Meet the Artist behind Sonya Rae Designs

Art is heart. Yes that’s my take. Every artist no matter their field puts their heart into their work. You may not like it, we get that. But for those of you who appreciate individual expression, every artist thanks you.

When I say art or artist there are many forms and talents. Right now it is my pleasure to promote an awesome artist. Trust me, there are many out there, but this incredibly talented lady, is featuring now. I hope to have the opportunity to work with other artists over different fields, and assist in their promotion, showcasing their work.Sonya Rae Erhart possesses not only, unbelievable talent, but patience way beyond most parameters. I spent some one on one time in her studio to understand her work. And, I was completely mesmerised.

I asked Sonya to tell me her story, how did you get here? And in her own words, she told me,

“Art has always been a huge passion of mine especially portraiture. Discovering the love of Airbrushing started after watching an Artist complete an amazing portrait in 20 minutes. Totally blown away….I just had to learn the skill..!!!

So I attended an Airbrushing Night Course and then an Advanced the following year. It wasn’t an easy journey though… probably took at least five months to get control of the Airbrush. The fun really began when I bought my own Badger Airbrush to practise at home. I now have four Iwata’s which I think are the Queen of Airbrushes.

Greatest satisfaction for me is seeing a client’s face after I show them my creation….especially a Commission Painting. Knowing my Art is displayed in someone’s home and enjoyed by others is extremely rewarding.”

Tools of the trade are important for any artist, and Sonya has come a long way in perfecting choices in her chosen field. From the canvas through to the types of mediums and airbrushes used, Sonya not only ran me through her processes and equipment, she did it with the enthusiasm of a beautifully proud new parent.

After projecting an image onto the canvas, Sonya then sketches the outline in pencil. Very light, so you wont pick it up in this photo, however there is a faint outline of the hat and collar. And yes, the little picture taped on the left, is what she uses to guide her way through the colours and shapes, after choosing her subject.

Always by her side, are these two adorable boys, Beau & Bobby. They keep their human Mum well within their range and ensure she always has company.I looked into the history of airbrushing, to understand its origins. The first airbrush or paint distributor/atomiser as they were first named, was patented in 1876 by Edgar Francis Stanley in Massachusetts. Crude designs were invented until Walkup who repatented his work, with a name thought of by his wife, Phoebe, “air-brush”.

At a stakeholders meeting of the new Air Brush Manufacturing Co at 7pm on 6 October 1883, the name Air Brush was formalised.

This pressurised method of painting has been improved over the years, with some amazingly talented artists continuing to wow the general population with their impressions.

The finished Clint Eastwood canvas used in this article? That is now proudly on display at a local Brisbane Northside Cafe, Aarth Cafe, who are in the process of revamping their popular cafe to include and showcase Sonyas work. All work displayed at the cafe, will also be for sale. Watch out for the article once the revamp is complete, which is when you see the completed piece. I would love your feedback, as would Sonya and Aarth Cafe owner, Sunny.

Sonya has some new experiences on the horizon, something she excitedly shared with me. Keep watching and follow her on instagram @sonyaraedesigns. Don’t be shy, contact Sonya for commission work or if you would like to purchase her art. From what I have heard and was shown, the skills of this particular artist are improving to the point of mind blowing.

Remember also to follow @dinelivetravel on Instagram , Facebook , Twitter , Snapchat, Stellar and Pinterest, to keep up with the talent I intend to uncover and showcase.

In the meantime, here a few of Sonyas finished works. Including both a surf and skate board. The surfboard has been signed by subject, Mark Occhilupo, unfortunately though Sonya did not get to meet him. I hope she does one day.

*All photos included in article and promotion, were taken with the permission of the artist. Should you wish to utilise photos or article content for commercial purposes, please contact the writer, or artist directly.

Velvets Restaurant, Two. Tails Winery, Nana Glen NSW

A couple of years ago, we travelled through NSW and stopped, for our very first stay at a B&B. Not only did we totally love the experience, but, the people were amazing! Oh and did I mention it was attached to a winery?? Nana Glen is less than a 30 minute drive from Coffs Harbour. An intriguing country area, with a drive through some simply beautiful locations, as you traverse Orara Way, between Coffs Harbour & Grafton.

But this location, Two Tails Winery, is beautifully inspiring. Our first visit here, we listened to the owners, as they outlined their plans for the future. A couple of years down the track, and we finally returned. To see the dreams come to fruition was not only admirable, but heartfelt. We felt like we knew this.Theres around 12 wines to taste test here. And now, there is a totally city worthy restaurant, Velvets. The Head Chef, Jodie Thornber, was Russell Crowes personal head chef for 14 years. And yes she knows her industry.

