life. She still has trouble with low calcium levels and is working with specialists to find a solution.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mr or Mrs Mum?

Whether to have a full-time career or stay home with the children is a decision women are able to make these days. Women are continually celebrating the fact that during the last few decades portrayal of our role has changed, giving us the freedom to choose whether we work, stay home or both. Though liberating this choice can cause confusion, frustration and sometimes even anguish, especially when the question of childcare is raised.

I spoke to two of my beautiful friends who've both carved a life for themselves in which they're able to be doing exactly what they want with their lives. Leanne is a full-time accountant and Susan is a full-time at home mum. They've both explained how they make their lifestyle choices work, why they chose the life they have and what makes it work and sometimes difficult.

Full-time accountant - Leanne

“We decided that Hayden would be the main care giver mainly for economic reasons. I always thought I’d be a stay at home mum, because that’s how I grew up. However, that changed once I started working.

“It works well for us; the kids get real hands-on time with Hayden, which they love and having more money isn’t everything but it certainly gives us more options. I love it too because I come home to cooked meals and clean washing! I’m very fortunate that my employer is quite flexible; sometimes I meet Hayden at appointments for the kids (eg. Will’s kinder orientation) and make the time up later.

“I can get very tired though, especially when I was breastfeeding and I’ve found that friendships can suffer because I like to spend all my ‘after-hours’ time with the kids.

“The last three years have been a steep learning curve and I’ve had to learn to let Hayden do things his way. I’ve also found that it’s very important to take time out and to make the effort to socialise, especially for Hayden’s sake.

“Socially it can be tough. My husband has been laughed at for being a Mr. Mum and someone commented to me, “He must be lazy”. These comments upset me because I believe that my husband is more of a man for putting his family first by choosing what works best for all of us rather than simply conforming to the norm. Some assume that I’m working only because I have to, not because I want to and they feel sorry for me which can be frustrating, yet some people think it’s fantastic. In the end, who cares what people think? As long as our family is happy.”

Full-time stay at home mum - Susan

“Ever since I was a little girl, I really wanted to be a wife and mother. I’ve always loved taking care of children and although I didn’t have any younger siblings, I was looking after other peoples kids from my early teens onwards.

“One of the biggest benefits of staying at home is the time I have with my kids, where they can ask questions like, “what is time?” (try answering that one!). I see it as a privilege to have this time with my kids and don’t think I’ll ever have the opportunity to make such an impact on a life so I want to do the best I can.

“At first it was tough getting used to putting all my time and effort into working at home and not getting paid for it. It was quite humbling to be dependent on Steve as the breadwinner. Now I feel like Steve and I are a team doing our different parts for the family and I don’t see it as ‘Steve’s money’ anymore.

“I plan to stay at home until Archie is at school because I think that’s what’s best for us as a family. Because Steve’s job requires long hours, I feel it’s important for the children to have a parent consistently in the home and I’m in the best position to be able to do that.

“I’m really glad I haven’t had to put my children in day care but believe that having the luxury of having Grandparents caring for your children would be a great option.

I’ll probably study at home for a couple of years and then work part-time within school hours once he’s started school. I’m a big believer in taking things as they come though and don’t spend a lot of time planning it out.”

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bringing Business Home

In years gone by, home-based businesses were considered second-rate, assumed to be newly established and perhaps even unprofessional. Now, possibly because of soaring child care rates and commercial rental fees, mother's all over the place are running busy, successful businesses from their homes. Many have employees and run business meeting at the family table. Shelley Appelgren, based in Emu Plains, is one of these mums.

In 2001 Shelley launched two businesses from home - Pay Solutions and Salon One. Pay Solutions is a direct debit management company, allowing buisnesses to have a more steady cashflow due to regular direct debit payment being made by clients and managed by Pay Solutions. Salon One is a beauty salon membership program used at many salons around the country. Members/salon clients pay a monthly membership fee which is then translated into credit for use in-store, again allowing owners a more steady cash flow.

Salon One was the original concept. Shelley's friends were struggling with their family business - a gym/beauty salon; “Their salon was having its ups and downs so they came up with a concept of a membership program which was to be conducted via direct debit,” Shelley explains. “My friend had the concept and I had a marketing background so she asked me if I wanted to come on board in a marketing capacity. My daughter was only three months old but I jumped at the opportunity.”

Shelley has since bought out the business and now runs Pay Solutions and Salon One with the assistance of two employees.

