Friday, December 30, 2016

Easy Last Minute Appetizers for NYE - Baked Brie and Antipasto Board

New Year's Eve is here tomorrow, can you believe it? I feel like I say this every year, but where on Earth did this year disappear to? I made these two appetizers for our Christmas party, and they were both big hits, so I thought I would share them now in case you are in search of some easy last minute appetizers for NYE.

Baked Brie

This baked brie is so unbelievably delicious I promise you that you will make it again and again, entertaining or not!

Brie in a wooden box - I used King Island Dairy's Cape Wickham Double Brie
1 unpeeled garlic clove, bruised
1 bay leaf, bruised
1 sprig rosemary, bruised
1 tbs olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. To prepare the brie, remove cheese from box and discard foil wrapper. Line bottom half of box with a square of baking paper, enough to come up and over the sides, then put brie back in.
  3. Score the top of the brie into 1 cm diamonds using a sharp knife. Push the bruised garlic clove into the cheese, then place the bay leaf and rosemary on top. Drizzle with the olive oil.
  4. Fold the excess baking paper over the top of the cheese, then replace the lid of the box, tie with kitchen string to secure, and place on a baking tray.
  5. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Serve with slices of baguette and fresh honeycomb.

Antipasto Board

This is honestly so easy to put together, while looking amazing! This antipasto board is a great option if you need to bring a plate but don't have time to prep, and if you keep some of these items on hand, it is literally a five minute job to whip together if you have unexpected guests.

Three cheeses - try for a mixture of textures and flavors. I used a mild and creamy Camembert, a sharp and crumbly vintage cheddar, and a smooth and flavored cranberry Wensleydale. 

Two meats - this board has shaved prosciutto and sopressa, but slices of Italian cacciatore or even your left over Christmas ham would be perfect as well.

Pate or terrine - go for a high quality one from the deli. I used my fave, Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate, because it is a) delicious, and b) it's what I had in the fridge!

Olives - any will do, but I highly recommend ones from a deli rather than a jar.

Fruit - fresh fruit is what really brings this board to life, so again, go for a variety of colour and texture. I chose figs and green grapes, which are so beautiful here in Perth, as well as some blueberries left over from my dessert recipe. If it is winter where you are, then some lovely Bosc or Anjou pears would be perfect, perhaps with some dried apricots.

Crackers - the final element is some sort of crackers/bread. I used min lavosh and grissini sticks, but a freshly sliced baguette would be amazing as well.

Simply arrange everything on a board and serve. Too easy!!

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Product Review: Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Seduisant

The Festive Season is nigh upon us, and that means Christmas parties, New Year's Eve events and for us here in Oz, BBQs galore! For me, nothing screams holiday more than a punchy red lipstick, and I think I've found the perfect one for any event you may be going to do.

OK, so while not technically a lipstick, but a matte liquid lip colour, Chanel's Rouge Allure Ink has to be one of the most amazing lip products I have ever tried. If you are of a similar vintage to me, than you know all to well the matte lipsticks we wore through the 90's. Drying, uncomfortable on the lips, the matte lippies of old bear absolutely no resemblance to this latest offering from Chanel.

Weightless on the lips, long lasting (well over 6 hours on me, with only slight transfer when eating), and not at all drying, Rouge Allure Ink feels and looks amazing. The range contains 8 colours at the moment, but the one I chose (and am wearing in the pic above) is 146 Seduisant, a beautiful punchy coral red with a hint of golden shimmer. 

Of course, the packaging is gorgeous as you would expect from Chanel; a frosted glass tube topped with the classic Chanel glossy black lid. The colour applies like a dream with the doe foot paddle applicator, and as you can see in my pic, you can achieve a perfect outline with ease. This is the type of lipstick that can really take you anywhere; dressed to the nines in black velvet, or dressed down in a classic white tee and jeans, Seduisant completes both outfits perfectly, and will take me right through this holiday season with style and grace!


Linking to these great websites here

Saturday, December 3, 2016

GYPO Winter Challenge Capsule Wardrobe

Regular readers know that I am a big, big fan of capsule wardrobes. A tightly edited capsule of clothes not only saves you money, but saves you the time and stress of looking at a jammed pack closet of clothes only to sit there thinking "why don't I have anything to wear?"  Of course, you could put one together yourself, but a super easy and stylish way is to get a personal shopper to do it for you. Yep, in my fantasy universe that would be exactly what I would do, but in reality, I can't see that happening anytime soon!


