Taking Over The Internet, One Site at a Time

Honored. Thrilled. Tickled pink! That’s how I’ve felt this week when two of my favorite websites in Melbourne published profiles about me.

Girls Club

On Wednesday, I was featured on Girls Club. I met co-founder Fox Woods at a blogging event last year. This chance meeting turned into my writing an article about women’s networking groups (which was mentioned in the introduction, excerpted below). Over the past year, I’ve gone to several of the fabulous themed monthly meetups. Girls Club has yielded so many amazing opportunities, from being asked to give a talk at one of the months, to making friends with the other women, to being asked to be profiled for yet another website (which I will also blog about, never fear).

2014-09 Girls Club

Girls Club profile – photo by Lena Todorovski

Dear Theresa,

When I first met you, I could sense a kindred spirit… you were freelance writing for Time Out magazine and other organisations; curious about everything in the world around you; an explorer of places, people and events; wholeheartedly in support of girls & women being excellent to each other; and always trying new things and starting new things – like your Braidiance hair braiding classes, your WinWinWinters Facebook group that seeks out the best contests, giveaways and freebies, and The Plus Ones website, which highlights Melbourne’s best events!

Since then, you’ve written about Girls Club for the press, been a speaker at our 4 Short Talks event (speaking about “How to schedule awesomeness: go out every night, read dozens of books, and make it feel effortless!”), made friends everywhere you go, and generally been a fantastic human bean.

We’d love to hear your answers to our Girl Profile questions… and learn more about the world of Theresa.

Read the full profile, and check out the ongoing series. Many more stupendous ladies will be featured in the coming months, I’m sure.

Business Chic

Friday’s profile is on Cheryl Lin Rodstead’s fashion website, Business Chic — which I’ve been reading for years. I’d seen Cheryl at a few events without managing to say hello, so finally reached out to invite her to one of my hair braiding classes. Not only did she really enjoy herself, she asked if I would be photographed for her site. Um, yes, please. Lifelong goal to be photographed for a fashion blog: CHECK. (And just to show what a small city is: she previously partnered with Girls Club to take beautiful photos of some of its members.) Love the whole women-helping-women thing goin’ on!

2014-09 BusinessChic site

BusinessChic website

“Secret Lifers” are those people who work a job (or more!) but then pursue their passions at the very edges of their capabilities to live full and interesting lives. Some eventually make the switch to their passion like I have – trading in the IT audit gig for photography and personal styling – while others are completely content to keep their work and passions separate.

The thing I like about the secret lifers that I meet is that they are not defined solely by their “day job”, their relationships or even their interests – they are multi-faceted. They don’t make excuses like “I’m too old” or “I would if I had the time”; they just do it, they make the time. They worry less about “being perfect” and more about living the life they love. [...]

Theresa Winters is a Secret Lifer. I’ve followed her on Twitter for some years now and have marvelled at all of the things she does. She is American and yet contributes so much to her adopted home city of Melbourne; more than many Melburnites I know (me for one)! By day she works part-time in administration but she also contributes to some great publications, co-founds another AND finds time to run classes teaching braiding. Read on for more!

Love that description — sure makes me sound like a go-getter! Do take a look at the phenomenal pictures in my profile, which she managed to take on a sunny day in Carlton in about five minutes.

So, what did you think? And how about when I tell you I’m going to be profiled on two more websites in the coming months? It’s crazy!

Thank you SO much, Fox and Cheryl, for taking the time out of your own very busy lives to put these pieces together. You’re both phenomenal women, and I’m lucky to know you.


Filed under New Zealand

Knitting and Crocheting Warm Fuzzies

The calendar says it’s officially spring in Australia, so I might not be getting much use this year out of my knitted and crocheted collection. All the more reason to show you what I have — and made — before it’s time to pack them away!