Pay Solutions evolved soon after.

“There are a number of reasons why we chose to have a home-based business,” the busy Mumpreneur explains. “I have a young family so the flexibility was a plus. The other main reason was that I wanted to invest funds into the marketing and growth of the business.”

Shelley admits that initially, the plan was to stick with the home-based setup for a few years and then to move into an off-site office. But people’s perceptions changed and Shelley realised that moving wasn’t necessary. “I thought if I ran the business from home that people would see me as an unprofessional small business but that if I had an office, people would see me as a more professional, large organisation,” Shelley says. “I think people’s views have changed over the years and it’s no longer necessary to have an external office.”

Shelley’s family have been very supportive of her business and her daughters, Georgia 8 and Ella 5, love watching and getting involved. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing (that they often see me working). They’re exposed to that work ethic and I can explain to them that Mummy’s working to earn money so we can do special things.”

Pay Solutions and Salon One will remain home-based businesses for as long as possible until council restrictions require them to move (many councils have strict regulations about how many employees can work in a home office). When the time comes to move elsewhere, Shelley will no doubt feel a little disappointed. “If you had asked me eight years ago whether I preferred working from home or not I wouldn’t have said it was by choice but now it is definitely my choice.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Healthy Imagination - Debbie O'Connor

Author and Graphic Designer, Debbie O'Connor, cured her son’s dislike of vegetables by writing a book!

When Debbie's son, Joel, decided he wasn't going to eat vegetables, Debbie, who was on a weightloss journey herself, decided to find a solution. The solution came in the form of meal time guest, Andrew Potato Face, and developed into a colourful children's book.
“The book follows the story of Andrew Potato Face, who gets eaten, little by little throughout the meal," Debbie explained. "The aim of the book is to make mealtimes fun and to encourage children to experiment. Eating an ‘eyeball’ is surprisingly fun when you are a little person!"

It all started at a Mother's Group meeting. Debbie expressed her worries and some of the womens suggested she make a 'vegetable face' on Joel's plate. Debbie gave it a go and asked him; “Would you like to eat his eyeballs?” He was so excited that he grabbed a handful of peas and ate them.
Debbie made an Andrew Potato Face book for Joel to enjoy but after she took the copy to Mother's Group and everyone wanted a lend, Debbie realised she was onto something.

“When I lent the original book to other mums in our Mothers Group, they all came back with positive feedback," she sais. "One of the mothers had a premmie daughter who’d never eaten a plate of food in her life. She borrowed the book and she said it was the first time her daughter had eaten a complete meal." After seeing how much it had helped other mums, Debbie decided to have it published. The bright, fun illustrations were created by Leonie Windle and Debbie had it designed and printed through her graphic design company, White River Design.

The books are sold online at and Debbie visits preschools to read to the children and discuss healthy eating. The book is also available for sale as a fundraiser.
Images courtesy of

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Darren Pead - From Bakery to Blokey Bounty

A few years ago, retail enthusiast Darren Pead noticed a gap in the retail market and realised he could fill it. Two years, and approximately $1.35 million worth of sales later, it seems that he may have been right.

The market Darren identified was men’s gifts and the solution was Guy Stuff, a classy men’s gift and collectables business. With two stores now open in Sydney and another two being planned for 2009, Guy Stuff is also a thriving online store which sold 10 000 items in its first year alone.

Darren, who also has a passion for collecables believes there is a huge demand for shops specialising in men's gifts. "My main attraction is to retail, it just turned out that it was gifts and collectables, it was almost going to be bakeries.”

At Guy Stuff a customer is sure to find a suitable gift for any man. The stores sell everything from cuff links to bar accessories, model cars and planes to collectable pins and coins and much more. Stores are clean, bright and well set-out, appealing to men, women and children.

Setting him apart from many Australian retailers, Darren puts equal emphasis on his online store and retail shops, placing him in the 'Clicks and Mortar' category. Both online and in store are huge markets for Guy Stuff and both have their strengths and weaknesses. "Our retail shops are enjoyable to shop in and our products fun to buy, so I believe that over the next five to 10 years the retail shops are where the biggest opportunity exists," Darren explains.

Another thing setting the up-and-coming retailer apart is the lack of professional market research. Darren doesn't pay for 'market research' but instead, opts to listen to customers comments and suggestions; "Just about every decision we have made in Guy Stuff has been the direct result of talking to customers," he says.

