Aug 24, 2016

East Cost Lows. Urban Decay Naked Love and News.

Heeeelllllloooooooooo!!!!!!


We're in the midst of another east coast low and pops of colour in the landscape of grey black skies and inky puddled roads are few, far between and savoured when they're chanced upon.


The papers are full of department store ambassadors looking flawless in nautical two piece swimsuits one minute and like perfection the next dressed in floral frocks with deconstructed bouquets woven through their hair.  Here in the world of women with a limited fashion vocabulary (I've written in bold italics the extent of mine) it's been another week of tall black boots and sturdy monochromatic pencil skirts.  The boots were a recent find from Ozsale, a mere $125 postage included.  I'm having a dangerously successful run with Ozsale right now: everything I've ordered in recent months fits like a glove.  The cycle needs to be broken soon....



The SSG bathroom cabinet is loving Urban Decay's Naked 3 something chronic this week.  It's only Wednesday but the love is real.


You might remember that back in March, L'Oreal's La Palette Nude in Rose had the title of MVP in my eye shadow collection.  



Five months is a long time in the world of eye shadow.  L'Oreal's rose themed palette is a sold performer for its price but over the months, I've noticed that colour pay off is moderate and colours tend to get a bit muddy and indistinct when blended together.  They also tended to go a bit chalky on my skin after a few hours.  The months that I've used the rose palette confirmed that the colour family is one that works for my skin tone and wardrobe I just needed to find an excuse to splash some cash on some Urban Decay.


My birthday came and went, several long days and nights of work and parenting were survived with relatively good grace and voila, the need for some new eyeshadow in my life was created.

The eye shadows in Naked 3 look pink, rose gold, mid brown and egg plant purple on my skin while La Palette Nude Rose ran pink, taupe and grey toned purple on me.  

Performance wise, I'm going to have say that you get what you pay for with these palettes.  Urban Decay applies true to the shade in the pan and there's more colour pay off.  The finish, while shimmery, doesn't look frosty when colours are applied with a heavy hand.  I also find Urban Decay easier to blend into something that looks vaguely professional at the hands of a novice.  The smoked up eye liner look for day I love (black or similar eye pencil with a dark shimmery eye shadow smudged over the top) definitely looks the business with shades like UD's Darkside or Blackheart from Naked 3 while results can be unpredictable with L'Oreal.

Despite all this almost evangelical Naked 3 love, I still have a place in my heart for good old La Palette Nude Rose and her sister in Beige.  The LPNs are great for travelling with and they already have reserved parking in my suitcase for me next trip.  That reminds me.  I need to plan another trip.  Somewhere, anywhere.  I've just got my wanderlust back.

It's not often I've got the scoop on major beauty news but when I think I do, I like to link and share....

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Prepare yourselves emotionally because Urban Decay is debuting a new addition to the Naked family this September (US release date, fingers crossed Mecca Maxima jumps on board soon after).  It's called Naked Ultimate Basics and is a collection of twelve all new matte eye shadows.  I've suddenly realised at the ripe old age of 41 that my frost and shimmer days are seriously numbered so I will be following this release with great interest.

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Here are some press release photos of the new colours thanks to the interwebs.
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Are you and Urban Decay Naked fan? Which is your favourite so far or do you try not to play favourites?  Liking the new all matte direction the series is taking?


Aug 23, 2016

Top Drawer Mondays and Day Off Tuesdays.

Yesterday was definitely a top drawer Monday.




While I did get to work in once piece, it was on about 4 hours sleep thanks to a sick preschooler and the fun times that are working a Sunday in late winter.



The top drawer of my desk contains a rescue remedy cocktail of bits and pieces that help me fake it 'til I make it (home to a hot shower and bed).  There's panadol, perfume, a hair brush, a bit of lippie and these bobby pins in their black mirrored case.  The pins are made in Japan and much more solid than my ones from the supermarket,  They also have this blue black sheen to them.  Don't know why but they don't look any more obvious in my black hair than regulation black pins.


Those pins held their own through a full day at work and then to a training session after work.  My hair even stayed in place through the hour of tense steering wheel gripping driving on Parramatta Road in between.  It almost felt like going home when I got to training - familiar faces, corridors, buildings.  This was the first place I worked at when I arrived in Sydney all those years ago and I know that parking lot like the back of my hand.  The trick to finding the exits to the car park, the sharp turn you need to take to making the exit with enough room to spare to swipe your card or ticket....