Now Ive worked with Chefs throughout the years, but, I have never, ever, met such a humble, down to earth, balanced chef as Jodie. Not only is her work amazing, she is a beautiful soul.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s, breakfast is available. Hmm, tempting, very.

Plus if you stay in the B&B, you have a choice, cook your own brekky with the breakfast food provided, or head to the restaurant at the weekends. Here you can have standard bacon & eggs, or, $10 off normal brekky menu. The standard meal, as far as I was concerned, was more than sufficient. Ok, also I didn’t have to cook or clean up, so yes, Im sold!There’s a lot of options out here. I mean seriously, who does not want to go and enjoy a long lunch. Oh! Or high tea, look at this set up! No food included yet, just the table setup.

Now that I have your attention, how about the food. Ok I’m a tapas fan. At the end of the day, meals can be too much to process, but tapas, oh yes. Pick and choose, nothing is too big.The first one trialled, was this incredibly soft, moreish, Camembert. With a delicious gooey centre, partnered with an interesting popcorn, this highly recommended dish, was delicious.

This is what I like about tapas. Not a Food Coma or overload. Have a taste, savour and enjoy. Eat as much or as little as you like. Not like a meal where you feel obligated to eat everything, plenty of choice here, seafood (check above) or perhaps the lamb meatballs below, are more to your taste. Choices are, well lets go with varied and many!

And if you’re into dessert as Hubby is, then try these, first up is the churros, followed by an crispy brandy basket ….Remember all of this is enjoyed as you overlook the vineyard. The sun sets over there and its truely mesmerising.

Watch out for the events. Throughout the year, this local venue, promotes different occasions. Support them, as you would support everything local.

We were very lucky to be included as part of the locals’s celebrations for the tapas and cocktails with music event. Tapas and cocktails $10 each. Lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Always keep in touch with Dine Live Travel on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Steller, Twitter, Snapchat and of course this website, http://www.dinelivetravel.com.

Stop, stay for a while, but enjoy. And remember the B&B. Let me know your thoughts! @dinelivetravel

Bean N Loaf – The Nest

Brisbane Suburbs are growing, quite rapidly. With the relatively new Fitzgibbon Chase area being one of those spreading its wings into the world beyond. Community, it really is all about your local community being the main focus.

This business, Bean N Loaf have taken the community integration onboard and over the past few months, since opening in the latter part of 2018, have established strong ties to this local area.

Family friendly, including your four pawed friend, Bean N Loaf have adapted their concept to the needs of this growing, local community.

With water bowls on hand for your furry friend, plus a multitude of people, namely staff and customers, offering free pats, your pooch will enjoy their visit.

For the kids theres all sorts of little treats, including a kids menu, and those special baby chinos for the mini me.

Stop by for some bakery, a revitalising coffee, or smoothie, but dont forget to try the menu as well. There are some enjoyable meals to be had.

Using as many local businesses for ingredients as they can, Bean N Loaf pull out all stops to support their chosen corner of the world.

The salmon fillet makes for a very special treat for the day. Gorgeously soft, served alongside an interesting side salad, this meal certainly fills the spot.

Or, if you prefer some pastry and chips, try a pie with a side of fries. Hubbys had no complaints at any time for these dishes and savours them immensely.

There is a special wall area set aside for business cards promoting local business, competitions regularly occur to mark different occasions and a new initiative, just starting, is the book swap. Take along one of your previously read books and swap if for someone else’s preloaded book.

Opening from 6am, 7 days a week, the smiling staff will always be there to happily greet you.

Anzac Day has its own special significance for young and old alike. And, on this day, Bean N Loaf staff are opening even earlier, with coffee served from 4am, including a free coffee for veterans. Lest we forget.

Be sure to have a chat to the owners, Rudra & Saboo, as well as their friendly staff. They are more than happy to meet their supportive customers.

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Goldies – The Island, Surfers Paradise

Located on Surfers Paradise Boulevard, just one block back from the iconic Surfers Beach, sits one of the original Gold Coast Hotels, The Island.

Goldies is the downstairs restaurant and bar, open from 7am, seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This expansive restaurant is a wonderful place to catch the cooling sea breeze. Sit ourself next to one of the large open window spaces and watch the world go by.

Trams are literally on the doorstep, connecting different areas of the expansive Gold Coast, together. This is the right on the beating heart of Surfers. Pretty much, everything you want or need is nearby. But today, is about Goldies.

