A story of twins separated at birth

A story of twins separated at birth

1. The early years

33-year-old Lin Backlund and Emelie Falk tick all of the boxes when it comes to mysterious, unique and heartwarming circumstances.

After all, it’s not everyday you meet twins who were separated at birth, only to be reunited as adults 29 years later. It’s also somewhat of a rare occurrence to discover that both sisters grew up to be school teachers, got married on the same day and even danced to the same wedding song – You and Me by Lifehouse.

In 1983, the non-identical twins were born to a large family in the northern city of Semarang, Indonesia. Eight months later, they were taken to an orphanage where they were both separately adopted to two loving couples. Strangely enough, both families lived in Sweden and raised the girls in adjoining towns.

The only catch was that neither twin knew about the other, and that wasn’t going to change any time soon.

“I knew I had a lot of siblings in Indonesia because we read the adoption papers a few times when I was young,” Lin said. “But I never felt like anything was missing. My younger sisters in Sweden were, and are, my real sisters.”

Emelie expressed similar feelings, but admitted that sometimes she did feel like something was missing.

“I guess in my heart I knew I had a twin sister, but I had everything you could ask for: two loving parents and a little brother. I had a really happy life,” she revealed. “When I was a little girl, my mum used to tell me I was born in her heart instead of her belly.”

Both girls grew up to be beautiful, kind hearted and smart young women with loving husbands and children of their own. They already had everything they wanted and needed, so why waste time digging up the past?

But when Emelie started planning her wedding in 2009, she began wondering about the circumstances surrounding her adoption. Eventually, she thought that perhaps it was worth some investigating. And just like an itch that wouldn’t go away, the curiosity eventually consumed her.

Which is when everything started to unravel…

2. suspicions

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“When you were a small girl, a woman called to ask if her daughter could maybe be your biological sister,” were the words Emelie’s mother used when she was questioned about the adoption.

According to her, when Lin’s parents left the orphanage with their new baby all those years ago, their taxi driver – confused – turned to them and asked:

“What about the other one, the sister?”

Assumedly, he’d seen the babies around and knew a thing or two about them. He even happily jotted the girls’ Indonesian names down on a piece of paper – Nur Hidayah (now Lin) and Nur Kasanah (now Emelie) so that the Backlunds could decide what to do with the information.

And without further adieu, the family took Lin home to Sweden and vowed to one day uncover the truth.

3. When nothing added up

 

Two years later, the Backlunds were finally able to track down Emelie and her family. To their astonishment, the Falks also lived in southern Sweden, which was a huge coincidence considering the twins were both born in Indonesia.

Eventually, the families arranged a meeting and sat down with one common goal in mind: to figure everything out once and for all.

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But when the Backlunds and the Falks compared their daughters’ birth certificates, a few confusing discrepancies were found. Lin’s certificate said she had more siblings than Emelie’s, and both documents listed different addresses for their biological parents. The only thing the birth certificates did have in common were their parents’ names, which wasn’t enough to convince anyone.

In light of this new information, the Backlunds and Falks concluded their daughters weren’t sisters, let alone twins. DNA tests hadn’t been invented back then, so there was very little anyone could do.

“We weren’t similar at all,” Emelie said. “And they were all just happy being a family. My parents has been longing for children for more than ten years.”

All connections were soon forgotten and subsequent contact was lost. However, both girls were raised in stable and loving homes. Lin was blessed with two younger sisters, while Emelie grew up with a brother three years her junior. To their parents’ credit, neither twin ever felt out of place or like they didn’t belong in their own homes.

“There was no difference between us growing up,” Lin said when questioned about her siblings. “Once my mother told the doctor, a few seconds before she could think it through, that she couldn’t understand why I was allergic to a lot of stuff, since neither she or my father had any allergies. She worked as a nurse and she’s usually educated, but just in that small second – that’s how natural she thought it was that we should have the same genes.”

4. PUTTING THEIR SUSPICIONS TO THE TEST

Fast forward 29 years and both women were still living in Sweden. They had moved out of their childhood homes, but they still had very positive relationships with their parents and siblings. 

But after learning of her adoption story, then 29-year-old Emelie began to think that maybe there was more to the story than her parents originally suspected. And now that technology was so advanced and information was more easily accessible, she could take matters into her own hands.

“When all of this information came to me, I decided to search for Lin, and I found her on Facebook,” Emelie said. “I was really nervous to send her a message, but I wrote ‘Hi, my name is Emelie. I don’t know if you’re the person I’m looking for, but…’ and then I told her the whole story my mum told me.”

