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MAKING AN ENTRANCE

Irena Masters

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THE ENTRANCE

William and I purchased our very first house well over a year and a half ago. This house has quickly turned into our home. We have already had so many amazing memories in each area. The entrance however, is a significant part of our home. Not only is this space the first thing our guests will see upon arrival but, it’s also the space where we come home to everyday, where we share our goodbye kisses and welcome home leaps. It’s important to us to walk in and immediately feel a sense of organisation, gratification and feel… at home. An entrance is a small preview on what’s to come. It provides an instant atmosphere and gives insight or an idea into who may live there and what themes are at play.

The design, placement and style of your entrance can have a strong effect on the look and feel of your entire home. You know what they say…

YOU WILL NEVER GET A SECOND CHANCE TO MAKE A FIRST IMPRESSION

Although, I don’t necessarily agree with this saying, I do however, believe that there’s no better place to start styling your home than the entry!

So, if you are looking for a little bit of inspiration or visual food for your entrance then here are a few snaps and 5 of my tips that were used to create this look.

5 TIPS FOR YOUR ENTRANCE

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1 . LET THE LIGHT IN

This tip is very straight forward - let that natural light in! Open the blinds or curtains and let it shine. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to create a sense of wellbeing and it’s a mood changer. Lighting also gives the illusion of space which in turn may make your entrance look slightly larger. We’re quite lucky with natural lighting, our door has large frosted window cutout and our Sun Room is diagonally across from our entry, so we are never short of a little bit of sunshine.

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2 . ADD A TOUCH OF LIFE

In our entrance I have incorporated both real and artificial greenery. William and I have an abundance of fresh rosemary around our home (I’m talking 6 huge bushes that range from 2 metres tall to 3.5 metres - crazy) so I am always trimming these back. Rather than just throwing these parts out, I arrange them in a vase to add that touch of life/colour and the scent is always a plus! I read that the smell of rosemary actually increases and enhances your memory. Can anyone confirm? Although I’m not sure why but Will and I always manage to forget what dates dinners are booked in for haha. Another huge plus of using rosemary is the maintenance, it slowly dries out but doesn’t flake or make a mess. It also turns into a beautiful green-grey which I absolutely love as it goes perfectly with our walls (all painted white with different shades of grey).

On the second wall to the right of the door, I have placed a vase with some gorgeous artificial white roses. We bought these for our wedding and had a whole bunch left over. They look almost real and actually even feel relatively similar to a rose petal. White roses are quite pricey so the option to have artificial ones is always a plus.

Living or artificial blooms/plants will breathe life into your home and take your space to a whole different level. If there was enough room (actually more like, if Will agreed to. He thinks that we have enough throughout the house) I would probably purchase more potted plants and have them displayed next to the furnishings to create more of a vibe.

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Don’t forget to style your plant or greenery with a little bit of love using pretty vases, pots, and planters.

3 . ARTWORK

Adding a piece of artwork or a cluster of arranged prints to your wall or console will ensure your entrance is unique, positive, welcoming, and warm. I wrote out and then designed two large prints that showcase a nicely written personal paragraph that relates to Will and I. I then framed both and hung them above our console. This added more height to the room but also still achieved the simplistic and clean aesthetic we were going for. Here are a few other beautiful prints that I have been absolutely loving and may work in your space.

4 . BE PRACTICAL

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It’s important to figure out a balance between visual aesthetic and practical usage. An entrance to a home is also an area where you often have shoes, handbags, mail or keys. With Will and I being quite OCD when it comes to clutter, I knew I had to take this into consideration. So the hunt for furniture to do the job but still look appealing was on. We purchased a mirrored shoe cabinet/drawers and boxed inserts became priority for our eight square shelving. Having a place for all your everyday items avoids a messy situation. Not only is the usage of a storage console functional but if they suit your theme then happy days!

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If you are thinking of purchasing a shoe cabinet/drawer make sure you measure the drawers and know your partners shoe size…. Will’s abnormally large shoes have to go in horizontally, oops!

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5 . DECOR

Last but most importantly, decor. Decor is what makes your space unique to all others. Decor doesn’t equal expensive - you can find items to suit any budget and still look quite amazing. For those of you who know me well, know that I love finding a bargain. Most of our decorations throughout our home are DIY items (for example the little white mirror was purchased in parts and originally was actually a metallic brass colour), the antique books are from an op shop that I brought back to life and are both surprisingly good reads. Another great way to add some dimension and atmosphere to your entry is through the use of candles and infusers.

If you have any other tips please comment below or direct message me on instagram, I always love hearing other amazing ideas!

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ONE YEAR LATER - SO, WHAT'S MARRIED LIFE LIKE?

