Monday, May 8, 2017

Product Review: L'Oreal Botanicals Fresh Care Coriander Strength Source

I am always on the lookout for green(er) beauty products that actually work, so when BeautyCrew offered to send me L'Oreal's new offering aimed at this market, I was more than willing to give the range a try. L'Oreal has launched a completely new range of products, Botanicals Fresh Care, featuring four different collections based around four hero ingredients aimed at four individual hair concerns. 
  • Coriander: Strength Source (green)
  • Safflower: Rich Infusion (orange)
  • Geranium: Radiance Remedy (pink)
  • Camelina: Smooth Ritual (purple)
After a quick questionnaire, I was sent the Coriander Strength Source for Fragile Hair, designed to reinforce, revitalize and strengthen fragile hair from root to tip, which seemed perfect for my fine hair that is constantly being damaged by lightening my hair!

The Coriander Strength Source range is made up of four products, all containing Coriander Seed oil, and all completely free of parabens, silicones and colourants. L'Oreal claims the range will reduce breakage and fall-out, and promote new hair growth to help even the weakest hair find its better nature.  I was a bit wary about the fragrance - coriander is not something I usually associate positively with haircare - but was pleasantly surprised. The scent is a lovely earthy herbal, almost medicinal but very refreshing, and in no way overwhelming. It leaves your hair smelling clean and fresh all day long.

I can honestly say I think I've found my new holy grail hair care range! I have been using the entire range for a fortnight now, and my hair has never looked nor felt better.  After two weeks, my chemically lightened hair has definitely improved in condition - it is stronger, shinier and softer, with less breakage and a lot less hair falling out.  What I loved the most is that it left my hair bouncy and full of volume with clearly defined, non-frizzy waves, no mean feat for my fine, somewhat wavy, somewhat frizzy hair.

The Shampoo ($17.95) is a light gel texture, that foams only lightly (which is a surprise given it does contain SLES) and two pumps is enough for my shoulder length hair. I generally only shampoo once, not twice, and I continued doing that with this shampoo. It's not a conditioning shampoo, so your hair doesn't feel conditioned after using it on its own, but it doesn't feel dry or straw-like either. The shampoo comes in a 400ml pump bottle - it's great value for money, and the pump is really easy to use.

After shampooing, I follow with the Conditioning Balm ($12.95).  The texture of the conditioner is lovely - a thick cream - that is easily worked throughout the lengths of my hair. It de-tangles beautifully, and washes out quickly and easily, leaving my hair smooth and conditioned. What I really love about this conditioning balm is that it a) doesn't weigh down my fine and wavy hair at all, and b) allows me to go at least two days in between washing, without leaving me with greasy roots and dry ends.  I really love the packaging - a squeeze tube is so much more convenient in the shower for a thick balm, and there is less wastage then putting a thick conditioner in a pump bottle. 

The Conditioning Mask ($17.95) should be the hero product of the Coriander range - it is that amazing! It is thick, creamy and luxurious to use, and I apply after a quick towel dry of my hair after shampooing, combing through with a wide tooth comb. Three minutes later, I wash out to reveal hair that is deeply hydrated and repaired, but with absolutely no heavy or greasy feel. After my hair has dried it is soft, bouncy and light. I have been using it twice a week on my fine and wavy hair, and each time my hair improves more and more. I have even started using it on my daughter's hair, as she swims 5 days a week, and it has significantly improved the condition of her chlorine damaged hair. The lack of chemical nasties is also reassuring when using it on the sensitive skin of a 9 year old.

The Strength Potion ($17.95) is a leave in treatment that according to L'Oreal has even more significant  benefit than the mask! I apply to towel dried hair as my last step, mostly before letting my hair air dry, but occasionally before heat styling. The potion is a thin, almost watery serum, easily dispensed from the very cute dropper bottle, that I apply throughout my hair, including at my roots, unlike regular hair serums. I love that it is light and doesn't weigh down my hair at all, or make my roots greasy.

As you can see, I really loving this range, and recently purchased a whole replacement set the other day when my local drugstore had 40% off all "big brands". I think this range fills a nice gap in the market between your typical supermarket ranges (which I have never found to be any good on my colour treated hair), and the much higher priced salon ranges, and I can with certainty say that I am a convert!

PS: If you live in Australia, the entire range is on sale now at Priceline.

