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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spring Summer 15/16 Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

Its been ages since I published a capsule wardrobe post, and since I have just finished my own capsule wardrobe for spring summer, I thought I would share it with you.

This year's capsule is very different from previous years. My style has really changed, and looking at my pinterest inspiration boards, I could see that I was really leaning towards a more minimalist, clean cut style compared to previous years. I've also included some dressier items into my capsule this year, both to elevate my everyday style slightly, and to cater for the rounds of functions that tends to happen over my spring summer season. Again, I have stuck with the concept of the ten item wardrobe from Jennifer L Scott's book Lessons from Madame Chic, and again, I have more than 10 core items! Having said that, my core item count at 16 is two less than last year (t shirts, sweaters, jackets and accessories count as extras) so I'm feeling pretty good.

Spring Summer 15/16 Capsule Wardrobe

These are the items here; all except the black lace dress and the white jacket are the exact items, most of which are currently on sale! As you can see, a lot of grey, black and white, with touches of blue added in.

This season, I focused on quality pieces that had something extra about them. The first three Ann Taylor tops are my nod to the lace trend of this season. They are also great transitional pieces that can be dressed up or down, and when they are worn in more casual outfits, the lace adds that hit of polish that I am looking for. The black and white printed cotton top is from Eileen Fisher, as are the asymmetrical jersey top (bought last year, but still available at a few department stores), the silk jersey tank, the shades of grey and tan silk tunic, and the grey asymmetric silk tunic. I've invested in these pieces over the past couple of years (and lets be honest, they are an investment!) because I really feel that they lift my wardrobe immeasurably.  The silk fabric looks elegant, but is machine washable and so pretty easy to care for. The pieces also swing from casual to dressy very easily, depending on what they are paired back with.

Three of the trousers are also from Eileen Fisher; the black jersey slouchy trousers, the black silk slouchy trousers and the grey denim slouchy trousers. The two black pairs are from last year, but very similar styles are back again this year. Despite being a slow adopter, I've really jumped on to the slouchy trousers bandwagon.  I think they help keep what is mostly a classic wardrobe looking current, they are flattering, and they are incredibly comfortable! The final slouchy pair is a blue and black printed pair from Blue Illusion. These four pants are all ankle length, which I find is the sweet spot for me in summer. They give the appearance of being more summery than a full length pant, but are more flattering on my body type than a true crop.

I do have two full length pants in my capsule, a pair of dark wash jeans and a pair of grey linen tailored trousers. Jeans are a basic for everyone nowadays, and this pair from NYDJ in a dark wash with no distressing can take me from ultra casual to all but the most formal occasions. I purchased the long linen pants as a transition piece. Spring here in Perth can be wildly variable - yesterday was hovering around 22C/71F and raining, while Friday is expected to be 34C/93F and sunny. Layering pieces, and pieces like a long linen pant are crucial in weather like this.

I've only gone for one day dress this year. Last year I had five, and while they do make it super easy to get changed in the morning - one piece and you're done - I did find that I got quite bored of my wardrobe since I was effectively wearing the same outfit over and over and over again. I am hoping mix and match separates will eliminate that problem!

Finally, my extras. I have 4 T shirts (white, navy, black and grey striped), all from Lands End, one light weight longer line cardigan (grey), and one fine knit maxi cardigan, a white blazer, and a black blazer in a metallic thread that looks great in the evening.

And now for just some of the possible outfits!

SS15 Capsule Jersey Pants

Let's start at the ultra casual end, that makes up most of my outfits. Jersey pants by nature are casual, and though they can be dressed up, I am mostly wearing these in casual outfits.  I would wear these outfits running errands, doing the school run, watching the kids play sport. Most of these accessories are old but are still in great condition, so will carry on in this year's rotation. I did update my hat this year (my old one just looked really shabby and has been downgraded to beach hat), the rose gold ear jackets from Mimco are one more nod to a current trend, and the black LV tote was a Mother's Day present this year. I also bought my first pair of Birks, and I can't believe I waited for so long! They are so comfy!!