Irena Masters

Celebrating our first wedding anniversary, thanks to    Love Cloud Nine Picnics

Celebrating our first wedding anniversary, thanks to Love Cloud Nine Picnics

Nine years ago, I said yes to William, to be his girlfriend.
Two years ago, I said yes to William, to be his fiancé.
One year ago, I said I do to William, to be his lawfully wedded wife.
And yesterday, I said yes to William, that it was indeed the recycling bin that needed to be taken out this week. 

So, what’s married life like?

I get asked this question over and over again, and although I still don’t feel like I can answer it with much depth as it has only been one year, I think I now have a better understanding of the difference between dating and being married.

Our wedding day captured by the amazingly talented Tina & Doruk from   Lovelenscapes Photography

Our wedding day captured by the amazingly talented Tina & Doruk from Lovelenscapes Photography

In a way, our wedding day marked the conclusion of her and his life, and the beginning of our life. I write ‘life’ rather than ‘lives’ because I believe it’s no longer about being singular, but about coming together and building as one. When I walked down the aisle and said I do, I had a rough idea of what marriage entailed, but unfortunately not even google can give you all the answers. Marriage, like everything else in life, cannot be taught or understood. Everyone is different, and everyone has different dynamics in their relationship. What works for one couple may destroy another. It’s something that needs to be felt simultaneously by both people involved.

Luckily, Will and I have been together since high school (grade 9 for me and grade 11 for Will). We’ve basically lived at each others houses until my second year of University, then we moved and lived together for roughly a year and a half in Darwin prior to getting married and buying our first home. So I’d like to think that we knew each other pretty well before marriage, because of this it wasn’t a complete shock when I ‘accidentally’ only bought white décor for the entire house or if Will ‘accidentally’ didn’t put away his lunch containers. It’s essentially all we’ve ever known. Everything we do on a daily basis has been moulded from the beginning together. It’s funny, because we both did a personality test last night for the first time and both scored extremely high in the category of ‘perfectionists’. I have no idea where we may have picked up these traits but it makes a lot more sense as to why I’m such a freak when it comes to tidying our home and colour coordinating every room in the house and why Will’s side of the dresser is always picture perfect besides when I throw in a few of my items.

The way our house runs is smooth because we know our responsibilities and we know when and what we need to do in order to keep our routine consistent and efficient. We obviously have the occasional days where either Wills absolutely wrecked from work or I’ve been working from 5am – 9pm with a short 30min break and had no time to do the laundry, or cook dinner. Those are the days we rely on the other half to help out and balance the situation which normally happens almost instantly. It’s as if we both know as soon as we see each other whether one of us has had a normal day or a crazily, hectic, ‘get me junk food now’, busy sort of day. For me, marriage is all about team work and having each others back, especially during the stressful times… so whoever it is juggling their day like a maniac… you get them that ice cream… or if it’s both of you then hooray, let’s make it a party and go buy a packet of Maltesers, sour lollies, and a few desserts!

I hear two different spectrums on the topic of marriage, people often say ‘don’t do it, it’s a trap’ or ‘my gosh, it must be the most amazing thing ever’. In my opinion depending on the people and the situation, both are wrong. There are days when you can casually wake up, pop some acoustic on, prance around in your pyjamas, cook breakfast together and cuddle for hours, these days are called… Sundays and yes they are amazing! I think some people who are optimistic about marriage, picture that, as the everyday. Don’t get me wrong, those days definitely are a part of married life. Will and I put a huge emphasis on using our weekends/days off to really spend quality time together as our weekdays are always so full on and involve a lot more dedication, compromise, patience and love.

Living together, travelling together, exercising together, paying bills together, sharing chores together, working together, growing up together – these are the realties of marriage and they can bring out the best, and sometimes the worst in people… yes, unfortunately I do get super competitive when it comes to who can fold their clothes the fastest.

You may still be asking the good ol’ question,
so, come on now, whats married life like for you…?

First of all, before I get into my experience thus far, I don’t think anyone should ever compare their relationship with another. Everyone has different perfections and flaws that they love or hate. What I may find amazing, somebody else could think of as mediocre and vice versa. What works for myself and William may never work for yourself and your significant other. Our emotions may not be what you’re feeling but in no way does it mean your relationship or ours is any worse or better.

I can confidently say that so far I am so extremely grateful and happy with the life Will and I have created together. I honestly didn’t think it was possible but I am more in love with this amazing man today than I was one year ago when we said, “I do”.  I cannot believe that time has passed so quickly and yet I can think back and reminisce on how many little milestones we have both accomplished. I hear people say ‘marriage is hard’, I disagree, I think life is hard, all the pressures and rocks that get thrown at you are sometimes so difficult to manage and I think those who have found a partner or soulmate to help navigate through those storms are so extremely lucky. Our marriage quite often floats down a beautiful stream peacefully and lovingly, there are a few ducks that float along with us, supporting our adventures (family/friends), sometimes there’s a small exciting wave (new experiences/beginnings), sometimes a little rain (little disagreements, mainly on what we should eat for dessert, crème brulee always), and very rarely a thunderstorm hits (family, loss, work issues). During these gusty moments we continue to keep paddling, we keep afloat, we hold onto each other’s hand a little tighter, and we never let go until the storm dissipates. This is, what marriage looks like for us…

I would love to hear about your experiences or any questions you guys may have! PM me on Instagram or comment away below.

