Friday, November 22, 2013

French Pharmacy Buys



I have been to Paris twice in my life, and apart from making me a devoted Francophile, it has also influenced my beauty routine.  While it is true that I like to mix up my skincare routine, and the products that I use are constantly changing, you will often find French brands rotating back in fairly regularly. In particular, French pharmacy buys make frequent appearances, since, a) they are so well priced, and b) they really work. I am a total sucker for a new product launch (hence the Chanel Le Essentials serums in my current routine) but my new resolution is to not keep doing this, and stick with my tried and true.

So what are my tried and true French pharmacy buys? I pretty much have it boiled down to four brands - Avene, La Roche Posay, Nuxe and Klorane. All are easily available at pharmacies close to me, and all are very reasonably priced.

Avene


I am now using their cleanser Micellar Lotion 3-in-1 every morning, and alternate evenings (I am still using my Clarisonic with the Dr LeWinn's Glycolic cleanser the other nights). This cleanser is incredibly soothing, and perfect for the lazy gal like me, since it needs no rinsing - you simply apply to a cotton pad and swipe over your skin. I repeat once more, and am left with sparkling clean but incredibly soft skin. $34.99 AUD

Yes, Eau Thermale is effectively nothing more than water in a spray can, but in summer I find it indispensable! There are a number of brands of tinned thermal spring water (including La Roche Posay and Evian), but this is the one I like the best. It is incredibly soothing to the skin, and I generally use it in three ways: 1) as a cooling spray when I am hot, 2) as a makeup setter and 3) as a "toner" right before I apply my serum/oils, as it helps them spread better. $9.99 AUD

La Roche Posay


I first came across La Roche Posay through their sun care range, and the Anthelios XL 50+ Extreme Fluid is now a constant applied every morning, rain, hail or shine. I love that this sunscreen is very high protection, effective against UVA rays (not all sunscreens are), does not clog my skin, is light going on, and not greasy at all. It is truly my Holy Grail of sunscreens, and I can't imagine every using a different one ever again. $25.99 AUD

I also carry the stick version in my handbag, Anthelios XL 50+ Sensitive Areas Stick to top up my protection during the day, especially during summer. This is very, very important since sun screen rarely lasts more than a few hours, so if you only apply in the morning, you are spending most of the day without any protection at all. $21.99 AUD

Nuxe


The star product in Nuxe's collection is Huile Prodigiuse Multi-Purpose Dry Oil and this amazing product really does everything. It comes in two versions; the original, and one with a gold shimmer in it and I use one or the other (often both) on a daily basis.  The original I use on the ends of my hair after towel dring, or during the day to tame flyaways (I have a sample bottle that I refill that is permanently in my handbag). I use it as a quick 10 minute mask before shampooing. It is also wonderful as a light moisturising oil in summer, or a booster to my richer body creams in the depths of winter. The gold shimmer is mostly used in summer to add a gorgeous shine to my skin (great on legs, arms, collar bones and cheek bones) and is wonderful in my hair when I am going out. $24.95 AUD

I now have three pots of Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm, it is that good! I have one next to my bed, one in the kitchen and one in my car. This balm is incredibly nourishing, tastes lovely (honey and citrus) and has a matte finish, which makes it great under lipstick or on its own.  $19.95 AUD

Klorane

I am in love with Klorane hair care, but it is unfortunately becoming harder and harder to find here in Australia. While their Dry Shampoo is available almost literally everywhere, and is deservedly a cult product, I love their shampoos and conditioners even more! My fave the pomegranate range for coloured hair - it does a great job and smells devine. $9.99 AUD



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Friday, November 15, 2013

Tea Forte Tea Over Ice


As a birthday present to myself, I bought a Tea Forte Tea Over Ice Brewing Pitcher, and a selection of their gorgeous ice tea infusers. In warmer weather, I like to relax with a glass or two of ice tea in the afternoon, and this beautiful pitcher set elevates this moment from simple to simply luxurious.



This is so simple, but so ingenious. You simply infuse one of their iced tea infuser bags in the top lidded pitcher for 3-5 minutes, then pour the concentrated brewed tea over the ice in the bottom pitcher for 2 glasses of perfect flash-chilled ice tea. No pre-planning needed the night before, no watered down or lukewarm tea because you forgot to plan the night before! Just perfectly brewed iced tea.  This pic shows the Raspberry Nectar tea brewing. Once brewed, it is a deep rose pink, and it looked particularly gorgeous in my Royal Doulton mug. It really is the perfect afternoon ritual.