My knitted and crocheted collection

Above, you can see my wonderful items. Clockwise from the top, we have:

The crocheted cowls I've created

The two crocheted cowls I’ve created

  1. the arm-knitted infinity scarf I made in July out of beautiful wool (see below).
  2. a crocheted cowl with buttons I made last year. It fits around my neck and looks a little like Claire from Outlander, which I like.
  3. knitted fingerless gloves, by my friend Sam, who is a fantastic knitter. She gave them to me for my 30th birthday, and I think of her every time I wear them. Love the color — not something I’d normally gravitate towards, but it looks fantastic with many of my winter coats.
  4. here’s a piece I commissioned from my cousin Jessica: a knitted hot water bottle cover. It goes over my German-made Fashy hot water bottle that my friend Rachel insisted I buy in New Zealand. (Jess, if you’re reading this: the ribbon came out and I’m using it as a bookmark, but I’ll put it back in when I finish the book, promise.)
  5. next up, we have a knitted scarf, also by my friend Sam. I’ve had this for years, and it finally made its way from the U.S. to Australia. Love the rainbow jewel tones — all of which I wear a lot.
  6. finally, there’s the pink/orange/yellow crocheted infinity scarf, made by yours truly. I crocheted it last year — it was the first time I’ve ever used more than one skein — but I couldn’t seem to keep the sides to go even. There was a moment when I showed it to my friend Angela. “My friend just loves the colors,” I said. “Yes,” responded Angela, “But does she like the shape?” Chuckle! So I never got around to wearing it last winter. But this year, infinity scarves/cowls became all the rage in Melbourne, and I turned it into one. I love wearing it with bright red lipstick and a white shirt, as you can see in the photo.

Arm-Knitting an Infinity Scarf

My (former) housemate Jen and I became obsessed with the idea of arm knitting after seeing a video about it in a Frankie magazine newsletter. “Takes 30 minutes!” the video trumpeted. So after a fortuitous happening upon of some gorgeous wool 50% off at a shop in Fitzroy, we thought we were in business. Taking it along to a crafternoon organised by my (current) housemate Jez, I attempted to watch the video on my phone. Nope. I don’t know how to knit, and the video went too fast.


Casting on — our arms

Enter Leaona. A knitter (and sewer, and all kind of crafty things), she gamely came over to teach me how to arm knit. She even brought cupcakes to go along with my ginger shortbread.


Help! I’m attached to my scarf!

The casting on was — just like regular knitting — the hardest part, but once it was firmly attached to my arms I really got the hang of it. The repetitiveness is quite soothing, and the huge thread made the very open weave look wonderful.


Finished infinity scarves! (with 4th of July decorations in the background)

An hour later, we both had finished infinity scarves. I’ve worn mine out several times and get compliments galore. The best part is, if I decide I want to change things up, I can just take it apart and knit or crochet it into something else.

All of my handmade designs — either made by myself or from friends or family — make me feel not just warm on the outside, but warm on the inside, too. (Awwwwww.) If you’re a knitter or crocheter, make sure to give an item to someone this Christmas — there’s nothing like wrapping yourself up in a scarf or mittens made by a friend. And if you’ve ever wanted to give it a go, I highly recommend teaching yourself, or inviting a friend over to show you how. They might even bring cupcakes!


Filed under Australia, DIY

Things I Love in August 2014

source: Pinterest

source: Pinterest

In no particular order:

  • Outlander, the television show*
  • Outlander, the book
  • sea shanties
  • the idea of learning how to play the spoons
  • specialised cutlery (three-tined forks for cake; serrated grapefruit spoons)
  • making candleholders out of glass jars
  • family trees
  • mulled wine, mulled cider, hot toddies

This is what’s exciting to me at this moment in time. What has you all hot’n’bothered?

*I lied…this first one IS in order


Filed under Australia

Friendship Bark

‘See you out in the world sometime.’ That’s what they say when they leave Australia.


An Englishman, a Mexican, two Kiwis, two Americans, an Aussie, a Malaysian, an Israeli, and a German walk into a bar and…

It goes in waves. Within a month’s time, I’ll have said goodbye to six friends. They’re off around the globe – either back to their home countries, or off to try out a different one for a while. Then off once more – back here, to somewhere else, to their homeland. Some are boomerangs: they come back to Australia for visits, or perhaps decades from now to retire. Who’s to say where we will all go, when we will see each other again, or where.

