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A Christmas Wish

December 10, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Creative Direction/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationFeld + Co

Details

DecorationsLight up Christmas tree | LED battery Lights | Mini Wooden Pegs | Sea Tribe Throw + Cushions

CameraInstax Mini Link Printer | Instax Confetti Film | Instax LiPLay Camera

Outfit Tiare Hawaii Eyelet Hollie Dress | Ananda Soul Jewelry

This Christmas my greatest wish was to be with my whole family. It’s pretty much my wish every year. So since we all couldn’t be together, I decided to bring my family to me…well sort of ;)

I’m a big fan of DIY projects so this year I created a little Christmas tree and added my favourite instax moments of all my family. It’s a daily reminder that no matter how far apart we are, we are always connected. It’s been making me smile every day this week, so I’m definitely going to keep this tradition going for the years we can’t all be together.

I also got a little creative with gift tags this year too. I used the Instax Mini Link and printed some of my favourite memories to stick onto each gift. It’s a little keepsake and a gift in itself. It feels so personal and a heartwarming reminder to each of my beloved family members how much they mean to me.

This year we are focused on sharing quality moments together. We have some small gifts from the heart for our family, but our main focus and gift really is time. Nothing can replace time and connection. We’ll be heading off soon to my parents family home in rural Victoria for some slowing down and relaxation. We’ll be switching off from wifi, and connecting in with one another. Even though the whole clan won’t be with us, they’ll all be in our hearts.

What are your holiday plans this year? And what do you love most about the holiday season?

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Ayada

November 29, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationAyada Maldives

Outfit Details

DressesBrooklyn Grange | Pitusa Multi Flared | Arnhem Poeme Mini

SwimwearKoleha Pistachio Botanic One piece | Camilla one piece (similar)

Jade wearsArnhem Belle Littles Top

JewelryAnanda Soul Divine Guidance Mala | Wanderlust + Co Zodiac Necklace | Ananda Soul Om Namah Shivah Ring | Heather Gardner Crystal Earrings

Ayada truly is the epitome of pure luxury, and it was the perfect place for us to enjoy at the end of our wonderful Maldives family holiday. Off the beaten path, nestled in it’s own remote paradise, we experienced the ultimate in service and luxury. Everything was handled with such care and attention to detail, from the moment we met our representative at the airport, to our departure. It took a plane and boat ride to get there, and it was worth every minute of the trek.

Upon our arrival we were greeted with a wonderful festival atmosphere. It was good vibes, lots of laughs and games for all ages. Bobby and I played giant connect 4 while the kids jumped on the trampoline and attempted to do the limbo. The kids quickly found their favourite spot on the island at Ayclub playing endless games of foosball, pool and table tennis. It was a short bike ride from our incredible Sunset Ocean family suite which made it loads of fun, and super safe for them to explore on their own. Our overwater villa was breathtaking. We watched reef sharks (which are super safe to swim with) and eagle rays swimming by from our pool during the day and magical sunset skies at night.

We spent our days snorkelling the house reef and we took a dream snorkelling and dolphin sighting trip that will forever be etched in my memory. I’ve never seen so many dolphins at once. They playfully swam around us with their beautiful, joyful energy. This tour was the biggest highlight of our entire Maldives trip. And to top this off we had the most intimate encounter with a turtle right after this. As we swam alongside this majestic being it turned around multiple times and simply stared at us for what felt like an eternity. This experience was beyond what I could ever have imagined.

The food, the chefs, the restaurants, all went above and beyond to create the most exquisite plant based foods for our family. Every meal was a dream and culinary delight for our senses. We had a special dinner at Kai restaurant and this was an absolute stand out. I remember saying it was the best meal of my life! And it really was. I’ll be dreaming about that dinner for a long time.

Our last day was spent enjoying the most decadent plant based floating breakfast in the Royal Ocean Suite. The villa itself was so beautifully designed with all those Turkish inspired colours and details. We enjoyed all of our favourite foods and a slow, relaxing day of pure luxury that we’ll never forget.

