Monday, January 4, 2016

Festive Freekeh Salad

This gorgeous summer salad was a big hit at Christmas dinner, and despite its name, it would be great at anytime of the year. Like the rest of my entertaining recipes, this salad is super simple to prepare and can be made ahead of time.

Freekeh is a "trendy" grain at the moment but don't let that put you off - it is nutty and delicious and chewy, making it perfect for a substantial salad. Freekeh is toasted green wheat, but if you can't find it, feel free to substitute brown rice or barley - the salad would still be just as yummy.


Festive Freekeh Salad


300g Freekeh (whole, not cracked)
2 bay leaves
1 quill
cinnamon
1 jar fire roasted capsicum (peppers)
1 jar char grilled eggplant (aubergine)
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch mint, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted seeds (I used a seed blend that had pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame, but I might try slivered almonds next time)
Juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional, but delicious)
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pomegranate

  1. Put the freekeh, bay leaves and cinnamon in a large pot together with plenty of water, and boil for 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary. The freekeh should be tender but still chewy, with a bite to it.
  2. Drain, and leave to cool. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon quill.
  3. Place all remaining ingredients except pomegranate into a large bowl and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as required.
  4. Pour into a wide but shallow serving dish. Cut pomegranate in half, and holding cut side down over salad, bash the pomegranate with the hilt of a chopping knife or a large spoon so the arils and juice fall over salad.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to a few hours.
 





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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Raspberry, Nougat and Rosewater Parfait

Merry Christmas everyone!! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes to you all for the New Year to come.

I don't know where I originally found the recipe for this delicious summer dessert, but it has become a staple at Christmas time in my household. This parfait not only looks and tastes amazing, it is a wonderful recipe for entertaining as it comes together in just minutes and can be made well ahead of time.

This recipe makes two loaf dishes of parfait, enough for 12-16 people, but the recipe can easily be halved if you only want to make one dish.


Raspberry, Nougat and Rosewater Parfait

1 kg (4 1/2 cups)  ricotta
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp rosewater
600 ml thickened cream
100 g toasted almonds, chopped
300 g crunchy nougat, chopped
300 g frozen raspberries
Fresh raspberries, Pashmak (Persian fairy floss), edible pearls and edible flowers, to serve

  • Line 2 14cm x 21cm with baking paper to cover the base and up the long sides at least 5 cm 
  • Blend ricotta, sugar and rosewater until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form.
  • Combine ricotta mixture with nuts and nougat. Fold in the whipped cream and then gently fold in the raspberries.
  • Divide into prepared loaf tins, smooth top, then cover with foil.
  • Freeze until firm.
Half an hour before serving, place in fridge to soften slightly, before turning out onto serving platter. Decorate with fresh berries, pashmak (Persian fairy floss) and edible pearls and flowers as in the pic above, or drizzle with berry or chocolate sauce.




Linking to these great websites here

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli

We are now in the home stretch, and Christmas is just around the corner. If you need a break from all of the rich and heavy foods, but still want to indulge in some festive flavour, then this healthy Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli will surely do the trick! Sharing all of the delightful Christmas spices, but none of the "baddies", this make-ahead dish lasts up to a week in the fridge, can be doubled or tripled in quantity, and would also be good for a Christmas brunch buffet spread.

Christmas Figgy Pudding Bircher Muesli


250g natural (untoasted) muesli - I used half a packet of Carmen's Bircher Muesli
1 cup natural Greek yoghurt
3/4 cup apple juice
3/4 cup milk of choice - I use unsweetened almond/cashew milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp molasses
3 dried figs, chopped
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
chopped fresh fruit of choice - I used grated apple and chopped fresh figs this time

  1. Combine all ingredients except fresh fruit in a medium size mixing bowl, then cover and leave in fridge overnight. I mix and store in a 6 cup pyrex glass storage container to minimize the dishes!
  2. The next morning, serve into individual bowls, and add in chopped fresh fruit of choice. You may like to stir in a bit more milk if it has thickened up too much for your taste. 
  3. Without the fresh fruit, it will last up to a week in the fridge.
 Serves 4-6






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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Holiday Capsule Wardrobe Planning


These holidays we are off to Japan, going on our first family holiday to a cold location. All of our previous holidays have been to hot tropical locations, which made it so easy to pack lightly, so I have found planning this holiday capsule wardrobe more problematic than I am used too. Just the type of items needed for a winter sojourn mean less compact luggage by their very nature. This is coupled with the fact that despite us having a "winter" season, a Perth winter's temps are often around the temperatures that many European locales experience in their summers!! So, I have had to buy a lot of items specific to this trip, such as thermals, proper winter coats, and hats, gloves and scarves.