According to Emelie, Lin was very sceptical at first and gave “quite short” replies, such as “Hi. Hm, this sounds weird.” But after Lin spoke with her own mother who confirmed Emelie’s story, she became more enthusiastic and the two soon became fast friends.

“We decided to meet for the first time in Lund at Lin’s place,” Emelie said. “When I saw her, the first thing I thought was that she was really pretty and had long legs. We sat in her living room and talked about everything and nothing. It felt really nice and relaxed.”

However, even though both women felt an instant connection, Lin said the meeting wasn’t particularly overwhelming or exciting, as neither twin knew whether they were actually sisters.

“We met because we at least had the same background, and we were probably born in the same village, or at least we had been in the same orphanage,” she admitted.

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After getting to know each other a bit more and keeping in constant contact, Lin and Emelie both eventually agreed to undertake a DNA test to find out once and for all if their feelings were warranted.

“It (the test) said we were 99.98% sisters,” Emelie said. “That made us both laugh and cry. It felt really nice, although we could already feel in our hearts that we were sisters and twins before the results came back.”

“I knew it was something good and special,” Lin agreed. “When we got the DNA results, it was a relief. It was an ‘okay’ that we were allowed to feel what we were feeling. We felt like we had been friends all our lives.”

5. The similarities and differences

Although Lin and Emelie are fraternal twins with many different interests, it’s blatantly obvious they also have plenty in common – and not only their teaching professions, wedding dates and wedding song selections.

“We’re both sensitive and sometimes we act on a feeling,” Lin said. “We have a hard time letting things go, and we care a lot about the wellbeing of others, which can be both good and bad.  We both also like home decorating and being creative. Emelie is good at writing, making birthday cards, scrapbooking and so on, and I have my sewing and gardening. We both also like music and singing, but Emelie’s so much better.”

But just like any other siblings, the twins also have their differences. For example, while Lin appears more calm and reserved, Emelie comes across louder and more outgoing.

“I like to talk and laugh out loud,” Emelie said. “I like to do things very fast and get them done quickly, while Lin’s the opposite.”

Lin, who agreed, said that Emelie is more comfortable being the centre of attention.

“She’s more social than me. I like to be in the background, except for when I teach,” she said. “People sometimes say I’m like the older sister and she’s the younger one, but I think that’s because she’s more lively and outgoing.

We’re both teachers, so we both like education. However, Emelie’s more patient with younger kids because I educate 17-19 year olds,” Lin laughed. “For me, they’re too much effort – even my own!”

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Lin then admitted that she’s calmer and more of a thinker than Emelie, but that Emelie tends to share more personal stories than she does.

“I’m happy to do that as well, but with people I know,” she said. “I don’t know why, because I trust people too, but I guess I just don’t like being in the centre as much. Emelie’s more sensitive and knows the right thing to say. I went to high school with just guys, so I guess sometimes I communicate as a typical male. No prejudice there, but I’m just more straight forward with what I think and I don’t take the time to read feelings.”

And although they are two independent, strong women with their own lives and responsibilities, at the end of the day they have the twin thing down pat.

“We can both sense how the other is feeling,” Emelie said. “Sometimes we text the other one in the middle of the night with “I know you’re awake. What’s up? How are you feeling?”

6. Nature vs nurture

“I think the environment plays the absolute biggest part of who we become. I also think it’s dangerous to think it’s all in our genes, like ‘blood is thicker than water’ because honestly, sometimes it’s not. You’re not done or finished when you’re born, you are made and change during your lifetime. The choices you make affect who you are. It’s not all in your genes. You are able to change who you are.” – Lin Backlund.

Lin and Emelie might be fraternal twins, but the nature vs nurture debate is always an interesting concept when it comes to twins or siblings who were separated at birth and raised apart.

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The debate is one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology. There are many good and relevant points for both sides, so it’s been difficult for researchers to determine whether a person’s development is predisposed by his or her DNA, or whether it’s influenced by his or her experiences and environment.

There has always been fascination surrounding twins and siblings raised separately. Identical twins, in particular, share the same amount of DNA because they originate from the same egg. Fraternal twins, like Lin and Emelie, come from separate eggs and share only 50% of their DNA, just like normal siblings.

According to Personality Research, fraternal twins are far less likely to be as similar as identical twins, but there are still possibilities that they – like any normal siblings – could grow up to have the same interests, tastes in food, fashion style, friends and more.

Personality is a good example of a trait that has been studied in both identical and fraternal twins. Identical twins reared apart are much more similar in personality than fraternal twins in the same situation. According to researchers, this suggests that personality is heritable.

