Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Short Break

I just wanted to let everyone know that due to a personal family situation, I am taking a short break from blogging. Take care, and I'll be back soon.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Product Review: Aromatherapy Associates Rose Hydrating Face Mask


I received this sample sized Rose Hydrating Face Mask by Aromatherapy Associates in August's Lust Have It box, and I have been converted! As you know, I try (and often fail!) to give myself a facial once a week, but lately with everything going on, this has been one thing that has often fallen by the wayside. After spending the almost all of the last week at the hospital with Nick's seriously ill grandfather, the emotional toll combined with a week of eating whatever could be grabbed from hospital vending machines had left my face looking and feeling pretty ravaged. So, with a half hour block carved out, I started with my regular Philosophy exfoliating peel, then decided I needed something ultra hydrating to follow, and this mask seemed to fit the bill.

The description stated:

A deeply hydrating mask to restore vital moisture to dry skin. Aloe vera and Sodium Hyalauronate, renowned for their hydrating properties, are combined with damask rose water, distilled from Bulgarian roses, in a cooling, transparent mask to bring radiance and vitality to dry complexions.


The mask itself was not what I was used to in a hydrating mask. I am used to relatively thick and creamy masks that feel comforting on the skin, while this was a colourless and transparent gel; but, oh, it felt like heaven on this skin. Smoothing it on, it was indeed cooling as they described, and soothed my frazzled skin in just the way it needed. The fragrance is beautiful, but very light so would be  perfect for those sensitive to perfumes. It smells exactly like rosewater, rather than roses.  It said to leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse off, but honestly, after less than 5 minutes, it had completely sunk into my skin, and left it feeling a bit tight, so I rinsed off at that point. I have to say, at this moment, I wasn't entirely convinced; the tight feeling left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed, I must say. After following with my usual skincare, though, OMG! My skin was glowing and plumped up, and looked as if the last week had never happened. And the next day, my skin looked even better again!

I also love that this mask is made with natural ingredients. Its star ingredients are Damask rose water and aloe vera, but it also includes sodium hyalauronate (a natural hydrator), while not including any parabens, glycols, colourants or perfumes. It is also vegan, and GM ingredient free.

I would definitely buy this if I could, but I haven't yet found an Australian stockist, or someone who ships here. If you have seen it somewhere, please let me know!


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Friday, October 12, 2012

How Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia Became My New Fragrance


Now that spring has arrived, heralding new and fresh beginnings, I was desperately looking for a new fragrance. I am pretty much a "signature fragrance" type of person, wearing the same fragrance day and night for quite a while (sometimes months, sometimes years), rather than having a "fragrance wardrobe" of various perfumes that I select from based on my feelings on each day. For the last four/five years, I have almost exclusively worn Prada's Infusion d'Iris, straying occasionally to it's flanker fragrance, Infusion de Rose over the last 12 months and a YSL Paris springtime variation every now and then. But, while I was getting bored with the Infusion d'Iris, I just hadn't found anything else out there that was perfect enough to replace it with that it is now down to its last dregs. I considered going back to some of my previous signature perfumes, such as Stella by Stella McCartney, Cristalle by Chanel, and Eau d'Hadrian by Annick Goutal, but none of them felt quite right.


So, I have been on a hunt for the past 6 months, with no success. Everything seems to be so "fruity"! Honestly, every perfume launch I come across seems to have the fruity label attached. A "fruity floral", a "fresh fruity fragrance", a "vibrant explosion of tropical fruit", the list goes on. This trend seemed to start around the time I was working in cosmetics in the 90s, and unfortunately, hasn't abated. I completely blame Clinique Happy (released in 1998) for creating the frenzy, and J'adore (1999) for solidifying it. According to the Fragrantica database, there are now more than 2000 perfumes categorized as fruity florals! Not that there is anything inherently wrong with a fruity fragrance, but when there are so many of them, they completely dominate the market. I just find them, in general, too teeny-bopper, the type of perfume you would buy for your 14 year old niece. Which probably explains why almost every "celeb" fragrance has a fruity floral juice (I'm looking at you, Britney, J Lo, Fergie, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, et al!) - it's a great starting point for those entering the fragrance market for the first time.


But, that is not what I was after. I wanted something elegant and sophisticated, and I wanted it to be understated, not too bold. I didn't want my perfume to enter the room before I did, a la perfumes of the eighties, such as Georgio and Opium, which ruled out pretty much the whole category of orientals. I am over the citrus category, and I've never been a big fan of the aromatics family. A few recent launches held seemed to hold promise. I've liked aquatic florals in the past (L'eau d'Issey & L'eau par Kenzo were two of my original signature perfumes), so Eternity Aqua seemed a possibility but it was "nice" - nothing offensive, but nothing special either. It was light and fresh, but was still missing that elegance and sophistication I was after. It was still a young woman's perfume.

