Wednesday, May 30, 2012

FRAGRANCES + FACE POWDER

It had been a while since I browsed StrawberryNET for cosmetics and perfumes. That site is my go-to for discounts on all the newest fragrances, make-up and skin care. I ended up with two delightful fragrances - D&G L'Imperatrice ($71.00) and Dior Miss Dior Cherie ($116.50) - as well as a refill of my favourite Chanel face powder - Mat Lumiere ($53.00). Department stores in my area stopped stocking the refills (you're forced to buy a whole new compact), which is not only environmentally unfriendly but frightfully expensive! Thank goodness for online shopping...








Monday, May 28, 2012

TWENTY QUESTIONS

Every blogger has a Q&A feature at some point and so I thought it might be time for me to have one of my own... I just hope my answers don't put you to bed!

1. Are you named after anyone? 
My first name is actually Josephine, which is the name of my paternal grandmother AND her first-born daughter. I actually go by Anna, which is formally my second name - after my father's cousin.

2. When was the last time you cried? 
I normally don't cry an awful lot but did cry in the past few days in frustration/fear about an injury I am having a tough time getting over. There's something wrong with my pudendal nerve and it makes life pretty uncomfortable and limiting. For instance, I haven't sat in a chair in about two months and most of my favourite things to do and things I take for granted have had to go out the window, for the immediate future anyway.

3. Do you have kids? 
No. I really want children though. The sooner, the better!

4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself? 
Yes.

5. Do you use sarcasm a lot? 
Not really. It is meant to be humorous but it doesn't make me laugh so I don't see it as a tool worth using.

6. Will you ever bungee-jump? 
I don't think so. I would worry that my neck or spine would snap!
7. What's your favorite cereal? 
I am not a big cereal fiend anymore but I love a good muesli. If Corn Pops were still in Australia, I would desire them but probably wouldn't eat them as much as I did when I was younger.
8. What's the first thing you notice about people? 
I think it differs between people. Sometimes you might meet someone and they look like someone you know. Or a feature really stands out, like their hair, eyes, teeth or style. Sometimes it's their personality or little idiosyncracies. Maybe it's that they're shy or have a distinctive voice. It really truly depends on the person - I don't obsess over any particular feature.
9. What is your eye colour? 
Hazel
10. Scary movie or happy endings? 
That's a hard one! I enjoy a good thriller and all the suspense, even if it gives me a scare. My boyfriend doesn't like supernatural stuff, and I guess a lot of that genre I am a bit old for now so I don't watch that type of scary film. But I do love a good happy ending, particularly ones that make you shed a little tear.
11. Favorite smells? 
I'm a massive perfume fiend but I love the smell of Ariel Washing Powder, hair shampoos, crisp mornings, warm summer days... Hotels now have these fantastic smelling fragrances in the lobbies and I want one for my home!
12. Summer or winter? 
Both! As long as the summer isn't too humid (or too cold for that matter) and the winter doesn't have light grey overcast skies. I prefer dark storm clouds, heavy rain or even snow. But definitely not "in-between" weather and sprinkly rain.
13. Computer or television? 
Computer.
14. What's the furthest you've ever been from home? 
Europe/The UK. I was living over there for some months a few years ago. 
15. Do you have any special talents? 
I'm pretty fast at reading, spelling and grammar and get good marks for writing. My siblings call me up for help with English essays so I might consider that to be my special talent.
16. Where were you born? 
Melbourne, Australia.
17. What are your hobbies? 
I love to read. I love watching films. I like exercising at the gym or going fast walks but I have had to stop that recently. I love blogging, obviously. I also really enjoy taking photos. We have tennis courts across the road from our house and went over there to play a few times. I always consider tennis a hobby even if I haven't played in years. Can under-practised hobbies still be considered hobbies?
18. Do you have any pets? 
No, but I would love a little dog.