SS15 Print Harem Pants Outfits

These harem pants from Blue Illusion are just that little step up from the jersey pants. BTW, Blue Illusion calls them harem pants, but really, they are only glimpsing in the direction of harem - they are definitely what I would call a slouch pant. The print is made up of a few different shades of blue as well as black, and they look really good with white, shades of blue and black because of that.  While these outfits are all still fall at the casual, everyday end of the spectrum for my lifestyle, I could quickly swap the Birks for some ballet flats, and I would happily wear these outfits to work (I do not work in a corporate environment, though!).  Through on the white blazer and some heels, and I would be all set for meetings with our customers, or a parent teacher conference.

SS15/16 Smart Casual Outfits

Lastly, here are some examples of how I can use this capsule wardrobe to take me to some dressier occasions. These would be great for an evening out to the ballet with my daughter, or a fun party, and I would even feel comfortable wearing the final outfit, with the silk slouchy pants, to a semi formal event.  In all of these outfits, it is the choice of fabric, be it lace or silk, paired with wise choices in accessories, that take pieces that I will wear on an everyday basis, and elevate them to something special. These little ghillie flats are also a new buy this season, and you will see them everywhere, at all different price points. Since I've had kids, I spend most of my life in flats, and needed a pair of dressier flats to could take me out to cocktail parties, since I honestly can't bear standing in high heels for any length of time anymore!  These flats from Robert Robert fit the bill perfectly since not only do they look great, but they feel great, too.

Just so you can see how versatile this wardrobe is, here are some more outfits for you:

SS 15/16 Minimalist Capsule Outfits

Linking to these great websites here

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Product Review: Bumble and Bumble's Don't Blow It (H)air styler

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don't, why not?!! click here) then you would have seen a few pics featuring Bumble and Bumble's Don't Blow It (H)air Styler.  This is truly my holy grail hair product! The majority of the time, I don't blow dry my hair. Firstly, I don't really have the time or patience to blow dry it properly, and secondly, now that I have lightened my hair significantly, my hair is not in any shape to be subjected to heat on a regular basis. However, my hair, which is super fine, with a bit of a curl (in parts only), and prone to frizz, means that if I let it air dry, I invariably end up putting it into a pony so that it looks half way decent.

When visiting Mecca recently, the sales assistant was putting out Don't Blow It, and mentioned it to me saying that even though she had only been using it for a few days, she was calling it a miracle product. Sucked in by the sales pitch, I bought the little travel sized tube to give it a try. And you know what, it may have been a sales pitch, but she was right - this is a miracle cream, and I have since gone on to buy the full size!

So simple to use, you simply wash your hair, then a apply a dollop (I use about a 20c piece) through out your hair, including the roots, then let air dry. You can tousle or twirl to bring out more of a curl, you can brush through for a straighter finish, and you can layer with other products like surf spray for even more effects. If you head to B & B's site, they have a number of video tutes showing different effects.

The first pic shows it brushed through after applying for a straighter effect. It gives my hair that "cool French girl" kind of vibe - that textured, slightly dishevelled but still put together look! I simply washed my hair, towel dried, applied the styler throughout the hair, and combed through. Once dried, I combed through again, adding a touch of Kerastase Elixir The Imperial oil to the ends.

These two pics show the effect when I want to embrace my waves. The pic on the left was achieved by applying the Don't Blow It to towel dried hair, combing through, then giving my hair a good allover spray with Pureology's Sea Kissed texturiser, their salt-free version of a surf spray. A quick scrunch with my hands, then I left my hair to dry. Once dry, I gave my hair one more quick tousle with my fingers, especially in the root section, as otherwise I find you can see the product there, almost like you put hair gel in. Once tousled, it disappears completely.