Instead, I rely on Alison from Get Your Pretty On, who puts together capsule wardrobes for you each season as part of her style challenges. Alison does all the work for you, so you can wake up every morning knowing exactly what you're going to wear that day, walking into a closet full of mix and match on-trend pieces that you love!

I've been a member now for over a year, and the capsules each season just get better and better. I've had a sneak peak of the Winter Challenge, and it is just gorgeous!! Each season you get access to a list of your wardrobe basics (often including different options), combining classic items and on trend pieces. The list includes links to recommended items, and a printable PDF so you can take it shopping with you. Most importantly, Alison then gives you daily outfits for 21 days, showing you just how versatile the wardrobe is. Finally, you can take part in a vibrant private facebook group, where you can share your successes, hints and tips with other like-minded women!

If you are looking to jump start your style, then I highly recommend you head here and sign up ASAP! Registration opens today and the first outfit comes out on the 12th.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Unique Holiday Gift Guide with UnCommon Goods

Can you believe that in less than a month, Santa will be coming down our chimneys, and Christmas morning will have arrived! I was just discussing with a fellow school mum, that unlike in the northern hemisphere, where the holiday season and end of school are two completely separate entities, here in Oz, these two events combine to create utter mayhem. Between end of year concerts, speech mornings, and class parties ad nauseum, I am somehow meant to have completely got myself prepared for Christmas. Yeah, not going to happen!!

Just in case you are suffering from a total Christmas meltdown like me, or just need some last minute present shopping help, I am happy to be partnering with Uncommon Goods to help you out. Founded in 1999, Uncommon Goods is all about exactly that - Uncommon. Goods. Celebrating amazing, creative design, whether from an emerging artist just starting out, or a seasoned artist handcrafting beautiful heirlooms of the future, here is a one stop shop bringing artisans and their wares from around the globe directly to you. And if this focus on shopping small isn't already right up my alley, then their unwavering commitment to sustainability in all areas of their business is just the cherry on top!

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Women

Lets be real here, it just seems easier to shop for women compared with any other group. If it's pretty, smelly, or shiny, then we will probably like it. But if you want to step up you gift giving game, and present something unique and special, then you really can't go past the amazing range of gifts here.

I've just ordered three of these Birthstone Wishing Balls, (one of them may be a present to myself!) as I think that they are quite possibly one of the best presents I've ever seen. Designed by Jill Henrietta Davis, the Wishing Ball is designed to capture a wish, accomplishment or gratitude every week for a year. To encourage someone in your life to pause for just a few moments once a week and reflect is truly a priceless gift.

This Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden is something that would make a wonderful hostess gift over the holidays. Pretty, and practical, this would look amazing sitting in your windowsill. They are also self watering, making them a wonderfully low maintenance way to grow plants for those of us without a green thumb!

For a more personal gift, the Mother & Daughter Letter Set is a gift destined to be handed down the generations. Celebrating the bond between a Mother and a Daughter, this gift book, containing 40 nostalgic cards designed to be sent, shared and treasured, before finding their way back into secret pockets in the book, would make an amazing gift for a young lady or her mother.
Another item also winging its way to me is the very pretty Cherry Blossom Snow Globe. My daughter collects snow globes, and I love the timeless design of these piece from married artists Liz Ross and David Westby. The simple and elegant snow globe is another piece that I hope one day my daughter will pass down to her child.

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Men

For the men in your life (and I am surrounded by husbands, sons, fathers and nephews ranging in age from 10 through to 73!), there are also a plethora of unique and creative choices.

I must admit, while I am tempted to just give each and every one of them the 6 Pack Beer Soap Set, I will resist and only give this to my 21 year old nephew. Because, come on, it's beer. In soap. He will think this is so cool!!

For once, I actually have found a present for hubby that isn't a t shirt or socks and jocks (so, thanks Uncommon Goods!!). He is notoriously hard to buy for, but this Deep Sea Sand Art will look perfect on his home office desk, and the meditative qualities are exactly what he needs when he is spending that one too many hours sitting there working.
I already have this On The Rocks set, and can attest to just how beautiful they are in person. Hand-crafted from stones collected on New England beaches, these granite discs are ideal for chilling aged spirits, such as whiskey or scotch, because they won't dilute the complex flavors like a handful of ice. I don't drink alcohol, but I still use these with other cold drinks (mostly ice tea), because as well as being beautiful, they work so well.

