27 January, 2015

Mooneyes Hot Rod & Custom Show Japan 2014

I must apologise for being so slack lately. I finally got around to wrapping up my Japan trip and promised a follow up post for the Mooneyes Hot Rod Show but that was weeks ago. Although, slack isn't really the right word. I haven't really been slack, I've just been really busy with other things. My full time job has been REALLY busy lately plus I've been hitting the gym heaps so I haven't had a lot of spare time. Hopefully things should be calming down now so you can expect more regular posts from now on. Yay! Anyway, you've had to wait long enough so without further ado - the Mooneyes Hot Rod & Custom Show!!



We started the day early to have maximum time to enjoy all the amazing cars and it's lucky we did, because the line up was already way out the door when we arrived - and that was for people who'd already picked up their tickets! Still, things moved pretty quickly and it wasn't long before we were entering the Pacific Convention Centre. The sight that greeted us was amazing, with candy coloured cars and shiny chrome glinting from all angles. It was like the Willy Wonka Factory of Hot Rods - basically, heaven!



We made sure we picked up the limited edition, event-only rat fink metal key ring before they sold out and then we were off. I was like a kid busting for a wee, I couldn't keep my feet still as we stood, so eager to get up close to these marvels of machinery and metal flake. To be honest, I felt like I could have peed my pants haha I was so excited to be there and at every corner we turned there was always something to make me gasp. There were show boats and ratters, customs and cruisers, bikes and builds, vans and vee dubs. They even a little smart car haha They say a picture says a thousand words, so I'll let them do the talking because lets face it, when it comes to eye candy like that I just can't bare to interrupt.





















































































































































































































Also, I got to meet Gene Winfield which was amazing!! He is such a lovely guy and it was so cool to see such a legend being so friendly with everyone. It's clear how much he has inspired generations of hot rodders.


This was the smart car from Hawaii. I've included this one so we can all have a laugh. I'd just like it to be known that I'm actually sitting on the front seat here and that I'm not actually that much of a midget.






















It was an amazing day and we ran into quite a few familiar faces which was nice. The boys stayed right up until close but Vicki and I nicked back to the hotel for a nice hot shower and a quick spruce up, ready for a night out with a bunch of the Aussies. It's definitely the best show I've ever been to and I can't wait to go back. Fingers crossed we'll be at the one next year - the 25th Anniversary show!

07 January, 2015

Domo Arigato Mr Roboto


I’m so glad to finally get around to writing this one because Japan was just so wonderful and it’s high time I shared it with you all. It was looking like we might forgo another trip to the US in order to go back and stay for longer in Japan but we have unfinished business with the US, so Japan will have to wait a little bit longer. But I must say I can’t wait to go back! 6 days just wasn’t long enough and I really fell in love with everything about it. The people, the buildings, the food, the weather – I really just loved it all!
 
After an all-day flight, a train from the airport to Yokohama and a rather late dinner, we fell into bed around midnight on the first night, eager to get out and about the next day. Unfortunately we awoke to some sad news on the home front so opted to switch our plans for the first day around for a later day in our itinerary and enjoy a more relaxed pace. We wandered around marvelling at the beautiful streets and the Yokohama waterfront. We went up to the top of Queens Tower and I just couldn’t believe the view – city as far as the eye could see! All presided over by the very majestic looking Mt Fuji.
 
In the afternoon we went to Stroker Tattoo to get tattooed (don’t worry, I’ll be sharing that with you soon in its own post). That night we headed to Shibuya to see the ‘Biggest Intersection in the World’. It was incredible! All the people and the lights! We had dinner at a tiny little gyoza set restaurant in the basement of one of the big buildings and wandered around checking out all the shops and lights and sights.