If you guys are planning a trip and need any tips please feel free to message me. If you’re island hopping like us, then you need to plan it out and that will vary for each person’s preferences on where you want to stay. I do find that each resort we stay at are so helpful in organising most of the details for you. It makes traveling a breeze. And the plane views are always just stunning so it feels more like a tour.

I use this resource here to check the distances between each island and Male (island where most international flights land) and it helps me to work out if I can reach an island by speedboat or seaplane. It’s always best to organise a stay overnight in Male if you’re arriving late at night and plan to take a seaplane to your first spot. Or organise to first stay somewhere within speedboat distance as some will run late at night.

I feel so grateful for this family trip to the Maldives. It definitely takes a lot of work and time to organise all the logistical details when traveling to the islands, and it can get quite costly, but it always is my absolute favourite place to relax and explore with my family. We always leave inspired, knowing anything is possible.

Happy travels and so much love,

Helen xx

A Timeless Sanctuary

November 12, 2019

Photography – Bobby Bense

Model/Editing – Helen Janneson Bense

Locations – Vakkaru Resort – Maldives

USE DISCOUNT CODE VMGYPSY when you book direct at vakkarumaldives.com you’ll get 40% off room rates + complimentary half board meal plan. Stay from now until 19th December 2019.

Outfit Details

DressesCharo Ruiz Vaiana | Yumi Kim Dolce Vita Maxi | Camilla Retro Rainbow Tie Front + (Similar)| Jaase Fiorella Adriana Maxi

Swimwear – Heidi Klein (similar) | Camilla (similar)

When our arrival to Vakkaru was blessed with a dolphin sighting, we already knew it was going to be one amazing experience. Every moment of our stay from being greeted at the airport to saying our farewells was managed with the highest level of service, that has put this resort into our top 5 best resorts in the world.

Vakkaru is located in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Baa Atoll. The resort has multiple blue holes and an incredible house reef accessible from the overwater villas. We had some of our best snorkelling adventures right here in the pristine turquoise waters of Vakkaru, that were teaming with tropical fish.

In the Maldivian language, Dhivehi, Vakkaru means Coconut Timber and the island actually has around 2300 beautiful, lush coconut trees. We loved the earthy yet luxurious design of the resort, and how beautifully decorated the villas were, with the most soothing colour palette reflective of the surrounding nature.

As always we spent the majority of our time in the ocean from sunrise to sunset. From their dive centre, known as Splash, we headed out on kayaks to their incredible pure white sandbank island. From here you can snorkel some of the surrounding reefs, and the blue hole. It’s an easy kayak and a great family adventure exploring the most iridescent turquoise waters that surround Vakkaru. Ensure you pack your snorkel gear, water, hat and reef safe sunscreen as it gets so hot in that Maldivian sun. One of our favourite snorkels was the turtle splash snorkelling trip and we lucked out seeing 3 turtles the moment we jumped off the boat! From here it was turtle after turtle as we snorkelled along the most beautiful reef.

Our kids had the best time here at Vakkaru and have said we must visit again. If they weren’t snorkelling with us, they were riding their bikes around the island and visiting their favourite spot the coconut club. We played many games of foosball, table tennis and pool here. We even challenged some of the Vakkaru team members to a few games which was so fun! We really loved that the resort had activities for all ages groups. It really is a great and safe place to travel with kids of all ages.

One of my favourite spots, and there were so many, was the overwater Merana Spa. They have the most beautiful sound healing room equipped with crystal bowls. I was already won over when we arrived, but this was everything. The room had a glass bottom viewing space so while you played the bowls you could see the turquoise water and fish below. Absolutely so serene. What I loved about the spa most was that it is actually a communal space available for all guests to visit. There is no extra charge for use of the jacuzzi, plunge pool, sauna and sweat room. They sit right on the waters edge in the most picturesque setting. It’s like having your own giant overwater villa. It’s a beautiful spot to watch the sunset as you soak in the jacuzzi.