Friend Replacement Policy

I’ve been almost four years here in Australia. It happens, and happens again: friends come, they go, they mingle into my friend group, they leave after a while. Months or years – either way, they’re off on adventures. I’ve done it myself a fair few times: first London, Chicago, later, Wellington. Some friends of mine, the ones who stay put, make threatening remarks about people leaving. ‘I have a friend replacement policy,’ said one Wellington denizen. ‘When you leave you have to find me a new friend to take your place.’ Others take a more dour view: ‘Let me know exactly when you’re leaving so I can start to distance myself,’ a pal says. After all, there’s only so many times you can say farewell before you wonder: why be friends with these people at all, if they’re just going to leave you behind?

Generation Travel

Maybe I’m doing it to myself. After all, since I left the U.S. I’ve made a majority of friends through a travel website (CouchSurfing). Before that, you can trace a few Chicago buddies to an expat networking group (EuroCircle), or friends-of-friends from a university student organisation (International Illini). But it’s not just those on one-year working holiday visas. When I first moved to Melbourne, a closeknit friend group dissolved when everyone left, returning to France or the U.S. – even one of the Australians went off to Hong Kong. I was close to another Australian when I first arrived. She’s gone, too – back in Western Australia the last few years. Look at my high school friend group: I can count on one hand the friends still in Illinois; even less in their hometowns. Minnesota, California, Virginia, Colorado by way of Arizona. Is it our generation more mobile? Is it the American tendency to move counties or states? Everyone else’s to move countries? Perhaps it’s that we’re in our twenties and thirties, taking advantage of the time to be in many places.

Don’t Stop Believing…

I can never bring myself to stop making friends with someone just because I know they’re going to leave. For one thing, who knows if anyone will stay? The Australians leave Melbourne just as often. And eventually, I see everyone again: The American who moved to France (whom I met in New Zealand), well, we’ll be at the same friend’s wedding in Washington, DC. The Swede I met in Chicago? We saw each other when I was visiting Wellington and he was on his honeymoon. A Swiss guy I overlapped with in Illinois for a few months has become one of most frequent travel companions (we’re up to seven countries now). The Australians who left – to Perth and to Hong Kong – we always catch up when they’re in town. I spent the first six months of the year hanging out with an American I’d met in Wellington 3.5 years ago; we reconnected in Melbourne and became fast friends.

Moar Friends

The benefit of having a wide range of acquaintances (and, surprise, being an colossal extrovert) means I never lack for friends. The American friend I just mentioned went home last month; shortly after I made a new Brazilian friend I see just as much. The Swede left Chicago? Fine – I made a new pal out of a Québécois guy. When friends leave, it opens you up to new ones. If my American and Australian girlfriends had stayed in Melbourne, would I have befriended my wonderful Israeli and Mexican ones — or would I not have had the chance? And as I said, you’ll see all your friends again someday. We met travelling, or one or the other of us went off to travel. Travellers are travellers.

Friendship Bark

But still: the bark has been cut. It might heal, but there’s a scar underneath. Never again will the friend group be intact; never again will you live in the same city simultaneously. Your friend group adjusts, shifts to fill the gap almost immediately. But every now and then, you’ll be struck. Where’s M.? Where’s R.? Where’s B. or O. or C. or D.? Or any of the J.s?

They’re gone.

Just as you are to the friends you left before, and the friends you’ll leave in future.


Filed under Australia, friends

On Turning 33

An up-and-coming starlet poses for a spread in GQ magazine

An up-and-coming starlet poses for a spread in Vanity Fair magazine

The most important part of turning thirty three is being able to have a ‘Dirty Tree and a Turd’ birthday at an Irish pub. To that end, I’ve wasted no time since turning the palindromic age on Bastille Day — and when puttering around the wide world o’ the webs, I discovered that good old Lord Byron had a thing or two to say about becoming my age, way back in 1821.

IV. Satiric

On my thirty-third Birthday

January 22, 1821

Through life’s road, so dim and dirty,
I have dragg’d to three and thirty.
What have these years left to me?
Nothing–except thirty-three.

