Mar 30, 2015

Monday Mornings.

The trick to Monday mornings is to start them off right.

Your method may vary but a red lip and good coffee are my current go tos.  I'm really loving those new Maybelline ColorDrama Intense Velvet lip pencils.  I'm wearing the shade Light It Up and if you knew what I looked like with 3 hours sleep and the dregs of a toddler day care bug before I put it on, you'll realise that the name does not lie.  I've also got a slick of a L'Oreal lip gloss over the top.  Haven't drug store reds really come into their own over the last few years?

Beads - Lovisa, black dress - Metalicus.

Red lips, red beads and a black dress - a combination guaranteed to make those eyes and teeth look whiter and brighter and the rest of you look more lively.

Now all I have to do is to keep it all together until the close of trade this afternoon.  At which time I'll be heading home for the comfort of my PJs and the excitement of a freshly delivered e-parcel from Metalicus....

SSG Manor is still in infirmary mode at the moment.  It's been that way for two weeks now and I'm now something of an expert in toddler pain and fever medication administration.  Just buy them both and in both flavours.  Specifically - both Panadol and Nurofen and in both strawberry and orange flavours.  Because the ones you haven't gone to the chemist for will be the only ones your toddler will take without a fuss.

We're hanging in there, Toddler SSG and I.  We're taking each day as it comes and being grateful for small gains in appetites and energy levels.  We're finding joy in the small things that unexpectedly brighten each day and counting down excitedly to exciting events ahead like Easter and trips abroad.  Did you know that it's even possible to have 4629 restaurants near a single hotel?  Me neither.

Mar 28, 2015

White Bread Saturday.

I know the weather's been glorious and I know that it's been election Saturday but today for me can be summed in the following two words - white bread.

I was struck down by a pretty bad case of food poisoning last night and it left me waking up this morning dramatically wondering if I'd survive the day.  I'll spare you the graphics but needless to say, eating today has been very guarded.  Instead of our usual breakfast out for baked goods and coffees, Toddler SSG and I breakfasted closer to home.  On the sofa sharing toast and trying to keep our fluid intake up.

By around 9, I was both getting a bit twitchy for my morning skinny cap and tired of plain black tea.  So I tried to change things up a little with a squirt of lemon juice in my tea.  Not my thing, I'm afraid.  I need the honey in the mix as well.

Then cabin fever struck and I made an Aldi run for a loaf of white bread which my stomach told me would be the only thing it would be reliably able to keep down for the rest of the day.  I've given my loaf of Aldi a bit of Daiso in the shape of a strawberry studded bag clip.  Speaking of Daiso, come April 1 our 'but it only cost $2.80' excuse for each item we put into our basket there isn't going to hold for everything.  According to this statement on their website, 4% of Daiso products will cost between $3.80 to $6.80.

It's going to be like the pricing system at sushi trains.  I'm not entirely sold on the new pricing but I'm also a little curious to see what will be on offer at the higher price points.  Which means, yeah, I'm still a Daiso fan.

Intrepid shopper that I am, I then dropped by Chatswood Chase wearing ... mum jeans, hiking shoes and a squeaky clean face.  And it was actually rather liberating to not feel obliged to be dressed to the nines for a weekend run to the shops.

And then it was back home for variations on a theme of white bread, roma tomatoes and butter.

One of the simple pleasures of life is lunching on a sandwich made up of fresh supermarket white bread, butter, a sliced tomato and a sprinkling of sea salt.  It's just all sorts of good and you just can't help but smile with each bite.

Then I got a bit fancy for dinner and turned my $5 Aldi cast iron fry pan into a sandwich press.

Apparently, weighing down your sandwich with a small pan helps give the bread the 'cafe look'.

 I burned my cheese and tomato toastie just a little but again, it was one of those simple meals that give you nothing but smiles.
I'm turning in early tonight with the latest Babylon book.  Coming on the end of a day of white bread sandwiches, it'll be an interesting read.

Mar 27, 2015

The First Purchases of the Season. Eyeliner Epiphany.