19. Do you have any siblings?
Yes, 3 brothers and 1 sister.

20. What do you want to be when you grow up? 
I always wanted to be a journalist or an actress when I was a child but that dream hasn't carried over into my adulthood. I did study journalism and my Masters was in Communication but I don't have the passion for it right now. I still love the media but in an observer capacity. When I "grow up" I'd like to remain as happy as I am today. I hope to be healthy, be married to my Mr. (he features on this blog a lot), and hopefully have a few kids of our own.


... I'd love to know more about you! How about sending me a link to your own blogs and any Q&A's you've done (feel free to use this one). Or for non-bloggers, just use the comments field below and fill out as many of the above questions as you like!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

INGREDIENTS FOR A FABULOUS NIGHT IN

Who says in order to have a good evening you need to get dressed up and venture outside? For those of us in Australia struggling with the pre-winter chill, the thought of going outside literally sends a shiver down the spine. A night in doesn't need to be a dirty word - you'll save some money (as well as your liver!), your tootsies won't be compromised by high heels and you'll probably get to bed much earlier than if you wandered out, meaning more time to enjoy the next day!  My Friday night in included five essential ingredients: 

1. Get comfy! Get into your cutest, cosiest pyjamas.
No-one's saying you've got to look sexy!



2. Find the comfiest place to watch the telly. 
In my case it's our bed. The TV is literally at our feet:





3. Order in! 
Pizza is always a classic for a big night in. I went with Crust Pizza. Mine is gluten free and vegetarian, James' is Mediterranean Lamb... You don't need to travel far for a taste of Europe, my friends!






4. Get some entertainment. 
Obviously nothing suss implied there! Perhaps it's a marathon gaming session on the Xbox, a karaoke face-off or even a concert DVD. I tend towards plain old movies. This time, I chose a telly serioes - The Sopranos, no less. I've just discovered it and I'm hooked! It's super-awesome and you must watch it if you haven't. Those who have aren't raving about it for no reason!


5. Share the fun with a friend. 
I went with my bestie, who also happens to be my boyfriend (killing two birds with one stone :-p) Here he is after a loooong day at work. He'll be in pyjamas within minutes of this photo being taken.




And there you have it. My 5 ingredients to an enjoyable night spent at home... How do you like to spend your nights in? 

Friday, May 25, 2012

FRIENDS ARE FLOWERS IN THE GARDEN OF LIFE

When my apartment buzzer sounded today, I wondered if I should answer it. I hadn't been expecting any visitors or parcel deliveries and didn't want to have to speak to anyone doing marketing because I was still in my PJ's! Instead, a jolly voice introduced himself and told me he had a delivery with my name on it. Maybe the Strawberrynet order I placed the previous day was here already? But surely not... 

I met the fellow outside the elevator and, as he emerged, he chuckled and called out "SURPRISE", handing me THE BEST delivery I could have imagined. Gorgeous hot pink roses from my beautiful, caring best friend. Kind hearted and never ever mean-spirited, she thinks of others before herself and I for one count myself so lucky that she would want me as a friend. To my dear Kate: Thank you a million times over, not only for the beautiful roses but for being the most wonderful friend for all these years.

PHOTO A DAY - UNUSUAL


Swamp sludge for breakfast, anyone? This is my ostensibly unusual breakfast: the green smoothie. It gets its dark green hue mostly from Spirulina, but it also contains a whole kiwifruit (as well as half a banana and a tablespoon of Chia seeds soaked in a cup of water).