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INSTAGRAM STORY TEMPLATES

Irena Masters

QUESTIONS & CONVERSATION MAKERS

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I had a spare two hours (waiting for William to finish work) so thought I would create/design a few different Instagram Story Templates for myself and for you guys to use! These are such an excellent way to get to know your friends, family or loved one in a different light, using simple and silly questions that you may never actually ask. It's great for letting all your weirdness out, so get answering!

How To:
1. Simply save/download or screenshot these templates to your mobile device
2. Open up your instagram app
3. Click on the camera icon to the left of the screen
4. Click on your gallery (the little square preview on the left of the flash button or simply slide up
5. Select the template you wish to play with
6. Start circling or typing/answering!

I have come across a few different Instagram Story templates but wanted to create my own with my own branding and questions that I would love to know about you guys! 

What are you waiting for!? Start sharing your answers/secrets! Tag me @irenaclare as I'd love to see what you guys choose/write!

If you would like me to design others with different themes or editions or questions then please shoot me an email, comment or dm me! 

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LOW FODMAP SCONES & JAM

Irena Masters

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This is a quick and easy Low Fodmap Recipe perfect for those lazy Sunday mornings or if you have a picnic planned! 

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METHOD

LOW FODMAP JAM & CREAM

Heat small saucepan on low-medium heat. Put sliced strawberries, 1 1/2 tbs of rice malt syrup, 1 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon into saucepan and stir consistently. Allow mixture to boil while stirring. Using a mash potato utensil, mash ingredients thoroughly. Turn heat to low and allow to simmer. Transfer mixture to a little jar or container and refrigerate. 

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Pour Liddells Thickened Lactose Free Cream into a bowl using an electric beater or whisk, thicken cream. Please note both the low fodmap jam and cream will have a lot more liquid than commercial products. 

LOW FODMAP SCONES

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This recipe makes approximately 12 scones.
Dice organic butter into little cubes. Sieve all your dry ingredients into a mixing bowl then add in the diced butter. Using your fingers squeeze dry ingredients with butter until you get a breadcrumb texture. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Once done create an empty circle in the middle of the bowl and add in 3/4 of your liddells lactose free milk. Mix around and then add in the rest of your lactose free milk. Mix around until a dough-like consistency. Make sure not to mix too well. 

Scatter gluten free self raising flour onto bench top and cover surfaces of your hands. This will prevent the dough from sticking too much. Knead dough on bench top and create a large circular shape that has around 2-3cm thickness. Using an object that has a diameter of about 5cm (I used a wine glass) cut the dough and place each scone cylinder onto a baking tray (lined with baking paper).

Once all cylinders have been created melt 1 tbs of butter and lactose free milk. Using a brush lightly paint on butter/milk liquid onto the tops and around the sides this will help create that golden brown colour. 

Bake for 12 mins. Remove from the oven and let scones cool. 

Serve with a cup of tea! Low Fodmap Jam & Cream!

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WORKING FROM HOME PROS & CONS

Irena Masters

I started freelancing back in second year university and have continued growing my clientele and experience ever since. Five years later and I still continue to get asked the same question, 'You're so lucky! Is it amazing being able to work from home!?' I thought I would write a quick blogpost on a few of the pros and cons I have encountered in my time working in bed.. I mean at home. For those of you who are thinking of maybe changing to the bedside... I mean the darkside then this is for you!

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1. You can stay in your pyjamas all day!

2. You can work from basically anywhere... like literally. I work from my bed, lounge, kitchen, at the beach, in the car (as the passenger, I don't recommend driving and designing), 35,000 ft in the sky (airplane, I don't recommend skydiving and designing either), and even on the go (designing and running through the airport with my laptop in my palm to try get to our gate before it closed, yes that happened last week). Oh! and occasionally in my own office/study.

3. The flexibility! You don't have to work the 9am-5pm shift, if you have a nieces birthday starting at 2pm then you can make it! Just schedule your work later in the evening or if you need to squeeze in a quick gym session then go for it. 

4. The ability to throw on a load of washing, or ironing, or cook whilst waiting for things to load or for emails/feedback is a huge advantage.

5. No commuting! Unfortunately I do contract out to a few different companies that require me to be in office some days however, I definitely take advantage of the days where I don't have to drive anywhere! That extra hour a day is definitely noticeable.