Like any capsule wardrobe, it is helpful to start with a colour palette, and then to carefully consider each item to make sure that it can work in many different outfits. For a holiday wardrobe, I like to pack darker colours, as they tend to show dirt and grime much less, which will give you much more wear out of your items that don't need to be laundered each day.

For this trip, we are going to Tokyo for a week, and then up to Sapporo for the week of skiing. Since for the first part of the trip I will be in a major cosmopolitan city, I decided to pack a monochrome wardrobe of black and grey, which is a) not out of my comfort zone, b) will look appropriate, and c) will be practical. For the second week skiing I would have loved to be in the snow in a array of winter whites, like this:
but, while I adore the look, shades of white are just not going to work for me, and neither is packing a second capsule just for the resort, since any extra space will be taken up by actual ski gear! So, black and grey it is, with clothes that will transition from urban Tokyo to apres ski in a ski lodge. Layers are key; from my time time in Japan previously, I know that while it may be near freezing outside, shops, restaurants and hotels keep the central heating pumping indoors. So, I will be toting a lot of my Eileen Fisher silk basics that pack into next to nothing, but still look appropriate if I start stripping of layers. Layers will also be vital for my airplane outfit, as we will be leaving in the peak of summer (and while Perth winters may be mild, we more than make up for it with our stinking hot summers) and then 15 hours later touching down in the middle of winter.


Airplane Outfit



My planned outfit, as you can see, is all about comfort, while still maintaining some style. When leaving Perth, I will be in cashmere track pants, my black matte silk jersey Eileen Fisher tunic tank, and my EF merino double faced cardigan jacket, paired with my Sorel Toronto snow boots. In my backpack will be the grey and black Ann Taylor wool/cashmere poncho (similar) which I will pop on once we hop on the plane (that way I can do away with the scratchy airplane blanket) and the merino wool Eileen Fisher tunic sweater, just in case the aircon is blasting on the plane. I forgot to include in the collage above my foldable ballet flats which I will pull out after take off.  The backpack will also hold my Lands End Primaloft coat (which packs down to hardly anything) (similar), wool knitted hat, and gloves, ready to be popped on as we exit in Tokyo. The poncho comes off, and converts into a looped scarf.

When I travel, I only ever take 3 pairs of shoes, which for previous holidays has usually been a pair of trainers, a comfy pair of sandals and a dressy pair of sandals. Sticking to three pairs for this trip was much trickier, but even more important due to space and weight limitations. It meant carefully considering my priorities for this trip, and in this case my priorities were staying warm, dry, comfortable and safe. This meant no heels, and shoes that would be safe on potentially slippery paths. It also meant that one of the shoes needed to be suitable for wearing in the snow when we head to the ski resort.

Cold weather shoes and accessories

So, the three pairs I ended up deciding on were the Tory Burch Minnie Travel ballet flats, my fave Reebok v Melody Ehsani trainers, and the Sorel Toronto Lace Wedge snow boots (I'm not counting the little wedge as a heel!!). Hopefully, these three meet all my needs, keep me warm and toasty, and still let me be a little bit stylish!!

Limited space also means that I will be limiting the amount of accessories that I will be bringing. If you are a long time reader, then you know that jewellery and accessories have played a big part in my summer holiday capsules. This time round, I am only planning to take a couple of rings and one pair of earrings, since I am assuming that the majority of the time any jewellery will be covered up by gloves, hats and outerwear. Instead, I am planning on taking 3 scarves, two hats and one pair of gloves. (This is extra to the ski gloves and fleece scarf for when we are skiing). Two of my scarves are from Mimco, a great Australian brand whom I have a number of pieces from. The one on the left is silk and embellished with cascades of beads (similar), which I plan to use to dress up my basic outfits for evenings. The one on the right is a silk/wool blend with tassels, and can be worn so many ways. Lastly, I have the Ann Taylor poncho from my airplane outfit, which can be worn as a poncho or as a neck scarf, and will be great for cold days spent mostly outside.

I am also taking two hats, the first a hand knitted wool beanie with fur pom pom purchased from the seller All Is Yay on Etsy, and the second a faux fur Cossack style hat from Marks and Spencer for a bit of glam! Finally, I am taking these gloves from Lands End, the Polartec Powerstretch Active Glove. These gloves are amazing - I wear them at least once a week when I take Irini to iceskating and they keep my hands so warm. The tech touch feature on thumb and finger actually works so I can still use my phone, and the matte finish means the gloves cross over from ultra casual to smart casual with ease.