Balenciaga For Women looked perfect on paper - it was from a sophisticated and elegant brand, it had powdery/woody notes in common with Infusion d'Iris - and on my skin, was completely wrong. It was beautiful on the card, but as soon as it hit my skin, it turned into something horrible. I usually like to let a new fragrance sit all day to see how it evolves over time. Sometimes a top note may not be amazing, but the dry down is, and conversely, some fragrances smell great when they are sprayed, but the middle and base notes that come through 30 minutes or even hours later do not. This was so bad on me, I had to wash it off straight away.


Trying something along the same line, I sampled Bottega Veneta. The bottle is the epitome of understated elegance, and the perfume is described as the "the scented signature of the house - invisible, private luxury". Plus, the face of the perfume is the daughter of Ines de la Fressange, one of my all time favourite girl crushes! But, again, as much as I wanted it to work (this bottle would look so good on my dresser!), the leather accord in it just wasn't me.



In a moment of serendipity, I was reading an article about another of my girl crushes, Aerin Lauder, and the launch of her eponymous lifestyle range in the September issue of Town & Country; it jogged my memory of the three Estee Lauder Private Collection variations that she created during her time as Creative Director of Estee Lauder, all of them inspired by Estee herself, and which for some reason I had never tried before. I didn't bother trying Amber & Ylang Ylang, since I don't like either of those notes at all, but I had high hopes for the Jasmin White Moss (a chypre, like Cristalle), and I thought I would try Tuberose Gardenia while I was at the counter. Jasmin White Moss was beautiful, elegant and sophisticated, a modern version of a classic chypre, and I seriously considered buying it, until I tried Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. What a relevation! It was everything I was after; it was also elegant and sophisticated, but the Gardenia and Tuberose lent it a creamy freshness rather than the earthiness of the Jasmin White Moss. The white florals, so easily overdone in many other perfumes, were balanced perfectly between sensual and understated. It was perfect! And as a bonus, the bottle was beautiful as well. The pic at the top of the post is the parfum, and is divine, but way too pricey for me (those are real gemstones on the cap). The pic above is the eau de parfum, and simple glass flacon with the hammered cap (inspired by one of Estee's necklaces) is going to look just right on my dresser! And that is how today, (in a totally long winded, hopefully not too boring way!), Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia became my new signature fragrance.



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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday for Frocktober

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Today's WWIW post is in support of Frocktober, a fundraising initiative for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF). In Australia, a woman dies every ten hours from ovarian cancer, and it can not be detected by a pap smear, so it is usually quite advanced when it is discovered. I am hoping to raise at least $500 for the OCRF through the month of October, to help them raise much needed funds to research and develop an early screening test.

Frocktober aims to not only raise money, but also to raise public awareness of ovarian cancer, as well as promoting women's health and wellbeing. I will try and wear a dress everyday during October, and I am asking each and everyone of you to at least consider supporting me in this amazing cause. Head over to http://www.everydayhero.com.au/sarah_vitsas if you want to donate! Every donation, no matter how great or small, is valued!

Monday: Today was the absolutely quintessential spring day! It was sunny and warm, but not too warm. My perfect kind of day, and this was a perfect outfit.

Camel merino sweater: Sportscraft
Skinny bootleg jeans: Gap
Horn cuff: Mai Tai Collection
Giraffe print flats: Lands End

Thursday: Today was another beautiful day, but was unexpectedly much, much cooler, so I spent most of the day freezing my behind off!! These jeans are new from Gap, and I am in love - the skinny bootcut is so flattering, and the denim is really nice. I also have them in fuchsia and lemon, but I hope they bring them out in another rinse - that is how much I love them!

Chiffon print blouse: Old Navy
Skinny bootcut jeans: Gap
Green plastic bangle: Myer
Red retro flats: Naturaliser
Wooden bead necklace: upcycled piece by me


Friday: Is spring really here? I think it is. I think we actually had a whole week of glorious warm and sunny days. It is still cool at night (the kids are insisting on keeping the flannel sheets for a while yet!) which is nice. Today I spent the morning at work, and then errands in the afternoon, with a quick lunch with hubby and the kids squeezed in the middle.

Teal, black & white jersey dress: Jane Lamerton
Silver necklace: Verite
Green snakeskin heels: Kenneth Cole Reaction 
Hammered silver earrings: Verite

Saturday: Today we were invited to a birthday party for one of Irini's friends, and we were running late, so I grabbed the first two things I could find, totally forgetting about my dresses all month plan for Frocktober!
Navy and white bird print shirt: Old Navy
Skinny boot cut jeans: Gap
Aqua handbag: Kate Spade
Blue resin bangle: Myer
Floral print heels: Seychelles

Monday: I was pretty much at home all day today, with nothing much planned except housework, so this jersey dress was perfect, and meant that I could quickly dash to Irini's therapy session later in the day just by slipping on a pair of ballet flats.
Blue, white & black jersey dress: Basque by Myer
Black ballet flats: Lands End


Tuesday: The weather is really starting to heat up now! We spent the morning at home, and then late afternoon, I went to run errands and do the grocery shopping.