The glass is very fine, so I would be wary about putting it in the dishwasher, but otherwise it seems strong and sturdy. The size is perfect for my afternoon tea - just enough for a couple of tall glasses - but for larger families or for entertaining, it would be way too small, unless you make everyone's tea in a couple of batches. Finally, while the pitcher has been designed for Tea Forte's infuser bags, I have had no problem making perfect iced tea with other brands of tea (I simply infuse two regular sized bags in the top part), it's just not as pretty - the little leaf shaped tag on the Tea Forte bag poking out of the lid is adorable!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Summer 10 Item Wardrobe

Summer has well and truly arrived, even if it officially doesn't come for another month or so! This means that it is time to update my 10 item wardrobe for the warmer weather. But before discussing my summer 10 item wardrobe, how did my spring wardrobe work out for me?

It was a revelation! Not only did it make getting dressed so much easier in the morning, I always felt like I was well put together, since not only did almost everything go with everything else,  everything fit and was flattering as well. There were a few items that I didn't wear, such as the sweaters and the tunics, but that was because the weather has been unusually warm for this time of the year, not because they weren't good items.


Now onto summer! As I said, the majority of my spring items will carry on to summer. Obviously, most of the tunics and sweaters are going into storage - I will keep one tunic as a beach cover up - and will swap out my long white jeans for a cropped version. The two maxi dresses are out as well - I must have washed them incorrectly, since they are now a good 15cm shorter than they used to be. Both will now go into my at home, lounging around, doing house work  I am on the hunt for a couple more summer dresses (and I am haunting my favourite US online stores for the perfect ones on clearance), and I've ordered this one (pic above) from Boden. It seems perfect - a flattering shape, great colour for my wardrobe, and is able to be dressed up or down.  Best of all, I am down to 18 core items; I am not sure if I will ever get to ten, but regardless, a smaller wardrobe is still pretty great!

For summer, these are my 18 core items:

  1. white slim leg cropped jeans
  2. dark rinse slim cut jeans
  3. boyfriend jeans
  4. blue linen trousers
  5. black print knit track pants
  6. print denim pencil skirt
  7. navy and yellow floral print skirt
  8. navy striped ponte skirt
  9. navy jersey sleeveless dress
  10. navy chiffon short sleeved dress
  11. white, black and pink print cotton sleeveless dress
  12. grey and yellow print sleeveless silk blouse
  13. teal, navy and white sleeveless chiffon blouse
  14. orange and white cotton tunic
  15. Liberty print linen shirt 
  16. black linen knit sleeveless top
  17. navy linen knit sleeveless top
  18. taupe linen knit sleeveless top
 and my extras:

Outerwear
  1. navy linen blazer
  2. navy stripe ponte blazer
  3. natural linen blazer
  4. coral blazer
  5. seersucker jacket
  6. aqua knit jacket
  7. denim jacket
  8. navy waterfall merino cardigan
  9. navy short sleeved cotton cardigan
  10. coral cotton cardigan
 Tees/tanks
  1. white, navy, coral, and teal plain scoop or v neck tees
  2. navy and white tanks
  3. navy and white stripe v neck tee
  4. navy, white and red striped tee
  5. coral floral print tank
  6. navy floral print tank

Summer 10 Item Wardrobe Outfits


This is an example of three outfits using my pieces, with my core item white cropped jeans as the base. These jeans can go from quite dressy and suitable for an evening out, through to school drop off and running errands.

Summer 10 Item Wardrobe Outfits



Here are the same tops, with different bottoms and accessories, and as you can see, they take on a totally different feel. Paired with boyfriend jeans, the print chiffon top goes from dressy to casual, but still perfectly polished. With a ponte pencil skirt and a silver necklace, the navy tank takes the opposite route and goes from casual to dressy. Finally, the tee goes from weekday casual to weekend casual simply by adding blue jeans and sandals. With all of these three combos, a simple black leather tote will complete the outfit.

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PS: the items I've used in the polyvore collages are mostly not my exact items. The pieces that are exact ones are the CAbI print top, the black/white/aqua Witchery scarf, and the Pleated Poppy messenger bag (the person who started the whole WWIW thing in the first place!!)

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Product Review: Scotch Naturals Nail Polish

 
During my search for more natural beauty products, I came across Scotch Naturals Nail Polish, and I am a convert. While had already replaced my regular mani with 3-free nail polishes such as Butter London, I was fascinated with the concept of a truly natural polish that still performed well. Scotch Naturals are a line of water-based nail polishes, and go far beyond 3 free, while still offering long-lasting salon quality.

These colours are perfect for fall and then right through winter - the muted shades will go with all of the autumnal colours that you are wearing now, but will be perfect on those grey rainy days as well. The three polishes above are Bannockburn (muted moss creme), Atholl Brose (shimmering linen) and Hot Toddy (dark griege creme).