Unique Holiday Gift Guide - Kids

Irini loves her fairy garden, so this Fairy Kit will make a gorgeous addition to it. Kids will love making everything from tiny fairy doors, to fairy beds, to a welcoming garland, a "fairy dust" necklace and of course, the pretty fairies themselves.What I love most about this crafty kit is that while it is entertaining while Irini is actually constructing it, it will still give hours and hours of creative play afterwards as well.

When shopping for kids gifts, I am always on the look out for open ended play; things that don't just have one purpose, but will inspire greater creativity. The Stop Motion Claymation Kit fits the bill perfectly. Both of my kids have been experimenting with stop motion animation through their STEM programs at school, so this will be perfect for the two of them to collaborate on over the long break.

My star choice for those of you with tween girls is the DIY Lip Balm Kit, as it is a gift that will keep on giving. Not only will it keep your daughters and nieces entertained over the holiday break as they concoct pampering treats for themselves, it also helps provide job skills for women in the Washington DC area. 

Thank goodness board games are coming back into fashion - as a family we love playing them - and the Trick Question Game would be a fabulous gift for teens. The game is packed with 400 sneak-attack brainteasers, like "What building has the most stories?" Answer: a library, of course!

Hopefully my selection of gifts has helped you out with all of your giving this holiday season!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I have received compensation, but all opinions and statements are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Product Review: AERIN Rose Night Table Cream and Rose Gentle Cleanser

You all know I love anything AERIN, so when I ran out of my night cream the other day, the next day I went straight to David Jones to buy Aerin's latest addition to her Rose Collection, the Rose Night Table Cream. I might have also come away with the Rose Gentle Cleanser AND the super size Rose Hand and Body Cream as well, but let's keep that between us!!

Obviously, I love the rest of the Rose Collection, so I was bound to love this, but before I had even tried it, I fell hard for the name! Ridiculous, I know, but something about the whole "night table cream" and the pink and gold packaging just conjures up images of Golden Age movie stars removing their maquillage at their vanities.  

 As for the cream itself, the box states

"this luxuriously nourishing moisturizer helps prevent dryness and boost skin's radiance. Infused with AERIN's exclusive rose complex and delicately scented with the signature rose scent, dull, dehydrated skin is comforted with soothing moisture revealing radiant looking skin that feels smooth and refreshed."

Indeed, this is a luxurious and rich feeling moisturizer with that delightful rose fragrance contained in all of the products in this collection, and after using it for the past two weeks, it certainly has seemed to help with the dryness and dehydration that I usually get this time of the year as we move from winter into summer. Full disclosure, I use highly active skincare under this moisturizer (acids and retinol), so I can't speak to the anti-aging benefits that may or may not result from this cream, other than to say that I love the feeling of it on my skin, and when I wake in the morning, my skin looks plump and hydrated. 

My unplanned (but perhaps not unexpected!) other purchase was the Rose Gentle Cleanser, 

"a rose infused milky cleanser that dissolves impurities without stripping skin of essential moisture. Delicately scented with AERIN's signature rose fragrance, it leaves skin feeling soft, smooth, and refreshed in one gentle step."

I use this cleanser as my second cleanse, on dry skin, to cleanse the skin rather than remove makeup, (it's a tad pricey for me to use as a makeup remover) and as a second cleanse it is absolutely delightful. The fragrance is gentle and soothing and the perfect way to ease myself into my nightly beauty routine. Just as it claims, it leaves my skin lovely and clean, but not at all tight or stripped. 

These extensions to AERIN's rose collection line are just gorgeous, and have been lovely additions to my evening routine!

Linking to these great websites here

Monday, September 19, 2016

Upcoming Tropical City Holiday Capsule Wardrobe - By The Pool

This upcoming holiday we are planning to spend plenty of time at the pool, just chilling out. And with a pool like this at out hotel (Marina Bay Sands) you would have to be crazy to not want to spend a heck of a lot of time here!  The kids seem to alternate between being ridiculously excited, and a little bit scared; it is on the 57th floor after all!