The current financial crisis is making it hard for Darren to find investors for his growing business but, despite this, has bright plans for the future. "We hope to have a store within 20 minutes of the entire populations of Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast," Darren says. "I want Guy Stuff to be known as the best retail destination for men’s gifts and collectables in the country."

If all these plans come to fruition, a Guy Stuff store will be within 20 minutes drive of 80% of the entire Australian population.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cut the Cost of Cancer

I remember when cancer was a disease common amongst the elderly only. Many Grandparents (including my own Grandma) sadly died at the hands of this devastating disease.
When I was young, cancer seemed to be confined to the elderly. Now, it's not uncommon to hear of young adults, children and even babies battling it. The word 'cancer' now sends a shiver down the back of everyone - parents, uncles, aunties, children and grandparents. We all now know that we're not immune, and neither are our young children and babies.

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea is happening later this month and is a great opportunity to come together with people who have been affected by the disease and who are determined to make a difference to the future of cancer research and treatment. Many people are holding large events, inviting everyone while others are organising smaller, social gatherings.

Whichever way you choose to commemorate and participate in this event, you're personally making a difference. Every dollar raised helps our children live without the threat of cancer at any age, in any situation and for any reason.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gender Testing = Gender Selection

Yesterday a test was made available to the Australian public that can tell the gender of a unborn child, as young as eight weeks old. This has occured despite gender selection being banned in Australia in 2005.

Reactions have been mixed, with some doctors and pro-life campaigners believing that the move only encourages the age-old problem of gender selection.
In India and China, gender-related abortion is illegal and, therefore, it is illegal to determind the child's gender, prior to its birth. If countries who have been around for much longer than we have and who have much larger populations than we have feel the need to put these restrictions in place, who are we to think we will be immune?
We may not have strict traditions requiring male heirs or a society with strong influences on females but there are still countless examples of Australian families desperate to 'even out their family', who try and try again until they are finally gifted with the desired child. This is entirely understandable and we'd be crazy to assume that most parents go into parent-hood gender-preference free.

For most, IntelliGender will be no more than a fun way to extend their planning time, prior to the birth of their child. What we must consider are the extreme cases. Parents who, due to extenuating circumstances, find it difficult to think rationally. The news of 'another girl', or 'one more son' may be too much for these people to handle and, when finding out as early as eight weeks into the pregnancy, is far too easy to 'fix'.

Even though we often don't agree with the politics and decisions of countries like India and China , maybe we shouldn't throw the babies out with the bath water. If they've struggled with this problem for all these hundred's of years, maybe they might just know what they're doing when they ban gender-testing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Matthew Johns - Humility May Save You

When I first heard that Matthew Johns was under fire for a sex scandal dating back seven years ago, I took pity on the popular presenter, blaming the media for dragging up the past again. After greater consideration though, I realised that what we're witnessing is actually a really positive thing. For the first time, that I'm aware of, we're hearing the effects that these all-too-common events have on the women involved. When these scandals are flashed across the papers, I've often wondered what the women/woman involved felt about it and wondered why there was never any mention of them/her.

Matthew Johns has a huge advantage. He is loved by fans all over the country and holds regular spots on popular TV programs. He has the greatest avenue to tell his story and render as much pity in the hearts of the public as possible.

The woman who, seven years ago, was involved in the activities portrayed by the media doesn't have this advantage. She finally spoke out about what actually happens behind closed doors and gave these 'mystery' women a face and, more importantly, a voice. She has exposed the shame and emotional trauma these rituals cause the women involved.

I'm inclined now, to be of the opinion that the most noble thing Matthew Johns can do right now, in an attempt to save face and his career, would be to publicly acknowledge the harm he has caused the woman involved. Instead of lamenting the strife it has understandably caused him and his family, Johns might consider apologising to the woman in question.

These sex acts reinforce a common thought (even if it may be subconscious) that women are objects to be played with and discarded as desired. Johns is now in a position to help change this sad state of affairs but may not have the humility to do so.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bernadette Black - 2009 Barnardo's Mother of the Year

I was excited to wake this morning to the news of this year's recipient of the Barnados Mother of the Year Award, Bernadette Black.

Bernadette Black and her son, Damien Oliver-Black

After falling pregnant at just 16, Bernadette decided that, despite the odds, she would achieve these three things; she would be the best mum she could possibly be, get an education and write a book encouraging others in her situation. In the years following, Bernadette did done all three and after such a rocky, emotional start, has now been hailed as the years best mum.