And here we are on day off Tuesday.  It's been a day of relaxing busyness.



Did you know about this platform outside Eastgate Shopping Centre?  It's got a deck on which you can catch some sun, little counters to eat you lunch at and its own greenery.


You probably already know about the H&M opening at Westfield BJ on Saturday.  It's not that I actually buy much at H&M these days but seeing the store and the impossibly on point models who grace their campaigns as I power walk the centre doing mum things whilst dressed in mum clothes keeps me (tenuously) connected to a lifestyle I'm more curious about than wistful over.


Speaking of mum things.  It's Book Week at the moment and Friday is preschool's dress up day.  For those of us that haven't had the foresight to Etsy or the talent to create something from Pinterest pins, may I suggest looking in at The Reject Store?  They have a range of costumes in smaller sizes than Kmart and Target for around $9 a set.




Preschooler SSG is going to be a 'Wizard' in the manner of Harry Potter.  It's been a unilateral decision on my part based on what was still available.  There was nothing Thomas related at all.  Wish me luck as I do the Harry Potter hard sell for Friday.







August 31 is going to be a big day, if you're a loyal Woolies shopper like myself.  Their reward points system looks like it's going to be a bit more generous than it's current Woolworths Dollars scheme where you can only earn a few cents per purchase of one of about 8 specially marked items in the whole store.


I couldn't wait until the end of the month to get myself a new drink bottle (apparently, this particular design is a Woolworths exclusive as per the swing tag).  These are new ones by Decor and cost $9.99.  There's quite a range of motivational wrist bands to choose from.  I should've gotten the #squadgoals one but the pink bottle had my heart.


Mainly because it's a perfect match for my current trainers.


I went for a therapeutic trip to Mecca Maxima today and picked up this bag to go with my Mecca Cosmetica care package.



Inside today's bag was this Naked 3 palette.  It's unboxed and ready to go for tomorrow's work face.


And two new 24/7 glide on eyeliners in Mushroom (taupe) and Delinquent (blackish purple shimmer).  I've been stuck in a sensible black or brown eyeliner rut for far too long....



Better get going.  I'm on Aunty duty today.  I'm a bit rusty on feeding, settling and managing the constant mouthing and pulling up on things but it's all coming back to me.


What's in the top drawer of your desk at the office?

Are you going all out, cheap and cheerful or somewhere in between for Book Week this year?

Coloured eyeliner?  Yay or nay?

Aug 21, 2016

Lovin' Life 21/8/2016: When the Sun Shines.



It's a simple lovin' life post today.  The sun is shining outside, the day ahead is free of any formal commitments and I'm sitting here in front of my computer dressed for a day of pottering and I'm just enjoying looking out through the French doors of the study and seeing sun, green leaves and the occasional shadow.  



The tea and coffee shelf is fully stocked with 'proper' ie strong tea bags from the UK and Ireland (good pick up, Anon - I've edited accordingly) because my mum and aunty are here for the weekend.  It's been so lovely having them here.  

Preschooler SSG offering everyone breakfast pastries yesterday.


Preschooler SSG loves them both to bits and has been doing little things to make his special guests feel loved.


I'm working from home today, going in tomorrow and then it's Day Off Tuesday.  Hoping the city holds on to the sunshine for me until then because we're planning to go out for lunch before mum and my aunty have to head home to Perth.



Is the sun shining where you are?



Aug 20, 2016

The Moon Lately. Baking. Cake Decorating.

An astronomer would be able to tell you the science behind why our moon has been looking so shiny and new recently.  


All I can tell you as a layperson is that I've found the night and early morning skies especially beautiful to look up at of late due to said moon.



It was a special start to Saturday morning having the moon light the way on my run this morning.


It always does my soul a great deal of good filling it with some Rushcutter's love.  With a bonus dollop of Harbour Bridge and imposing naval vessel, I couldn't help but greet the rest of the day with open arms




and a stomach to match.


It was my Sydney nephew's first birthday party today and I was responsible for some of the catering.  Or perhaps that should be in charge of outsourcing some of the catering.  Three cheers for the lady at the sushi counter at Woolies for accepting my 8am order of a platter for 12 noon on the same day.