Menus here were reasonably priced, with a good choice of items. Judging by the cocktail menu and the selection of cocktail “additions” behind the bar, these guys know how to mix something for all tastes.

I am going to mention the service here, as the staff were absolutely awesome. Not only attentive and aware of their surroundings, but informative and helpful also. You deserve the recognition. Well done.

This southern fried chicken burger was an absolute hit with Hubby. From the jalapeño skewered through the top of the bun, to the deliciously crunchy chicken matched with smokey bacon, every morsel was consumed with rapture. Not only that, this burger was matched to literally the coldest on tap Stella Artois beer, hubby has ever had the fortune to drink. he even had a second 500ml on tap beer to make use, the first one was not just a happy accident. It wasn’t!

The light meal of salt and pepper calamari was my choice today. With a beetroot hummus cris crossed with a black squid ink aioli, what can I say, this was totally delightful.

In recommending this venue, I will mention, what a wonderful location to wile away the day. If you’re into people watching, this is definitely the place to be.

Have a chat to the enthusiastic staff, they are proud to briefly tell you the history behind The Island. Once holding the most unfortunate of reputations, but now, totally redeemed with the work put into this iconic Surfers Paradise venue.

The new area, which is being worked on now, well, I’m excited, as someone who has been to the awesome bar upstairs, which I thought was really very cool, but the staff assured me, the new area is going to be amazing!

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Would also love you to comment or email dinelivetravel@yahoo.com.au with your feedback. Thank you!

Shorncliffe Pier

With a history dating back to the 1800’s, the Shorncliffe Pier has been rebuilt and revamped over the years. Most recently reopening on Good Friday, 2016.

The 351.5 metres of wooden pier, stretches out into Bramble Bay, making it, not only the longest wooden pier in Brisbane, one of the longest in Australia, but also, a very impressive structure.

Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the Pier. Photographers love the sunrise opportunities offered by the area. Dogs play with their owners on the beach or frolic in the gentle waves, walkers, joggers, cyclists, fishermen, and children make great use of what this family orientated piece of greater Brisbane.

Shelters housing chunky wooden tables and benches, down near the end of the Pier provide a nice resting place for families to stop and wile away some time. If you’re fishing, then you are well provided for with steel stations along the pier for cleaning your catch before heading home.

Brisbane is home to a widely diverse selection of recreation areas. This white washed structure, connecting the local area to the bay is definitely one worth visiting. The views around here are stunning, with Redcliffe and its connecting bridges, Moreton Island and the Port of Brisbane all visible from the Pier.

Posts visible at low tide, remain from the days of the swimming bath which adjourned the Pier. An amusement park was also on the shore in days gone by, now replaced with picnic shelters and playground.

One of the shelters on this particular day, was being utilised by a static cycle class. With a large trailer full of static cycles unloaded into the shelter, class participants then carried out their class under instruction from their trainer, all the while having a stunning vista ahead of them.

Take some time to head our to the Pier, its a highly popular area, especially on weekends, with some annual activities taking place too. The long table fine dining event is highly popular and fills up fast each year, whilst the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race, starts from here on Good Friday, each year.

If you don’t already follow Dine Live Travel on one of our many platforms, then remember to do so on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & Snapchat. See you soon!

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Tempest Seafood Restaurant and Teppanyaki Grill

Known previously as Morgans, the Tempest Seafood Restaurant houses a Teppanyaki Grill area.

For those who have not experienced Teppanyaki, this is not just a meal out, it is a highly entertaining experience. Sitting on stools around the grill, your skilled personal Chef uses flair coupled with interesting commentary to prepare your chosen menu choice in front of you.

With a variety of teppanyaki menu choices, you can pick your preferred option to suit your taste and budget.

A wonderful assasination on the senses commences. Smell, see, hear, taste, feel, no sensory organs are missed for the next couple of diner interactive hours.

Heat threatens to scorch your eyebrows as towering brilliantly orange flames dance in front of you. Food sizzles loudly, emitting seductive scents designed to alert your appetite to the upcoming feast.

We began with Miso shiro, a soybean soup and a fresh salad.. Flames leapt from the grill as vegetables were cooked to perfection for the Yasai Itame dish. Prawns, tender calamari, chicken, wagyu steak, fried rice all followed.Seasonings enhance the fresh tender foods which melt in your mouth. No dish was less than superb. Even the prawn bodies are grilled to a crisp for those who wish to add some crunch.