Dr Nancy Segal, Professor of Psychology at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and Director of the Twin Studies Centre, has authored approximately 120 scientific articles regarding twins. She has also published four books, and is currently working on a fifth one titled ‘Twin Mythconceptions: Facts Or Fiction?’

 According to Dr Segal, identical twins reared apart are just as alike as identical twins reared together. To rule out identical appearance, she even studied personality in unrelated look alikes who turned out to be quite different. However, this wasn’t surprising as she very much expected that to be the case.

Dr Segal revealed that nature and nurture both play roles in shaping a person, but genes have a greater influence on some things, such as personality, rather than other things like job satisfaction.

She also said that separated twins are generally more alike than different later in life. One example she provided was a set of identical twins she studied in her book: ‘Invisible by two: lives of extraordinary twins.’ These twin brothers were part of a landmark Minnesota twin study that Dr Segal was heavily involved with, and which took place from the late 1980s until the early 2000s.

 Jack Yufe and Oskar Stohr were born in 1993 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, to a German Catholic mother and a Romanian Jewish father. However, Yufe grew up as Jewish in Trinidad and became part of the Israeli navy. His identical twin brother, Oskar Stohr was raised as a Catholic in Nazi Germany and eventually joined the Hitler Youth.

According to Dr Segal, the men were “very similar in most aspects, except for their political and historical views.”

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When the brothers first met, they didn’t get along at all. In fact, they refused to acknowledge each other as fellow human beings – let alone twins. They said goodbye on bad terms, and it wasn’t until 25 years later during the Minnesota Twin Study that they were reunited.

When Yufe and Stohr met at the airport, coincidently they were both wearing the exact same outfit: a white sports jacket, a shirt and glasses. Additionally, both twins enjoyed reading books from back to front, wrapped rubber bands around their wrists, wore tight swimsuits, sneezed loudly in lifts and always flushed the toilet before and after using it.

In Dr Segal’s book, she said most of these traits could be explained by genetics. The toilet flushing, for example, was most likely a result of the brothers’ aversion to germs.

The only things the men didn’t have in common were their political views and beliefs, including who they thought was responsible for World War II. Obviously, the twins had extremely different upbringings and it was difficult for their genes to overcome such prominent and strong environmentally shaped beliefs.

The Minnesota Twin Study ran for over 20 years. The researchers studied 137 pairs of separated twins – 81 identical and 56 fraternal. The study was revolutionary in the respect that scientists discovered the environment didn’t play a role as significant as they originally suspected. For example, religiosity and social attitudes showed a genetic influence, rather than an environmental one.

Another study, which was commissioned by the Journal Science, researched intelligence in relation to genetics. They found that 70 percent of IQ variation across the twin population was caused by genetic differences, and 30 percent was due to environmental differences.

Among identical twins, 80 percent of those surveyed said they felt closer to their new twin than they currently did with their oldest and closest friends. According to researchers, this suggested a very strong genetic component in the bond between identical twins.

Twin studies have evolved significantly over the last few decades. New research has given scientists an entirely innovative understanding of the roles that both genes and the environment play in human development. Now and in the future, researchers are aiming to link specific genes to certain behaviours. They’re also hoping to discover a lot more about genetic and environmental crossovers and their relationships to both identical and fraternal twins.

7. Where are Lin and Emelie now?

It’s now been five years since Lin and Emelie met for the first time, but according to them it feels much longer.

“It was like suddenly having a new best friend that you don’t really know, but it feels like you do,” Lin said. “We have known each other for just five years, but it feels like a life time. I also feel safe with her. I know she will be there for me and I for her no matter what.

We send text messages every other day, and talk almost every week. We both work as teachers and have small children, so we have a lot to discuss. However, we both have very busy lives, so we don’t see each other that often. It’s also hard because we have different families, so all holidays and special occasions are with different families and friends.”

And although Emelie said sometimes she feels sad that she and Lin missed out on so much of each other’s lives, she wouldn’t change anything, as they both have very good lives.

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“Now we have kids, and they have the opportunity to get to know each other and be a part of each other’s lives,” Emelie said. “That makes me happy.”

Lin currently lives with her husband and two young sons, while Emelie lives with her husband and two infant daughters.

Emelie teaches Swedish to immigrants, and also teaches English and Swedish to young children. When she gets the time, she enjoys writing, singing and hanging out with her family and friends.

Lin leads a very busy life teaching high school students, but she also runs a small company where she sells and sews clothes. Some of her hobbies also include running, cycling and gardening.

