Oct 16, 2015

Simplifying Life. Recent Reads.

I'm in the process of a subscription declutter.  You know the services, memberships and mailing lists that you sign up for with the idea that all that joining is going to make your life that much easier?  Only they don't.  And you end up not only not needing what you signed up for but then have to go through the process of getting yourself off lists and your credit card details off automatic deduction plans.

The cull this time wasn't as tedious as it has been in previous years.  Must be a sign that I'm getting to know my own lifestyle a little better each year.  The most embarrassing deletion this year was for apple Music.  Which I joined mainly because I wanted to get iTunes to work on my new phone but with my old playlists.  It's embarrassing because to this day, I have no idea what apple Music actually is.  Despite having paid for a monthly subscription for it.  If you know, would you mind providing an explanation in comments?  Thanks a million.

The subscription that wins MVP for this year for me, at least, is joining Westfield's ticketless parking service.  Can you imagine?  No more panicking about whether you put your parking ticket in your phone case, your wallet, the back pocket of your jeans, somewhere on the pram or in your toddler's hand (that last option is always doomed to expensive failure and will often see you paying for a whole day's parking on account of a lost ticket).  Registering your licence plate number and credit card details means that any payment is automatically taken care off on exit at the boom gate.  You also get free SMS messages recording your time of entre.

So far, the system seems to be going off without too many glitches.  Unless you've tried to claim free parking twice in one day (you get charged from the moment you enter the second time around) or if you are driving a non registered car (just enter your rego at the pay station or drive straight through to exit if your stay is less than 2 hours).

All of which leaves you more neurones and cortex to to store information like where exactly you parked and where you can find a great value sushi train.

I'm not sure I can help much with the former but for the latter ... Sushi Rio next to Coles should hit the spot.  It's $3.50 per plate ($7 for sashimi) and cash only.

In the spirit of my year long Festival of Forty, I've started to make some changes to my makeup routine.  My new mantra is simple and SPF.  Using three products as a base every morning is definitely not simple and even if I added up the SPF in each individual product, I still don't think I'd get much more than a mild and useless (in the Australian context) SPF of 12.

Which is why I've switched to MAC Prep+Prime BB.  At $42 a tube, it might sound pricey but that's not far off what the total cost of my DIY regime cost.  Prep+Prime BB is a game changer for me.  It's the first high SPF product that I've used that doesn't cake on my skin.  It also has a surprisingly easy to blend texture to it, with the consistency of a liquid foundation rather than the more pasty versions of competitor brands that I've struggled with in the past for the sake of a decent SPF.

MAC's Rome store shown for illustrative purposes today but who knows, one day?
As an added bonus for going instore to buy my makeup in real life (as opposed to guestimating my shade online to save a few dollars), I came away with a bonus beauty tip with my purchase.  The makeup artist assisting me taught me this trick for applying liquid concealer to the under eye area.  For better coverage, apply a think line of concealer down the side of your nose starting at the inner eye.  Take the line down to above your lip and then take it up and out.   You should end up with a two sided triangle.  Blend out with your brush and there you are - subtly concealed and contoured with the one product.

The planets for reading seem to have aligned in my life recently so I have a few books to share if you were thinking of something easy but absorbing to curl up with this weekend.

'Prick With A Fork' is Melbourne based food critic, Larissa Dubecki's memoir of her life as a cynical and somewhat defeated waitress.  It's an especially fascinating read if you're a Melburnian yourself as I'm sure you'll be able to appreciate Dubecki's scathing observations on local hot spots and suburbs.  I found the first few chapters hard going, the astute observations all came with a thick coating of bitter that was almost too effective in cutting through the wit.  I was actually in a pretty 'over it all, really' frame of mind when I started reading and would've thought that my ambient level of cynicism would have helped but it actually didn't.

I don't know what changed by the time I'd made it a third of the way through, it might have been my mood or Dubecki's or possibly both of ours but I'm glad I persevered.  'Prick With A Fork' covers familiar territory with regard to the ruthlessness of the restaurant industry but it does so with some highly memorable and unique cautionary tales with a distinctly Australian flavour.