I'm definitely excited, not scared, regarding the pool, but at the same time, wearing swimwear out in public always makes me feel incredibly self conscious. Planning out what I am going to wear always seems to help somewhat. Obviously, I have control issues!!  I'm not sitting on a mega yacht on the Med (I wish!), so super glam is not necessary, but a little bit of glam never goes astray.

By The Pool

For any beach or pool outing, I think the following seven items are your must haves.

  1. Swimsuit. Obviously the most important item! And finding one is never easy, especially since we are usually looking in the dead of winter with pasty skin, and perhaps a few extra kilos. I usually only take one swimsuit on a holiday, but since I plan to spend at least some of everyday at the pool, this time I am taking two. And, I struck gold with these two! The black and white one piece is from Lands End, and their claims of it shaping and enhancing really are true! This is a very flattering swimsuit, and the neckline and white trim make for a sleek but glam look. The second piece is from Myer, and the leopard print and cut is real old-school glam. It's also flattering, as well as being very comfortable.
  2. Sunscreen. The second most important item! If you want to look younger, then the very simple, inexpensive, non-invasive way is to slather on the sunscreen. I love the Anthelios range by La Roche Posay, and this Cooling Water Lotion one feels so light and fresh on the skin. Remember to reapply at least every 80 minutes, but also as soon as you dry off with a towel.
  3. Coverup. When staying at a hotel, you usually have to walk at least part of the way, in public, in your swimsuit, and while I'm actually by the pool I don't feel strange, I certainly do if I happen to be in a lift or a corridor, only in a pair of bathers! Yes, you can fall back on the hotel bathrobes, but I prefer to pack a light coverup. This is also a great solution for when you decide to grab a bite to eat at the poolside restaurant. I am packing a sheer black skirt coverup as it looks great, packs down to nothing and is so easy to slip on and off. I can't tell you where I bought mine, as it is at least 5 years old and the label has worn off, but the Jets one I've linked to in the collage looks like a great option. 
  4. Hat. An absolute necessity! Not only is a hat a stylish accessory, it is invaluable in helping protect your skin from aging and skin cancer. It amazes me when women I know spend literally thousands of dollars on their skin, and then go out in the sun without proper protection. Crazy, I tell you!!
  5. Sunnies. Again, style and protection in one. I prefer polarized lenses, but any good, UV rated pair will do their job. I love aviator styles for summer holidays, and my rose gold pair are just perfect against (faux) bronze skin.
  6. Flip Flops. We call them thongs here in Oz, but just to clarify, I mean the things that go on your feet!! Again, you could just wear the hotel slippers, but I'm telling you that you'll feel a whole lot more stylish in a simple pair of (nice, not grody) rubber flip flops.
  7. Tote Bag. Probably not a necessity, but makes your life so much easier. I received this straw tote in the summer limited edition POPSUGAR MustHave Box, and it is awesome! The leather handles really up the style stakes, and it is so nice and roomy, so you can fit all of your bits and pieces, like room key cards, sunscreen, and a great poolside read as well as your sunnies and coverup when you are in the water.
 I would love to know what you think I should take to sit by the pool!

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Upcoming Tropical City Holiday Capsule Wardrobe - On the Plane

In a few weeks, the family and I are off to a fabulous vacation in Singapore, and I Can. Not. Wait! While it hasn't really been that long since our last trip, we are all feeling like we really need a getaway at the moment, so it couldn't have come at a better time. But, as regular readers will know, half the fun of a trip for me is in the planning and packing stage, so as usual, I have been planning my holiday capsule wardrobe.

Singapore is always a funny one for me, packing wise; while it is a tropical location, it is a very cosmopolitan city, so I need my wardrobe to be suitable for the sticky and humid days, but not look as if I have just come from the beach. As such, I've planned my wardrobe around cooling natural fibres, but in shapes and pieces that won't feel out of place in a bustling and vibrant city.

As with any capsule wardrobe, the first place I start is with my colour palette. Be guided by what you normally wear at home - a holiday is not really the time to be busting out a full suitcase of bright tropical prints if all you ever wear is black - even if you look spectacular, I guarantee that you won't feel that way. In my case, my regular closet has pretty much evolved into a minimalist palette of black, camel/natural/beige, blush pink, navy and white. For this trip, I honed it down even further to just three neutrals: natural/beige, and white.