Now onto the clothes themselves!

Winter Holiday Capsule Wardrobe


I pretty much followed a 3x3x3 formula, so three sweaters, three tops and three pants, with a faux fur vest, two coats, a dressy silk blouse, and 4 silk underlayers (that can be worn on their own), thrown in for good measure, and everything able to be layered with each other. I cannot stress how important it is to try on your clothes before you go - there were two tops I was seriously considering, but both had dropped shoulders and were so uncomfortable under another sweater or a coat. You don't want to be discovering this fact when you are already away!!

Stay tuned, as I will post some outfit ideas later in the week.


 



PS: There are no affiliate links here; I just linked to sites because I though it might be useful. I would love to know in the comments if you like (or don't like) the links.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

What's On My Bedside Table

I have seen a lot of these posts from fellow bloggers, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon, too, and share what's on my bedside table.



The mirrored tray I have had for the longest time, and honestly have absolutely no idea where I got it from! Regardless, I love it, and find it useful at corralling my stuff and keeping it looking somewhat organised. On it, I have my jewellery tree (from Myer), that as you can probably see is missing a branch after it came off second best when the kids and I were horsing around! Even missing one branch, I find it very handy for placing my jewellery before bed. Once a week or so I will go through it and put everything away in their correct spots but, in between, it keeps necklaces from getting tangled and earrings from losing their partners.


The little heart dish is from Royal Albert and my daughter has a matching one in her room. I mainly use it for hair ties and loose change. The hair brush is from Rock and Ruddle and it has the prettiest acorn and butterfly print. I have the large one, and my daughter has the matching child size one. I much prefer this brush to my previous Mason and Pearson one. For starters, it is much cheaper, but more importantly, the bristle part can be removed for easy cleaning. I use dry shampoo in between hair washes, and was finding it was building up on my previous brush. With this brush, I give it a quick wash once a week and it is fantastic.

I always have a hand cream on or in my bedside table, and because the Aerin one is so pretty I am happy to have it out. Next to the hand cream is a body lotion from Fragonard that my mum brought back for me from Provence. The last item on the mirrored tray is a cute calender featuring retro housewives and snarky comments - it never fails to make me smile!


The grey thing that looks like a night light is actually an ultrasonic vapouriser called Bloom that I use to mist essential oils into the air. In winter I tend to use cold and flu type oils like peppermint and eucalyptus but at the moment I am using a sleep blend by InEssence. The kids also have one each in their rooms - as well as being a vapouriser, they also work as a nightlight - and both kids love setting it up for themselves each night.

I always have a stack of books on my table. Even though I would say 90% of my reading is now done on the kindle app on my iPad, there is nothing that compares to a real, hold it in your hands, turn the paper pages, book. I have been a book lover since I was a small child, and despite my whole hearted embrace of technology, I don't think I will ever completely give up on real books.


The books that are currently on my bedside are a pretty good representation of the type of books that I do buy hard copies of versus digital. Style, decor, cooking, and craft books just scream out to be held and pored over, and I just don't think that the digital versions are there yet in replicating that experience.  Fiction, biographies, health and fitness - these all suit me much better digitally.


From top to bottom, I am currently reading:

Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic: Lessons in Everyday Elegance by Jennifer L Scott
The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski
French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful by Florence de Dampierre
The Healthy Life by Jessica Sepel

Polish Your Poise and French Chic Living I both purchased courtesy of an Amazon gift card I won from Life With Dee, a fantastic blogger that I have been following since before I even started blogging. She recently relaunched her blog, and if you are a reader of my blog, and you haven't discovered Dee yourself already, I am sure you will love her style!



I was waiting with bated breath for the latest book by Jennifer L Scott (aka The Daily Connoisseur) to arrive, because as you all know, I am am unabashed fan of Jennifer and her writing. Unfortunately, the timing has been terrible, arriving right in my busy season, and I am only half way through. This is in no way a reflection of the book; so far I am loving it - lots of timely reminders, especially at this time of the year when poise can easily vanish in a blink of an eye - it is simply the time of the year. School's finished, but instead we have swimming lessons everyday, work has been crazy and the hours I am putting in seem to be growing higher and higher, and by the time bedtime comes, I can often only manage a few pages before I need to go to sleep! If you are tossing up whether to buy this for the kindle or in hard copy, go the hard copy - it is simply divine. The illustrator has outdone themselves, and the paper the book is printed on is beautiful.


