Ten Happy Things

Happy April, everyone! These past few weeks have been so crazy with so many up and downs but with a whole lot of memorable moments stuck in between. It gave me so much pleasure writing this list and reliving some very special moments and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

1. I’m going to be an aunty!! Last year I found out I’m having a little nephew at the end of April and I couldn’t be more excited about it. We’ve had to keep it quiet for a long time so that all the family could be told personally but I’ve finally been given the go-ahead to announce on my blog that I’m joining the aunt squad. Soo many superhero baby outfits to buy!

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2. Easter eggs and hot cross buns are everywhere you look right now and I couldn’t be happier! Our local IGA stocks some of the British varieties such as Wispa and Galaxy Minstrels so I will definitely be gifting a few of those (and maybe sneaking a few into my own personal treat stash as well).

3. I finally FINALLY finished reading Pride and Prejudice, which has been on my ‘currently reading’ Goodreads list for literally years. It feels so good crossing that one off my list.

4. Last month I was very blessed to be able to help organise my sister-in-law’s baby shower. It was a lovely day and lots of special memories were made. Now we’re all just anxiously waiting for the arrival of the little man. Hurry up, Peanut!

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5. I went to see the new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast with my family last Sunday and it was bee-uuuu-tiful!! I was really excited when I found out that Ewan McGregor was Lumiere and even more excited when I saw that library.

6. A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a worship service/family day at a rehabilitation centre called Shalom by a lady from my church. I thought it would be really interesting to check out as I’m working with youth at-risk so it’s always handy to know what programs are running in the local community. It was a very humbling experience, hearing some of the life stories of the men and seeing how their lives have changed through being in the program.

7. I started a new photo project at the beginning of this year on my instagram account. It’s a photo gratitude project where I take a photo of something every day that I’m grateful for and is a bit on an accompaniment to my ‘Ten Happy Things’ project on this blog. It’s actually been a lot trickier than I thought it would be to think of something new to write about every day (and I’ve definitely missed more than a few days!).  However, I’m finding the process of just stopping and taking a moment to think about all the good things I have in my life right now very beneficial to my mental health.

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8. I actually managed to get myself to the gym three times last week. It was nowhere near my goal but every little bit helps.

9. One of my Christmas presents this year was a ‘Tanya Bakes’ cookbook and I got to use it for the first time last weekend. I made the birthday cupcakes for my sister-in-law’s baby shower and, I must say, I was pretty impressed with myself!

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10. As of this week, I no longer have to work Thursday nights or Saturdays. I worked my last shift at my weekend job the week before last and it feels so strange to have Saturdays free after doing that shift for over a year now. It was quite sad to leave that job as I worked with some genuinely lovely people but it’s time for a new chapter in my work life.

Thanks so much for reading. Let me know in the comments what are some things that made you happy this week. Take care x

 

January/February Favourites

First favourites post of 2017! I have really enjoyed putting together my list of January and February favourites as I’ve been lucky enough to try some beautiful products these past two months that I’m very excited to share. I would love to hear what you’re loving this month so please let me know in the comments box below. Enjoy!

BEAUTY

Matte lips and nails – I’m really loving my matte lips and nails at the moment and the best matte lipstick I’ve found so far has got to be the NYX liquid suede range.

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I’m really fussy with my matte lipsticks as I tend to get really dry lips anyway so having anything on my lips that make them even drier just doesn’t work for me. The NYX liquid suede lipsticks are so light, it feels like rubbing water on your lips. I don’t find them to be drying but I do recommend when reapplying to completely wipe off any leftover lipstick first and then apply fresh otherwise it tends to look a bit caked-on.

Skincare – One of my resolution this year was to take better care of my skin and to invest in some good quality skincare products. The Body Shop Vitamin C range and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost skincare products were recommended to me as being extra nourishing and hydrating and I must say that I love both ranges.

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From The Body Shop Vitamin C range, I bought the Daily Glow Cleansing Polish and the Glow Boosting Microdermabrasion.  Out of the two products, I probably prefer the daily cleansing polish over the microdermabrasion. The microdermabrasion is a thick paste and I feel like I have to use a lot more than I probably should to get my face feeling clean.  On the other hand, the cleansing polish has a really good scrub and my face feels refreshed and clean after using it. The citrusy fragrance is also a big plus for me.