We were also very impressed to learn about Vakkaru’s green initiatives as sustainability is always an important factor anywhere we stay. Their on-site reverse osmosis water treatment means still and sparkling water for all guests served in glass bottles. They regularly clean up the house reef and have coral planting for guests and team members to participate in. We absolutely loved their healthy organic farm where they compost and source much of the produce for the kitchen. And you can tell! Everything we ate was absolutely delicious and full of vitality. Some of the best vegan food we’ve had. The breakfast buffet offers a wide range of options for anyone on a plant based diet. And if you like, have your breakfast in your villa pool. The floating breakfast was so good and full of all my favourite breakfast foods – avocado on toast, fresh fruits, granola, and fresh veggies. Nothing was ever too much for the chefs here either. They were more than happy to create some beautiful bespoke vegan taste sensations and experiences for us. Our last dinner under the stars at Vakku was probably the most extraordinary way to end our stay. Surrounded by a love heart, lanterns and a glorious sunset, we enjoyed one of the best dinners of our lives together as a family. We felt beyond blessed. This is a memory we’ll never forget.

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Vakkaru now and book the dream trip of a lifetime and remember to use my discount code VMGYPSY

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Out of the Ordinary

October 25, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Editing/ModelHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSix Senses Laamu, Maldives

Outfit Details

ClothingSky Hyeon Mini |Sky Maija High Low |Koleha Tassel Wrap |Milanja Lemon Stripe Top + Lace Skirt

SwimwearKoleha Pistachio Botanic One piece |Heidi Klein One piece (Similar)

Accessories – Pom pom bag (similar) | Hutton Sun Hat

When I began planning our family holidays to the Maldives I wanted to ensure that I chose somewhere to stay that reflected our beliefs. We always look for places that make sustainability a priority, respecting the land and ocean that surround them. We look for a place that supports healthy living and offers plant based cuisine. And we seek out back to nature, unique experiences, something out of the ordinary. We found all of this and more at Six Senses Laamu. It’s laid back, barefoot luxury, that will enliven all your senses. I now understand why so many people have told me this is their absolute favourite resort in the Maldives. It lives up to it’s reputation.

For me family holidays are about connecting and doing what we love together. There were so many activities at Six Senses for us all to enjoy including water sports, volleyball, table tennis, badminton, football, treasure hunts, board games, and of course snorkelling is by far our family favourite. It has been a dream of ours for the longest time to swim with turtles. This was also one the reasons we chose Six Senses. They have an amazing house reef and they offer guided snorkelling with their marine biologists each day. You’ll be able to see multiple green sea turtles and maybe even the endangered hawksbill turtle. Every time we saw them it was like the first time. The joy and excitement we felt as we shared this experience as a family was immeasurable. And to top it off they actually have turtles nesting on the island! We even woke up one morning to a turtle laying eggs just next door to our villa! If you’re lucky you may even be able to witness them hatching during your stay.

In between hours of snorkelling and ocean adventures, we enjoyed so much delicious plant based cuisine. We sampled vegan goodness from each of their dining options – Zen (Japanese fusion), Leaf (local signature restaurant), Longitude (à la carte and buffet) and Chill bar, which was perfect for enjoying a cocktail and watching the sunset to some great tunes. Our favourite was Sip Sip where we all enjoyed many laid back long lunches by the pool. They offered a great range of vegan options which was so refreshing to have some variety each day. Whether you’re plant based or not, try the ‘Love Salad’ when you visit. The flavour explosion is incredible! After lunch you can lounge by the pool or relax in the water hammocks. This was my favourite spot to completely unwind. There is nothing more relaxing than the warm ocean gently swaying you. And if you’re not too full who could go past the all you can eat vegan sorbet! One of the many wonderful treats we love about Six Senses was the Ice and Chocolate Studio :)

What I admire most about Six Senses Laamu is their dedication to sustainability and their goal to be completely plastic free by 2022. They have already banned all single use plastics, but they are taking this one step further to remove all plastics from their supply chains as well. During our stay I did a back of house tour which was so insightful. They grow much of their own organic produce including a mushroom hut, they make all their own uniforms and textiles, they limit the amount of waste they produce, they re-use all glass bottles in their Earth lab, and produce their own water. And it doesn’t end there. You can read more here about their marine conservation efforts and community outreach.