This is the book I was reading before Polish Your Poise arrived, so again, unusually for me, another half finished book. This book is simply fascinating, a look into American fashion history of the every day woman during the first half of the last century. You can tell the author is an academic, because the writing can be a little bit on the dry side, but her research seems impeccable, and I found what I have read so far not only incredibly interesting, but inspiring as well. I look forward to finishing this book in the New Year.



This lovely looking book arrived at the same time as Polish Your Poise, and so far, all of I have done is remove the plastic it was wrapped in! I honestly haven't even peeked inside. From the outside, though, it looks beautiful, so I am really looking forward to dipping into this one shortly.



Jessica Sepel is an Australian wellness blogger, and though Australian wellness bloggers as a group have taken a bit of a hammering over the past year (see Belle Gibson, Pete Evans and Jess Ainscough), I have always found Jessica Sepel ground in reality, with a balanced outlook on life. Her first published book, The Healthy Life is filled with a lot of great ideas (and recipes) that I really do plan to incorporate into my lifestyle, but right now, unfortunately this has taken a back seat, just like my reading! Again, bookmarked for the New Year after our holiday.

And so that is what is on my bedside table. I hoped you enjoyed this little peek into my space!







Disclaimer: The amazon links are affiliate links and if you click through I get a small (tiny!) rebate to my amazon account at no cost to you! All items were purchased by me.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

November PopSugar Must Have Box Review

I love subscription boxes, and find them a great way to discover new brands and try out new products. Until recently, I had only played with beauty boxes, but I recently decided to try out PopSugar's Must  Have Boxes, which have a wider range of lifestyle products each month.


The November Must Have Box was "selected by PopSugar editors" and inspired by Gratitude, Friends and Family, Festivities, and Gifting, with products that are perfect for gifting, although, I really think I will be keeping all of them for my self!!


The first item I pulled out was the Terrapin Ridge Farms Pecan Honey Mustard, which looks beautiful, and sounds delicious. The bottle says it can be used as a dip or a marinade, but I am planning to use it in a dressing for a rocket and pear salad - I think the pecan honey infused flavour will complement it perfectly.


Next, because I am a magpie and am drawn to pretty shiny things, I reached for the most beautiful headband I have ever seen. Honestly, the word headband is not doing it justice! The Katie Crystal Headband by Deepa Gurnani is a luxurious addition to this box, and will be perfect for quick and easy holiday hairstyles. I will definitely be coming with me on my upcoming holiday as a great (but tiny to pack) way to dress up an outfit for evening. What I loved most about this headband is that it didn't look cheap, and it is comfortable to wear. A lot of crystal embellished hair pieces look like a tween got hold of a bedazzler, but not this piece.


The West Emory Bingo set was the largest item in the box this month, and while I am sure it was intended as a great gift (and it is deluxe!), I am planning on keeping it, because a) it actually looks great sitting on my coffee table (the minimalist design is perfect!) and b) I think it will be great family entertainment over our long summer break.


I was a bit wary when I saw the Capri Blue Mercury Jewel Box Candle in Rain, as I am very fussy when it comes to scented candles, and despite the Mercury Glass packaging looking gorgeous, if the candle gave me a headache (which A LOT do), then straight into the gift cupboard it would go. However, this candle smells divine.  For you fragrance addicts out there, it is a light oceanic, which I think was a smart choice as most people find these watery (in the best kind of way) scents acceptable, as opposed to fruity or floral, which can be more polarising. The best thing about this candle is that the packaging is designed to be reused as a jewel box after the candle has burned away. It is already looking great on my vanity!!


The beauty item this month was Tarte's Beauty and the Box eyeshadow palette, which I received in Apple of Your Eye. With two shimmers and two mattes, this looks like a nice, neutral palette, but the shades look a touch too warm for my liking, so I will be giving this one away. For warmer complexions than mine, this palette is beautiful and autumnal, and just the names of the shadows alone make me think of crisp autumn days. I do love Tarte products, though, so I am hoping something else from them will pop up in a future box.


Finally, the last product was a set of Thanksgiving post cards from Gramr Gratitude Co. I love the sentiment behind the company, which is to encourage people to actually take the time and hand write notes to friends and family, and I am planning on doing just that with these beautiful cards. They are lovely with a beautiful weight to them, which complements the very nice designs well.