Green Smoothies are an excellent and effortless way to get a good dose of nutrients from fruit, vegetables and superfoods. I found this handy guide to making perfect green smoothies from an interview with culinary nutritionist Marni Wasserman at Fresh Juice:


Your smoothie base: 1 to 2 cups of liquid


Unless you want to eat your smoothie with a spoon, you need to start with some liquid: water, milk, yogurt, juice or kefir are some great options. Wasserman prefers alternative milks such as almond and hemp. "Both almond milk and hemp milk have healthy fats, protein and fibre," she says. Plus, they result in a creamier smoothie than one made with water alone. Is your blender struggling? Feel free to add more liquid as you go if your smoothie isn't blending easily.
The greens: 2-1/2 to 3 cups, torn
Packed with chlorophyll, fibre, magnesium, iron and zinc, plus a whole host of other vitamins and minerals, leafy greens put the punch in your smoothie. Wasserman recommends rotating your greens to ensure plenty of nutritional variety.
"Some greens have more vitamin C, some have more calcium, some have more magnesium," she says. "That way, over time you can build up the stores of the essential nutrients that your body needs to thrive." Try rotating spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard.
The fruit: 1-1/2 to 2 cups
Here comes the tasty part: adding fruit gives natural sweetness and added vitamins to your green smoothie. Add bananas for potassium (and a rich, creamy smoothie), berries for antioxidants and tartness or mangoes for fibre and natural sweetness. Like your smoothies ice cold? Try using frozen fruit instead of fresh.
The booster: A scoop of protein powder & a handful of superfoods
Now's your chance to try out those fascinating superfoods you pass by every time you're in the grocery store: chia seeds, lentil protein, dried kelp -- the world is your smoothie.
Wasserman recommends tossing in everything from goji berries to hemp seeds to bee pollen (although probably not all at once.) "They're all superfoods and have an immense amount of nutrients. Just one tablespoon goes a long way," she says. She suggests also adding a plant-based protein powder to fuel your morning.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

PHOTO A DAY - SOMETHING NEW

Though I started out with the best intentions, I have managed to skip a few days in my Photo a Day May Challenge. I don't want to simply opt out of the challenge because of this nor will I promise that I can post every single day. But I'll try. Today's prompt is 'Something New'. Easy. I just got back from the shops after a massive coconut spree. New products, new tastes. I'm looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about with these dairy and gluten free Coconut Yoghurts and Tapioca!




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

IN MY BEAUTY CUPBOARD

This post title is a little misleading because I actually have not one but two bathroom cupboards full of skin, hair and cosmetic products. My downstairs bathroom is where I do my make up (you may have seen past posts detailing some of my must have cosmetics) and within the cupboards I keep a surplus of things I always use. It's handy to have back-ups for when you run out, right? 


I keep my hair and body stuff on the Top Shelf:




I always have a can of Batiste Dry Shampoo on hand for days when I can't be bothered doing the washing, drying and straightening routine. It soaks up all the oil and you can get away with tying it back for another day or running the GHD over any kinky bits for a 'just washed' look. 
Redken products rule! I use this All Soft Velvet Whip leave-in stuff to protect my tresses from all the heat it gets from styling tools. It smells terrific too! The entire All Soft range is worth investing in.
Redken Sheer Brilliance Glass Serum is perfect for adding shine and taming fly aways. Hot tip for a sleek finish: after straightening, rub some in your hands and gloss over your hair before blasting the fly aways downwards (in the direction of the hair shaft). I've been doing this for years after a hairdresser let me in on the secret and it works!
I keep the fragranced body creams from my favourite perfumes and use them after showering. They're potent enough that you barely need perfume!

Second shelf is face and skin stuff: 




St Ives Blemish Fighting Apricot scrub is the only exfoliant you should buy. It's the best. Period. 
I have been using Neutrogena Oil Free Spf15+ Moisturisers forever now.  Trying to switch has never worked for me - this is absoultely non-greasy, cheap and offers sun protection too.
For skin primers - Napoleon Auto Pilot is the be all and end all. I've tried a lot and this is my pick! Your make up will last all day with this baby.
The blue bottle beside it is Estee Lauder 'Take it Away' eye and lip make up remover. It's gift from my best friend who has very top notch tastes and she says it's the bomb. As a wearer of heavy eye makeup and stubborn longlasting lipglosses, I have to agree it does the trick very well.
Everyone needs a bronzing body lotion. You haven't fake tanned?  Tan isn't as deep or as even as you'd like? Get this Sportsgirl Body Glow Instant Body Bronzer. It is 100% non-greasy, stays on (saving your clothes) and washes off with soap. Get on it if you haven't already!