The wonderful gift of travel is how humble it makes you. You begin to see the world in a new light. Your appreciation for nature grows and your will to protect it. We were so inspired by our children who on their own accord initiated efforts to collect rubbish from the beach during our transit in Male, and what small amounts of rubbish washed up on shore at Six Senses. During our stormy yet beautiful visit to their sandbank island we saw a little bit of plastic pollution wash up with the strong currents. Plastic bottles, lighters and flip flops were some of the most common items we dredged out of the water. It just goes to show how far these pollutants are traveling and how much more we all need to do to protect these beautiful environments. Our wonderful children of course happily helped us to collect all the rubbish to be properly recycled.

Something we highly recommend when traveling to the Maldives is bringing your own reusable water bottle. We also suggest that you take all your plastic waste home with you. Not all resorts will recycle properly like Six Senses and your plastic may end up back in the ocean.

Here is a website that I’ve found some really great tips and products that have helped us transition to a plastic free home, and ideas for traveling plastic free. If you want any specific advice please feel free to message me. I’m always happy to support anyone on a journey to help protect our planet.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Our Wild Winter Escape

August 13, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Editing/StylingHelen Janneson Bense

LocationSmiths Beach Resort | Margeret River |Augusta (Whale watching) | Parry Beach BreaksLand’s End | Valley of the Giants | Williams Bay NP

Outfit Details

Clothing – Milanja Escape Maxi Dress + Escape Ivory Lace Dress| Tysa Designs Wrap Skirt (Wildflower) + Wrap Skirt (Brazil) + Wanderlust Dress (Côte d’Azur)| Tolani Super Silk Turquoise Scarf (worn as a warp top) | Unreal Fur De La Cream Faux Fur Jacket (Similar) | Spell Kimba scarf | Camilla One piece (Similar)

Jewelry – Ananda Soul Wise, Wild + Free Ring | Angel Whispers Necklace | Shakti Bodhichitta Amulet | Chakra Balancing Necklace | Gold Charm Necklace | Mantra Necklace

Home – Sea Tribe Hyams Cushions + Hyams Throw

This year our family decided to do something a little different over the school holidays than our usual tropical escape. We headed down south of Western Australia to experience the wet, wild, wintery wilderness, or so we thought. Our days were filled with sunshine exploring the pristine beaches and even braving the invigorating, cold water of the Indian Ocean. Our nights were spent cosy by the fire, rugged up watching the starry night sky. It was the perfect family adventure to celebrate Bobby’s birthday week.

This was out third visit to Smiths Beach resort and it definitely won’t be our last. It’s our favourite place to stay in Margaret River. It’s close to everything we love to visit – Indijup Natural Spa, The Aquarium (natural lagoon), Hamelin Bay (sting rays), Whale watching in Augusta, the surf, the food and those incredible pastel sunsets that are hands down the best at Smiths Beach.

We loved the light, open space and view from our 4 bed beach house. It was so dreamy waking up to the sounds of crashing waves each day. Not to mention soaking in the beautiful bath tub each evening and melting into their luxurious bed each night. We enjoyed so many culinary delights including the most delicious vegan offerings from Lamonts. They provided us with the best vegan tapas platter we’ve ever had. They even made Bobby a vegan birthday cake which was just incredible! If you head to Smiths Beach you must stop by for the yummiest all day breakfast at Lamonts.

One the highlights of this trip was spending a day with Whale Watch amongst the gentle giants of the ocean. The northern Humback whale migration is happening right now and we had a front row seat to witness all the magic. We were lucky enough to enjoy the VIP Captains Lounge experience and it was wonderful to hear first hand information from the crew about all their whale encounters. This is a beautiful family owned and run business that truly understand the whales, sharing their insights and research along the way. We were so inspired by their stories and their passion for the whales. If you choose to go whale watching in WA then definitely go out with Whale Watch.

From Margaret River we ventured further south to Denmark. We wanted to get closer to the ancient trees and the rugged coast that reminds us a little of California. For Bobby’s birthday week it felt appropriate to find a little reminder of home.