Bernadette was nominated by her 15 year old son, Damien Oliver-Black, who said of his mother, "It's like she has a flame inside her that burns and burns to help people," he said. "But she also always has time for her own kids and makes us all feel very special - and she makes great chocolate chip cookies!"

Bernadette's story is so different to previous winners of the Barnardos Mother of the Year Award. While all are very much deserving, Bernadette speaks for many of the unheard mothers. The ones who are assumed inadequate and often ignored because of their young age. How fantastic to have such a beautiful, loving woman encouraging and representing this group of people.
Bernadette's book, Brave Little Bear, is available at her website

Congratulations Bernadette!

Quotes courtesy of
Images courtesy of

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Murder or Dogmatism?

One particular set of parents have been splashed across the media for the past week, being branded as neglectful parents and even murderers. Thomas and Manju Sam's nine-month-old daughter, Gloria, passed away from an infection linked to her severe case of eczema, in 2002.

Despite consistent professional medical advice to take their pain-ravaged baby to a dermatologist, the couple declined, relying instead on homeopathic medicine, much akin to that used in their birth country, India. It has been said that baby Gloria's life could have been saved even up to a week before her death, had appropriate medical treatment been rendered. Gloria suffered from chronic pain, weight loss and, according to childhood nurse, Melissa Hartnett, her skin had "gone past being inflamed". Baby Gloria constantly moved and cried due to the severity of her pain.

This tragic course of events stirs many emotions in me, as a mother. Surprisingly, my initial reaction was not outrage or disgust by the obvious neglect of duty these parents committed.

Mr and Mrs Sam are parents who have allowed their idealism and opinion to replace their common sense. They were blind to the detrimental developments their daughter's eczema was making on a week by week basis due to their strong sense of conviction that homeopathy was the answer to their daughter's debilitating illness.

Instead of feeling outraged, I am challenged by this story to look at my own track record as a mother. Have I doggedly stood by certain choices or opinions, too proud to admit I was wrong, despite the effect this may have on my children or those around me? Of course I have. I think anyone who denies ever having been in this position, parents or not, would be kidding themselves. Pride and self-justification are aspects of human nature we would all prefer to think wasn't a part of our own individual make-up. This story tragically highlights the fact that it is.

With recent publicity labelling the couple as 'murderers', 'neglectful' and a variety of other tags, one would be forgiven for thinking that these people weren't concerned with the state of their daughter's health and did nothing to stop Gloria's tragic end. I believe Mr and Mrs Sam's experience would have been quite the contrary. Like all parents, they wanted the best for their child, especially when it came to her health. They doggedly and, perhaps unwisely, stood by their convictions towards homeopathic treatment and, when their beloved daughter passed away, would've felt the full brunt of their decisions.

Living in a democratic country gives us the right to make choices and also to have freedom of speech. It has been approximately 2,750 days since the death of baby Gloria Sam and, for Thomas and Manju Sam, every single one of those days will have been marked by unimaginable grief, pain, loss, anger and frustration - guaranteed. What have those 2,750 days been like for them? What did they try to do, as parents, for their daughter and her illness? This largely silent side of the story is, I believe, where the real tabloids lye.
Did these parents set out to destroy their baby? I don't believe so. Were they unwise and dogmatic? Probably.

My point isn't whether or not Gloria's death was her parent's fault. My point is that we can all look back and see times when we've doggedly stood by our opinions, despite the cost to others - however seemingly insignificant or sometimes large the consenquences may have been. This story serves as a reminder to keep ourselves in check. Is it right for us to continually fight for our opinions... sometimes even to the death?

Image courtesy of the Herald Sun

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Freedom Of Speech or Only To Agree?

Last month, Miss Universe America contestant Carrie Prejean (Miss California) expressed her opinions on gay marriage after being asked what she thought by panellist Perez Hilton. Much to the shock of the openly homosexual panellist and the world at large, Ms Prejean explained that in her family and in her home town, marriage was between a man and a woman and that she believes that's how it should stay. International media was abuzz and Ms Prejean admitted that by making her opinions known, she had probably sacrificed any chance she had of gaining the title of Miss Universe America away.

Now, photos have 'emerged' of a younger, naked Ms Prejean. Coincidence? I think not.

Ms Prejean addressed her critics today.

“On April 19, I chose to answer a question during the 2009 Miss USA pageant in an honest and personal manner that expressed my views of the long-established definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman... my comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street.

“... photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith... these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others’ opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks.

“With that in mind, I will continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is. I will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of the American people and the voters of my home state of California. If this whole experience has taught me anything, it is ...we as Americans can never allow anyone or any group to intimidate or threaten us to keep silent.”

Here, here!

Quotes and image courtesy of The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Joke of the Day

My five year old daughter came out with a joke this morning, fit to rival Koshie's Sunrise Joke of the Day, segment.

"What happens if you stand in front of an insaust (exhaust) pipe?"
"You get insausted (exhausted)!"

Almost as funny as a Star Wars mad couple who were married yesterday (May 4), during a Jedi style wedding. Their wedding bands simply read, 'May The Fourth Be With You'...

Monday, May 4, 2009

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to up-and-coming musician, Jess Chalker. I found her to be very down to earth, despite her mind blowing sky-rocket to You-Tube fame after recording herself on her webcam and posting it on the international video site. Jess is a beautiful musician and a great ambassador for the Hawkesbury.

Jess Comes Out Of The Shadows

by Joni Leimgruber
DESPITE international contract offers, a growing fanbase and an upcoming slot with singer-songwriter Lior on his ‘Shadows and Light’ tour, Kurrajong’s Jess Chalker is determined to take
things slowly.
Ms Chalker, was flung into the online spotlight when she posted some of her songs on internet website YouTube. After one of her songs, ‘Said the Raindrop to the Seed’, received
around 400,000 hits, contract offers from all over the world began flooding in.

Ms Chalker, whose feet seem to be firmly planted on the ground, spoke to The Gazette about her approach towards music and her hopes for the future.

“I want to approach this as an artist and build on my craft first,” she said. “I’m still very shy and my performances are still quite intimate. I want to be a true professional before I really get into it.”

When asked how she would describe her musical style, she said it was difficult to categorise.

“No-one really wants to be put into a genre box but I guess my music is alternative acoustic lyrical,” she said.

This year looks like it will be a busy one for the talented songstress, with a tour beginning in March, supporting well respected alternative artist Lior for nine dates of his ‘Shadows and Light’ tour.

“I’m really excited,” she said of the upcoming tour. “I’m a little nervous but very excited. Lior is an amazing artist and I feel honoured to open for him and to have his support.”

Ms Chalker, who also plays piano and guitar and dabbles in the ukulele, finds her inspiration not only in talented musicians such as The Beatles and Joni Mitchell, but also in her circle of friends and family who only discovered her lent last year, when she began posting her music online.

“They felt quite proud,” Ms Chalker said. "They knew that I was singing and playing guitar but I don’t think they realised that I was writing my own songs and doing okay with that. It came as quite a surprise but they’ve been very supportive.”

While Ms Chalker is now based at Summer Hill, her family still lives in the Hawkesbury and are proud of her development as a serious musician and artist.

Jess recently serenaded diners at a Valentine’s Day dinner at Sassafras Creek restaurant in Kurrajong Village.

Sassafras owner Natalie Smith raved about Jess’ beautiful voice, lilting acoustic melodies and
poetic lyrics.

Lior’s’ Shadows and Light’ tour is set to be the final shows before he commences work on his third album, and promises to be a unique and memorable show which shouldn’t be missed. The tour is expected to cement Jess Chalker’s status as a homegrown musician to watch.

For more information, gig dates, or to listen to Ms Chalker’s music, visit

As published in the Hawkesbury Gazette, January 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009

Check out this quirky piece of news.

Visiting this exhibit certainly won't be on my to-do list.

HE is an art lover who has dedicated his whole body to his passion.

Now retired history teacher Geoff Ostling, 65, has pledged to donate his skin to the National Gallery in Canberra.

"To donate skin is not the most amazing thing in the world but the tattoos are revolutionary."

The concept of donating his skin was followed in an Australian documentary Anatomy, which has already won international acclaim.

He will also donate his organs to medicine.
"It has never been done as a whole body before and not in a gallery," he said.

"People can be squeamish about it. Portraits painted on human skin hang in galleries around the world. They don't tell you that, of course, and valuable books were also covered in human skin."

Sydney taxidermy expert Sascha Smith said it could be a challenge to preserve the tattoos unharmed but the process would be no different to skinning an animal.


Read Daily Telegraph article by Vikki Campion here:,22049,25411667-5012895,00.html