I've heard worrying things about the state of Barbecue Shapes in 2016 so even the promises of 'New and Improved... More Flavour' shapes could not tempt me to put a bag into my trolley.  Have you given Arnott's a second chance with their Barbecue Shapes recently?  Were they okay or even remotely close to the way they tasted back in that fine vintage year of 1992 (Year 12 swot vac, say no more)?


It's been that long, I can't even remember what one year olds eat at parties anymore so I played it safe with a few snacks from the baby aisle and loaded the rest of the trolley with some high end potato chips.  Those Parmesan and Garlic chips are a desert island pick, by the way.


Besides the bought snacks, I brought along a few baked goods.




I've been cubing and creaming butter like it's going out of fashion.



I've been watching my caramel like a hawk on the gas top, looking for that precise moment the pale yellow turns to a golden brown.


If something's home made and contains both rolled oats and love, it's got to be good for you.


Goes without saying that a lot of Lindt has graced the benchtops of the Manor's kitchen too.


The butter and the chocolate even worked together to create things like the topping for my caramel slice.



The birthday cake was Smitten Kitchen's Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake.



The recipe for the cake is relatively simple but trying to follow it with a preschool aged sous chef and his trains that 'want to bake too, mummy' complicates things somewhat.  I will say at this point though, those splatter guards on KitchenAid stand mixers do their job incredibly well.  Even in conditions I'm sure the KitchenAid test kitchens probably didn't anticipate.


We got there in the end yesterday afternoon and here are my two trays of cake batter to prove it.




Lucky I got started on the baking early because the whole street lost our power for a few hours last night.  I'm glad, in a bittersweet kind of way, that my stockpiling of batteries and LED torches at Costco earlier this year wasn't in vain.  One of my little LED pen torches managed to provide enough light for the dining table last night.


Part two of birthday cake prep involved making the fudge buttercream filling.  Here's Preschooler SSG gently persuading the melted chocolate to cool down enough for the food processor.


Buttercream in a food processor!  How cool is that?  No sifting of the icing sugar required at all.


Fortunately neither of my chocolate cake halves domed too much in the oven.



They sandwiched together pretty easily on either side of that fudge buttercream.


Onwards to the final and most nervewracking (for me, at least) stage of the birthday cake.  Frosting and decorating.


I took break from YouTubing makeup tutorials last week and boned up on cake decorating techniques instead.  Quite a few videos showed how to make sturdy frosting bags using nothing more than some sticky tape and zip lock bags.  This idea appealed to me because I've never had much luck keeping reusable bags clean in between the rare times that I use them.  The secret to using zip lock bags is to reinforce the corner you're going to cut for the tip with a piece of tape on both sides of the  bag.  This prevents the bags from bursting as you pipe.



Other useful tips include remembering to not overfill your piping bags and also to fill them using a cup as a stand.  Much appreciated, YouTube gurus.


I splashed out on food colour gels that were so easy to use and produced such beautiful colours with my frosting.


A couple of drops of blue gave me just enough colour for the sky blue I needed to frost the whole cake.


While I droppered with abandon to get the bright red I needed to pipe my birthday salutation.  Because of the gel consistency of the colour, my frosting didn't get runny at all.




And now for the part I was most nervous about.  Piping 'Happy Birthday' onto the cake.  For the first time in my life and for someone else's birthday party.  Textbook definition of pressure right there.

Again, the internet and social media came to the rescue.  Writing in cursive and first using a toothpick to trace what you wish to write across your cake before using your piping bag.  They're my take home messages from everything I'd read and seen.  With the toothpick trick, placing a dot where you wish to start and end a word also helps with spacing and sizing.




I follwed Smitten Kitchen's lead in the cake she decorated for the recipe post and piped a few white clouds onto my cake.  Flowers or similar fancy things would've been pushing it...


The party was fabulous.


Our collective catering was 11/10.


And the birthday cake?  I'm a bit biased (and tired) but I loved it.  The chocolate cake wasn't too rich or sweet which made it the perfect base for the fudge filling and the frosting.  I will probably increase the amount of  both filling and frosting the next time I bake this cake because I'm firmly in the too much is never enough camp when it comes to frosting.

What's something you've taught yourself from YouTube videos recently?

Do you have any other tips and tricks up your sleeve for the novice cake decorator?

Do you have an explanation for that super radiant moon of ours?


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