8. More reunions

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Due to the success of their own reunion, the twins have even travelled back to Indonesia a few times to meet their biological family. According to Emelie, their first meeting was “magical,” but she couldn’t have done it without Lin by her side.

During one of their trips to Indonesia, Lin and Emelie were shocked to discover that they also had biological twin brothers who were separated at birth, adopted and raised separately – only a few years prior to their own adoptions.

After reaching out to the Internet, the women were eventually able to locate their twin brothers, Heru and Hero. One of the brothers was presumed dead, so they only searched for Heru. However, it was a very pleasant surprise when both Heru and Hero responded to the search.

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The male twins were raised in different countries, and according to Lin, they have many differences. The men still have difficulties speaking with each other, as they both experienced “sad and hard” childhoods which affected them greatly.

As for their other biological siblings, they have 13 in total. 11 of them are still in Indonesia, and Lin and Emelie have even been introduced to some of them.

Emelie said that she’d always believed her personality was similar to her Swedish family’s, but upon meeting her Indonesian family, she realised that she and Lin also inherited a number of traits from them.

“I don’t like being alone,” she said. “And I believe it’s because we have a lot of family members and it’s somehow in my blood to feel safe with a lot of people around me. I’m also sensitive, just like my sisters and biological mum.”

9. But the story isn’t over yet…

 
There are still some remaining mysteries regarding Lin and Emelie’s story…

Firstly, why was that taxi driver so familiar with the babies’ names all those years ago? Nobody knows for sure, but some people have speculated that he was actually their biological father.

And secondly, are Lin and Emelie’s similarities and differences due to their near identical upbringings or were they caused by DNA?

“We both had good, safe childhoods with everything we ever needed,” Lin said. “We both have the same culture and same typical Swedish family life, so it’s hard to see any differences there. Perhaps it would have been easier if one of us were brought up in a totally different culture or country. We were even brought up in the same part of Sweden.”

10. Their advice

While many can’t relate to Lin and Emelie’s situation, it’s never certain what life has in store. And if you’ve been separated from a loved one, or if you were adopted, one day you might want to find out more.

Here’s Emelie’s advice:

“It’s so different for every person, but I know that for many people this means everything. My advice is to be as calm as possible and take your time to get to know the person you were separated from. It’s very emotional, and it’s not always easy to handle.

Lin and I were lucky that we had each other when we were searching for our biological parents. We’re also in the same country, speak the same language and have people around us who make us feel safe. I think it’s important that you have someone to talk to. Family members, friends, or even someone you don’t know. There are a lot of different adoption groups on Facebook, for example – people to talk to and share experiences with.”

If you have any questions regarding adoption, you can anonymously call the adoption hotline on 1-800-923-6602, or you can visit their website.

Sneaky things that make you think you’re hungry

Sneaky things that make you think you’re hungry

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

While we all eat for pleasure sometimes, it’s important to understand the difference between your tastebuds’ urge for treats and actual stomach churning hunger. I, for one, find it extremely difficult to differentiate between the two, and find that 90% of the time I’m just eating because I’m bored, stressed or both. And although this can be healthy in moderation, overeating can lead to weight gain, poor skin and other health issues like diabetes. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the sneaky things that trick us into believing we’re hungry when we’re actually not. Some of these include:

You’ve been looking at delicious food

For someone with very little self control, I completely understand this one. According to experts, humans are designed to feel hungry when looking at food. Evolutionary psychologists believe it’s a trait we acquired way back in our hunting days when survival mechanisms were designed to help combat sparse food. And even though we now have access to plenty of sustenance, our instincts haven’t really changed. It’s particularly difficult in the 21st century because we can’t even check social media without being confronted by chocolate cakes, pies and juicy burgers. By understanding that, just looking at food causes unnecessary hunger, you should be able to refrain from eating the next time those survival instincts kick in.

You’ve been thinking super hard

When we’re slaving away at the office or doing something of equal intensity, we can easily run out of energy. This is because our brains aren’t very good at storing calories for fuel, and once they run out of energy they trigger an urge to eat – no matter what we already have in our stomachs. Fortunately, there are easy ways to prevent this. Exercising as soon as we start to feel hungry is a great way to increase the amount of lactic acid and sugar in our blood streams. This will eventually spread to the brain and it will be used as a fuel for energy. Goodbye, hunger!

Your normal routine is telling you it’s food time

Sometimes I’ll eat just because society dictates I eat three meals per day. However, experts say it’s not essential to eat if we’ve already snacked throughout the day. It’s always good to get into a routine, but we often force ourselves into the habit of eating at specific times every single day. Obviously meals are important, but sometimes we even get used to excessive snacking and then our bodies begin to expect food all the time.