 
The next day we were a little more centred and started the day with a trip to Sensoji Temple which I must say is one of the definite highlights of the trip. We had to catch several trains to make our way out there, and after getting on yet another train we thought we may have been lost. But a lovely man overheard us talking and offered to help. He told us he was going to the temple and we could just follow him. After buying us a train ticket and refusing to accept payment, he lead us on yet another train and a short walk to the temple. Before bidding us sayonara…and heading back to the train station! The fibber! He wasn’t going there at all, but he got off his train and went all that way just to make sure we got there. See what I mean about the people? They are just so lovely!

 
Sensoji is incredible and there is just so much to see! There is a 200m stretch of road leading up to the temple that is just covered with little shops and markets. As we made our way through we picked up little knick knacks and souvenirs to bring back home. We decided to stop at a little restaurant for a drink – what was to be our first blissful experience of sake. Offered both hot and cold, I opted for cold and was glad I did after sampling a sip of someone else’s hot. Brought out in tiny ceramic jugs with their own little cup, you’d be amazed by just how much fits in one little bottle. Oh sake! We sipped away getting progressively happier until we all had a bit of the giggles going and what shall now be known as ‘sake face’ – which also looks a lot like sloth face haha Sake makes you feel lovely!
 
 
That night we headed to Harajuku to take in all the funky fashion before finishing up in Tokyo. We went to the top of Tokyo Tower and marvelled at the incredible view. We were even lucky enough to witness an amazing fireworks display (which we think was from Tokyo Disneyland) while we were at the top. Once back down the bottom, we found a little hole-in-the-wall ramen restaurant where we proceeded to have the most incredible meal – complete with confusion regarding how the ‘ticket machine’ worked. Yep, you even had to use a ticket vending machine to order your meal! We had a big day ahead of us the next day so we called it a night at a reasonable hour.

We wanted to be on our game for the next day which was the Mooneyes Hot Rod Show! Oh my goodness what an experience! I think the show and after party (the next day) needs a post of its own, so for now I’ll just let you enjoy some automotive eye candy and cover off on everything Mooneyes-related in another post. Seriously, I could go on for days!

 
The next day it was back to sightseeing and we made our way out to Kamakura to see the Big Buddha. It was such a lovely day and a really amazing experience to stand in front of the statue and gaze up into its giant proportions. A gentle giant for sure, it really did have a remarkable sense of peace surrounding it and the detail was incredible. I stood there and stared up into its eyes and it truly gave me goosebumps. The town of Kamakura itself was quite cute and the main street had this quaint air about it that was really worth exploring a little. We couldn’t stay too long though, as we had to make our way to Sankeien Gardens while we still had some daylight.

 
 
Although we got to the gardens closer to dusk, we still managed to see the gardens in all their glory. On fire with autumn colours, the grounds were breathtaking and I can only imagine what they must look like in spring during cherry blossom season. This was my first time experiencing true autumn foliage and the vibrant reds and oranges and golds was as much a novelty to me as it was spectacular. A little further down the road was Mooneyes Area 1, where the after party was to be held. As night fell we made our way there, but not before stopping for a little more sake to warm us up!

 
On our last day we jumped on the bullet train to the seaside town of Odawara. We travelled in style, getting picked up from the station by Nash in the Pussy Wagon before being taken to Pumpkin Sally’s where we met the owner, Shorty and some crazy guys from Switzerland.  We hung at the shop for a while, checking out the cars. Then we headed to’ White Castle’ to check out the gorgeous architecture and equally gorgeous view from the top. That’s a lot of stairs! Unfortunately for us it was time to head back to Tokyo Station, grab our bags and head to airport for our flight home.

 

 
Like I said, 6 nights definitely wasn’t long enough and although we crammed a whole heap in during the time that we were there, there’s just so much to see and do!

30 December, 2014

2015: The Year Of The ?