No need to go anywhere, wait staff attentively serve your drink requirements so you can stay seated, and not miss a moment of the brilliant performance being enacted right in front of you.

Laughter as we know is good for the soul and our healthy well being. Try Teppanyaki, afterwards, no-one will be anything less than happily relaxed afterwards. It’s a fantastic icebreaker for your group too.

I’m not going to give too much away, you really should check it out. Be sure to enjoy the light palate sorbet cleanser at the end. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday’s Cafe Rocklea

Directly across the road from the Rocklea train Station, you will find Sunday’s Cafe. Clean, sharp and fresh looking, the cafe sports a large covered area outside, on two sides of the building. Heavy wooden tables and long wooden seats, invite you to stay a while. Bring your furry friend too, they are most welcome.Inside, a couple of small tables sit in front of a cleverly painted mural, framing the kitchen area, yet giving you a peaceful desert feel.

Quite a popular cafe, on this particular day, and I was informed it usually is busy on weekends, most trade coming from the local markets, yet surprisingly, not really anything from the train station.

Sorry commuters but you are seriously missing out here. Perhaps we should all take sometime to actually see what surrounds us.

Menu covers pretty much any taste. Short, simple and catering to your required choice.

Smoothies, coffees, plenty to choose from here.

Staff were friendly, helpful. Could not do enough in that regard, including asking if the dog needed a water bowl. Nice touch.

Service of food was quite adequate, we were there to chill and catch up so enjoyed the no rush, jam it down approach. If you’re expecting something nice you cannot expect that to arrive instantaneously.

Totally recommending this dish. Vege salad can be hard to balance and still be appetising, especially when its cold, but this dish, was seriously delicious. The turmeric paste mixed so well with the Vegetables. Not hot or over the top, just a really nice mix.

Add to your big breakfast with this seriously incredible pulled lamb. Tasted totally devine. I was lucky to try a small morsel.

Or, check out the mushrooms.

Topped with a poached egg, again lovely presentation, another delightful dish. Also, Im told, somewhat tasty.

This cafe has a few siblings. Check them out if they are in your area. Definitely worth a look,

And to those train commuters, stop and look around, you really are missing out.

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Margate Beach House Bar and Kitchen

You don’t get much closer to dining to the sea, than this. Ok yes, you can sit on the beach, but, for a restaurant, this location has you feeling the sea breeze whilst you chill out.

We recently spent a short break away at the Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach. One of the bonuses, is the Beach House Bar & Grill located on the ground floor.

Our check in was 2pm, something they are strict on here, but we went early to enjoy long lunch and begin the wind down.

I’m loving how this hotel has included history in the rooms as well as throughout the hotel itself. It really does provide a point of interest.

Clean lines are everywhere. Ok the hotel is new, so is this restaurant, however, comfortable roomy seating is a big plus. Nice to have a decent amount of room between yourself and the next table. There is nothing worse than being so cramped as extra tables are fitted into an area. The balance here, is really well thought out.But, the important stuff, food. Everything we had here was superb quality. Fresh food, delightful presentation, generous serves, and the added bonus, wonderful interactive wait staff.

Hubby had intended to go with the seafood tower, but a menu change had him test this intriguing seafood stew. There is much more to this dish than the photo shows, and he was most impressed.

Sticking with the seafood theme, I chose the barramundi. No complaints. Again, fresh, nice presentation, and for me, the perfect size.

Right now I could not go anything more, but hubby needed a sweet finish to the meal. His choice, lemon donut. Presented with fairy floss and dried raspberries, this was quite an impressive combination.Moving on through the day, Hubby eventually was hungry again. Not me, I was still overfull from lunch! Nice steak for hubby, side of crunchy broccolini for me. Perfect!

Once you enjoy a lovely night here, head down for brekky. No buffet, choose your meal and enjoy. Yes menus are limited, but, you don’t need a huge menu to please your customers. No matter what you do, you will never cater to all tastes.

Seriously, how good are these breakfasts??

From the time we spent at this venue, we could see the locals favour it. Treat yourself to a seaside weekend, check into the hotel and enjoy the delights from this onsite restaurant. Really doubt you will be disappointed!

Nerada Organic Tea

The Nerada brand has a history dating back to 1882. In fact, right back to April Fools Day, 1st April 1882. On this day, four brothers, Herbert, Sidney, Leonard, & James Cutten rowed over 50 kilometres on the Tully River before they came upon Bingil Bay. The significance? This area is where Nerada Tea hails from. 100% pesticide free, black tea, 100% Australian grown. All 600 kilos plus of it every year.