You spent your last meal multi-tasking

When we spend our meals eating and scrolling through social media at the same time, our senses don’t meet their full expectations. They’re not able to smell, taste and look at food as it moves from our forks to our stomachs. And because it can take up to 20 minutes for the food to be digested and for our brains to receive that signal, we think that we’re still hungry. It’s time to put the iPhone down and concentrate on the task at hand. Otherwise, we might end up eating twice as much every day.

You’re actually thirsty

This is a huge one. When I become dehydrated, I can’t differentiate between whether I’m hungry or thirsty. According to experts, our bodies receive mixed signals when we haven’t had enough to eat or drink. Some foods also contain certain percentages of water, which is when things become even more confusing. The solution to this problem is extremely obvious: drink plenty of water. Nutritionists recommend at least eight glasses per day, so we should take our water bottles everywhere you go – the office, our friend’s place and even to bed at night.

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Some other things that make us unnecessarily hungry include stress, sadness, alcohol, messy environments, other junk food, tiredness, anger and believe it or not, sad movies.

But as long as we can learn to recognise all of these things, we should be able to combat the tricky little buggers.

Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Fitness myths you shouldn’t believe

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

If you’ve spent even 20 minutes in a gym with other people, you’ll know that suddenly everyone in the vicinity becomes a health and fitness expert. Whether they’re criticising you for eating non-fat yoghurt for breakfast or trying to convince you how important it is to take a million different supplements a day, they think their word is gospel.

But let’s be honest – most of these people have absolutely no freaking clue what they’re talking about. To clear things up, I’ve done a bit of research and have discovered some of the top fitness myths out there. And let me tell you, there are plenty.

Strength training makes women bulky

According to certified fitness and nutrition experts, this is one of the biggest lies out there. While lifting weights does build muscle, it takes a hell of a lot more than three kilo dumbbell curls to transform you into the Hulk. You might be thinking of all those female bodybuilding pics you see on Insta, but let me tell you, those women pretty much devote their entire lives to gaining muscle and looking buff AF. They also complement their training with super high protein diets and a really, really strict fitness regime. Trust me, you’re not going to turn into a superhero just by performing two to three sets of light weights a few times a week.

Squats are bad for your knees

Again, this is complete BS. In fact, experts say squats are actually good for your knees. Squats are among some of the greatest moves for performance enhancing and core-building strength. Not only do they develop all of your major muscle groups around the knees and hips, but they also help other muscle groups, such as the glutes, calf muscles, quads and hamstrings. Once you strengthen these muscles, the pressure is eliminated from the knee joints and onto the muscles that are designed to stabilise those joints. Unfortunately, no matter how much research is done about squats, many personal trainers and media personalities are still spouting off incorrect facts.

The more you sweat, the better your workout was

Not always. Some people naturally sweat more than others, and that definitely doesn’t mean they’re working out any harder. The amount you sweat also depends on your fitness level, body type and genetic history. Experts believe that the best way to measure your workout is by intensity, not sweat. If you did an intense workout, but didn’t produce any sweat, it’s definitely not something to worry about. As long as you completed your fitness regime properly and gave it all your all, chances are you totally killed it.

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Sit-ups and ab exercises will give you a six-pack

Sorry to burst your bubble, but your six pack isn’t making an appearance any time soon if you live by this rule. According to research, “you can do sit-ups for days, but if you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will stay in hiding.” Abs will only appear when you eliminate the belly fat that covers them. To achieve a toned stomach, you should try high intensity training. However, the simplest way is to just cut out artificially sweetened drinks and sugar from your diet.

The sorer you feel after a workout, the better your workout was

Soreness is usually just a sign that you haven’t performed a particular move before, or for a while at least. While stiffness and pain can be signs that you absolutely nailed your workout, it’s also possible to exercise without feeling like you’ve been kicked in the shins, thighs and buttocks with giant arse heels the next day. Everyone is also different, and some people experience delayed muscle soreness. Experts say that pain is not a suitable indicator of effectiveness, and that you shouldn’t worry if you’re not feeling as sore as your expert resident gym buddies.

Best luxury shopping places in Australia

Best luxury shopping places in Australia

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

It’s such a mission trying to find shopping outlets that offer the perfect combinations of luxury, class and style. It’s even more of a mission when you visit a new area with an intense thirst for retail therapy, but have no idea where to even begin. I’m faced with this problem every time I go somewhere new, which is why I’ve made it my civil obligation to document and review as many awesome shopping places as possible. Now, I (and you) can jump straight out of bed in the morning (well, after snoozing the alarm a few dozen times) and accomplish some of the best shopping our wonderful country has to offer. You won’t even need to worry about sorting through questionable online reviews or wandering around the streets aimlessly (you can thank me later).

