I'm a freelance writer, blogger and animal wrangler living in Brisbane's western suburbs. Many of my stories offer great giveaways to readers - subscribe to hear about them first.
Make sure you're head and shoulders above the pack
Melbourne Cup Day signals the official start of the silly season. By the time the first Tuesday in November rolls around, people are already counting down to Christmas and New Year's Eve and needing an excuse to let their hair down.
Signing up for the office sweepstakes might be enough to satisfy some people, but if you're planning to go all out on Melbourne Cup Day this year, a little preparation certainly won't go astray.
Fashion and fillies are the key ingredients in the celebration that stops a nation. Image courtesy Flemington Racecourse and Victoria Racing Club facebook page.
The focal point of any Melbourne Cup Day outfit is a spectacular hat and the designers at Marilyn Van den Berg Millinery are dedicated to matching you with your own crowning glory. MVB Millinery offers a bespoke service which ensures headpieces, hats and fascinators are custom-designed to suit both the occasion and the outfit.
Working under the Marilyn Van den Berg label are Rachel Cockrell and several guest designers. "Design-wise I prefer to walk the line between avant garde and traditional," Cockrell explains. "Different architectural shapes are important to me, as are incorporating unusual materials and techniques. I always aim to achieve a look of stylish sophistication, regardless of a piece's unique construction."
Explore your creativity with feathers, fabric and fripperies. Flora Fascinata image.
Can't spare the expense of a one-off design? If your fingers are as nimble as your budget is limited, why not try your hand at making your own headpiece?
Bright Learning at Teneriffe is hosting a 'make your own fascinator' workshop ahead of Melbourne Cup Day. Led by Melinda Wallace (also known as Flora Fascinata), participants will learn basic millinery principles, practice fashion drawing, explore fibres and fabrics to make headpieces or corsages and make flowers or sculptural forms out of thermoplastic fabrics and beaded lace.
Opting for the DIY route is a great way to ensure your headpiece complements your outfit and lets you stand out in the crowd, organisers say. "This class is ideal for beginners or those who have some experience and are open to new ideas," they add. Participants will take home a Flora Fascinata-mentored headpiece or corsage.
When: Saturday 12 October, 9am to 11.30am Where: Teneriffe (full address will be provided upon booking) How much: $60 Contact: 07 3103 2413
Marilyn kimono style robe. Homebodii image.
Getting ready on the morning of Melbourne Cup Day can be an event in itself - so it's important to stay relaxed and preserve your spirit of fun.
Keen to nip any nerves in the bud? You could learn a lot from the latest bridal trend, where brides and their bridesmaids don wedding robes every bit as beautiful as their dresses, thus turning pre-wedding preparations into a party.
Indeed, slipping on a robe from the elegant Homebodii collection will not only make you feel like a Hollywood star lounging between takes - it will vastly reduce the risk that you'll ruin your hair or makeup while changing.
Homebodii offers a wide range of boutique robes to choose from, in shades of snow white, soft pink, electric blue and blush, while the 'Sophia' and 'Marilyn' kimono-style robes offer pops of floral and patterned colour.
Though Homebodii is based on the Gold Coast, you can purchase its robes online, which means one less stressful visit to the shops ahead of Cup Day.
Your face, our canvas. Image courtesy: The Foundation.
Ever wondered how to perfect a pout? Create that classic, smoky-eyed look? Or perhaps conjure the illusion you're not wearing any makeup at all?
Though they are often called upon to attend to brides on their Big Day, The Foundation's make-up artists will be working their magic in Brisbane on Melbourne Cup Day.
"We'll be taking eight appointments on the morning of Melbourne Cup, working from the lovely brow salon called BrowZing in Bulimba," says Aisling Cunningham.
Beyond race day, The Foundation also offers make-up lessons, declaring that with the right products tools and techniques "it can be quite simple to achieve beautiful, flawless make-up".
Personally, I'll be leaving it to the experts!
Dresses to die for
Mae white lace dress. Image courtesy Krista Hochwallner website.
It's time to step into that killer dress that's sure to stop traffic - off the racecourse at least - and Brisbane's Spring racing season is off to a good start thanks to local designer Krista Hochwallner.
The Krista Hochwallner label embodies a classic and feminine approach to fashion influenced by its creator's affection for the figure-flattering styles of the 1950s and 1960s.
Hochwallner's racewear collection is fresh and flirty - think pencil dresses, halter-neck frocks, lace bodices, full skirts - and is made in strictly limited numbers.
"I wanted to deliver pieces that afford the wearer a distinctive style with an air of classic beauty reminiscent of a feminine, glamorous era in fashion," says Hochwallner.
And the glamour doesn't end just because the races do: there are also full-length gowns and skin-tight cocktail dresses available at the Krista Hochwallner online store.