The pic on the right takes a little bit of pre-planning, if you are like me and your hair takes forever to dry. I washed my hair at night instead, towel dried, applied styler throughout and then put my hair into four even plaits. When I got up the next morning, I simply undid the plaits, and gently broke up the hair with my fingers - do not brush! Again, a tiny bit of Kerastase oil on the ends. These curls come out looking so pretty, and lasted all day.

The best way to describe Don't Blow It is like a light leave in conditioner, with a touch of styling hold. It gives my hair just the right amount of weight to hold frizz at bay, without weighing down my hair at all.  Most important, it does not leave your hair feeling sticky or crunchy, my two big bug bears with leave in products.

The fragrance is fresh but very light - TBH once applied, my shampoo scent still takes over, so it is probably safe for even those who a fragrance sensitive.  I can't speak for how this would work on some one with thick hair, but for fine haired ladies like myself, this product is truly a godsend, and I highly recommend it!

 Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post - all products mentioned have been purchased by me.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pattern Review: McCalls 9424 Pioneer Costume

My favourite project in the last month has been making Irini a costume for Book Week. In Australia, Book Week is a week long celebration of all things to do with books, often culminating in a book week assembly and dress up day at school. Irini decided quite a while ago that she wanted to go as Laura from Little House on the Prairie, and I though this would be just the project to get me back in the swing of sewing. 


 After browsing many pioneer/colonial costumes, I decided on McCalls 9424, as it had good reviews, and it looked really cute. Being from Australia, I can't comment on it being historically accurate, but it certainly fit the idea I had in my head of a Laura Ingalls costume!

Of course, the best part of sewing is the fabric, and despite having shelves of unused fabric to choose from, I had to make a stop at Spotlight, where I came across this gorgeous lightweight printed cotton, and a linen look fabric that matched the peachy coloured flowers in the print perfectly! Finding these two fabrics, how could I not come home with them?

I made up the dress first, with three alterations. Firstly, this pattern is clearly made for giants, and this is my only real complaint about it. The patterns are dual sized, eg the size M which I used is for size 10-12, and they are obviously aiming the length at the upper end of that size spectrum. After cutting out the paper pattern, I realised I would need to shorten the pattern by at least 4 inches, and that meant that I didn't need as much fabric as I had purchased. In the end, I shortened the dress and sleeves a little bit more so that I would be left with a full yard of fabric leftover, which I will turn into a non-costume blouse for Irini at a later date.

My second alteration was to remove the button holes, since I am rubbish at doing button holes, and replacing them with sew in snaps, with some decorative (non functional) buttons sewn on top. For a costume, I think this was a perfect solution, as it still looked great, but makes it easy for Irini to put on and off.  Finally, I did not use any of the recommended interfacing (collar, placket, yoke), as honestly, I just couldn't be bothered. Regardless, it turned out fine!!

After making up the dress, I realised how pretty the front yoke detail is, especially with those cute little heart buttons, and decided it would be such a shame to cover it up with the pinafore included in the pattern. So instead, I just made a basic waist apron, with gathers over each hip, flat over the tummy, with four tucks and a hem ruffle as detail. 

Finally, the bonnet. I had assumed that this would be the trickiest part of the costume, and while it was a little bit more complicated, it was in no way difficult, and the instructions were very clear. I did add a tucked frill made from the apron fabric to the brim, and used the apron fabric for the ties. I really felt that this made the whole lot come together as an outfit. 

All in all, this is a great pattern for a gorgeous costume. I am sure we will repurpose this costume in the future, perhaps as Anne of Green Gables (without the apron and bonnet), definitely as Australian Colonial with a mob cap added, and maybe even as Little Bo Peep somehow!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Warming Pear, Almond and Chia Porridge - Dairy and Gluten Free

This porridge, with its mix of warming spices and protein from the chia and almonds is a delightful (and filling) way to start a wintry morning. And taking just 5 minutes to whip up, there is no excuse to be eating anything less!

Warming Pear, Almond and Chia Porridge

1 pear, grated
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup coconut or almond milk
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs Mayvers Almond Spread
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat for 5 minutes until pears have softened and porridge is thick and creamy. Top with extra cinnamon and sliced pears.

