Seven travel scams to avoid

By Larissa Ham

You’ve got your money belt, some padlocks and hopefully a few street smarts. But even the hardiest travellers have been known to slap their palm to the forehead after falling for the oldest trick in the book.

Get ready to be rumbled: here are seven of the most common overseas traveller scams.

* Published in The New Daily (click here to read the full story)

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Wish you were here: Australia’s coolest offices

By Larissa Ham

Is it a disco or a workspace? Google's Aussie HQ in Sydney. Source: Supplied.

Is it a disco or a workspace? Google’s Aussie HQ in Sydney. Source: Supplied.

If you’re going to spend five days a week at the office for the rest of your working life, why not find the coolest company that you can?

The New Daily has scoured Australia for the most innovative offices around – and has found a handful of contenders who are thinking well outside four walls.

Google, Sydney

More like an adventure playground than a place to go to work, Google is continuing to do its bit for every nerd’s occupational fantasies – even managing to squeeze two retired monorail cars into its Pyrmont building last year for use as office space.

* Published in The New Daily (click here to read the full story)

Past tense, but the future’s bright

By Larissa Ham

True tales of surviving – and thriving – after the world has thrown its worst at you.

Rhondalynn

Rhondalynn Korolak (pictured above) was a bright law student about to graduate when she received a terrible phone call.

It was the dean of her university with the horrendous news that her 18-year-old brother and three of his friends had murdered her mother.

“It was a real shock that she’d been killed but it wasn’t necessarily a super shock that my brother was behind it,” says Canadian-born Korolak. “I grew up in a family of domestic violence, and violence breeds violence.”

* Published in Executive Style, Fairfax Media (click here to read the full story) 

How I saved a packet living in other people’s homes

Paddy

* Paddy the pug, one of my housesitting charges.

By Larissa Ham

The internet has given birth to a thriving housesitting market – and those willing to get on board are building tidy nest-eggs.

In the past 15 months, I’ve lived in 10 houses across Melbourne – and haven’t paid a cent in rent, electricity, gas or water bills.

*Published in The New Daily (click here to read the full story)

Hot homeware trends 2014

By Larissa Ham

Feature walls are well and truly out, colour blocking is in and soft colours will add warmth to Nordic-inspired design in 2014, says style expert Tara Dennis.

The Better Homes and Gardens presenter says interiors will move away from stainless-steel and chrome to softer shades including copper, rose gold, blush pink, teal and radiant orchid.

Purples, pinks and rose gold homewares will add a hint of colour to minimalist Scandinavian designs, Dennis says.

Tara Dennis.
* Tara Dennis. Photo: Martyn Rushby

“Instead of going too sweet and sugary, it’s tempered with these whites.”

Click here to read the full story.

Crank up the salsa

Cuba

By Larissa Ham

Our Cuban salsa instructor demands, ”Look at me like you love me!”, his face just centimetres away on a sweat-soaked Havana morning.

He sashays effortlessly across the tiled floor, an open window providing minimal relief from the heat as salsa beats pour out of an old CD player. ”Moooove your body. One, two, three!”

Leonardo, a former doctor, has swapped his stethoscope for salsa shoes and has landed my amiga and me on day two of our Cuban adventure. Having caught the salsa bug in Melbourne, we’re here to learn from the best but we’re off to a nervy start. ”Move your shoulders!” he says, as we double over with laughter.

In Cuba, the Castro-loving Caribbean island still largely cut off from the world, one thing hasn’t changed – music’s in the blood, and salsa dancing is as natural as walking.

Click here to read the full story.

Wild ride: the ‘Steve Jobs of yoghurt’ shares his secrets

When a young man from Turkey bought an old dairy plant in the US seven years ago, he didn’t imagine it would lead to a yoghurt empire on track to hit $US1 billion in annual sales.

In a lightning-quick expansion, Hamdi Ulukaya has taken his Greek yoghurt business Chobani from five employees in a peeling, rundown dairy plant, to a powerhouse with more than 1000 staff.

(See the story and video here)