6. You can dance around and play music loudly without headphones or even have your TV on in the background.

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1. The hardest part of working from home is sitting still and not going to the fridge every 5 mins for delicious snacks... 🤦🏻‍♀️

2. If you're not good at self-control or organisation then it can be very difficult to focus on the task or job at hand. I know some of my friends who are freelancers sometimes struggle to stay on the correct webpage and end up roaming multiple youtube channels for hours before realising they started on a "how to fix exporting error in InDesign?" to "Is it true that Selena and Justin Bieber are back together?" that example was actually me... it was a Friday. 

3. I always feel like I'm on call, or that I need to respond to emails or messages asap even if my client has sent me something at 1AM in the morning. It's sometimes difficult to find the separation between work life and personal life. When William get's home from work normally around 7PM I always have to say to myself "come on shut your laptop and don't open it again until tomorrow morning'. 

4. I miss the banter and 'team' environment. Although, I am hiring an assistant/graphic designer soon, so that will be fun! I guess I'm also lucky cause I do get to work in some of my clients offices, so I get a bit of interaction and at least get out of the house a few days a week!

5. I absolutely hate it when people think I don't work... I average out at about 45 - 50 hours a week and yet always feel the pressure and scrutiny just because I'm not in an office full time.

That's just a few that pop into my head. I would love to know some of your pros or cons or any questions you guys may have, so please comment below or send me a quick message on the gram! 💁🏻‍♀️

♥A huge thank you to Lazewear for providing the most luxurious Pyjama Set! ♥
Wearing the Hague Blue Short Pyjama Set I can honestly say it was difficult to leave the house knowing that I would have to change...

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SIBO SUNDAY ROAST

Irena Masters

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This quick and easy dinner is perfect for those lazy Sunday moods. If you have any leftovers they can also be used the next day into a tasty Bubble & Squeak for breakfast or eaten cold as part of a picnic dish!

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METHOD

SIDE SALAD

Chop up cucumber, lettuce and red capsicum. Place rocket, alfalfa sprouts, and lettuce into a bowl then add cucumber and red capsicum. 

Place cracked pepper, sea salt, two table spoons of olive oil, and one table spoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass, Stir well and drizzle over salad. Scatter one table spoon of pine nuts over salad and place into refrigerator until after pork and roast veg are cooked.

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PORK BELLY & VEG ROAST

Preheat oven to 240°C fan-forced.

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Score pork and rub a generous amount of salt into scored skin. Drizzle olive oil over pork belly and rub with rosemary and thyme. Place pork on a baking tray. 

Roast for 20-25 minutes or until skin starts to blister. While pork is in the oven chop up carrots and pumpkin. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. 

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Reduce oven to 180°C fan-forced and add carrots and pumpkin on baked pork tray. Roast for 1 hour.

Take tray out of oven and remove carrots & pumpkin.

Increase oven to 260°C fan forced. Roast pork for a further 10 minutes or until skin is blistered and puffed all over. Remove from oven and transfer to a plate. Let it sit for 10minutes before carving.

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Bon Appetit

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VALENTINES DAY

Irena Masters


GIFT GUIDE FOR HIM

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and every year I always get stuck when thinking of what sort of gift I can surprise Will with. Guys can be pretty damn tricky to shop for. So I thought I would do a little research and jot down a few options. So If you’re coming up short in the idea department, you’re in luck, cupid gave me a little help and I was able to select 7 V-Day gifts for your one and only, or your two, or three, whatever floats your boat. So scroll down and check out the love list, I have written links below for each little idea. 

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1. Willie May's Necktie, $77
Every man needs a tie in his life, this red, ivory purple and orange ikat tie is made of 100% Organic Cotton. Perfect gift for your man.

2. Byron Bay Gifts - The Relaxation Remedy, $99
All men need to feel pampered sometimes! I know for a fact Will would LOVE this. Such a cute gift hamper that includes a variety of different premium shaving products. All Valor products are made from natural ingredients, free from palm oil, synthetic fragrances, parabens, sulphates and preservatives, which is a big tick in my books. Also included in this bag of goodies is a few Sanctum products, moisturiser and face & body scrub. Out of everything though I think Will and the majority of men out there would probably appreciate the Byron Bay Cookies the most! 

3. MONTBLANC Meisterstück Cufflinks with Montblanc Emblem, $300
These cuff links are just so damn beautiful. They timeless and can be worn with absolutely any suit. Made out of stainless steel so you can be assured that they will be around for a long time. 

4. Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch Trunk Pack of 3, $99.95
You can't go wrong with some underwear! I swear Will goes through 10 pairs of underwear every month!  All girls love a bit of Calvin Klein on their man so this pack of three is the way to go - Finished with the brands iconic waistband in 3 different colours, Calvin Klein's cotton-blend trunks will instantly update your mans essentials.