On the plane, my ethos is stylish comfort. Obviously, sitting in a cramped spot for hours is never going to be a barrel of laughs, so choosing clothes that are breathable, stretchable, and just down right comfortable becomes a necessity, not a luxury. However, and this is a big however, that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice some style. Think about all the celebrity pap shots you see at airports.

Granted, they have all just alighted from a spacious and luxurious first class cabin, but if you break down their outfits, they invariably follow the same outfit formula.

  1. Comfortable jeans or pants. This is where you need to consider your style of pants. I have a great pair of Blue Illusion Bengajeans that I would happily wear on a long haul flight, but a regular pair of skinny jeans, no way! For this trip, I am not planning to take any jeans (too hot!) so I am wearing my Eileen Fisher wide legged cropped washable crepe trousers. Made out of a stretch knit fabric, they are incredibly comfortable, but will get great use on the trip as well because they transition from casual to dressy with easy. Black leggings also make a great choice, IF, like Chrissy Teigan above, you wear a longer top - no one wants to see your butt hanging out!
  2. A relaxed and/or stretchy top. Again, anything with some stretch and some breathability is going to make your flight more comfortable, and leave you looking presentable at the other end. Obviously, stay away from anything that is going to crush or wrinkle! Personally, I like to keep this piece black, just to minimize the impact of any spills that may happen, especially travelling with kids. My pick is an Eileen Fisher viscose jersey tank - the fabric looks more polished that plain cotton, but feels like I am wearing pyjamas.

  3. Large scarf.  Not only does it add a touch of colour or pattern to a simple outfit, it can be a great solution when the weather is cold at one end and hot at the other. Also, planes are often freezing, so a scarf that can double as blanket is a great idea. For this trip, since it is only short haul, and we will be going from warm weather to hot weather, I have packed a light weight scarf, rather than a blanket weight scarf.
  4. "Third Piece". This third piece is what can elevate any outfit from ho hum to stylish. Whether you go for a cuddly long line wrap cardi that can act as a blanket on the plane as it surrounds you in warmth, a blazer or a light weight sheer kimono, this third piece really helps to complete your outfit, and if not needed while seated can be easily stashed in the overhead bin or your carry on bag. This time, I'm going the blazer route a la Jessica Alba above, in a natural coloured linen blend blazer from Blue Illusion. My top tip is, once again, look for something that doesn't wrinkle. This blazer is a linen BLEND and the the other fibres means that jacket will still look presentable even after wearing it on a plane for 5 hours. For longer flights, a knit or ponte blazer is probably a better option comfort wise.
  5. Slip On Shoes. Note, I've specifically said shoes, and not sandals! With travel security (necessarily) the way it is, it is highly likely you will need to remove your shoes at control points. This means a) for ease, you want shoes that slip on and off easily with no fuss, and b) you want to be wearing socks, so you don't need to walk bare foot over that dirty floor. This is a great time to wear your (stylish) sneakers so they don't take up room in your luggage, or else, a great pair of patterned flats, or a sleek ballerina shoe. I decided on a pair of leopard print espradilles, also from Blue Illusion; the colours match perfectly with my chosen palette, they are super comfortable, and they look great with pants, but also fab with dresses, of which I'm planning to pack two. Feel free to wear heels if that's your thing; I'll be honest, though, while I am a heels lover, trying to navigate through airports with two kids, a husband, luggage and with heels on ain't going to be a thing for me anytime soon!!

  6. Hat. I love carrying a hat so I have something to put on at the other end to cover up my flat airplane hair. You may not have this problem, but I have super fine hair, and the minute I hop on a plane, it doesn't matter what I do, what products I use, my hair ends up flat and lifeless and a little bit too oily for dry shampoo to rescue. Hence, whacking on a hat!

  7. Oversized handbag/backpack. But not too oversized! As a family, we still take one carry-on onboard, that carries my son's and my medications, toiletries, as well as a spare set of undergarments and our swimsuits, just in case out luggage gets delayed we are set for the first night and day. As well as this, the kids and I each take one backpack, to hold our inflight entertainment (iPads, headphones, snacks, colouring books etc). Travelling with kids, I prefer a backpack rather than a handbag as it keeps my hands free, and my backpack from Michael Kors is a great size and a fantastic colour.
So here is the collage of what I will be wearing on the plane so you can get a visual of the pieces put together. Most importantly, all of the items will be a key part of my holiday capsule wardrobe.