 
Well it's almost that time again. Time to bid farewell to another year. Can you believe it's already here again? The time just seems to be flying by! 2014 has been a pretty fantastic year for me. Not only did I return to the US for Tiki Oasis and a month-long holiday, I also managed to visit Japan for a week and attend the Mooneyes Christmas Party. A lot of other great things have happened this year too. I've found a great place to live, a nice house with lovely people and I'm really happy there. We even have a dog! I'm still loving my job and in the last half of the year my responsibilities have really stepped up, keeping things interesting and giving me new things to aim for. My family are doing great things in their lives - travel, renovations, personal and work achievements. I can see a lot of my friends achieving, or working towards achieving, big things and it's making them happy. There is a lot of good to see in this year.
 
There have been a few not so great things personally as well as in terms of world events, but that is always inevitable. What's important about these situations is how we deal with them and the way we do or don't let them affect us. I must admit, for the last few weeks, I've felt a rock on my chest. A pervading sadness that I can't explain yet can't seem to shake, that creeps its way into the quiet moments and makes me question myself, my decisions and even those close to me at times. It's just that little voice in my head, being a bit of a meanie. But only if I let it. And I have been trying very hard not to let it. Thankfully, I'm winning. Mostly. For me it is a fight very much worth fighting. Because when I feel like this, I am not me. I am a naturally happy, positive, upbeat, bubbly, funny kind of person who easily finds the joy in the little things. I'm easy going, don't stress the small stuff and am generally just happy to go with the flow.
 
Lately, I haven't felt like many of those things at all. But I've got my butt-kicking boots on and I'm not letting it take over. Sure that little voice takes its pot shots, and occasionally I can feel myself actually starting to listen to it. But never for long. I crank up the volume on my constructive thoughts, try to be more realistic of my expectations of myself and others and combat it with more positive thoughts. I'm sure it won't last long. It never does. I'm not sure if it's just this time of year, or if it's post-holiday blues compounded by two or hormones or, heck the hole in the ozone layer. I can't really explain it. But imma keep on keeping on and look to the New Year for a breath of fresh air. It's the first year in a little while where I have no big plans. No big trip in the works, no grand schemes - it's a blank canvas really.
 
I'm actually quite looking forward to that. Sometimes I think I can get so caught up in what is going to be that I am not truly valuing what currently is. I get so caught up in travel plans and social commitments that I'm not really noticing myself, my own health and wellbeing. Life in the fast lane can be fun, but it also gets very tiring and it's important to me that I don't lose sight of what's important. So this year is MY year. Not to take over the world. To simply reclaim my life. To make more purposeful choices, to truly re-connect with friends and family, to focus on looking after my physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. To truly learn to say no and not feel bad about it. To opt for quality rather than quantity. To take deep breaths. To spend more time alone, rather than trying to fill the gaps in my days, my weeks, with distractions.
 
I have no idea what 2015 has in store for me, but whatever it may be, I'm going to be at my optimum so I can tackle it head on and make the most of it. Because if there's one thing this year has taught me, it's that life is too short to neglect yourself, your relationships or your aspirations.
 
Don't wait. The time is now.

23 December, 2014

A Christmas Reflection

I know I’m yet to do the wrap up of my Japan trip but I’ve decided to save that for next week or maybe even a little later. I wanted to share my Christmas message with you first. I would have posted about my Japan trip last week, but after the events that unfolded in Martin Place in Sydney it just didn’t seem right.

A week later and unfortunately there has been more tragedy. The unthinkable up in Cairns as well as some sad news a little closer to home. Perhaps I’m just hormonal and emotional, but I have really been feeling this sadness. I guess everything seems amplified at this time of year. It’s a time that focuses on happiness, togetherness, friends and family and to see these awful things happening now, they just seem so much worse.

But that isn’t my point. I don’t want to depress you. It’s almost Christmas and we should be happy, not sad. This time of year can be difficult for people for all kinds of reasons. So whether you’re apart from your family, are struggling financially or just find the expectation of the celebration a bit overwhelming, I just want to say that the best gift of all is to be kind to yourself.