As always, there are a couple of discount coupons/vouchers included in the box. Mine included a $15 voucher to try out one of Gramr's subscriptions, a $20 gift voucher to InkDot (no minimum order, but does not cover shipping), and a 20% off coupon for Capri Blue Candles.

Overall, I really liked this month's box as evidenced by the fact that I am pretty much keeping everything for myself, much more so that last month's, where I only kept three items. I found this month's very well curated, and really matched to the season. Here's hoping December's is fab as well!!

If you want to try it out for yourself, use the code MUSTHAVE5 for $5 off your first box at https://musthave.popsugar.com/ 

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Peppermint Patties

The holiday season is in full swing, and a tradition that our family has had ever since our kids started school is to give a small handmade gift to their teachers.  While we always contribute to the class gift, I like to thank the teachers personally, even if it is only a small token. The kids help me out, and for a few evenings in the last week of school, we cook or bake together.  This year we decided to make homemade Peppermint Patties, and I was thrilled with how they turned out. They looked great, and they were so yummy, more than a few may have been sampled, in the name of research, of course!!


Homemade Peppermint Patties


650g Icing (confectioner's) Sugar
50g unsalted butter
3 tbs evaporated milk or half and half
1/2 tsp peppermint oil (adjust to taste - you may need to double if using extract instead of oil)

500g dark chocolate melts
2 tbs coconut oil
1 pkt red and white mint candy canes, crushed

  1. Combine first 4 ingredients in Thermomix, speed 5 for 45 seconds; or in the bowl of a food processor, medium speed for 45 seconds.
  2. Scrape down sides of bowl, then in Thermomix use Interval for another 45 seconds; food processor, pulse for 45 seconds.
  3. Tip out of bowl, form into a ball, wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Using a spoon (I used a small melon baller), take small bits of dough about the size of a marble and roll into a ball. Flatten into a disc (not too thin) with the bottom of a glass lined with a piece of baking paper. Place into freezer for at least an hour.
  5. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together. I use a microwave to melt chocolate and this amount took 50 secs at 900W. You can also do it in a double boiler.
  6. Dip frozen mint discs into chocolate resting them between two forks, allowing excess chocolate to drain off.
  7. Place onto a SilPat lined baking tray, and sprinkle with a tiny amount of crushed candy canes before the chocolate sets.
  8. I only worked with about 10 at a time, letting the rest stay in the freezer until I was ready, since it was so hot here. If it is winter where you are, you probably don't need to do this!!
  9. The chocolate needs to be a thin, glossy liquid for the best results. As time goes by it starts to become thicker and "gluggy". Reheat it when this happens, for about 20 secs in the microwave.
Made about 60, but we "sampled" quite a few, so probably more like 80 if you are more disciplined or doing this without kids!! 

Keep refrigerated.

 




Linking to these great websites  here

Monday, November 23, 2015

500 Posts Celebration Giveaway

image by Jean Jullien

This post was scheduled to go live last Monday, but in light of the tragedies that had occurred over the past week and a half, I decided to postpone. What has happened in Paris (and is continuing to happen), together with the bombings in Beirut, and closer to home, the death of 4 people in the bushfires in the south of my state, shows more than ever that as communities, we need to band together in hope and solidarity.
My daughter's class recently held a multicultural assembly, and together they read out this poem which could not be more appropriate for the world we are living in.

Different colours, different faces.
Different cultures, different races.
Different religions, different names.
But in our hearts we are all the same.

Just because I’d different and I might seem strange to you,
Please don’t treat me differently that’s not the thing to do.
Just take the time to know me, we might just become friends,
Cause difference makes the world go round and helps our cultures blend.
If we accept and celebrate what others have to give,
The world will be a better place for all of us to live.

And now, back to regular programming!

500 Posts Celebration Giveaway

I don't know how I missed it, but my last post was number 500!! To celebrate, I have 2 Lucky Dip Beauty Bags to give away, filled with samples and full size products that I have received from my various beauty subscriptions.

Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Linking to these great websites here and here

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mask Monday: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

Welcome to another Mask Monday!  As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am really, really into masks right now, so I thought I would share another review with you, this time for REN's Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial.