Linking to these fabulous link-ups

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sunshine Immunity Juice

Winter is no longer coming, it is well and truly here, and with that comes cold and flu season. This vibrant juice is full of immune boosting goodies to keep your system healthy and strong over winter!

Sunshine Immunity Juice

1 carrot
1 orange, peeled
1/2 lemon, peeled
1 slice fresh ginger
1 slice fresh tumeric (or 1/2 tsp ground)
2 tsp SuperElixir greens powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups cold green tea (or water)
1 cup ice

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend on high speed until combined.

Linking to these fabulous link-ups

Monday, May 11, 2015

Thanks to Tory Burch I finally love wearing my Fitbit!

I love my Fitbit and find it incredibly motivating in my quest to move more, but lets be honest, that silicone band that comes with it is really not that attractive. Functional, perfect for the gym, but stylish? No. And because of that, I would regularly remove it because it just didn't look right with an outfit, which obviously completely defeats the purpose of wearable tech. Even worse, I would often forget to put it back on altogether. So you can imagine my excitement when Tory Burch (a brand I luurve!) released a collection of chic pieces of jewellery to hold the Fitbit. 

Unfortunately, the original collection just didn't work for me. The necklace looked gorgeous, but necklaces are the one piece of jewellery that I tend to switch up on an almost daily basis. So pretty as it is, the necklace just wasn't going to cut it for me. 

The hinged bangle suited me to a tee. I almost always wear my Pandora charm bracelet everyday together with my watch and my current Fitbit silicone band, so replacing the current band for a sleek and chic bangle would work perfectly. However, thankfully I read a number of reviews before hitting the Buy It Now button, as it apparently is designed for women with very slim wrists (how very Tory, when you think about it!!).  Most reviews seemed to agree that if you wear the M/L Fitbit band (as I do), there is no way the bangle will fit. Disappointed, I closed the website, pouted a little (OK, a lot!), and then carried on using my usual band, cursing bird boned Park Avenue Princesses as I did!

Thankfully for those of us with regular sized wrists, Tory Burch expanded her collection last month, adding in three delightful bracelets with a double wrapped leather strap, and the signature Fretwork housing for the Fitbit itself. After reading reviews, and taking careful measurements, I came to the conclusion that this bracelet should *just* fit me. Deciding on the rose gold with pale rose pink leather band, I ordered, and waited with bated breath for it to arrive.

Oh, is it ever gorgeous!! And it fits - on the second last hole! I have to say, I simply can't imagine who would be able to use it on the smallest hole. As an experiment, I tried it on my 7 year old daughter, and even she couldn't come close to wearing something that small!! Regardless, it fit me, and that was all that mattered. I think it looks great paired with my watch and my Pandora charms. Of course, I still switch it back into the rubber band for the gym and exercise, but otherwise, it has been living mostly in its stylish gold case.

Some other reviewers have mentioned that the metal case scratches easily, or that the casing is hard to open, but I have to say, I found neither of these to be a problem. After a week of (constant) wear, I haven't noticed a single scratch, and as you can see, I wear it right up against my watch. And I've found the casing incredibly easy to open; it literally takes just seconds to switch the tracker between bands. So thanks Tory, now I finally love wearing my FitBit!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Product Review: Aerin Rose Hand and Body Cream

You all know I love the Aerin range of beauty products so I was super excited when I found out they were finally available in Australia and I didn't have to have them shipped all the way from America! I was thrilled to see the entire fragrance range was available, as perfume is one of the few things I can't get sent to Oz (pesky flammable goods!). Unfortunately, the Lauder company seem to be doing a soft launch, and have not brought the whole range to our shores, with only the lip conditioner (my all time favourite lip balm) and the hand cream supplementing the perfumes, but I hold high hopes they will bring the rest of the range here sooner rather than later!