Tis the season to be jolly. And that doesn’t just mean making everyone else happy at the expense of your own. You have to care of yourself in order to be the best mother/wife/sister/brother/friend you can be. Start small. Allow yourself some quiet time. Even if it means walking out to the letterbox to collect the mail by yourself, taking your time and noticing the lovely gardens of your street. Or treating yourself to something you really enjoy. It could be as simple as a coffee and cake or even a dress or new pair of shoes.

That’s all well and good but that doesn’t put food on the table or presents under the tree I hear you say. And right you are. If you are struggling financially this Christmas, there are lots of places that can help. Check with local churches, community groups and charities for a hand when it comes to Christmas dinner. But remember, your love and care and attention is what really matter most to those you love. And love is free.

There are plenty of things you can do and gifts you can give that show how much you care about someone, without having to spend money. The Bloggess has some excellent ideas including making them a YouTube ‘mixed tape’ of songs that remind you of them, making a Pinterest board just for them or even just borrowing some of their favourite books from the library and reading to them. That’s something they will remember and truly treasure long after the batteries wear out of whatever new toy is out.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a religious holiday. It doesn’t have to be an expensive holiday and it doesn’t have to be a stressful holiday. Quite the opposite in fact. It should be a rewarding holiday that gives you a chance to re-connect with those you love, spend quality time together and remind you of everything in your life to be grateful for. And in case you need a little help remembering all those things to be grateful for, I recommend volunteering with a charity.

Whether you’re serving up Christmas dinner to families who can’t manage their own or delivering presents to families who would otherwise have nothing under the tree come Christmas morning, it will truly make you appreciate what you do have and will remind you of everything that is good in the world. Which despite what we can sometimes tell ourselves, far outweighs the bad.

It’s certainly been a year of ups and downs, but I have achieved so much this year and I truly am so happy with the direction my life is heading. Most of all, I’m so grateful to everyone who has stuck with the blog and supported me so much this year.

An extra special thank you to Stars and Swallows, Megan Rizzo Photography, Western Wac, and Atomic Cherry for their sponsorship and continued support of the blog. Without them I wouldn’t be able to bring you some of the fantastic content and giveaways I’ve had this year. It also just means a lot that these guys are in my corner, backing me up, saying ‘I believe in you’ and the same goes for you reading this.

So thank you, and here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015. Much love to you and your families.

Merry Christmas

02 December, 2014

Turning Japanese

The countdown is well and truly on! Well actually, it's almost over! Tomorrow is my last day at work and then Thursday morning I fly out for Japan!! I am SO excited! Even though we are only going for a week, I'm just buzzing with anticipation about what this trip will hold. I am really excited about travelling somewhere so different, so out of my comfort zone. A non-Western culture, a non-English speaking destination. Different food, different customs, different everything. What an adventure it's going to be!
 
 
Originally we were going to go next year and go for 2 weeks but its highly possible that this year will be the last year that the Mooneyes Hot Rod Show will be held in Yokohama so we had to get in this year, just in case. It means we'll miss a little of the sightseeing we originally had planned such as Mt Fuji, but true to form we're still cramming heaps of stuff in. It just means we'll have to come back again another time to see the rest. What a shame, right?
 
This year's theme is Enchanted World of Colour and I cannot wait to see the amazing paint jobs! I am especially excited to see Iron Orchid in real life! That's the glorious blue and purple 1934 Ford 5-Window Coupe by Galpin Auto Sports you can see up the top of the poster there. I know there will be plenty more jaw-dropping cars to check out, but I've drooled over this baby in magazines for a while so to see her in person is going to be amazing.
 
 
Our main sightseeing is Kosoku-Ji Temple and the Buddha Statue at Kamakura, the Enoshima Shrine and Dragon Island Caves, Shibuya and the 'Biggest Intersection in the Universe', the Robot Bar, a Tiki Bar, Hamamatsu, traditional markets, Electric City, Harajuku, a Samurai Ship cruise of Tokyo Bay, Sakuragicho, Sankei-en Garden Kanagawa, China Town, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Bullet Train, Odawara and of course, Mooneyes in there as well! It's a demanding schedule but you can bet we'll make the most of our time there!
 