5. Happy Socks - Key to My Heart, $16.95
The name says it all! These are just way too cute for Valentine's Day. Plus side too is they have unisex sizes, so I'm seriously considering getting myself a pair! Not sure how Will is going to feel about figuring out who's is who. We currently have one shirt that is the same and oh gosh it's rough sometimes - there was one time where we both turned and noticed we had worn the same shirt for the same event on accident. It was hard to convince him that I had chosen to wear it first! 

6. Ben Sherman - Booklet Trifold Leather Wallet, $89.95
I love this wallet so much not only does it have a coin pouch but it also features an i.d window sleeve. This wallet won't break the bank (another pun intended).

7. Otto Brisbane Six Course Seafood Degustation for Two, $195
You know what they say, the key to a mans heart is through the stomach. Feed him silly. Treat your taste buds as well as his to an unforgettable dining experience. This would of been a MUST HAVE for Valentines Day with Will, but because of his strict diet at the moment he won't be able to do this, I guess I will just have to take my mum!

What are you gifting the man in your life this Valentine’s Day?!

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IN THE KITCHEN

Irena Masters

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About seven years ago William went overseas with me for the very first time. We were headed to the Solomon Islands to visit my family (they owned a business there during this period). Unfortunately Will experienced chronic food poisoning within the first couple of days. This is basically where his health saga started. We have been in and out of doctors, specialists, dieticians, naturopaths... the list goes on, with no idea what was wrong or why he continued to experience symptoms. We completed multiple tests (blood, parasite, breath tests, colonoscopies etc.) with no results and not much guidance. Majority of doctors would palm us off and basically say "I'm not that knowledgeable in that field, but I think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This was beyond frustrating especially as Will didn't even experience 90% of IBS symptoms, he didn’t have a problem with toilet duties (bowel movements) and he did not experience gassiness. What we have learnt over the years is that a lot of medical practitioners have not actually been exposed or taught about food, diet, or stomach/bowel complications, there is very minimal science, testing or research in this field and a lot of the information you receive is quite new. Unfortunately a lot of victims who are experiencing stomach and bowel problems will likely be immediately placed in the "you have IBS" pile. 

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After our one hundredth visit to the doctors (slight over exaggeration, only slightly though) and being told Will had IBS we were advised to be on the Low Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols Diet. You’re probably thinking, what the hell was that all about? It’s short for Low FODMAPS Diet, FODMAPs are essentially a collection of short-chain carbohydrates that ferment in the stomach due to lack of absorption in the gut. This is what causes victims to experience symptoms. While on the topic of IBS even though William didn’t/doesn’t have IBS – it’s a syndrome that is quite common. According to the Monash University, 15% of the world’s population are affected by IBS. I have a couple of close friends who have to deal with this syndrome and struggle with it everyday.

After a couple of years of doing the Low FOMAPs Diet we were able to see a slight difference in Wills symptoms, he was no longer experiencing as many, however, the problem was still present and not fixed. We didn’t want to forever be constrained to certain foods anymore and Will really wanted to know the underlying issue and answer. To be honest I have no idea how Will stayed with me during this time as for those of you who know me, know that I am a huge foodie and literally eating is one of my hobbies. Anyway, so after two years of changing his diet to accommodate the Low FODMAPs we decided to stop and continue researching for another possible diagnosis. Before I continue though, if you do have IBS, I highly recommend downloading the Monash University FODMAP Diet App for $7.99 (I know that’s pretty expensive for an app but trust me this was our bible when dealing and preparing foods). I will be writing some posts in the future on some of the recipes I came up with during the two years so that Will didn’t lose his mind when eating this restricted diet. So hopefully that can help anyone who is dealing with this at the moment! The Low FODMAP Diet is a god send when trying to reduce bowel symptoms, it’s also a great way to figure out which specific food groups react badly and what to avoid.

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William and I have spent countless hours on the World Wide Web, trying to find case studies, research articles, science journals, blogs and everything else in between for an answer to his problem. It wasn’t until twenty seventeen while sitting on our couch in our new home that we stumbled upon a forum filled with a handful of people, that we got the ‘uh huh’ feeling. We read through each person’s list of symptoms and surprisingly William could 100% relate. I remember thinking ‘tick, tick, tick… this is Will to a T’. We read the diagnosis… ‘SIBO’ and had never heard of it. We both sat silently and typed away in our web browsers to find more information and instantly had a gut feeling (pun intended) that this was it. It took us about a week before we started contacting specialists who dealt specifically with SIBO and organised an appointment with a certified dietician to arrange to do tests ASAP.

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After completing various examinations and doing the lactulose breath tests we waited patiently for the results. When we walked into the patient room I clearly remember feeling quite negative and was prepared for the same lines that we heard countless times, “hmmm, sorry guys the results are negative, not sure what you have, possibly IBS, have you tried the Low FODMAPs Diet?”. The outcome was oh so different. The dietician walked straight in waving around the results paper and straight away said “looks like you have a positive result William, you have Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth”. Normally at this point most people would be quite unhappy with a positive result for a health issue, but instantly Will and I looked at each other in absolute relief, we finally had a diagnosis. After 7 years we could finally proceed with the correct treatment. I think our dietician must of thought we were crazy by this point.