It's been a while since we talked fashion on the blog.  So much has been going on that I've found myself sticking to a rotation of tried and tested outfits.  And then the mid season sale emails started hitting my inbox...
Which is how I found my new favourite little black dress.  It's from Metalicus and is called the Estelle.  I love the scoop neckline and the details at the sleeve.  But most of all, I love the price.  $39 down from $139.95,  Metalicus have a new click and collect option on their website so if something is sold out online you have the option of buying and the picking up at a store that does stock the item.  Unfortunately, the option doesn't seem to involve being able to do inter store transfers so if you love something that's only in stock interstate, it wasn't meant to be.

Metalicus dresses are my favourite thing to pack when travelling.  The fabrics hold up well to suitcase living and they're just formal enough for my purposes when abroad.  They're very kind on the body that's overindulged in holiday eating and drinking too.  And when you get home from your trip in a fog of jet lag?  You can just pop them straight into the wash, hang them out to dry and then hang them in your wardrobe immediately.  Completely bypassing the iron.

I'm planning to bring this dress along with me on my forthcoming trip along with some of my dresses from past Metalicus collections.
The Jen boot in black smooth leather - $275.
Nikki and her blog, Styling You have long been style inspirations for me.  Nikki always seems to post solutions to whatever fashion crisis I'm having just when I need them most.  This week was a case in point.  I've been pondering the Chelsea style ankle boot for months now.  Ankle boots are everywhere this season and the current season's styles look great with dresses and skirts.  The challenge for me was finding a pair that would be comfortable enough to wear all day at work.  Nikki's post on Frankie 4's new season boots and shoes answered my prayers.
The Liz boot in black oily nubuck - $285.

Frankie 4 are a Brisbane based shoe brand designed by a podiatrist and physiotherapist.  Shoes in the range are rubber soled with all leather uppers.  Each pair of shoes also comes with a variety of insoles to add to the already strategically cushioned foot beds of each pair of Frankies which you can add according to your foot concerns.  This season's design challenge was to create a comfortable heeled boot and there are two designs in the collection that fit this brief - the Liz and the Louise.

After much deliberation, I settled on the Louise because of its slightly lower heel and black heel.  I'm not sure if I can really pull off a wooden heel.  Nikki has a code SYLOVEF4 that entitles you to $20 off a pair of Frankie 4 shoes when ordered from the website.  The code is valid until April 9 2015.

Customer service is very prompt and helpful.  My email was answered by the end of the day that I first sent it.  With regards to size, it was suggested that I choose my US running shoe size.  There is a 30 day change of mind policy with each pair of shoes sold.

I will let you know how I get on when my pair arrive.

I've had an eyeliner epiphany.  And most excitingly of all, it's involved items I already own.

This Bobbi Brown fine eyeliner brush (which you can get for $35 at DJs)
when used with this Laura Mercier caviar eyeliner (which I cannot find online anywhere in compact form right now - does this mean that it's discontinued!?!?) gives me good daytime semi winged eyeliner every single time.  And on both eyes to boot. I've had this eyeliner for years and it hasn't dried out.  The colour lasts all day and doesn't flake or smudge.

How's your autumn / winter wardrobe shaping up?  Found any good buys recently?

What's your favourite item of clothing to pack for work related trips?

Mar 26, 2015

The Weather - It's Glorious.

There's only one word for the weather in Sydney today.  Fantastic.  It's currently sunny with a touch of crisp coolness to the air.  The sun feels soft on your skin and it's such a joy to not be assaulted by a thick fog of humidity as you get on with your day in the great outdoors of suburbia.

It's summery enough to not be reaching for comfort carbs for morning tea.

Yet there's enough of a coolness to the evenings to make you want something involving a casserole for dinner.  I'm testing out a MasterFoods Oven Easy recipe base for dinner tonight.  I've added a bit of garlic, extra barbecue sauce and some honey to the base to accommodate the extra vegetables I'm hiding in my casserole dish.

The beauty of diners involving an oven is that you get to spend all that 'cooking time' doing other things outside of the kitchen.  I'm planning on simply gazing out the window as this glorious days draws to its end.

They were exciting times on Wednesday night after work.  As my mothers group's self appointed local area supermarket expert, it was my duty to pull into the underground car park of our new Aldi with the aim of reviewing the store for my friends.

It was a fruitful trip (pardon the pun but at least my photo does contain some Aldi kiwi fruit and fujis).  Our new store featured some super special discounts to celebrate the opening.  I reckon $5 was a pretty decent price to pay for a cast iron fry pan.  There were also chocolate and coffee samples, a full complement of all the current Aldi special buys and ... a large booze corner.  Which pretty much ticked all the boxes for the girls.