Ahhhhh, the third shelf down: Tanning Territory. 




I've tried the lot and here lie my favourites: Sportsgirl 'The Tan Commandments' Bronzing Mousse - affordable, great bronze shade and ridiculously easy to apply. My favourite of them all. Next up St Tropez - it's not cheap but offers a very natural shade. I still buy Sportsgirl when faced with the choice but everyone's skin is different. 
The next one, Loving Tan, is a newbie to my collection. Tired with waiting 8 hours for a tan to do its work, I jumped up and down excitedly when I saw that this one has a 2-hour turnaround! Boom! Tried it last week, loved it, will be using it again. It's not as cheap as Sportsgirl but it's good, it's very good. 
Lastly, I also have a bottle of Xen-Tan. This comes in a spritz bottle (I prefer mousse), goes on a strange olivey green colour, is a tad expensive but I had to have it when I had read rave reviews about it. I've used it once and I'll definitely use it again.
Beside all my tanners is a crucial item: gloves. Latex, elastic-ey ones aren't as good as these food handling, soft vinyl ones. I simply won't tan without them - how can you explain away a tan on the palms of your hands?

Bottom shelf and we meet the nail products:






I'm an OPI devotee but for red nails, I always, always wear Rimmel's 'Riviera Red' - it's the perfect red shade for any occasion and no other red polish has ever stacked up when I compare shades side by side!


So there you have it folks, a peek into my cupboard and a couple of products I don't doubt you will have seen before and, if you haven't tried, are worth a shot. I'm a fussy consumer so hopefully these won't disappoint! I'm in the midst of a trial period with my beauty box samples, some of which have made the cut. Will let you know more when we go to the upstairs bathroom sometime soon! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BELLABOX: MAY EDITION

Well, it's that time of the month again! No, not that time... Bellabox time! Here's some snapshots of the box and its contents:











This month's box contained A'kin Rose & Geranium Cleanser/Toner; Bobbi Brown Lash Glamour Extreme Lenthening Mascara; Silk Oil of Morocco Moroccan Lip Gloss in 'Ruby'; Avene eye and anti-ageing creams; and Sebastian Professional shampoo, conditioner and styling treatment. 


I've let my skin, hair and cosmetic routine go down the gurgler lately so these little treats are most welcome right now! 


HIP HIP HOORAY

Yesterday, my very favourite person in the world celebrated his birthday! I woke up first (normally it's the other way round) and didn't allow poor Possum much time to wake up before excitedly thrusting my card and most of my gifts at him! (One of his presents would arrive later in the day via post). I was very pleased with my "brown paper packaging tied up with string"...




He always, always opens his cards first and carefully unwraps his present without a single tear:


First gift was an intriguing novel of Global Financial Recessions, Ponzi Schemes and other dramatic things. He's not the biggest bookworm but I thought the subject matter might be up his alley and we could share this one ;-)



























Next gift was a pair of Desert Boots. I love this style and James will manage very nicely to pull off these with some jeans or chinos and one of his beautiful buttoned shirts. Swoon!


The cat needed to finish getting ready for work...


So the mouse could make arrangements for the rest of the day! First up: collecting this little baby...



It's not hard to guess that Siri was inside!

Birthdays are days for dietary deviations, so I cooked up a suitably hearty dinner for my sweetheart. The menu comprised: Steaks stuffed with mushrooms and topped with truffle butter served with green beans and creamy garlic mash:


And as every diner knows, a peek at the dessert menu is not negotiable. We enjoyed slice after slice (it was a small-ish cake!) of the most delicious, dense and chocolat-ey flourless chocolate cake ever:

Served with vanilla bean ice cream, naturally:

Well-stuffed, we settled on the sofa to watch the ridiculously addictive program 'The Voice' and let the chocolate cake shrink away a little more with each ad break...