For those of you who have not heard of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, it is a chronic bacterial infection of the small intestine. Basically the bacterium from the colon has moved its way up into the small intestine. The bacteria then disrupt and interfere with digestion therefore damaging the intestine lining which in return can cause autoimmune disorders and leaky gut syndrome (where food particles, bacteria, toxic waste “leak” out of the intestine and into the blood stream). Main symptoms of SIBO include but not limited to abdominal bloating, pain, loud gurgling and rumbling of the bowels, immense discomfort, malabsorption, weight loss, constipation or diarrhoea, fatigue, but put simply a feeling that you are pretty much allergic to the majority of foods you eat everyday, milk, wheat, sugars, fruit, and yes, even certain vegetables.

The only way you can find out whether you have SIBO or not are by measuring the levels of hydrogen and methane in your breath. This test is called the lactulose breath test, I have placed a link at the bottom of this post with the centre we went to, to organise all of this. It’s a pretty time consuming test, it took Will about 3 to 4 hours to complete, and with his high demanding job we were pretty proud of ourselves by managing to squeeze it in at 3AM Monday morning before his work commenced.

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We were given two options of treatment.

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If you were to take method 1, you would need maybe 1-2 rounds of Rifaxamin, unless you have methane producing bacteria in which case you would take, Neomycin. We did quite a bit of research and although antibiotics are obviously a faster way of killing off the bacteria it also has a faster and more common relapse percentage. I guess this is because the antibiotics are so strong that they hurt the gut lining while eradicate all the bad bacteria as well as the good.

We decided to proceed with number two, the natural way. Our dietician started Will on an 8 Week SIBO Bi-Phasic Treatment Plan consisting of three phases:

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Each phase involves different antimicrobials (essentially natural antibiotics - message me if you want to know which ones Will is taking). The goal of the treatment is to initially starve the bacteria, repair the integrity of the intestinal lining and restore normal motility in the small intestine. The treatment is very restrictive, you can’t eat a lot of things such as no rice, no bread, no potato, no dairy, no sugar, no fruit, no legumes, no spices, no dried herbs, the list goes on. You can only consume a small variety of unlimited veggies within the first phase, bok choy, bok choy, and bok choy, I’m just kidding, but kind of not. There’s bamboo shoots, bok choy, carrots, chives, cucumber, ginger, kale, radish, lettuce and only two or three other veg. All other vegetables have to be eaten in small amounts for example he can have 5 snow peas, or 1/4 cup of pumpking etc. Thank god he can have meat or there probably won’t be any William left after the 8 weeks.

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Will’s just completed three weeks of the treatment, we are approaching the beginning of the forth week, he’s lost around 6kg (I know, I wish) but seems to be stabilising which is good. We have done a lot of prancing around in the kitchen together, organising and meal planning. William has been surprisingly helpful, and has been promoted to my sue chef! He instantly has had a major reduction in symptoms and is feeling pretty okay considering he hasn’t had a coffee in two weeks! I will be posting updates and a few of our recipes to hopefully help others who also have to experience and go through this. If you have any questions, again just send me a message or comment away and I will respond as soon as I can…

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SIBO TEST CENTRE - https://www.vivehealth.com.au/

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BACK TO NATURE

Irena Masters

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After many weeks of reminding Will to send through his annual leave dates for Christmas, I finally got them (two months out from the festive season). So I began planning our little getaway . We both had discussed how much we needed an escape from the hustle and bustle of our work and lifestyles, somewhere that we couldn't be reached via calls or messages, somewhere that we could explore and let our minds run free. 

After a week or so of researching I found two locations that I thought ticked those boxes perfectly!

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If you're after a good quiet camping ground that still has the comforts and amenities of your home then Bluff Creek is for you! If you're after more of an adventure and like to push a few boundaries then start packing for the Noosa Everglades

Before I get into the nitty gritty of our trip, what we did, where we explored, and what I recommend to do, I just wanted to say Will and I spent 168 hours straight with each other (10 hours of which was spent trying to paddle in sync across a never ending lake, over 72 hours without showers and over 15 hours spent squished in a tiny tent) and we somehow managed not to rip each others heads off by the end of it! So hooray to us! 

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The camp sites are spread across acres and acres of beautiful greenery and surroundings. They are extremely spacious and suited for individuals, couples, or large groups. You can find a few sites nestled on the bank of the Mary River - a stunning clear creek with plenty of swimming areas and spots to launch your kayak. They do recommend booking prior to arriving however, they did allow us to extend our stay with only a days notice, which was great.