As one of those chosen to promote Nerada tea, I was delighted to receive a pack of 4 different tea bags, as well as Iced tea suggestions and Nerada information. The challenge here? Some promotional work for the brand, showcasing iced teas. Hmm well lets see what we came up with!

This one was not iced, BUT the lemon & ginger in this delightful teacup set was a superb way to start the day. During the heat of the Brisbane day, one then turns to iced tea. This is the time you need not just chilling, but refreshing!

I trialled this simple recipe of my own, Lemon & Ginger tea (yes the same one from the morning), chilled it in the fridge for a few hours, with slices of lime. Add the ice, sprinkle a little ginger on top and wow! Great combination! Lime, Lemon & ginger iced tea. Refreshing, plus what better way to chill than in the pool with a refreshing poolside beverage!

Adding that with this drink, even Hubby, who is a coffee fan, loved this mix. Now thats saying something!

The mix above, was chilled blackberries, soaked in black tea. Not being a sweet tooth I personally enjoyed this, but for Hubby, not so much. However, if you were to add some local Australian honey this would sweeten the whole mix.

What was my favourite tea? The peppermint. Why? Because it is seriously pepperminty! Over ice, slice of lemon and some mint leaves this was a lovely drink.For that extra dessert, why not add some chocolate syrup round your glass, pour the tea over ice, and you have an after dinner mint! Ok a little naughty for the waistline, but your tastebuds will love you! Note here, I didn’t actually trial this one, but, sure sounds good!

Experiment with these tea bags, they can be used hot or cold. For the sweeter tooth, don’t forget to add a little honey.

Don’t forget the chamomile! I loved that one hot, but yet to trial cold.

Thank you to Nerada for the opportunity to assist with promotion!

( #dinelivetravel trialled these teas after being chosen as a Nerada Tea Taster.)

Sebel Brisbane Margate Beach

At a build cost of around $15million, this recently new hotel for the luxury Sebel brand, has a lot to offer. Sebel brand itself, emerged back in 1963. In those early days, you could expect to mix with a number of celebrities who favoured Sebel. Betty Davis, Elton John, Zsa Zsa Gabour, all enjoyed the comfort of Sebel hotels.

Interior designer, Siobhan Gnomes McNabb, captures many styles with textures ranging through from smooth to exposed brick and concrete, both in the 58 rooms and throughout the hotel. You cannot help but reach out every now and then to run your hands over the corrugated and rough surfaces. Floor to ceiling glass doors which glide easily back to a two third opening, bringing the outside in, creating a wonderful spacious feeling.

Much thought has been given to the small things. The full length mirror, hidden inside the wardrobe door, so as not to detract from the room itself. Beautifully soft, luxurious feeling robes. The heavy stone table on the balcony, is not going to be blown around! A microwave in each room, contained within the workable kitchenette. Historical photos cleverly used in each room, and throughout the hotel.

The local area has a lot of history, first occupied by the Ningy Ningy people, European settlers, headed by Matthew Flinders, did not arrive until 17th July 1799. It is refreshing to see a new establishment retaining reference to days gone by.

The rooftop area, is the crown atop this complex. Full use is made of the large area, with a pool, bar, cabana areas as well as loungers and tables. Plenty of choice for a comfortable evening drink whilst you enjoy the uninterrupted view, from many angles.Sydney the Sebel Bear certainly enjoyed his afternoon chilling on the rooftop, whilst reading his travel book! The area up here is totally different to the Beach House restaurant downstairs. You will hear more about the delightful restaurant, in the next story as I believe, it earned its own review.

The rooftop bar is open for guests on Friday & Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoons, with a barbecue too, subject to weather conditions.

There’s an adequate gym area, with free bicycle hire for guests. Take a bike, or a stroll along the 2km boardwalk which runs along the waterfront, opposite the hotel.

Only around 25 minutes from Brisbane Airport, this area feels like a world away from city life. During the day and over weekends, this popular area bustles with activity. Parking fills up quickly around here, as people enjoy the sun, sand and surf.

Reception staff were efficient and there to assist as required. Really the only problems encountered at this venue, one lift which, is a little slow, and a lack of adequate parking for the hotel. However, if you’re there to chill out, the lift time doesn’t bother you, and, as for the parking, we had no problem securing a park in the underground secured area.Enjoy a sunrise like this from your own private balcony. Treat yourself, to a weekend away or some previous wind down time, you will not be disappointed.

Remember to check Dine Live travel on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for more photos. Keep a watch out for the Beach House Restaurant review too, it will be coming soon!