Lisa of Blithe Moments has been blogging about all things Easter on her blog at the moment.  She's featured a few Aldi products and one of her recommendations are the Moser Roth mini Easter eggs which retail for $2.99 per 150 g bag.  Being a joiner and fellow Aldi fan, I heeded her advice to stock up on the ganache eggs.  The 70% dark eggs are for medicinal purposes because I'm working half of Easter this year and am going to need all the anti oxidants, sugar and comfort food I can get my hands on.

For the non chocolate egg or hot cross bun component of the Easter long weekend, I found Toddler SSG a Spot Easter book ($4.99) and an Easter chicken painting set ($2.49).  We'll see how much paint actually ends up on our chickens and also if our chickens survive their makeovers.

Do you have any exciting / eggs-citing plans for Easter with your family?  Are you doing an egg hunt?  Making your own hot cross buns (full respect to you)?  Hand painting eggshells?

Take care and if you're in Sydney - get outside as soon as you can!

Mar 25, 2015

Of Cakes and Contouring.

You have to find your fun where you can when the weather's going through a hormotional phase.  It was cold then it was humid then it rained and then it thundered before it warmed up and cooled down again.  It was like living with a teenager minus the acne and floordrobe.

Fortunately, I had some crumpet toaster squares in the fridge.  Which meant that I was able to endure the weather  safely indoors with a thickly buttered and sugared crumpet at my side along with a large mug of tea.  I'm one of those people who is much happier watching and listening to bad weather than actually being in it.

Following on from yesterday's Priceline baby haul.

I just knew I'd forgotten something on my first trip to my local store.  Everyone else who had converged on the makeup aisle had at least one of these Australis AC On Tour compacts in their pink baskets and somehow it didn't register that I should have followed their lead.

The six colour set has taken the Australian beauty blogger world by storm since its release late last year.  Youtube is full of tutorials as well as vlog comparisons of the $16.95 local product (but made in China) against what is apparently the gold standard of modern day facial contouring, the Anastasia Beverly Hills contour kit which can cost around $80 AUD once you factor in shipping and conversion rate costs if you were to order it from the US.  Not sure if Sephora Australia has it now though?  Probably not...  But stop the press, ry hair does sell it for $89 AUD.

I'm sharing a YouTube tutorial on the Australis kit by beauty blogger Ruby Golani.  She's a genius and very thorough in her guide on how to make the kit work for you and possibly Kim Kardashian Westify your face in the process.  This blog post from Painted Lips contains swatche comparisons of both sets that may also be helpful.

Based on my reading but not having seen the Anastasia kit myself, the main points of difference (besides price) seem to be:

  • that Anastasia's kit may offer a better colour match to paler skinned girls.  It is also possible to buy the set in two colour ways or personalise a palette
  • that Australis' powders, though fine in texture, do appear chalky on some people
  • that Australis' colours look quite different on the skin than what they appear in the pan.  On face value, both kits look very similar which can be deceptive.
  • Anastasia's set is made of a hard board and each colour is removable whilst Australis' is a solid plastic palette with the colour pans firmly attached
  • neither comes with an in built mirror.

Focusing on the Australis offering, none of the shades have a name so but there is a guide on the base of the palette to help you.  The YouTube tutes are also very helpful.

I'll be straight with you and say that proper contouring and highlighting of my full face is beyond me at the moment.  I'm pushed for time when I get ready in the morning and I don't really have any occasion at the moment to be doing a full face for going out at night.  All I really hoped to achieve with a contouring kit was to find something to highlight my brow bones, give my cheek bones a bit of definition and to be able to wave a highlighter powder over the dark under eye circles I'm rocking right now.  For reference, I'm olive / medium toned complexion wise.


  • a light streak of shade #5 under my cheekbones and then gently buffed in with a bit of shade #3 over the top gave me just the right amount of contour for a day at work
  • a mix of shade #1 and #2 under my eyes did wonders for the circles
  • there was minimal glitter and frost involved
  • I'll be interested to see if the contour shades work as eye shadows too.  If they do, would help cut down stuff to lug around on holiday.
  • the highlighter shades love my pores so much they want to show them to the world in high definition.
For me, $10.17 was a bargain price to pay to dip my make up brushes into the highlighting and contouring game.  If I can, though, I'd like to try the Anastasia set in store.  It's on my list for New York.