Will and I finished packing the car at roughly 3:30PM which was silly of us, but we "had" to get an early morning Boxing Day Shopping spree in beforehand. We arrived just before dark and managed to have a quick look around before deciding our camp spot. We were lucky enough to score a site right in front of a small dam that was walking distance to the amenities (Bluff Creek has some of the cleanest and best showers/toilets ever when it comes to campgrounds). Before unpacking our gear we were told that we had about 20mins to get everything set up as there was a 100% chance of a storm. Perfect timing, not. So off we went frantically putting together our tent and Boab Super Shade (you need one of these! they are amaaazing! I literally don't know how on earth we ever camped without one) thank god we've set up a hundred times before and know exactly who does what, so we had everything up just before the storm hit and were able to sit back, relax and watch the show. When we first put up the tent back when we lived in Darwin, I must admit there was a fair bit of shouting, especially when we would set up the tent in the dark - I don't recommend this however it is another great relationship tester!

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The next morning we woke up super early and headed down to the Mary River. Will wanted to test out his Christmas gift from me, a new inflatable heavy duty kayak. From the adrenaline rush when seeing rapid-like sections with a few rocks emerging to the relaxing paddle and cool breeze, we were able to experience beautiful sections of the Mary River. 

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The sun rays which radiated through the tree tops, the turtles that randomly popped their heads up, the fish that jumped out of the water (that Will never managed to catch) were beyond magical. 

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Another must do when camping at Bluff Creek is the Eumundi Markets, only 20 or so minutes drive. All I can say is, the food! We ate a whole stoneoven pizza, a delicious mango, banana, goji berry and pineapple smoothie, an authentic German Kransky sausage with bread and I couldn't resist some donuts so I bought 12 (don't worry I'm not that much of an over eater they were only miniature). The crafts, jewels, and talents were a sight to behold. These markets are brill-i-ant.

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One of our last nights here consisted of a beautiful sunset, chilled beats, bottles of red wine, a tipsy William, a star lit sky, and day bed placed next to our mesmerising fire (probably broke the camping policy as our fire was definitely not considered small to medium - it was enormous, thanks to Will). To say we had a romantic night would be an understatement, this night stole my heart.

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Unfortunately our last morning at Bluff Creek required a 4AM wake up to pack our camp site and get on the road. We had to get to Boreen Point to meet up with Rob the founder of Lake Escapades before 6:30AM. Anyone who ever gets to deal with Rob is extremely lucky, he is super friendly, knowledgeable, and organised. We got our canoe and positioned all camping gear for the 3 days, it was chock a block, I could barely see Will over the top of our stuff. Which may have actually been a blessing as I could take mini paddling breaks and he wouldn't know. 

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We commenced our paddle just before 8AM and I realised quickly why they called the Noosa Everglades "The River of Mirrors" you literally have to allow your eyes to adjust. The river had perfect reflections of every object, it made it difficult to see where the water, trees, branches, and sky end or begin. Everything was symmetrical and looked almost abstract. As beautiful as the scenery was, I was so thankful that we arrived at our camp site at 12PM. If it had of taken us any longer I think we probably both would of cried!

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I definitely recommend camping at Harry's Hut (River Access Campsites) over Figtree Point or Campsites 1, 2, 3, etc. purely because it makes the venture to Cooloola Sand Patch the next day that much easier (if that is something you want to do).  We did a little bit of exploring through Harry's Hut before choosing our campsite. There are a few cute little private spots which worked a charm with our tent and Super Shade. After we set up our camp spot we decided to prepare some tea and do a little fishing off of the jetty with absolutely no luck of catching anything. Not even a single bite, a few branches which got our hearts pumping but... nope. Nevertheless it was very enjoyable and a lot of people passing by on their kayaks mentioned that they had caught some Bass. We finished up with the fishing session and got an early night as we planned to get up at 4AM to see the Cooloola Sand Patch.

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The 4AM wake up, 2 hour paddle from our campsite to campsite 3 (where you have to go to get to the walking track) and 12km hike was well worth it. Sitting on the whitest sand on the Cooloola Sand Patch absorbing the magical scenery was unreal. The entire walk was through coastal bush with a steady gradient to the top. The 360 degree views were spectacular and you could see the ocean, mountains and hills below. It was very strange to see a sand mass 200m above sea level surrounded by bush. The area basically had no shade so you have to make sure to take lots of water especially if you walk it in the summer like we did! William practically drank all of our water supply, the little camel. We finished up here just before 1PM and paddled back for our last night.

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Starting on the water at dawn, it was sensational to see the rivers surface covered in mist and fog. Everything was so still and quiet. The perfect reflections of the trees was captivating. We took our time canoeing back, taking as much of the serenity in as possible. As the sun rose and peaked through the branches and over the canopy of trees I was in a complete state of happiness. This is exactly what we wanted, to remove ourselves from our busy work lives and immerse ourselves into nature. In the 16 km paddle back to Boreen Point, we didn't hear any cars, any music, or any voices, just simply birds tweeting and the movement of water as our paddles gently pushed us forward. In that moment it was just Will and I, floating in one of the most beautiful destinations Australia has to offer. This is exactly what holidays are for.

