Two Minutes with Clare Hillier | Checks and Spots

By Emma Bangay
10th Dec 2013

What do you get when you blend one super blogging, stylishly spirited Southside-dwelling Mamma with a whole lot of green smoothies. (Literarily, not literally).

You get 21 Shades of Green, a trip down the edible emerald aisle as guided by Checks and Spots doyenne, Clare Hillier. Here she talks exclusively to The Urban List about her first e-book, the Melburnians that inspire her most, and what trends she is checking out and spotting in Melbourne this very minute.

TUL: What was life like pre-Checks and Spots?
I used to play with make up all day long and work at Bloom Cosmetics as the Product Development Manager.

TUL: What inspired Checks and Spots?
I struggled enormously with becoming a mum, so when our eldest was four months old, I decided to start a blog – simply so I had something to think about that wasn't baby, sleep, or feeding related.

While I never really identify myself as a mummy blogger, I am a mum who blogs and blogging has been a massive part of my journey as a mother. In fact, I often feel like it's my third child…or fourth if you count my husband!

TUL: How has Melbourne shaped you as a blogger?
Melbourne has a creative energy that I love. There are so many people doing clever things and being able to cross paths with them through things like The Days of Our Lives (a weekly series I run on Checks and Spots) constantly inspires my blog and business.

TUL: How did 21 Shades of Green grow?
A year ago, I started drinking my way to good health by downing green smoothies. While I may not have a Master's in nutrition, I do know what's worked for me and have certainly had a lot of practice blitzing, blending and concocting green smoothies! So, with the support of Vital Greens I created 21 Shades of Green: A Green Smoothie Recipe Book.

TUL: Why smoothies?
Green smoothies are a powerful (and super easy!) way to up your mineral consumption, cleanse toxins, oxygenate blood and boost energy. But the thing I like best is that they get maximum health results for minimum effort – and who doesn't want that?

TUL:  Were you always this healthy?
Around the time I started drinking green smoothies, my perspective on food shifted and I started seeking simplicity. I think there's a lot to be said for the way our grandparents approached food. So, I try and stick to wholefoods, eat seasonally and make most of what my family eats from scratch – including our butter! While I like eating cleanly, enjoying every moment is just as important. So, I'm never that hung up about food that I feel guilty about an occasional decadent desert or champagne at the end of a long week. The joy of food and sharing it with others is a big part of what makes me happy.

TUL: Favourite place to live in Melbourne?
Before we had kids, my husband and I lived down the Windsor end of Chapel Street. I absolutely loved that neck of the woods (especially having Tarlo and Graham pretty much on our doorstep!) We now live a few suburbs away, closer to the sea and with more room for the rug-rats. I love the village feel of our local strip of shops and the fact that you can grab a towel and walk to the beach in a few minutes. It's also a great area for kids to grow up with a really lovely sense of community.

TUL: When it comes to checking out and spotting Melbourne's best, what's your take on the greatest...
Breakfast: Gas Eatery in South Melbourne.
Cafe to work from: The sweetest spot in Melbourne: The St Kilda Dispensary.
Bar/pub: Cicciolina back bar.
Workout: Melbourne's first mind and body health club, Kaya.
Pram circuit & park for kids: Situated smack back in the middle of a fab park that has two secure adventure playgrounds, Cubbyhouse Canteen ticks all the boxes – coffee and tasty treats for the mamas and space for the kids to run wild!
Coffee: Monk Bodhi Dharma.
Dance hall / disco: Nobody gives good disco like The Greyhound!
Movie / cinema complex: The classic Astor Theatre.
Place to take visitors: For a very 'Melbourne' afternoon, I'd suggest shopping some of the city's laneways and visiting Alice Euphemia and Christine, then jumping on a tram to the Botanical Gardens for a stroll and Devonshire tea!
Date day/night venue: If you want to impress without looking like you've tried too hard, head to Moon Under Water.
Girls' getaway: Stay at The White House in Daylesford for the perfect girlie weekend of vinos by the fire and total relaxation at the local mineral springs.
Hair salon: Tina at Mudd Hair Sculpting (157 Greville Street in Prahran) is a genius on the scissors.
Manicurist: Nails by Nadine give the perfect manicure and, better yet, will come to your home or office.
Facialist: Nobody knows skin better than James Vivian.
Gallery: Heide Museum of Modern Art and its beautiful gardens are worthy of a whole afternoon.
Nursery: The Little Veggie Patch Co seriously know their stuff about creating and nurturing chemical-free veggie gardens in almost any size garden.

TUL: Most inspiring Melburnians?
Artist, Mirka Mora, who is a true free spirit, the incredible work the St Kilda Mums do supporting families in need, Belle Gibson, the creator of The Whole Pantry, the world's first health and wellness and lifestyle app and designer Lisa Gorman, who has a knack for reinventing her label and keeping it fresh – just look at the way she pioneered sustainable fashion and also the introduction of her latest homewares range.

TUL: What's a widely undiscovered Spot that Urban Listers should check out?
Elvis is in the building at Claypots (213 Barkly Street in St Kilda) every Saturday afternoon! Get there early, grab a beer and a spot in the bar for a seriously good time.

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