I love REN products for their natural products, but made with a

scientific approach, and because so far, every product I have tried from them just works.  As a busy mum, the whole concept of a mask that works in just one minute just seems screams,  "Too perfect to be true!" But since it was REN, I was willing to give it a try. This is their product description:

Reducing signs of fatigue, photo-aging, and skin imperfections, skin instantly glows with renewed health and radiance. Breakthrough technology locks 10 percent vitamin C in a silica/glyceride matrix to maximize effectiveness. Stabilized vitamin C supports natural collagen synthesis, improves skin elasticity, and evens out skintone while boswellic acid relaxes muscles and fights facial fatigue, diminishing appearance of lines and wrinkles. Lastly, magnesium energizes the complexion and boosts radiance for a glowing complexion.  
Sounds fantastic, right? And guess what, it really is! This is an excellent choice when you are seriously short of time, but really feel like your skin needs a quick pick me up. And if you are anything like me, it is when I am short of time that I start taking some shortcuts in my skin care routine, combined with not getting enough sleep, and my skin shows it.


This mask really couldn't be easier to use. The mask is a slightly gritty, celadon green gel that you massage on to a dry (but clean) face. I don't know if it is intentional, but the slight grittiness gives an instant exfoliation as you massage it in. After the quick massage, wet your fingertips, massage the water in (you will feel the texture change) and then leave for the magic minute. Rinse off, and reveal some seriously glowing skin. I'm talking smooth, fresh, and luminous!

Honestly, I'm not sure what long term benefits I am getting from a mask only left on for a minute and then rinsed off, but I can definitely vouch for the immediate results, which makes it completely worth it in my book! Recommended for use 3 times per week, and is not recommended for sensitive skins as it is a highly active product.







Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to have a Healthy Lung Home


October is National Healthy Lung Month in the US, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share how I make my home a Healthy Lung Home. Your lungs are probably one of the most important organs in our body, and if they are not functioning at their peak, the rest of your health and well being is likely to suffer. Most of the time we don't even think about breathing, even though we do so more than 25,000 a day!  While most of what we breathe is oxygen and nitrogen, we also breathe in bacteria and viruses, pollutants, and allergens from the atmosphere in varying amounts.

Nearly 20 million people in the US, over 5 million in the UK and around 2 million here in Australia have asthma. Both my son and I have it, and while mine is well under control, it has taken us a number of years, more than a few hospital stays, and I don't even like to think about how many doctors' visits to finally bring his to a state where I am not perpetually worried every time he has sport at school or of it is an unusually chilly day.

Obviously, medical supervision and, in Stephen's case, medication, are a vital part of his treatment and maintenance. However, there are a large number of things that we can do ourselves to make our home lung healthy to support his treatment.

Dust, pollen, mould, pet dander and chemicals are just some of the allergens that are found in our homes, and breathing them in can cause all sorts of reactions, from mild hay fever through to life threatening asthma. However, by tweaking just a few things in our at-home routines, our indoor air quality can be improved immeasurably.

  • Take our shoes off before coming inside. We always remove our shoes before coming inside, and yes, we ask our guests to do the same. According to building biologist Raphael Siket, this simple measure can reduce the dust in your home by at least 50 percent. We live in a pretty warm climate, so we are happy to roam around the house in bare feet, but you might prefer having a basket at the front door with slippers for you and your guests to wear.
  • Stop using chemicals to clean your home.  Despite a certain disinfectant's ads claims to the contrary, we don't need our surroundings to be completely sanitized, just clean! I love using Enjo microfibre products around the house for a completely chemical free clean, and I have fallen in love with the Honest Co's range as well for their natural options (review coming soon!!)
  • Hard flooring is the preference as it allows allergens to be vacuumed and mopped away easily. A thorough vacuuming followed by a mop with a microfibre mop head will remove most allergens and over 99% of bacteria. If you feel that you need or want carpet (and we did, despite our asthma) then go for pure wool as it doesn't introduce as much chemical off-gassing. And vacuum them with a specific carpet head at least once a week, more in spring and autumn when pollen is at its max.
  • When you replace your vacuum, make sure to get a vacuum with a HEPA filter of at least 12. These filters pickup microscopic matter (up to 99.995% in the case of a HEPA 14) as you vacuum. And decide whether a bagless or bagged vacuum is best for you. I have a Dyson, who are leaders in HEPA filter technology, but since it is bagless, I have to make sure to empty it outside so I'm not getting the dust back in the air. For some people, a vacuum with disposable bags may make more sense.
  • Minimise dust mites in the bedroom. We've all heard about them, but did you know that it is not the mite themselves that are the problem, but their droppings that we are inhaling?? EWW, right?? We all know about stopping them breeding in our bedding by using pillow and mattress protectors and washing our linen in hot water (over 55C/131F), but it's also important to turn your mattress regularly to help it dry out, as dust mites prefer humid conditions. We also don't make our beds immediately after waking, but push back the covers all the way, to let the bed and doona air out for about half an hour.
  • Choose pure cotton or linen for your sheets. You need hot water to kill the dust mites, and natural fibres can generally take the heat. Also avoid sheets labelled "non-iron"or "wrinkle-free" (that goes for your shirts as well!) as these often treated with VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can really affect people with asthma or allergies.
  • Minimise dust mites in the lounge room. So you've taken care of the bedroom, since that is what we all focus on, but dust mites also love living in the crevices of your sofa! So make sure you vacuum often in the crevices, and along the stitching and piping, as these are great dust mite habitats.
  • Think twice about indoor plants. Indoor plants are great at improving indoor air quality. However, and it is a big however, you need to make sure you are dusting them regularly, as their leaves are wonderful dust traps. Also make sure to avoid ones that will be a source of pollen.
  • It goes without saying - don't smoke, it'll kill you! But if you do smoke, then definitely don't do it inside. Secondhand smoke is one of the most carcinogenic pollutants that your children are exposed to, so keep it away from them.
  • Be mindful of asbestos. Anyone who lives here in Perth is well aware of the dangers of asbestos, and the rare cancer Mesothelioma that it causes (a whole town had to be closed permanently because of it), but it turns up in all sorts of places. If you are renovating your house, or drilling into walls for something as simple as putting up a photo frame, it is vital to make sure that any works you are doing will not disturb any asbestos, as it is most dangerous as a fine powder that is inhaled. It is often found in roofing, fencing, insulation and wall cladding. Take adequate precautions like dust masks for little jobs, and call in the professionals for anything larger that hanging a picture.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Mask Monday: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Mask