As a treat, I decided to buy the Aerin Rose Hand and Body Cream, as it was one of the few Aerin products (other than perfume) that I hadn't actually tried yet. Despite the fact it is a full size tube (125ml), I love it so much it has become a handbag mainstay. Delicately scented with a sophisticated (rather than old fashioned) delicate rose fragrance, this cream sinks in quickly, leaving your hands hydrated, nourished and with a velvety rather than greasy finish. The peachy pink cream feels thick and luxurious; it is a mini treat every time I put it on. As you can see in the pic above, the packaging is gorgeous as well, and it would look perfect on my nightstand, but at this point, I just can't seem to get it to leave my handbag!!

At $65, this is a luxury, but a little really does go a long way, and it has become one of my everyday indulgences. And with Mother's Day coming up, it would make a beautiful present for a treasured mother.

Available at Estée Lauder counters at David Jones and Myer, Australia wide.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Winter is coming...Shortcut Chicken Soup

If the recent weather here in Perth is anything to go by, winter is indeed coming, and that means large pots of soup bubbling away on the stovetop.  I love filling my soups with beans and grains to make them soup-er (get it?!) hearty, but I don't always love how long you need to cook them for. I have relied on the McKenzies brand of soup mixes since I started cooking, so I was intrigued when I saw a packet called Quick Cook the other day, stating ready in 15 minutes.

I bought a packet of the Quick Cook Country Chicken Soup and got to work on a Short Cut Chicken Soup based on pantry/fridge/freezer ingredients. The McKenzies mix looked really nice and hearty with a nice variety of beans and grains, including barley, red lentils, yellow split peas, and navy beans, as well as a "natural" stock packet. I'm not sure, and the packed doesn't say, but I have a feeling the beans and grains have been par-cooked and then dried, and that's why it can be ready in just 15 minutes. Regardless, the soup I came up with was delicious! I discarded the powdered stock packet, and used homemade chicken stock instead of the water asked for in the directions, but I'm sure making it with the powder would have been tasty as well.

This is a true shortcut soup, using real food convenience items and is designed for a quick, but wholesome, weeknight meal. It's more expensive than if this soup was truly made from scratch, but certainly cheaper, and a heck of a lot healthier than running out to get a take away meal!

Shortcut Chicken Soup

1 packet pre chopped mixed veggies (from the fresh fruit and veg section) - mine had celery, leek, carrot, turnip, broccoli stems.

1 packet McKenzies Quick Cook Soup Mix

500g packet frozen shredded chicken

8 cups chicken stock (or water and included stock packet).

  • Saute mixed veggies in a little butter and olive oil until softened (about 4-5 minutes) in a large saucepan.
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Lower heat to low, and then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until beans and grains are tended.
  • Serve with crusty bread.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hello strangers...

Long time no see! Yes, I am still here; no I didn't fall off the face of the earth. For the last four months since life changed as I knew it, I've been re-finding my equilibrium. To be perfectly honest, I haven't found it yet, but with a lot of help and support, I am well on my way. To the many readers who contacted me, thank you so much for your messages. I meant it when I told you that your messages meant the world to me, and as promised, here I am, back again!

As it does, life moves on, and when you have kids, it seems to move on even quicker don't you think? School went back, and with it came a multitude of extra curricular activities that kept the kids busier than ever, and made sure our local petrol station will never go out of business! 

As for my healing, it is happening, even if at times it seems to be happening oh so slowly. Day to day, I seem to be fine, and then something random will cross my path, and set me off. Meeting new people has been particularly challenging; there are a whole class of new parents at my son's school, and as I've gotten to know them, surprisingly often the questions "do you have any brothers or sisters?" or "do you come from a large family?" comes up. My answer still changes. On the one hand, a simple "no" ends the conversation at that point, and we move on. However, as "easy" as that answer is, I usually end up feeling guilty saying that. Is it a lie? No, I guess it isn't anymore. But is it the truth? Am I dishonouring my brother's memory by effectively denying his very existence. On the other hand, answering "yes, I had a brother but he passed away recently" opens a whole can of worms that usually ends with me in tears. 