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If you have any questions about this trip please feel free to comment, message me using the form below or simply direct msg me via my instagram @irenaclare
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NEW YEARS REFLECTION

Irena Masters

The New Year is a time where I normally like to internally reflect on the year that's just passed. It is more or less arbitrary when the end of the year starts or finishes but because this is the most common rhythm marked by the calendar, I always find it a good time to assess parts of my life. This year I thought I would do something different by typing my reflection down and sharing with you all instead. I like to think about all of the positive gains that I should appreciate and feel grateful for and about the missed opportunities or down times that occurred. Basically I like to recount the good and the bad of the past year. By reflecting on the past I feel like it helps me learn from my experiences and allows personal growth.

It's actually so hard to believe that twenty-seventeen is over. 2017 was an extremely eventful year for William and I. Not only did we purchase our first home together but we also got married! These two milestones brought us so much happiness! Although, if I'm honest it also created a lot of stress throughout the year. Not stress in our relationship but more so stress from the planning and organisation parts.

It has all been hectic to say the least! Everything from signing legal contracts, buying a house on the same street as our closest friends, moving out, moving in, purchasing furniture, building furniture, decorating, changing address, visiting my dad in New Zealand, multiple camping trips throughout the year (Mount Barney, Mount Tambourine, Big Riggen Park, Flanagan Reserve, Camp Somerset, Bluff Creek, and Noosa Everglades), going on our first cruise, attending our close friends wedding in New Castle, going to our first concert together, attending my mums annual Chamber of Commerce function in Melbourne & Sydney, having our Hens & Bucks Parties, having a bridal shower (no, that's not when everyone helps me shower), planning a wedding, learning to dance (for the wedding), getting married, planning a honeymoon, going on our honeymoon to the Maldives & Dubai, slowly changing everything I own with my new surname, going to Los Angeles and Vegas to work with my best friend (and managing to miss our returning flight), losing friendships, gaining friendships, after 5 or so years of visiting multiple doctors, specialists, naturopaths, and dietitians we finally got a diagnosis/results back for Wills stomach issue and can finally begin his treatment, multiple Byron Bay trips to spend time with family, and all the chaos in between, has been craaazy. 

I wonder if this year will be anywhere as insane. Either way I am up for the challenge and so excited, but before I start planning and scheduling this years events I wanted to come up with some goals for Twenty-Eighteen. 

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Continue library nights. William and I decided to start little library nights at home. Before we go to bed we turn off all electronics and read for 30-40mins then discuss what we just read/learnt. I'm really enjoying this not only because of the knowledge gained but also cause it allows me to switch off before bed. 


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Start this Blog and continue it. I love sharing experiences with others especially if it can provide little bits of knowledge to someone else. So many blogs have helped me with our adventures, situations, and projects so I thought it may come in handy to someone who also is doing or wanting to do similar things. I also love the idea of being able to re-read memories and moments.


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Be active at least 4 times a week. I started working out roughly 5 times a week a couple of months before our wedding, and not only did I see changes in my body, but I also felt like I had ten times the energy both mentally and physically. Good health is important and I want to move my body more and nourish it with fresh food but I also don't want to obsess over it and just want to have a good balance. 


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Be more patient and slow down. I'm so bad at this. I am literally on the go 5AM - 9:00PM and as soon as something at work or at home slows me down, I tend to get a little snappy. I hate sitting at home on the couch even if it's for 5mins. I am always wanting to do something. I need to stop and take a breath, sit and relax without thinking about what I should be doing, and allow things to happen more naturally.


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Don't worry and think positively. I’m a pretty positive person already and tend to always see the good in a bad situation, but when it comes to what people say or think about me, I sometimes let it worry me too much. I need to learn to accept their opinion but not let it change or get to me. 


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Stress less. This sort of links to number four. When I get busy with work or at home I need to take a step back and see the bigger picture.


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Work hard. I still want to continue to progress and do more projects and work with more clients but manage and balance it better.


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Travel and backpack around Europe. I absolutely LOVE travelling. I haven't been back to Europe since I was in primary school. So I am so excited to tick this off my list, William and I have already booked our flights we just need to go!


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Say "I love you" every single damn day. I already say this to William every day without fail, and I definitely won't be stopping anytime soon. A lot of the time it's easy to assume that your loved ones know that you love them, but I think it's important that they hear it. 

I’m sure I could think of loads more goals, but then I would not be following points number four or six! So I will leave it there. I love the new year it's the time to bring balance into our lives and look at all the positives that override the negatives. Happy New Year to you! Please let me know your goals in the comments or via Instagram msg @irenaclare I would love to know what everyones are.

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