I love using face masks, and they are an integral part of my self care rituals. As I mentioned in my October Empties post, I am using a face mask on an almost daily basis(!) but most of those days it is just a quick express treatment often done in the shower. On a Sunday night, however, once I've done all my prep for the week ahead, I will take 30-40 minutes for myself, and take a bath while relaxing with a DIY facial. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share with you the different face masks I'm trying with the Mask Monday series.


Neutrogena Hydro Boost Mask for Intense Hydration


I love sheet masks! Maybe its the Asian in me (they are an Asian invention, after all!), but I just find there is something incredibly satisfying about applying a sheet mask, looking like a monster for 15 minutes, and then peeling it off to reveal (hopefully) amazing looking skin! So, I was thrilled when Neutrogena finally launched their Hydro Boost Masks here in Australia. At $19.99 for a box of 5 (but often available on sale at Priceline), this is an incredibly affordable choice in the range of sheet masks available. And while I am sure that the long term results are not *quite* as comparable to, say, the SKII mask that retails for $28, for just $4.00 a mask I was very happy with the HydroBoost one.

This mask is very easy to apply, as all sheet masks are! Quick and easy, no mess, what more could a busy mum ask for? The mask fit my face very well, with a little bit of stretching to get the mouth to fit in the right place. The way it is designed, I think it would be quite flexible for most face shapes.
According to Neutrogena, it contains Hyaluronic Acid, Olive Extract, and an Ionic Mineral Complex.

After applying, I scared my children (let's just say their comments were not exactly flattering) and then took a nice lie down for 20 minutes, that may have included a little nap.  The fragrance is similar to other products in the HydroBoost range, not overpowering, just a nice clean and fresh smell.

After my little nap, I peeled off the mask, and then massaged in the product that was remaining on my skin. My skin was plump and glowing, and I didn't feel that I needed to apply any of my regular night products, other that my eye cream. The next my morning, my skin looked even better, and I even got a comment from hubby that my skin was looking really good (I think that alone might push this product into miracle territory!).

I have normal/combination skin - I get an oily T-zone, and my cheeks range from normal, to occasionally a bit dehydrated, depending on the weather or what I am doing. I have used this mask on three separate occasions now, and in all cases, my skin looked and felt visibly better not only immediately, but the next day at well. The first time I tried it, my skin was nice and balanced before hand. It didn't send my oily areas into over drive, and seemed to nicely hydrate my skin all over.

The second time, I had caught a little bit too much sun at my daughter's sports carnival; not an actual burn, but I could feel my skin feeling somewhat dehydrated, tight and looking pink. The mask felt so soothing, especially on the sun hit areas, and after the mask was removed, my skin felt smooth and supple, and the tight, slightly pink areas had completely returned to normal. Come the heat of summer, I can imagine this mask would feel great if used after putting it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so.