Linking to these great websites here

Disclaimer: I was sent the range to try, with no obligation to provide a review. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way. Further, there are no affliliate links in this post. I have included links simply to make it easy for my readers to find the products.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mask Monday: Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask

Hi everyone! Long time no see, and my apologies for that, but life has been super crazy!! I thought a good post to ease us all back in would be another installment of Mask Monday and today I am sharing a real winner with you, Dr Dennis Gross' Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask.

This mask is one of the more unique masks I have used, and involves a little bit more work, but the results are outstanding; so much so that I am now onto my second box. The Modeling Mask is made up of two parts, a gel and a powder, that you mix in a bowl just before application. As usual, apply to a clean face, and then watch as the mask works its magic, turning from a goopy blue goo into a rubbery mask that my kids love peeling off at the end.

According to Dr Dennis Gross, the mask is:

A gel + powder transformative mask that delivers intense hydration to your skin.  Transforms from a gel texture to a solid, peel-off mask through a cooling chemical reaction in which an oxygen exchange removes impurities from the skin. Containing algin and hyaluronic acid, it delivers essential minerals and elements, and boosts moisture levels. Parched, lacklustre skin is left firm, plump and supple and the appearance of dry surface lines and pores minimized in just one treatment.

And it delivers on all of these claims!  You definitely feel the cooling effect as it sets on your skin, and once removed, my skin felt baby soft, plumped and refreshed, a feeling that lasted overnight and through into the next day. I have been using it weekly over the change from summer to autumn, always a problematic time for my skin, and it not only instantly makes my skin feel so much better, it has improved its texture and radiance over the past four weeks.

Application is simple, but as I said earlier, does involve more steps than the lazy girl sheet masks I have been using!
  • To use, mix a packet of Hyaluronic Cushion Gel (Step 1) with a packet of Activating Powder (Step 2) in a bowl. 
  • With the spatula (supplied), immediately spread the formula in a thick, even layer on clean, dry skin- starting from the bottom of your face and working in upward strokes, avoiding the eye area. The thicker and more even the application, the easier it is to remove the mask. 
  • The mask sets in about 5 minutes, but may be left on for up to 15 minutes for maximum hydration. 
  • To remove, lift off the mask and wipe away any excess with a damp cotton pad. Follow with your regular skincare regime.
I highly recommend the Hyaluronic Marine Hydrating Modeling Mask for anytime your skin needs that extra boost of hydration and radiance. While I have only used it so far at night before bed, from the results I've seen I think it would also be the perfect mask to use before a big event to really perk up your skin.

US$46/AUD$67 for 4 treatments.


Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

When I was growing up I lived in a country town, and the closest thing we got to ethnic food was the very Australian "Chinese" restaurant.  Despite loving (and being able to get) real Chinese food now, I still have huge nostalgia for the sweet and sour dishes we used to order, vividly red in colour, and so laden with MSG, fat and salt that I am surprised any of us made it out of the 80s in tact!

These Sweet and Sour Meatballs deliver all of that nostalgia, with none of the nasties! Served with rice and some stir fry veggies, these would make a complete meal, but they would also be great served with toothpicks for a retro spin on entertaining.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1kg low fat beef mince

2 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (2 slices bread)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup milk

Juice from 2 x 440g tins pineapple pieces, pineapple reserved
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 red capsicum, diced

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Combine the meatball ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Shape into meatballs and place into a casserole dish in a single layer.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. While meatballs are cooking, combine sauce ingredients except for the capsicum and reserved pineapple in a small saucepan, and whisk over medium heat until sauce boils for 1 minute and sauce is thickened and glossy.
  6. Add in reserved pineapple and capsicum, and pour over meatballs once they are done.
  7. Bake for another 10 minutes, and then serve with steamed rice.

Linking to these great websites here

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Can I Really Wear My Yoga Pants All Day Long? An Athleisure Capsule Wardrobe

Ah, January, the month of resolutions that will be lucky to make it out of the month alive. Despite knowing that, I have resolved to make exercise regular part of my life, and almost half way through the month, I am sticking to it, with plans to step it up another level once school starts.  What that does mean, however, is a rethink of my daily wardrobe, and asking myself the question, "can I really wear my yoga pants all day long?"