Every day that passes, however, the tears become fewer and fewer, and moments of joy and laughter start to come back. Remembering the good times my brother and I had together becomes easier, the anger I feel towards him for taking his life starts to lessen, and the acceptance that he was facing his own demons that had nothing to do with anyone else becomes stronger. 

Obviously these couple of posts are not the usual topics I deal with on Chic Mummy. I hope that you can all indulge me these two, and rest assured that regular programming will return shortly!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Paper Planner Love

For quite a long time now, I have been an electronic planner person, but late into last year, I just found it wasn't working for me as well as it had been previously. This made me think about going back to the good, old fashioned paper planner, and since I have, I honestly haven't looked back. I think that a full blown stationery obsession, coupled with a mind that simply works better when I physically write things down, has combined to create a system that seems to working much better for me.

I had used a MomAgenda in the past, but the reason it fell out of favour for me was that it was just too big, and so it didn't fit in all my bags, and just became too cumbersome to carry around all the time. And this is really a key point - for any diary system to work, paper or digital, you need to always have it with you. While browsing in kikki-k, I came across the most gorgeous lilac and gold leather planner in medium (it's 50% off at the moment!)  that looked large enough to actually write things in, but not so large that I wouldn't tote it around with me. I also added a little pencil case designed to strap over a planner (from Officeworks) to contain my coloured pens (more on that later!).

When you first open up my planner, I have a little motivational quote that I swap out weekly in front of my personal info page. This quote card is also from kikki-k, from a little set of quote cards I picked up on clearance. I also have some fun shaped paper clips in case I need to clip loose pieces of paper in while I am out and about, to keep them safe until I get home and can punch them in.

After my info page, I have my daily docket. This one is from The Polkadot Posie Printables and includes half the page dedicated to the schedule for the day, as well as a little meal planning box, and a To-Do list. I've added in downloadable "To Call" and "To Clean" stickers downloaded from       and printed at home.

After a homemade divider, I then have a section dedicated to my health and fitness goals, as this is a real focus for me this year. The first page is a daily "My Healthy Day" tracker from Lime Tree Fruits that is a great visual summary for me - it includes drinking water, fruit and veg consumption, exercise, mind and soul, to name just a few.

Next is my goal tracker, also from The Polkadot Posie Printables, which I am using to track my long term health goals. What I love about this tracker is that while it lists your long term goals, it also breaks them down into monthly goals, something I think makes your goals so much more achievable. I love the little motivational quote as well!! I'm all about the quotes at the moment!!

In this section, I also have the weightloss tracker, measurement tracker, and a fitness calender, which were all part of the Health and Fitness Planner set (together with the goal tracker above) from The Polkadot Posie Printables. I use the fitness tracker to document how many steps I have taken each day (with the aim of consistently achieving at least 10000 daily) as well as what exercise classes I have taken.

Next is my monthly calendar section, also from Polkadot Posie Printables. I don't refer to this section every day, more like once a week, but it is great for longer range planning. I've decorated it with washi tape, taping out the bottom of each day that is a school holiday.

My final main section is my weekly diary, and this I refer to many times per day. I'm not sure why, but I didn't love the insert the planner came with, so I swapped it out for one from Filofax. Each Sunday night, I sit down and review the coming week, and decorate it with washi tape, stickers and quotes. I love how bright and cheerful it looks! The stickers are a mix, and include motivational and puffy cute little stickers from kikki-k, printable workout icon stickers from The Gifted Pepper, and my Flylady cleaning zone printable sticker from Juicebox Creations.

I also colour code all the entries so I can see visually at a glance who each diary entry refers to. Pink is for my daughter, blue for my son, purple for me, and green for entries that involve both the kids or the family. Colour coding has made a huge difference to the workability of my planner.

So there you have my planner setup for the new year. I would love to hear whether you have switched to digital, or you can't get enough of paper like me!

Linking to these fabulous linkys.


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