I've got my awesome new coat ready to brave the cold and I've been brushing up on my Japanese. I've got my passport ready and all my money converted to Yen and I'm all ready to go. I've got a tattoo booked while I'm over there as well, which was an interesting experience in itself, but I've seen the design and it's so pretty. Will be interesting to see what it's like actually getting it tattooed.
 
 
I'm packed. I'm ready. I'm excited!

25 November, 2014

SUCK EM UP MELBOURNE MAI TAI CRAWL 2014

Well my head has finally stopped hurting from my trip to Melbourne on the weekend. If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen a number of snapshots over the weekend of my journey to Melbourne and, the whole reason I was there, the Suck Em Up Melbourne Mai Tai Crawl 2014. Created by Melbourne Tiki-o-phile Careless Navigator, this was the second annual Mai Tai Crawl but was to be my first. Lots of the Unholy Rabble Queensland Ohana made the trip down, as did the Sydney crew and the local turnout was also fantastic. It was like a little Tiki Oasis reunion!
 
 
Beginning at The Beaufort with a bit of a sip and shop, the festivities kicked off at 12 noon. The atmosphere was awesome with so many happy faces and friends being reunited. Some of the local and interstate tiki creative were selling their wares including tiki mugs, pendants, hand carved statues, bracelets, aloha wear and even some vintage vinyl. Not to mention the official crawl t-shirts, mugs and other ephemera. Zombies, Mai Tais, Jerry & Cherry's and whole host of other delicious tiki cocktails were consumed to the exotic sounds of the sitar which just managed to make itself heard over the cacophony of happiness and fun. I had to remember to pace myself to ensure I'd make it to the 2am finish time. Yep 12 noon til 2 am drinking Mai Tai's, now you know why my head hurt!

Image by Paul Fiddes
Side Note: This is the first time I'd ever been to The Beaufort and it was awesome! The area we were in featured cute wooden tables and chairs and astroturf! It was like a cute little beer garden in the comfort of the indoors. We also ate here and the food was amazing!! Great wings, awesome pork ribs and a beef rib that is to die for!! It's so hard to find good ribs (in Brisbane anyway) so I was really impressed! The place had a great vibe and the staff were wonderful, very friendly and somehow managed to stay on top of things despite all the people and craziness. The next time I'm in Melbourne I will definitely be back!

Image by Paul Fiddes
At about 5pm we wandered on down to The LuWow, a firm Melbourne favourite of mine. Despite all my travels in the USA, The LuWow still remains one of the best tiki bars I've been to in my opinion. Run by Skipper Josh, the guy is amazing! Him and his wife Babs have lead such interesting lives and have been responsible for a number of killer bars here and overseas including Deville's Pad in Perth (although no longer run by them). We started in the Island Village to refill our mai tais, grab a booth and nibble on some pupu platters that were very generously put on for us. Then it was time to move into the Forbidden Temple for Skipper Josh to deliver the talk he also gave at Tiki Oasis. Having been lucky enough to be there the first time, we floated between the two.

 
Shortly after, the Nuholani Wahines welcomed us with a hip shaking performance before the Tiki Pop movie was screened. After DJ Jumpin Josh spun some tunes, a burlesque troupe called the Itty Bitty Titty Committee also performed. I was in the Island Village when the burlesque was on but many of the men in the crowd reliably informed me it was good. Next the GoGo Goddesses took to the stage to keep things pumping. Not that the crowd needed any encouragement! It was about 10pm by this stage and we were all well on our way to drunk town haha The headline act was INTOXICA a fun band that blended surf music with a bit of rock, blues and rockabilly for a thoroughly good time.
 