Have you tried either the Australis or Anastasia kits?  Which did you prefer?

The other exciting new thing from yesterday was my very own copy of the AWW Children's Birthday Cake Book.  I wasn't able to find it at a supermarket or newsagent so had to get mine from Booktopia.

The book holds so many wonderful memories for so many children of the eighties.  Most of us can remember a favourite cake our parents or grandparents lovingly replicated for us with boxes of cake mix and bags of licorish and mixed soft lollies.  Often kept on the cook book shelf in the kitchen, it was the special privilege of the birthday boy or girl to be allowed to browse the book in the weeks leading up to their special day to choose their cake.

To me, the book symbolizes childhood  friendships, family and love.  The cakes all have a homely look to them.  They were all slightly imperfect, even in the cook book itself.  Which makes them all the more endearing.  My mum still has our copy at home in Perth. I was reading that a few of the cakes in the original book have been replaced with new favourites.  I'll have to look again closely to see which ones have disappeared.  I'm hoping to continue the tradition of an AWW cake for Toddler SSG's next birthday.  I wonder which he'll choose?

Image from the AWW.
My favourite cake was the piano.  It was my seventh birthday cake.  It was the white chocolate and licorish keys that did it for me.

The cakes of my adulthood may be more beautiful, sophisticated and healthy but none of these little gems hold as many happy memories as those slabs of butter cream frosted, lolly studded butter cake from thirty years ago.  

Mar 24, 2015

Go, Go, Go.

We begin today with a working mother pity party for one.

While it's lovely never having a dull moment in my life these days, it's also pretty tiring.  I feel as if all I do each day is plan, problem solve, write lists, tick things off lists, look at my watch, curse the traffic all the while trying desperately to remember to mother and to breathe.  The drive home from daycare pick up is then spent in a state of relief and slight disbelief that the we all survived the day and are actually looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.  Admittedly, that looking forward bit only crosses my mind after baths and bed time books are done.  But still, better then than never at all.

I know, I know.  I should be living completely in the moment and not sweating the small stuff but old habits die hard.  Thirty something years of pretty much living my life on my terms is hard to give up.  I just need these little debriefs and pep talks every once in a while.

Today has thus been made my official day of deep breathing and just going with the flow (or lack thereof on Victoria Road this morning).  There's the usual gazillion things to do but I managed to find myself a moment during each 'to do' where my mind just paused.

I enjoyed wrestling with my fit ball at the gym this morning as Britney and Madge duetted on 'Me Against the Music'.

I should be doing this anyway but I was decisive and informed as I placed my early vote.  Afterward, I wrote mum's snail mail birthday card.  I added some photos of the adventures she's shared with Toddler SSG.  We text and send photos all the time but the experience of opening our cards and photos is something she treasures as well.

The traditional unravelling of the sticky tape on make up pencils bought from Priceline.  With bonus banana for energy and concentration....

As luck would have it (and it's rare that it doesn't...), I happened to be at Priceline for their 40% off beauty.  Sarah over at the gorgeous beauty and lifestyle blog More Than Adored recently posted a review and swatches of Maybelline's Color Drama Intense Velvet Lip Pencils.  The pencils retail for $9.99 but ended up being $5.99 each at the Priceline sale.  I loved that there are three reds in the range which is what I need for the cooler months.  I bought Light It  Up and Red Essential.  Both rich and wearable reds with a touch of shimmer.  The pencils apply colour richly, with a creamy lipstick finish which is a season appropriate contrast to the recent trend of glossy lip pencils.

Being Tuesday, lunch was a celebration of Good Food.  From the SMH supplement on my iPad mini to the sushi and a square of chocolate.

In other exciting news....

I'm heading to New York in just under 51 days!  I'll be there for a week and it's going to be busy.  Won't that make a refreshing change in content for the blog?  A bit of a reprieve from all the mum stuff I've been boring you with....

Getting the confirmation of my flights yesterday was the best thing that happened to my work in box all day, I reckon.

Are you in a go, go, go stage of your life right now?  How are you feeling and dealing?


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