What are you waiting for? Now that I’ve done all the hard work, all you need to do is ensure your credit card reaches its maximum workout potential.

Queen Victoria Building (Sydney)

As a Sydney native, this has been my go-to shopping centre for years. With its beautiful vintage architecture, it’s one of the city’s most iconic and recognisable landmarks. I absolutely adore this place because it was built back in 1898, which I think gives it a superior atmosphere. From tourists to shopping-savvy locals; the QVB has something for everyone. There are large varieties of things to purchase, including high street to high end, children’s gifts, fine jewellery and even indigenous art. Some of the centre’s best brands include Swarovski, Oroton, Longchamp, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Bally, Salvatore Ferragamo and Georg Jensen.

St Collins Lane (Melbourne)

Melbourne is a fabulous place to let your inner shopping maniac run wild. I recently holidayed there with my family, and one of our favourite shopping destinations was St Collins Lane. Not only does this precinct offer a great range of luxurious items, but its recent redesign brings it to life with a kind of modern sophistication that’s unique to Melbourne. I also found it to be incredibly innovative – not just in terms of design, but also with its fashion and culture. You can find both international and local luxurious purchases, as well as reputable brands such as TAG Heuer and Coach. In my opinion, the coolest thing about St Collins Lane is that it housed the first Australian stores that sold (and still sells) the Paris fashion brands, Maje and Sandro Paris.

QueensPlaza (Brisbane)

A few years ago, I visited the QueensPlaza for the very first time and fell in love. The centre is renowned for its stylish elegance, contemporary appearance and its amazing collection of retailers. I visited a hell of a lot of Brisbane shopping centres over a period of two weeks, but the QueensPlaza definitely won my heart (a million times over). It’s home to more luxury than any other existing Brisbane (and probably Queensland) outlet. Whether you’re looking for Chanel, Tiffany, Jo Malone, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford or any other brand, you’ll find it here in the form of perfumes, handbags, jewellery and shoes.

King Street Precinct (Perth)

It’s not often I get to explore Perth (okay, I’ve only been there once), but that one time was enough for me to discover the very awesome King Street Precinct. The first thing I noticed about King Street was that it had a very European feel (and who doesn’t love Europe?!) Most of the shops were built in 1845, and while they have undergone some renovations over the years, they haven’t changed significantly. High end items and the like are sold in cute little cottages that offer super luxurious brands like Prada, Bally, Sass and Bide, Zomp, McKilroy, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more. There are even delicious cafes and restaurants dine in once the elusive shopping fatigue kicks in.

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7 things people really need to stop doing on public transport

7 things people really need to stop doing on public transport

Originally published by me on Mamamia.com.au.

This morning I was on the train when a woman pulled out a small disposable razor and started shaving her legs.

Yep. She was shaving her legs. DRY. ON THE TRAIN.

Um, I know it’s the silly season and all, but seriously? I’d much rather go to work with the hairiest legs in the world than shave in front of an entire peak hour train carriage.

 Unfortunately, that’s not even the weirdest thing that’s known to happen on public transport. Here are some (of many) more annoying passenger habits:

1. People who board without letting others off first

These people are so desperate to nab a seat, they’re willing to bowl over frail elderly women and their tiny walking sticks.

You’ve probably seen them before – they’re the commuters who line up where they think the carriage will stop about 15 minutes before the train’s expected to actually arrive.

They refuse to move for people getting on other trains and when theirs finally arrives, they barge in the doors as soon as possible — alighting passengers be damned.

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I don’t know where you people learned your manners, but don’t you know you’re supposed to stand to the side of the carriage and wait for EVERYONE TO GET OFF?

Would you really prefer be the cause of someone falling onto the freaking train tracks, rather than having to stand for 10 measly minutes?

Remember: sensible people are good people.

2. People who sniffle and/or cough without covering their mouth

Not only are you probably infecting me with your illness, but you’re doing in a really awful way. Just stop.

Nobody can help getting sick and sometimes we still have to go to work, but please try not to spread your germs by being a gross person.

Trust me, the sound of blowing your nose is much nicer than the sound of snot being sucked around every two minutes.

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3. People who put their bags on the seat

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. What gives you the right to dictate whether people can sit next to you?

Did your bag pay for a ticket? No, I didn’t think so!