Finally, I used it last night, which followed a week where I had been so busy and tired that I let my usual night routine slip a little, so my skin was not feeling the best. This time I combined it with my Sanctuary 30 Day Youth Revolution Glycolic mask (reviewed here) just to give my skin a real boost and pick me up after a week of somewhat neglect! The combination really helped rebalance my skin, and bring it back to looking its best.






Linking to these great websites here

Monday, October 12, 2015

October Empties Product Reviews

I love watching the monthly empties videos on YouTube so I thought I would do a post about the products that I finished using this month, since I had a few all finishing up at once! Just a quick disclaimer that I purchased all of these items myself!

Sanctuary Spa 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask



I have started to really up my use of face masks, and now apply some sort of mask nearly every day! This self-heating mask contains charcoal and kaolin clay to help draw out impurities from deep within the skin.  I use it in the shower and because it works in just five minutes, it doesn't add any time on to my routine, so it's perfect for those of us who don't always have the time for a full facial. The heating part feels great on the skin, especially in winter, but only lasts for a few seconds, so I'm pretty sure it's more of a gimmick than anything really effective. However, the combo of the charcoal and kaolin does a stellar job of cleaning out my pores, leaving my skin smooth, soft and clear. I loved this so much I have already repurchased.

AUD$19.99 from Priceline


Sanctuary Spa Youth Boosting Cleansing Oil



I purchased this when I ran out of my Shu Uemera cleansing oil, and was looking for a cheaper substitute.  It is a lovely and light oil, and is excellent at removing all makeup, including waterproof mascara. The fragrance is relaxing, without being overpowering; a mix of lavender, chamomile and neroli.  Applying two pumps to dry skin, I massage in to dissolve makeup and grime, and then emulsify with a little bit of water, and finally rinse off.  It leaves my skin clean, but feeling supple. I haven't repurchased yet, as I am trying out a Trilogy cream cleanser, but I would definitely buy it again in the future.

AUD$19.99 from Priceline

Sanctuary Spa 30 Day Youth Revolution


I swear I'm not a spokesperson from Sanctuary, I just happened to run out of three of their products at once!! The 30 Day Youth Revolution is an at-home glycolic peel, combine with an activation serum.  By necessity, this is nowhere near as strong as a salon or doctor's office peel, but this a great option to help maintain your skin in between, or if you don't need or want that full on glycolic strength in the first place.

Simply brush on the gel in a very thin layer on clean skin (brush is included, which is nice!), wait until it dries, then peel off. Must be the child in me, but I find peeling it off incredibly satisfying! Follow with the included serum and revel in your radiant, baby soft skin! Despite it saying 30 days on the box, this set lasted me much longer (nearly 3 months) with almost consistent bi-weekly use. I repurchased this at the same time as the detox mask, as they seem to be working together really well.

AUD$39.99 from Priceline


Obagi Professional C Serum 20%




An anti-oxidant serum is probably one of the most important steps in your anti ageing regimen, as they help to neutralise free radicals from the sun, pollution, etc, before they can damage skin cells and accelerate ageing.  Vitamin C has also been show to increase collagen production, which helps to plump the skin.

This particular one was recommended by my previous dermatologist both to help with the pigmentation on my cheeks, and as a general antiager. This is something you need to build up to so it doesn't irritate your skin, so start with a low concentration (10%) and then build from there.  I have been happy with the results, but my new derm has suggested I try the Medik8 Tetra C so I will see how that goes; if I'm not

I purchased mine from the Dr's office, but if you are buying any vitamin c serum, make sure it comes from a reputable place as its efficiency decreases over time. Similarly, make sure it is in a dark glass bottle as both air and light degrade vitamin C.

Philosophy Renewed Hope In A Jar



I had high hopes for this cream (ha ha, no pun intended!!), but unfortunately, they didn't quite eventuate. The brand new entry in Philosophy's best selling Hope in a Jar range, this cream has a lovely whipped texture, and combines three AHAs to help renew and regenerate your skin, helping to reduce pigmentation and minimise wrinkles. Unfortunately, despite also containing hyaluronic acid, a star hydrating ingredient, it just wasn't hydrating enough for me, leaving me cheeks tight, and sending my T Zone into overdrive. Now, I have normal-combination skin, not dry skin, so this really surprised me. I did continue to use the cream, simply because it was quite pricey, but its lack of hydration on my skin meant I had to layer a hyaluronic serum underneath. With the serum, the cream was good, but definitely not good enough to warrant a re buy.  

AUD$55 from David Jones



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