This is the Hot Toddy on my nails, done with the base coat, two coats of polish, and their top coat. As you can see, the two coats gave a rich, opaque finish. Using Scotch Naturals is a unique process, unlike any other polish I have ever tried. The base coat goes on very thinly, but dries to a sticky finish. The nail polish itself totally reminds me of painting with water colours - the texture is the same going on, and the dried polish looks and feels just like them, too. Once you add the top coat, you end up with a gorgeous, rich, and shiny mani. I am in love with this colour - the green tinged charcoal manages to go with just about everything.

I also have the Atholl Rose, and another pale pink, Southern Charmer, and I have to admit that these paler polishes take some practice to apply smoothly. While the Hot Toddy went on smoothly and easily, I found it a little harder to get the same even finish with these softer hues. Sometimes I would need three coats, but most often it was simply a matter of making sure that my coats were super thin. 


Kiltlifter (a true classic red) and Man of the Moment (vintage denim creme) are my current faves for spring (I'm down under!). Both these colours look great with my wardrobe which is mostly navy and white, with the red adding a hit of glam, and the denim a touch of fun. I prefer my nails to be a relatively short "squoval" shape if I am wearing bright colours.

As for application, Scotch Naturals recommends putting it on right before bed. As they are water based, they need that overnight curing time before being exposed to water. However, the polish is literally dry within minutes, so it has become an evening ritual a couple of times a week to redo my nails.

Finally, the most important question, how do these polishes wear? Firstly, I will state that I hate chipped nail polish, or wear on the tips, so as soon as I see these, the polish comes off. To put it into perspective, Butter London in darker colours usually last 2-3 days on me, lighter colours will make it to day 4 or 5. The Scotch Naturals polish (dark and light colours) made it to day 4 with slight tip wear, but no chipping, and I am sure that people with slightly higher tolerance than me could make it further.
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Thursday, November 7, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Sleepwear Edition



I saw this cute cartoon the other day, and it really made me think how true this is for the majority of mums out there. Long gone are the days of sleeping only in Chanel no. 5, or in silky scraps of sexy lingerie. However, that doesn't mean that we need to abandon all sensuality, or indeed, sexuality. I have always made sure that I sleep in matching pyjamas, and not daggy old track pants, but even I have to admit that they haven't always been the most alluring. When my last two sets looked like they were coming towards the end of their life, I started putting money aside so I could invest in a few sets of comfortable but sensual sleepwear.





A couple of months ago, Soma Intimates had a sale, and I purchased these seven pieces (all of them are even more reduced now if you act fast!). While the pieces are from three separate collections, the colours all co-ordinate with each other (amethyst and rosette) and with the matching robe, giving me the most bang for my buck. I fell in love with these two colours - so feminine, but not in a frilly, frou frou way. I tend to sleep "hot" at night, so buying from Soma made sense, as their knit fabrics are designed to remain cool at night and to wick moisture away.


The pieces I bought were:

  • the robe in rosette, trimmed with amethyst lace
  • long sleeved button up top in rosette with amethyst print
  • amethyst cami trimmed in amethyst lace
  • amethyst tee trimmed in rosette lace
  • rosette long pants trimmed in amethyst lace
  • amethyst shorts
  • amethyst lace trimmed chemise

I tend to always feel hot at night, hence only one long sleeved top and one pair of long pants, but if you feel the heat differently, then swap in more long pieces. In the cooler weather (which feels like it disappeared a long time ago!) I would wear the long pants, with the long sleeved top over the top of the tee while I was up and about before bed, and then ditch the top when I went to bed, using it more as a cardigan/bed jacket. It was only on an ultra cold night that I would wear the long sleeved top to ed. Now that it is heading into summer, I am mostly wearing the cami and shorts or the chemise.


Buying this amount may look like a serious investment into clothing that only your husband and children will ever see, and it is, but I feel it is worth it. Why do we dress up only for others? We should dress up for ourselves and those we love just as much, if not more! And don't feel that you need to go out and buy it all at once or even all from one brand; if you pick an unusual colour like I did it is probably easier to do it this way, but if you pick a colour like black, you should be able to build up a co-ordinating and cohesive sleepwear wardrobe over time.


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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mango (Chia) Pudding


I grew up eating Singaporean Mango Pudding - it is my favourite dessert at yum cha, and whenever I travel in Asia I make sure I get my fill! But, mango not withstanding, I don't think it is that healthy, and it definitely wouldn't qualify as a healthy treat. Here is my healthy version made with chia seeds - in fact, it is so good for you with the chia and the healthy coconut fats, I am now eating it a few times a week as a satisfying and yunmy breakfast!

Mango (Chia) Pudding

1 cup chopped mango (flesh from 1 medium sized mango)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chia seeds
  1. Combine first three ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour over the chia seeds in a small bowl, and stir well.
  3. Stand for 4 hours, stirring every now and then.
  4. Serve with extra chopped mango.
Makes 3-4 servings, and keeps well for a few days in the fridge. I used fresh mango, but frozen or, in a pinch, tinned would work just as well.



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