On The Plane

Linking to these great websites here

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mask Monday: Double Masking

Today for Mask Monday, we are dipping our toes into the trend of double masking. As long time readers would know, I firmly believe that facial masks are a cornerstone of my skincare routine, rather than simply a pampering luxury. And if you haven't added facial masks into your routine already, you couldn't have picked a better time, with almost every skincare brand  on the market going pretty mask crazy.

For the past few months, I have been pretty much firmly on the sheet mask bandwagon, just because they are so. damn. easy. Come on, sheet masks are the ultimate busy mum solution - tear open pack, slap on face, relax for 15 minutes while watching Netflix, pat in, go to bed.  Really just too easy. But perhaps too simple. Don't get me wrong, a sheet mask is a great fix, and wonderful for deeply hydrating your skin, but often, that is not all your skin needs, which brings me to the double masking that I tried last night.

Double Masking, like most beauty trends, seems to have come out of the Korean beauty scene, and can refer to two different techniques. The first type, which I used last night, is applying two different types of masks, on different parts of the face, at the same time. The second type is where you actually layer two different masks on on top of the other, which can be great if you want to use a highly active mask but are not sure your skin is up to it. For this method, which I plan to try in the future, layer your more active mask first, then apply a soothing/nourishing mask directly over the top.

Double masking, two places, same time

This technique is perfect for when you face is feeling somewhat unbalanced, or when different parts of your face has different needs. Obviously perfect for combination skin, but can be adapted for any type of skin that is feeling out of whack. Lately,  due to changes in medication, I have been feeling somewhat congested through the T zone and right across my chin/jaw area, so I wanted to utilize a purifying mask, but was concerned that it might be too drying for my cheeks that tend to be dehydrated.

On my T zone and chin, I used Sukin Super Greens Detoxifying Clay Masque, which combines a host of "super greens" with avocado, baobab and kaolin and betonite clays. In hindsight, I do feel I could have used this all over my face, as it was a very different clay mask to the ones I have used in the past. While it is a detoxing clay mask, it doesn't *feel* like one on the skin - it doesn't dry and crack like the ones of old - and while my skin felt clean once removed, it didn't feel dry or dehydrated at all, but rather, supple and nourished.

On my cheeks and under my eyes, I spread Dermalogica's Skin Hydrating Masque, a milky gel chock a block full of hydrating ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, squalene and glycerin. This is a pretty basic mask, (I don't mean that in a bad way!) with no spa-like fragrance or hi-tech ingredients, but it does what it says it does, and that is why I love it. PS: This mask is *amazing* for travel - on our last overseas trip which involved 17 hours of travel (one way!) I applied on clean skin every few hours, and I credit this mask with saving my skin from the dehydration dry cabin air usually causes.

So there you have my take on the double masking trend. Have you tried it? I would love to read your mask combos in the comments.


Linking to these great websites here

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

All In One Beef Stroganoff Pasta

I love All In One dishes because they are just so easy to prepare, cook AND clean up, and yet, they are invariably tasty and please the whole family. This Beef Stroganoff Pasta ticks all of those boxes. On the table in less than 30 minutes, this meal is perfect for busy weeknight dinners. I like to serve with a garden salad to round out the meal.

All In One Beef Stroganoff Pasta

Spray of olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
500g (1lb) button mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
500g (1lb) beef mince (ground beef)
2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 L (4 cups) beef stock
300g spiral pasta
1/2 cup sour cream
Parsley, chopped, to garnish

  1. Heat a large non-stick saute pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in sliced mushrooms and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent.
  3. Add beef mince, and cook until browned. Stir in paprika, followed by tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and dried pasta. Season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Stir well, cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until pasta is cooked.
  5. Turn off heat, and stir in sour cream. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, and serve with a garden salad for a balanced meal.

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Two Step Eyebrow Routine

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then our eyebrows are definitely the frame to our personal portrait. I cannot stress highly enough how important your eyebrows are to your overall look. Brow fashions come and go, from the ultra thin, penciled in brows of the 1930's, through to the Instagrammed drama of Kylie Jenner's, or the full and feathery set belonging to Cara Delevingne. Personally, I like to take the middle ground, keeping them reasonably full, with a defined but not exaggerated arch.