Lord Byron

The footnotes to his poem include the following gem:

 “To-morrow is my birthday–that is to say, at twelve o’ the clock, midnight; i.e. in twelve minutes I shall have completed thirty and three years of age!!! and I go to my bed with a heaviness of heart at having lived so long, and to so little purpose. * * * It is three minutes past twelve–”Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,’ and I am now thirty-three!– 
‘Eheu, fugaces, Posthume, Posthume,
Labuntur anni;’–
[Alas, O Posthumus, the fleeting years slip away -Horace]
but I don’t regret them so much for what I have done, as for what I might have done.”
–Extracts from a Diary, January 21, 1821, Letters, 1901, v. 182.

Poor Byron. Mad, bad, and upset about turning an okay age.

Me? After months of musings upon it, I made the leap and treated myself to a visit to the salon.

My post on Facebook to show my new hair

My post on Facebook to show my new hair

Will I still have magenta hair when I raise a pint of Guinness at my ‘Dirty Tree and a Turd’ party? Jury’s out. I did find out from a friend, though, that in Switzerland when one turns a double number like 33, it’s time to toast with a ‘Schnaps-Zahl.’







Filed under birthday

A Theresa By Any Other Name

Although Americans, Kiwis, Aussies, and Brits are supposed to speak the same language, sometimes our pronunciations get us into trouble. To wit, a phonecall I had a few months ago with an Australian company:

Me: I’d like to speak to Cam, please.
Him: Cam?
Me: Yes, Cam.
Him: We don’t have any Cams who work here.
Me: Really? You don’t have a Cam?
Him: No, we don’t have anyone by that name.
Me: Cam? Your owner — Cam Smith?
Him: [in an incredibly strong Aussie accent] Oh, Cayyyyyym. Oi theuaught ewe seid Keeeeeeeeeeeem.

Kim. He thought I was asking for Kim, not Cam. So I guess the next time I call, I’ll need to try to say it the Aussie way: Cayyyum? Ceiiiim? I’m not sure how to fit that many vowels into my mouth. (Australians are famous in linguistic circles for employing not just the usual English diphthong — mashing together two vowel sounds at once — but the perilous triphthong. Even spelling it is hard.)

Sometimes I just can’t hear the difference between names, or we don’t differentiate in my American dialect. For me, the names ‘Greg’ and ‘Craig’ rhyme. Kiwis are aghast at this butchering of very different names with very different vowels. Same with ‘Erin’ and ‘Aaron’. To me, they’re pronounced the same. Australians, however, pronounce them with a subtle difference — which goes to show that they’re actually acknowledging the incredible variation in the two names’ spelling. (Plus, it helps let people know if you’re talking about the female Erin or the male Aaron.)

For me, my coworker Josey’s name is pronounced ‘Jo-zee’. She says it the way it’s spelled: ‘Jo-see’, with a soft ‘s’. (Or, if we’re being all linguistic here, an unvoiced rather than a voiced sound.) Then you have a name like ‘Megan’. To Americans, it’s ‘Meh-gan.’ Kiwis and Aussies say ‘Mea-gan’, with a long ‘e’. That’s why, when I lived in Wellington, it was easy to audibly differentiate between my Kiwi or American Megans.

My name, of course, is pronounced in the U.S. as ‘Tir-ee-sa.’ It is, after all, spelled with an ‘s’. But in the rest of the English-speaking world — and beyond — it’s pronounced with a ‘z’ at the end. The middle syllable changes as well, becoming ‘Tir-ey-za.’ For people who didn’t grow up speaking English, I’m a little more lenient. I just think to myself in a condescending manner: “It’s okay. They can barely speak the language.” (Not really.) But for those who are native Anglophones? Who can pronounce it right, but don’t? My wrath knows no bounds. I remember constantly correcting my British friends when I studied abroad in Wales. “It’s ‘Theresa’ with an ‘s’,” I’d cry. “Sa-sa-sa-sa-sa!” It’s not just that they’re not pronouncing it correctly — it’s that I don’t always know when people are trying to get my attention. I don’t respond to ‘Tir-ey-za’ because that’s not my name.