'Pretty Baby' is Mary Kubica's new release, hot on the tails of the best selling 'The Good Girl' which I've reviewed previously.  I've just found a beautifully written review for 'Pretty Baby' on the NPR website and I'm linking here for your reference.

Briefly, 'Pretty Baby' explores the lives of social worker Heidi and Willow, an apparently homeless young mother.  A passionate 'do-gooder' who lives a comfortable life in Chicago, Heidi becomes so moved and intrigued by the pitiful sight of Willow and her baby at the train station that she engineers another meeting with Willow and eventually invites her and her baby to share the apartment Heidi shares with her husband and a sullen teenage daughter.

In true domestic noir fashion, neither woman is exactly as they seem.  Willow seems strangely detached from mothering her baby girl and as the novel progresses, we step back into the traumatic years as a foster child that seem to have made Willow the person she is today.  Heidi, on the other hand, seems to have more than a professional interest in helping Willow with the baby.  We discover Heidi's personal tragedy with the loss of a baby through still birth and also that Heidi has been secretly hoarding baby clothes for an imaginary daughter.

For me, the suspense of 'Pretty Baby' lies in trying to unravel Willow's past life and what precipitated the double murder she was implicated in.  But it's a challenging task when faced with distractions of Heidi's present day life with her husband Chris and his constant travelling for work which comes with all sorts of distractions that Heidi tries not to be suspicious about.

As I wrote in my review of 'The Good Girl', I'm a solid fan of Kubica's fast paced writing and her clever twisting of plots, time  frames and situations.  Here's hoping that novel number three is on the way soon.

'The Luckiest Girl Alive' by Jessica Knoll follows in the line of recent 'Girl' best sellers (Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train to name a couple) but don't let that mislead you into thinking that you've already read all you've ever wanted to about girls with long shadows and dark secrets in their lives.  Jessica Knoll is herself a former senior editor at Comsmopolitan and there are rumours that Reese Witherspoon has bought the film rights to the novel so there's pedigree and form right there.

Ani is 'The Luckiest Girl Alive'.  She works for a fashion magazine and lives in Manhattan and came from humble but aspirational roots outside of the borough.  Through sheer will, self discipline and perhaps a touch of a personality disorder, Ani has transformed herself from the Tiffani of her youth.  Ani's body has been chiselled to perfection at the gym and through an extreme diet.  Her wardrobe is a study in single digit sized  clothes that give her the style of a socialite with old money that she aspires to be.  And she hasn't got far to go in reaching her dream - a high society wedding to a 'catch' is only months away.

But Jessica Knoll obviously loves a challenge because Ani's story isn't just about living the dream with perfect hair, nails and wardrobe.  Ani's a little troubled and who she is now seems to be a response to a number of traumas she experienced at high school.  Her gang rape is revealed fairly early in the novel but there's also something else she survived that she is still trying to reconcile in her jumpy and at times bitterly cruel mind.

As hateful as Ani is (she delighted once in leaning on her green pen as she talked to a coworker standing at her desk so that the pen would inch across the desk and slowly stain that coworker's white linen skirt), you find yourself continuing to read because of her.  For all the hateful things she says and does, there are moments when she surprises you and stands up to defend the innocent or the underdog.  You read on because you both want to read more of these moments but also to discover if Ani finally finds the resolution (or should that be revenge) she seeks in adult life after the traumas of her teenage years.

Reese has some excellent material in 'The Luckiest Girl Alive'  with which to produce her next film with.  I wonder who she will cast as Ani?


  1. Automatic parking sounds like the best invention ever. I wish they could have that everywhere (although might be a bit big brother-ish come to think of it) and then I'd never find myself driving around endlessly looking for a place to park that doesn't require change.

    Prick With A Fork sounds like it might be worth persevering with, I've added it to my list. I've been intrigued by the whole restaurant industry since reading Anthony Bourdain's book (and doing some work behind the scenes at Caprice Holdings & Soho House in London).

    P.S. Absolutely no clue what Apple Music is! Have given that one an extremely wide berth just in case I sign up for it by accident.

  2. I'm also in the process of taking myself of the squillions of mail lists that clutter up my inbox. And I just finished redaing Prick With A Fork, too. Such a great read.

  3. I've recently been cutting back in so many parts of my life and i just feel so organised and cleansed. I wish i did this sooner.


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