I know it’s as simple as asking someone to move their bag, which I’ve happily done on many occasions. But the point is that I shouldn’t have to do in the first place.

How about you just not put your stuff on perfectly good seats? Great, thanks.

4. People who trim their nails

To be honest, this is even grosser than shaving your legs on public transport.

Where are your disposed nails going? Are you dropping them on the floor so that someone else can clean them up, or are you allowing them to fling across the carriage and potentially land on some poor unsuspecting soul’s head?

Either way, not cool.

5. People who eat smelly food

People who eat on public transport don’t bother me at all. But people who eat smelly food in small spaces? Bad.

Whipping out a can of tuna, an egg sandwich or even leftover curry is a huge no no. It gets up the nostrils of everyone around you and when it mixes with the already sometimes-questionable scent of public transport, they’ll want to puke.

I used to catch the train to work, and without fail, the same woman would sit next to me every single morning. She seemed nice enough, but she liked to eat corn on the cob for breakfast.

Now, plenty of people enjoy a good cob of corn — but I don’t know anyone who eats it at 7:30am. Out of a plastic bag. For 50 minutes straight.

I even moved carriages several times, but she somehow still sought me out. She then spent the entire journey nibbling as slowly as possible on her corn while elbowing me in the ribs.

Fun times.

6. People who read over your shoulder

Trust me, my text messages aren’t that interesting. Most of the time I’m just messaging my mum asking her what belongs in the fridge and what belongs in the pantry.

It’s even more annoying when I’m trying to read a book or newspaper. You do know that you’re not being stealthy, right? I can feel your eyes burning through my pages.

If you’re really that fascinated with my reading material, why don’t you just buy your own damn one?

7. People who listen to music without headphones

Yes, I always listen to music on public transport. I’d be bored out of my mind otherwise.

But I use these small things called headphones that – shockingly – allow only me to hear my music. Crazy concept, right?

Apparently it is for some people. They seem to think their music is so great that everyone else should also be subjected to its torture.

But the train’s not your personal dance party, buddy, so give it up.

Feel free to inflict the pain on your own ears, but leave mine out of it.

Summer struggles Australians know all too well

Summer struggles Australians know all too well

Originally published by me on AussieGossip.com.au.

Even though we have the best summers down here in Oz (#blessed), sometimes it can be like navigating through hell. Whether you spent your childhood convincing your teacher to send you home in the 40 degree heat, or you cooled down by trying to fit inside the freezer (sorry mum), we’ve all been there. Here are the serious struggles that every Aussie knows come with the fun times of summer.

The family fan

You know the one. Your parents didn’t spring for air con, so you spent your days fighting over who got to sit in front of the shitty family fan. And every so often, all hell broke loose when someone – in a heat induced rage – would relocate it to their bedroom. Meanwhile, the rest of the family was left to fend death off by themselves. Good times.

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Walking on the scorching hot sand

You’ve been dying to hit the beach all day, and you’re finally there. But one step on the sand and you REGRET your entire life. If you were one of the lucky ones, you had thongs to protect you. Otherwise, you had no choice but to throw your towel on the ground and take refuge every few metres. If you had neither, RIP.

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Hot seat belts

You thought you finally escaped the heat. You jumped in the car, breathed a sigh of relief and happily reached for your seatbelt (because safety). BIG mistake. The metal part was as hot as a freaking oven, and you wouldn’t be surprised if your fingers suddenly started sprouting blisters. And no matter how many times it happened, you just kept doing it over and over… and over again.

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‘iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it’

Possibly the most annoying thing ever. You thought you could catch some rays, but now even your phone’s suffering from heat stroke, and you’re bored as hell. You can’t live your life without documenting your every move, so you just head back inside after about five minutes. It was a solid effort, though.

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Sweating and sticking to the chair

Ugh. How do you get out of your seat without people noticing the sweat? It’s dripping down your face as you’re trying to get an ice cream and hoping you don’t see anyone you know. In the heat of Aussie summer, the sweat struggle is 100% there and very real.

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Weather that can’t make up its mind

Will it rain this morning and then suddenly skyrocket to 45 degrees? Probably. Will it begin hailing halfway through the day but then turn sunny again? Most likely. Can you expect wind, a storm and possibly even a flood? You betcha. Prepare for everything.

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Endless flies

Did you want that burger? Well, too bad. It’s been taken hostage by a family of flies, and they couldn’t care less. All they care about is hovering over you in the most irritating way while rubbing their tiny little hands together in glee. And don’t even try applying Aeorogard because the little bastards will only take it as a challenge.