Floral print dress: Leona by Leona Edmiston
Pink & green bangles: Myer
Aqua leather tote: Kate Spade
Silver leaf earrings: Verite
Silver tree of life necklace: Pilgrim
Black leather heels: Naturalizer


See you all next week!!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Purple & Orange Carrot Salad That Kids Love!

I was inspired to make this carrot salad after reading Karen Le Billon's excellent book, French Kids Eat Everything, (review coming soon!), and it was a huge hit.  Well, it was with one of my kids, at least. Irini honestly ate nearly half of the dish by herself. Stephen took one look at it and refused flat out to even try it - maybe I should retitle the post "Purple & Orange Carrot Salad That MOST Kids Love!!"


This salad is so easy to prepare, it literally takes minutes. I used purple carrots since we were given some in our showbags at the Royal Show, but you could substitute raw beetroot, or just use all orange carrots. I also sprinkled some toasted hazelnuts on the adult servings, and this made it even more delicious.

Purple & Orange Carrot Salad

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon honey wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
good pinch of sea salt
2 large purple carrots
6 large carrots


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except carrots.
  • Finely grate (shred) carrots into bowl with dressing and toss gently to combine.
  • Serve!


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Saturday, October 6, 2012

What I Wore Wednesday

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I know today is Friday, but with school holidays, surely I have an excuse for running late!! Plus, this is two weeks worth of pics, since I was manically busy in the last week of school and forgot to post.

Wednesday: Today was the absolutely quintessential spring day! It was sunny and warm, but not too warm. My perfect kind of day, and this was a perfect outfit.

Camel merino sweater: Sportscraft
Skinny bootleg jeans: Gap
Horn cuff: Mai Tai Collection
Giraffe print flats: Lands End

Thursday: Today was another beautiful day, but was unexpectedly much, much cooler, so I spent most of the day freezing my behind off!! These jeans are new from Gap, and I am in love - the skinny bootcut is so flattering, and the denim is really nice. I also have them in fuchsia and lemon, but I hope they bring them out in another rinse - that is how much I love them!

Chiffon print blouse: Old Navy
Skinny bootcut jeans: Gap
Green plastic bangle: Myer
Red retro flats: Naturaliser
Wooden bead necklace: upcycled piece by me


Friday: After the lovely spring days of the past week, today was back to full on winter, with a massive storm. I went to a school mum's luncheon at the country club, and was amazed to see people playing golf in this weather. I am not understating things when I say it was raining cats and dogs!

Fuchsia merino sweater: Sportscraft
Black ponte pants:Lands End
Leopard print heels: Lands End 
Pearl, amethyst and amber necklace: Linneys

Sunday: Back to a warm and sunny, and with an invitation to the opening of the new gastropub at the relaunched Crown Casino. I truly hate events like this - no dress code is given, and really, unlike the men who can get away with a shirt, jacket and jeans, it is so much more complicated for women. Most seemed dressed in variations of what I was wearing - top, skinny jeans and heels, but there were some in cocktail dresses, and some even more casual that me.
Navy and white peplum blouse: Ruche
Skinny jeans: Ann Taylor
Red skinny belt: Talbots
Gold medallion necklace: Linneys
Leopard print heels: Lands End
Wednesday: Back to cold and wet again. I hate weather like this - I really wish it would make up its mind and stay cold or stay hot. This back and forth drives me nuts! This outfit was inspired by one of my pins on Pinterest; I loved the idea of a pop of colour against the navy.
Navy wool sweater: J Crew
Skinny jeans: Ann Taylor
Horn cuff: Mai Tai Collection
Orange patent tote: Kate Spade
Orange jersey scarf: JannysGirl @ Etsy
Navy ballet flats: Lands End


Friday: If you are curvy and/or busty, then you would know that wearing a shirt under a sweater can look really bulky, and make you look larger than you really are. I love the look of a crisp collar peaking our from a sweater, which is why I am in love with SkinnyShirts. I wrote a review about a year ago and I am still impressed with mine!

Snow leopard skinny shirt: Skinny Shirt
Purple short sleeved sweater: Boden
Skinny bootcut jeans: Gap
Black leather tote: Kate Spade
Silver leaf earrings: Verite
Black leather heels: Ferragamo


Sunday: Today was beautiful and sunny and we spent it at the annual Royal Show (like a State Fair) and had an absolute blast. The kids loved all the animals, the fireworks were great, and there was just so much to see and do. Today I still wanted to look nice, but it needed to be practical as well. There was lots of walking, it was hot, and this outfit held up well. The bag was a great choice, too. This is an old nappy (diaper) bag which I haven't used for a long time, but it is super practical with lots of pockets and a long cross body strap, which none of my other bags have. Now that I've rediscovered it, I think you'll be seeing it a lot more.

Blue print jersey dress: Lands End
Assorted bangles: Trina Turk, J Crew & Myer
White leather nappy bag: Storksak

Silver leaf earrings: Verite
Blue flats: Naturaliser

See you all next week!!

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