The answer is, of course, a resounding yes! More than ever, athleisure has moved from being a trend to being an entire category of fashion. As more and more women realize the importance of health and fitness, they are integrating it into their daily lives. The key for me is to have clothes that are functional for my gym classes/Pilates/to and from the pool, while also looking chic and stylish when transitioning from school drop off to workout to errands to coffee with friends.


Athleisure Capsule

Just like any other wardrobe capsule, think basics first. Key pieces in neutral colours are a great place to start and will make it easy to build outfits that can take you to more places than just the gym. Begin with a well fitting pair of black compression capris/tights and a pair of joggers, a couple of black sports bras and 3 longer length tops. These basics will work together and with other items to create many different outfits to suit whatever your day throws at you. Obviously, the more times a week your workout, the more pieces you will need to invest in (or do the laundry more often!).


Sometimes it is better to pay a little bit more for performance fabrics. Fabric that is moisture wicking, quick drying and odor resistant is the key to being able to go from the gym to a coffee shop without feeling icky.

The third piece

third pieces

A slouchy sweater, a cocoon cardigan, a well worn leather jacket or an open front vest provides the extra coverage that will transform your gym wear into an actual outfit.



A quick change of shoe, the addition of a scarf, and a gym bag that doubles as a stylish tote can make all the difference with little to no effort.  Now, I'm not suggesting adding in a heel (let's leave that to the magazine stylists, shall we?), but switching out the trainers for a cool moto boot after spin class, or wearing sporty ballerinas to Pilates instead of flip flops can complete your stylish athleisure look.


Not technically part of the capsule wardrobe, but just as essential, I like to pack a toiletries bag with dry shampoo, face wipes, deodorant wipes, tinted sunscreen base, mascara and lip gloss. These six items take me from flushed to fresh in no time.

Early morning swim

When school goes back both the kids have early morning swim club and instead of the old me sitting and reading a book, I've decided to dive in as well. Track pants and a tank slip over a swimsuit on the way, but paired with a scarf and coordinating tote look simply stylish for the school run.

spin class
Throwing a longer length cocoon cardi over your spin class Lycra turns functional into fashionable when you add in some geometric silver jewellery and trade in the cycle shoes for a pair of packable ballet flats. Red lips an optional extra!


The graphic print tank and track pants are perfect for my pilates class and a simple pair of graphic studs won't get in the way. On a side note, I can't recommend the Nike Studio Wraps highly enough for pilates or barre class - perfectly grippy, but I can still feel my toes on the ground. After class, slipping on a pair of moto boots and silver aviators and grabbing a structured tote will take me through running all of my errands, and is even stylish enough to go on a quick lunch date with my hubby!

So as you can see, a well considered athleisure capsule is not only functional, but stylish as well, and will go a long way towards motivating you to get up and keep moving.


Linking to these great websites here

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hawaiian Rice Salad

This vibrant salad is delicious on its own, but I like it even more as a side dish paired with grilled chicken.  Despite the long list of ingredients, the salad comes together really easily, and it makes a big batch so I store the leftovers in the fridge and we eat over a couple of days.

Hawaiian Rice Salad

3 cups jasmine/basmati rice
3 cups water
2 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Fresh coriander, to serve

4 spring (green) onions, white and pale green parts only, finely sliced
1 440g tin crushed pineapple
1/3 cup shredded (unsweetened) coconut
1 tbs curry powder
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs finely grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbs vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook rice as directed on packet (I use a rice cooker) and fluff with a fork when cooked.
  2. Toss cooked rice, carrots, onions and the nuts in a large bowl.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients and pour over rice, stirring well.
  4. Top with coriander and serve warm or cold.

Linking to these great websites here

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Goals and strategies for 2017

This picture I took just before dawn this morning really brought home to me the new beginnings that a fresh new year can bring, if we only make it happen. 2016 was a tough year for so many people, and for me, it was a year where I really felt like I started the year behind, and just never caught up. This year will be different, and I am putting a number of plans in place to achieve my goals. 

Goal 1: Organization 

2016 really demonstrated to me that if your organizational systems are not in place, then everything else has no choice but to fall down around you as well. So, 2017 is the year that I find/create systems that will not only work for me, but be sustainable as well.

Lack of organization this past year meant that I was always in catch up mode, which meant the house was a disaster more often than not, the kids homework routine was less than ideal, and I constantly felt like I was putting out spot fires. 