The rest of the night was a blur of mai tais, DJs and silly photos. Although there was one other cool thing that happened...My friends Danielle of Black Lagoon Designs and her man Evan of Johnny Voodoo's Barber Shop GOT ENGAGED!!! How exciting! It was so wonderful and they are such a perfect couple, I am so happy for them. It's rare to see two people who so clearly adore each other so much and who are just made to be together. They are the best couple! I will admit, I may have teared up a little.
 
 
I have to say a HUGE thank you to Rohan and Tan for putting together such a fantastic day. It was my first time meeting them in person and they are just such lovely people! I know they put a lot of work in to organise everything, just so that we could all have a great time. I'm also super grateful to the staff at The Beaufort for being so cool about everything, it really was the perfect place to get things started and line our stomachs. And of course, a big thanks to Skipper Josh for being such a cool cat and making sure we were all looked after and everything went so smoothly. I can't believe how lucky I am to know so many fun, generous, talented, super cool people. I also want to say a big thank you to Tiki Dylans Idol Hands for being super sweet and gifting me a beautiful wooden bracelet that he hand carved. I don't, however, thank him for all his attempts to stick his tentacle up my nose haha 
 
You can bet your sweet bippy I'll be back for this again next year! I only wish it wasn't so far away!

11 November, 2014

Tattoo Tuesday: Pink Elephants on Parade

Yep, it's that time again and boy do I have a Tattoo Tuesday for you! This one has been in the works for a while. This tattoo really is a culmination of a number of life influences, beginning way back in my childhood to collide with a number of vintage and current lifestyle influences. You see as a child, I had an elephant stuffed toy that I just LOVED. Not just any elephant stuffed toy, but a PINK elephant! Man, I loved that thing so hard. Since growing up, my fondness for elephants remains (in fact there is an elephant safari lodge in Bali that I really want to visit, where you can help bathe them, take them on walks, etc). But I digress.
  
As I grew up and became interested in the rockabilly and kustom kulture lifestyle and began searching for vintage items and collectibles I started to come across glasswear and kitsch little serving trays bearing adorable pink elephant patterns. Pin Up Girl Clothing even released dresses made from a pink elephant fabric for goodness sake! And then, one of my very favourite artists, Shag, began a whole collection of artworks based around pink elephants. THEN I actually got to meet Shag at Tiki Oasis AND I bought a pink elephant tiki mug from Tiki Tony. The signs were adding up!
 

Shag - Pink Elephants


 
So, what's the significance of pink elephants you ask? Well, pink elephants are a euphemism for drunken hallucinations. Lets face it, we all know I like a good drink. Think back to your childhood, do you remember that psychedelic scene in the Disney movie Dumbo, when the wee little elephant drinks from a bucket of water spiked with champagne? Let me refresh your memory.
 
 
So with all this swirling around in my mind and some of the pink elephant fate yet to come, I asked The Pizz to draw me up something while he was out here in June for Cooly Rocks On. The life of a travelling artist is a busy one, so it was only last week that my artwork arrived but I booked in for my tattoo straight away.
 
Artwork by The Pizz
I knew fellow Beatnik Mark 'Suicide' of Voodoo Tattoo would do a great job and I certainly wasn't wrong. He banged this out in just an hour and a half yesterday and (I've said it before and I'll say it again) his shading is AMAZING! I changed a couple of colours here and there so there wasn't TOO much pink, but I absolutely love it!! The colours in it are amazing as it is, but I can't wait to see how they come up once it's all healed. I contemplated waiting until it was healed to post it, but I'm so in love with it I just couldn't wait to share! I'll be sure to post a pic of it once it's all healed though.
 
Isn't it just perfection!? It's on the outside of my right calf and is a great size, while still leaving plenty of room for more tattoos - yay! She's so pretty and I love that she is holding a tiki mug! I must admit I've seen my fair share of pink elephants after spending too much time at the tiki bar.
 
So, what should I name her?