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Best ways to get to bed early

Best ways to get to bed early

Originally published by me on BeautyNews.com.au.

It took me a long time to master the art of getting to bed early, and sometimes I still fail miserably. You see, I have one of those minds that never shuts up. And don’t get me wrong – it’s not like I’m inventing the cure for cancer; most of the time I’m just thinking about how someone would look with purple hair or what my next meal’s going to be. And let me tell you, having a busy mind isn’t good for someone who aims to get to bed reasonably early. I want to retire and get a good night’s sleep, but there are so many things my mind is insisting I do. I have things to google, online shopping to do, TV to watch and I should most definitely shave my legs before wearing that skirt tomorrow.

Before I know it, it’s 3am and I’m sitting on my bed; pondering my career choices while memorising the lyrics of Adele’s new single and watching YouTube videos about how to communicate with my dog. Yes, that’s pretty much a typical night for me. My laptop usually has more tabs open than you’d think is possible. Think beauty blogs, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Boohoo, Netflix, Flight Centre (one day I will be out of here), cooking websites and so much more. And it all needs to be done that night.

Not to mention – there are many other obstacles that can derail my nights and ruin that much needed beauty sleep. Housekeeping, for example, is a huge one. I find having a messy house so stressful that most of the time I try to get it all done as quickly as possible. And on top of that, I then proceed to go through all of the above time wasting steps after I’m done. Other days, I’ll get random guests who want to hang out and gossip all night. And while I love most of them dearly, the next day I’m not only tired as hell, but I’m more hungover than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

But the thing is, our nights don’t have to be so busy. I’ve recently discovered some great ways to ensure I get a good night’s sleep and am ready and raring for the next day (yes, even those dreaded mornings).

Set yourself a curfew and enforce bargaining tools

If you’re anything like me and have absolutely no self control, you’ll need this. If you don’t get home before your curfew or make it to bed in time, appoint yourself a punishment. For example, on weeknights I aim to be in bed by 10:30pm. If I’m unsuccessful, I refuse to buy myself anything nice the next day. If I make the deadline, the next day I’ll reward myself by splurging on a giant burger, complete with a mango smoothie and maybe even some ice cream and/or chocolate (why not both?) It’s a great bargaining tool; even if you are bargaining with yourself. Sometimes grown ups have to be their own parents, and it sucks, but it’s the only way we’ll ever make it in this big, scary world.

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Notify all family and friends that you won’t be available that night

Like I said before, these people have been responsible for many of my sleepless nights. When I’m dead set on going to bed early, I text the people closest to me and politely ask them not to bother me that night. This means no Facebook notifications, no phone calls, no text messages and especially no spontaneous visits. It’s not always possible (there’s always that one person), so another good idea is to shut off all social media for the night. It’s easy to deactivate Facebook, and it’s even easier to log straight back in once your strike is over. Just think: your friends and family aren’t going anywhere; you’ll be able to catch up on all the goss before you know it.

Keep a notebook nearby

This is the perfect way to get all your thoughts and feelings down as soon as they pop into your head. If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of something very important as soon as your head hits the pillow. I usually tell myself it’s no big deal, and that it doesn’t matter if I forget about my recent revelation come morning time, but that never works. After all, what if sleep clears my memory and makes me forget the Bachelor finale is on tomorrow night? That would be an absolute disaster! Cue the notebook. Write absolutely everything down (birthdays, work ideas, grocery lists, you name it) and then make sure you read it all in the next day. I found this method creates a long, peaceful sleep free of worry and regret.

Don’t drink caffeine several hours before bed

I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people I know who drink coffee before bed. Everyone knows caffeine keeps you awake, so keep away from the stuff before heading hitting the hay. If you really love a good cup of coffee, opt for decaf. Experts say we shouldn’t drink coffee or consume anything high in caffeine four to six hours before going to bed. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I used to eat a lot of chocolate at night and I was always tired the next day because I couldn’t get to sleep. Ever since I improved my eating habits, I’ve been much more alert and satisfied with my sleeping routine.

Complete your bedtime routine, and then read a book

Did you know screens are more likely to keep us awake more than anything else? For me, this is especially true. Screens are bright, require a lot of concentration and can give you tension headaches. This makes me want to stay up even later because I know I won’t be able to drift off once I go to bed. Books, on the other hand, are a godsend. I love to cuddle up with a great book and let myself doze off naturally. Before doing this, I make sure to create a bedtime ritual and complete it a few hours prior to bed so that I’m ready for sleep as soon as the tiredness kicks in. After all, taking showers, brushing my teeth and other night routines tend to keep me alert for longer periods of time.

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