I mean, look, I realise that sometimes people have ingrained ways of pronouncing names. I’m never going to be able to say my French friend Amandine’s name the way actual French people do, and I don’t pronounce my own boyfriend’s name the authentic German way. (Sorry, honey.) But those are different languages. When two people are native speakers of the same language, but different dialects, I’m torn. Do I try to say it as closely as possible to the way the person says it themselves; or say it my own dialect because otherwise it would be an affectation?

Take my new acquaintance, Barton. In Australian English, it actually comes off sounding rather posh. They don’t use the letter ‘r’ here, so Aussies pronounce his name “Bah-ton.” It all sounds rather upperclass British. Whereas for me, with my American glottal stops, it comes out as “Bar-uhn.” (Don’t have a minor in Linguistics like yours truly? Try saying ‘The kitten with mittens ate a mountain of butter’. If you’re dropping the ‘t’ at any point, that’s a glottal stop.) The Australian way of pronunciation for poor Barton sounds much nicer. RaaaaatherBaaaaaaahton.

All I know is, Australians and Kiwis get really confused by how to spell ‘Tir-ee-sa.’ It’s not just the American “with-a-h-or-not”, it’s a full-on butchering of the spelling whenever I order chai to go or get a pizza.

From now on, I’m spelling it the way it’s written here:

1 Comment

Filed under Australia, musings

Top Tips for Living in Melbourne

Just moved to Melbourne, or visiting for a while? Here are 25 facts that you should know from someone who’s been living here for several years.

Flinders station crossing

photo via Flickr Creative Commons


  1. City trains always leave from Platform 1
  2. The City Loop trains run the opposite way sometimes
  3. It’s pronounced ‘Burke’ Street, not ‘Boork’
  4. The Yarra River divides the city in to north and south
  5. People who live in Melbourne are Melburnians, not Melbournians or Melburnites
  6. Only Kiwis called Australia ‘Aussie’. In Australia, ‘Aussie’ is an Australian; ‘Oz’ or ‘Aus’ is the country
  7. Melburnians don’t use north/south when giving directions – they say to ‘go away from/towards the city’
  8. The city centre is known as the CBD (Central Business District)
  9. All of the main streets (Flinders/Collins/Bourke) have ‘Little’ versions running parallel to the north of their namesakes
  10. There is no train to the beach. The 96 tram goes to St. Kilda; the 109 to the lesser-used Port Melbourne. (Okay, okay, you can take the train to Brighton)
  11. Collins St. has two sides. The east is known as the ‘Paris end’ and has fancy shops like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. The western side doesn’t have as much development and used to be called the ‘Beirut end’
  12. ‘Down the coast’ means heading down to the GOR
  13. The GOR = the Great Ocean Road
  14. When people are taking about the beaches on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, ‘back beaches’ face the ocean instead of Port Phillip Bay
  15. The MCG is a good acronym to know. It stands for ‘Melbourne Cricket Ground’
  16. They don’t only play cricket there — it’s also where you can catch an AFL match
  17. That’s also a good acronym to know. It stands for ‘Australian Football League’.
  18. Which means Aussie Rules Football.
  19. That’s referring to the rules, not that Australia is the best at football.
  20. You WILL have to pick an AFL team to support, or Melburnians will look askanse. As long as its not Collingwood, you’ll be fine.
  21. The Superbowl of AFL is known as the Grand Final. In the event of a tie, they don’t have overtime. The two teams don’t have a draw, either. They have to wait an entire week and play again. This happened in 2010, right after I moved here, but doesn’t occur often.
  22. Melburnians also enjoy ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’, aka the Melbourne Cup. The day of the horse race is a public holiday (day off) in Victoria.
  23. The whole buildup to Cup Day is known as the Spring Racing Carnival, with different races on the weekends leading up. Each has its own traditions – wear black and white on Stakes Day; Oaks Day is ladies’ day and for pastel dresses. Everyone wears hats and fascinators.
  24. If you don’t like the races, you can go to the Billycart Races in Northcote. People race homemade billycarts down a small hill.
  25. Above all, don’t say the ‘r’ in ‘Melbourne’ — it’s pronounced ‘Melb-in.’

What are YOUR top tips for life here?


Filed under Australia