We stayed at the beautiful Parry Beach Breaks in one of their luxurious beach houses called Land’s End. The sweeping views over Parry Beach along with the sounds of nature and kangaroos hopping about made it the most ideal spot to completely unwind. And unwind we did. We completely unplugged and switched off from work, emails, wifi and deeply immersed ourselves in nature. Our family had so much fun, from swimming at Greens Pool, to walking in the treetops amongst the old growth forest, bouldering at Elephant rocks, slow cooking meals together, and quiet moments by the fire. We spent these few days connecting with one another, having deep conversations about the universe, and laughing so much we cried.

There are moments in nature that leave a mark on you forever. And this was one of them. We were all cosy by the fire, playing cards, whilst keeping an eye on the stormy sky. The sun rays began filtering through the clouds, everything was glistening, and it looked like a rainbow would appear at any moment. I decided to get changed into a colourful outfit in preparation, just in case a rainbow did appear and we could take some beautiful photos to share. As I was getting ready I was singing a little rainbow song I made up, willing and hoping one would come. The kids were of course laughing at me. I felt like a little kid, so full of joy and anticipation. I had no idea if a rainbow would actually appear. Moments later we watched the most beautiful rainbow we’ve ever seen form right in front of us. We could see both magical golden ends of the rainbow. We made wishes and danced in the euphoric exhilaration of this moment. To our disbelief and absolute delight a second one appeared. A double rainbow! It was so unbelievably magical. We were all stunned. We were all in awe. What a special moment this was. And I was so happy we could all fully enjoy this and capture this beauty to share with you.

I’m always looking at life through a magical lens. And putting myself out there in nature, anticipating, searching, exploring. It reminds me we are all connected. We are all made of the same star stuff. We are all ONE. You never know what you’re going to discover. We love leaving our comfort zone to seek these priceless treasures, these moments that build bonds and family memories we will cherish forever.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

Because Tomorrow Matters

May 9, 2019

PhotographyBobby Bense

Model/Styling/EditingHelen Janneson Bense

Location – Byron Bay (NSW), Fremantle (WA)

This blog post is sponsored by Recoverthol.

It’s a funny thing getting older. You start to notice every part of your body like never before. You start to remind yourself of your parents! The aching joints begin, the need to go to bed at 9pm starts, along with the early rising, and for me in particular the ability to metabolise alcohol has diminished. For the past few years my tolerance has reduced significantly. And I really love to enjoy a fancy cocktail or 2. I was thrilled when I recently discovered Recoverthol, a liquid formulation that you add to your first drink, that helps to reduce the symptoms of a hangover. And I was even happier when it actually worked :)

Recoverthol is a nutrient formulation that assists in the metabolism of alcohol. It provides the body with the essential nutrient co-factors required for the enzyme, Alcohol dehydrogenase, which is responsible for breaking down alcohol. The nutrient co-factors required by this enzyme are already present in our body, however we only have enough to process 1-2 standard drinks. If we replenish these co-factors with Recoverthol, then we can assist the body to process alcohol more efficiently.

And it’s so simple to use, you simply snap and squeeze the liquid into your first drink, allowing the co-factors to reach the enzyme right away. Your drink will look and taste exactly the same. If you drink moderately and responsibly, you’ll wake up feeling fresh and ready for your day.

This innovative product is not about drinking to excess and trying to find a way to counter that. To me this product is a way of giving back to your body what it actually needs, so you have a choice to enjoy a few drinks without the hangover.

I am always looking for balance in life. I’m always looking for ways to be healthier and enjoy some small indulgences on occasion. I have a lot of self discipline when it comes to my diet and lifestyle and it seems the older I get the more I’m unable to compromise on that. I’m grateful to have discovered Recoverthol that I can 100% stand behind as the perfect adjunct for your next cocktail party so you and your guests can enjoy a few drinks and enjoy your tomorrow as well. Because tomorrow matters and there is so much life to enjoy.

If you’d like to trial this product use my discount code GLL30%off to purchase online.

With love and gratitude,

Helen xx

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