Using my planner consistently - I have had an Erin Condren Life Planner for the past two years, and while for the first year I used it the way a planner should be used, for some reason this past year I didn't work it well.  Sure, I used it for jotting down doctors' appointments, etc, but I wasn't using my planner to plan. This year, I am committing to a weekly planning session on a Sunday evening, to review the upcoming week, add in more specific to-do's and goals, and look at where potential trouble spots are and plan solutions before the trouble occurs. I also forgot how much I love decorating my planner spreads, so I'm building in time during my planning sessions to be able to do this. 

 Stay on top of housekeeping - I think the best thing to do when thinking about the state of my house over the past year is to never think of it again! Instead, I purchased The Clean Mama Planner, which works on the philosophy of "everyday a little something". With lists of monthly tasks, together with her weekly routine, I am confident that this system will finally keep my home spic and span. 

Meal planning - healthy eating fell by the wayside last year for no other reason than lack of planning. Life was busy, and without a plan in place, I'm not surprised that takeout and canteen lunches became the norm.  On my Sunday evening planning session I will review our weekly calendar and then plan dinners according to what is going on each day (it's no point planning a dinner that needs hands on time if we're not back from soccer until 7.30), with the main grocery shop to happen on Mondays and Thursdays. I have also re-signed up to Momables Lunch planner program.  I was a member in 2015, and it was a fantastic way to a) have someone else do a plan for me(!) and b) get the kids eating a variety of foods, not just the same old sandwiches everyday.

Goal 2: Health

Health for me and the family was something that I completely dropped the ball on last year.  As I mentioned above, we relied all too much on take out, the kids bought lunch almost every day, and my exercise program disappeared completely.  This really reflected on our waistlines and our general state of well being, and improving in this area is my primary goal for 2017.

These are my key strategies to help me achieve my health goals this year.

I have signed up for Crystal Paine's program 15 Days To A Healthier You (Sign up ends soon, as the program starts on the 9th), and can't wait to start. I have used Crystal's other programs Makeover Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings (and found them so helpful I plan to revisit then again to give me a further kickstart), so when I saw her latest one, signing up was a no brainer!  With the tagline "stop surviving and start thriving" I think this is just what I need to give myself a head start towards living a stronger, healthier and more joyful life this year.

Schedule in exercise I like - OK, this is the tough one, since TBH, I just don't really like exercise, but once it's done I enjoy how I feel.  I sat down and had a really good think about what has worked for me in the past, and decided that I need the structure and support of a class, so I narrowed down what I enjoyed and then matched that up with what was available at convenient times. My plan is for 5 sessions a week, a mixture of Spin, Aqua Aerobics, Pilates and Body Balance, a fusion of yoga, Pilates, and barre. The key for me is to schedule it in, and see each class as an important appointment, not to be moved/cancelled unless absolutely necessary. 

Drink only water - ages ago I ditched the diet soda, but somehow the habit crept back in, and I was regularly drinking one or two a day. I'll be honest, I have never been a fan of plain water, so to make sure I am drinking at least two litres every day, I making up a big batch of "detox" water in a drinks dispenser that now has a permanent spot on my kitchen bench. I am changing the flavours each day (above was strawberry, basil and lime; today I had lemon, lime and ginger), and as a bonus, my son who has never been a big water drinker is now chugging along with me, even putting in requests for future flavour combos!

30 Day Super Elixir Challenge - In the past, I have used WelleCo's Super Elixir on and off, but was never consistent about it. This super greens powder is full of nourishing ingredients, and I'm looking forward to seeing how I feel after a month of taking it every day. If you click on this link and enter your email, you will receive $10 off your first purchase of $50 or more.

Vegetables at every meal - my final health goal is to consume some vegetable at every meal. The key here is breakfast. I do pretty well at having veg at lunch and dinner, but if I can add them in at breakfast and snack time as well, then I will significantly up my veg intake. I'm thinking kale and spinach in a smoothie, or mushrooms with eggs on toast. Again, meal planning will be key so I can have things prepped and ready to go the night before so no excuses!

So there you have my two major goals and how the strategies for how I plan to achieve them over 2017. I would love to hear what goals you are planning to achieve this year! 

Linking to these great websites here

Disclaimer: Some of the links are affiliate links, but all opinions are my own, and each item mentioned in this post has been purchased/subscribed by myself.

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