There are basically only two steps in my brow routine - shape and tint, followed by gel or pencil. Every month or so, I get my brows professionally shaped and tinted, maintaining in between with very careful tweezing. Most of the time, I make the drive into the city so I can go to the Benefit Brow Bar to have them done. I have tried and tried plenty of other places, but for me, the girls at Benefit always do the better job.

Scary with no makeup whatsoever! But you can see that because of the shaping and tinting, even with no products, the brows still frame the face nicely.

There are plenty of tutorials on line if you prefer to shape them yourself - Into The Gloss also offers some insight on how to fill in brows. My only tip is to be ultra conservative when shaping by your self. It is easy to pluck hair out; from personal experience, it is a much more painful process to grow them back in! So, once my brows are in tip top shape, I use two different products depending on the look I am after.

For everyday wear, I prefer a natural, feathery look, but still with some definition. To achieve this, I love the Eyeko Brow Gel. The gel is lightly tinted, and while it goes on glossy, it dries down to a perfectly natural (but better!) finish with good hold and absolutely no flakiness over the course of the day. It has a wonderful brush that makes it really easy to get in to all the hairs, and is small enough to be able to go right through the tail of the eyebrow. I brush through starting at the nose end, brushing upwards in small, light strokes, before gliding through to the ends. Make sure to remove excess product on the brush before starting!

These are my eyebrows with the Eyeko Brow Gel brushed through. As you can see, there is slightly more definition and fullness compared to my naked brows, but it is still natural looking and not at all over the top.


For a more polished look, I always reach for a pencil, and in my opinion, you just can't go past Hourglass' Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil. Available in an eye-boggling 9 shades, you will have absolutely no issue finding the right shade for you! I use Soft Brunette, a cooler toned dark brown which while defining my brows beautifully does not come across as fake or over the top. The reason I love this pencil so much (apart from the perfect colour) is that it is so ridiculously easy to use. Basically combining pencil, powder and wax in one product, the triangular shape of the pencil tip makes filling in and defining my eyebrows a job completed in just seconds. I use the pencil tip horizontally to line across the top and bottom of the brow (defining the shape), followed by the side of the pencil tip to fill in the bulk of the brow. Go easier on the inner third of the brow, and heavier towards the tail end. I also don't line the inner centimeter or so on top. I then use the "point" of the triangle to shape the tail and finally, brush through with the attached spoolie to blend and soften.

Defined and polished with the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil. Not sure why the lighting looks *completely* different now; this pic was taken less that 10 minutes after the last one! This is obviously a more made-up look, which I would tend to wear if I'm going out, or with more polished outfits. I tend to wear my brows like this to balance a heavier eye, or a dark lip.

So there you have my two step eye brow routine. I would love to know what products you use to keep your brows in shape.



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Monday, June 27, 2016

My Autumn And Winter Lipstick Wardrobe

It's no secret that I love makeup! Maybe its my years in the beauty industry, or maybe I fell into that industry because I love makeup so much, I really don't know. Regardless, I love it, and I think I will always love it. Which is why I am loving the fact that winter has finally arrived here in Perth. There is just something about winter that screams out for a slightly heavier hand when it comes to makeup, and on most days, it tends to be a deeper lipstick colour that I am reaching for.  Just like I have a capsule wardrobe for my clothing, I have also pared back my makeup collection, and now have a nicely curated wardrobe of lipsticks to select from as I play with my makeup.

Lipsticks from left to right: Nars Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita, Aerin Rosebalm Lipstick in Rose Liebling, Chanel Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle, Clinique Pop Lipcolour in Love Pop, Nars Semi Matte Lipstick in Trans Europe Express, Tory Burch Lipstick in Tomboy, Honest Beauty Truly Kissable Lip Crayon in Mulberry Kiss, and Aerin Rose Balm Lipstick in Wild Lilac.

It's funny, because it seriously looks like 8 lipsticks that are all almost exactly the same colour, but I promise you, they are not!! Obviously, though, I veer towards shades in the mauve, rose, berry family, and as winter comes, it is the deeper ones in the family that I am reaching for most often.

Nars Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita

I have only recently started wearing Nars lipsticks and I honestly don't know why I have waited so long! The colour range is gorgeous and the textures delightful. The Sheer Lipstick in Dolce Vita is what I would consider a universal shade that suits almost everyone, except for people with very highly pigmented lips. This is a dusky plum, is (as the name suggests) sheer, and applies with an almost balm like feel. It is what I would call a My Lips But Better colour. I love wearing this on weekends when I don't necessarily want to look "made up"but I still want a hint of colour and polish.

Aerin Rose Balm Lipstick in Rose Liebling

This is my desert island lipstick. I have written before about how much I love this range of lipsticks, and I am now onto my second tube of this one, which is unheard of for me! This is "my" nude lipstick, but if I were to describe it accurately I would consider it cool toned mauve. It appears much darker in the tube than it does on the lips, but applies to give a lovely flush of colour. All of these lipsticks are rose scented, but not overly so, and are lovely and hydrating on the lips. This is a colour I wear all year round, and one I reach for in winter if I have gone with a heavier eye.

Chanel Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle

It's Chanel, what can I say? I'm a long time fan of the Rouge Coco range; they have a silky, buttery feel on the lips, while still being long lasting, and the finish is luminous without being shimmery. Mademoiselle is (another ) dusty rose shade in my collection, but ones that packs much more punch than the Aerin Rose Liebling. It is warmer in colour, and certainly deeper, and this has become my everyday school drop off, errand running lipstick. I can foresee that it will have a permanent place in my handbag until at least spring!

When I was working, this is a shade I would have called a perfect meeting or ├»nterview  lipstick. There is enough colour to appear polished and made up, but it wasn't distracting like a red or dark berry may have been.

Clinique Pop Lip Colour and Primer in Love Pop

This was a freebie in a Clinique GWP, and I was surprised that I loved the colour. The colour looks absolutely nothing like the outside of the tube, nor the tube of lipstick itself, both of which made me think this was going to be a deep brownish berry. Considered a "violet" shade by Clinique, I found this to be an adorable shimmery raspberry pink, and perfect for when I need a POP of colour (see what I did there??!!).

 Supposedly a combination of lip primer and lipstick in one, I found this lipstick very long lasting, despite its shine, and nicely hydrating on the lips. I would definitely purchase this once my smaller gift size runs out.

Nars Semi Matte Trans Europe Express

This is a very deep rose, almost red shade that I am applying again and again now that the cold and grey weather is here, and after the Chanel Mademoiselle lipstick, probably my most worn so far this winter. Nars calls this semi matte, but I think it is comparable to most true matte lipsticks out on the market. It has a velvety feel on the lips and is very long wearing, without being drying.

Tory Burch Lipstick in Tomboy

This is a lovely lipstick with packaging to die for, that a mostly wore during autumn, when I wanted something a touch deeper than my summer shades, but wasn't quite ready for the cool toned deep roses and berries that I am wearing now. Tomboy is a sheer warm tawny shade, a rosy brown colour with a golden shimmer to it. It is definitely warmer than almost every lipstick I own, but I have found it marvelous for summer evenings, and wonderful through autumn days, when warmer shades just seem right.

Honest Beauty Truly Kissable Lip Crayon in Mulberry Kiss

I received this lip crayon in my winter Zoe Box of Style, and I love it! Like the name suggests, it is a deep mulberry shade, that skews slightly pink on my lips. A demi-matte, it goes on beautifully, is relatively long lasting, and as a wind up crayon, it is easy to apply. I did not find it drying at all, in fact I found it quite hydrating. I do need to wear a lipliner with it however, as it does seem to bleed occasionally.

Aerin Rose Balm Lipstick in Wild Lilac

This looks kind of scary in the tube, like I may turn into a goth version of myself if I put it on, but it is actually one of the most beautiful and wearable colours I have ever tried. On the lips, it is a gorgeous deep wine colour with hints of berry and lots of shine, and absolutely on trend for this season. Not as long lasting (but still decent) as a matte or demi matte would be, I happy to trade that off for the shine this lipstick offers. What I love most about this lipstick is its versatility; you can apply it very lightly to give a very pretty berry stain (almost like the cult Clinique Black Honey), or amp it up for a full coverage deep wine.  Like the other Rose Balm lipsticks, it feels divine on the lips and has the signature rose fragrance.

So there you have the eight lipsticks that are making up my autumn and winter lipstick wardrobe for this year. I would love to hear what colours you are reaching for on a daily basis.

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