From the Neutrogena Hydro Boost range, I bought the Water Gel and the Hydro Boost Serum. These products are absolutely gorgeous and I’ve introduced both into my everyday cleansing routine. I apply the water gel every day under my make-up and it gives my make-up a much smoother finish than any primer has before. I use the serum in my evening cleanse, especially if I have exfoliated or used a face mask as it soaks straight into my skin and leaves it feeling lovely and soft.

FASHION

Cotton On Body T-shirts – Cotton On Body do the cutest seasonal pyjamas and loungewear and their current range is a sparkly, spicy chilli theme. I’m not a massive fan of their pyjama pants as they’re a little short for my liking but their shirts are soft and really comfy. Also I’m a sucker for anything in a glitter print so I bought the ‘I’m a little chilli’ print and the ‘Feeling hot hot hot!’ print and I love them both.

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HOMEWARE

Marble make-up brush holder – I’m currently in the process of revamping my bathroom and introducing dusky pinks, mixed metals and marble. This make-up brush holder from Target goes with my theme perfectly and even though it isn’t technically a make-up brush holder, it’s a really good size for my brushes.

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BOOKS

I have been reading a LOT of books lately. The two books I have enjoyed the most so far this year have been Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard and Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.

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Beautiful Broken Things is a YA novel that was recommended to me when I asked a friend if she knew any books that explored friendship and mental health. When she suggested this book, I wasn’t really expecting more than a bit of a fun, fluffy weekend read from the blurb and the look of the cover (as beautiful as it is). What I discovered instead was a novel that is actually very beautifully written, thought-provoking and extremely hard to put down.

I was conflicted about whether or not to put this book in my monthly favourites as there were parts of the book I really liked and parts that I really disliked (Caddy, Caddy, Caddy!). The characters were believable but many were infuriating. The relationship between Suzanne and Caddy is realistic but so very flawed. In the end, this book made me think and think for days and for that reason alone, it will always get gold stars from me.

Girl, Interrupted was quite a different read from Beautiful Broken Things. It’s an autobiographical account of Susanna Kaysen’s time spent in a mental hospital for women in the 1960’s. I find stories like these so fascinating but at the same time, deeply disturbing.  I’m not a fan of scary movies but I think I get my ‘horror movie fix’ from stories like this, which are all the more horrifying because not only are they true but because they could have happened to any one of us not even that long ago.

 

 

Ten Happy Things

Happy December!

It’s been a while and I apologise for my long, long blogging absence. November was a bittersweet month of big life changes with some really lovely moments and some not-so-lovely moments. In all the jumble of emotions that were flying around, I was not in the proper headspace to be writing about gratitude (even though practicing gratitude is not just writing about the bright, happy moments). With a lot of love and support from my loved ones, I’m feeling so much better and am excited to share with you ten things that have been making me happy this week. Hope you enjoy!

1. Christmas!!! December is without a doubt my favourite time of the year and I couldn’t be happier that Christmas is only two weeks away. I’ve already bought nearly all my presents, decorated the house and watched a bunch of Christmas movies (even the super-cheesy daytime drama movies on Netflix) so I feel like I’m oozing festive cheer right now.

 

2. Family/friend support. Basically I’ve been going through a totally rubbish time this past month with some personal issues. It’s one of the toughest things I’ve had to deal with in a long time but the support of my loved ones has been phenomenal. Sometimes it takes something really awful happening for you to take stock of the important things in life. I don’t think I ever forgot what was important but being engulfed by so much love and kindness makes you appreciate your loved ones even more. I have been treated to spa days, sent kind texts from friends at church when I haven’t been able to face going, had listening ears when I’ve needed to rant and tight hugs when I haven’t felt like talking at all. And of course, a whole lot of chocolate! I really am blessed beyond belief.

3. Book Love. One of the many changes I’ve noticed since working on getting my anxiety under control is that my concentration levels have been dramatically better. During a period of my life when my anxiety was quite bad, I stopped reading for pleasure as I found it too hard to stay focused. This was one of the saddest symptoms of my anxiety because reading is one of my favourite things in the world. However, my concentration seems to be soaring lately and I’ve been devouring one book after another. My soul is very happy.

4. Work Life Balance. I am LOVING my new job so much! I started working as an education officer a few months ago and I can’t believe that I get paid to do something that I’m enjoying so much. It’s not a feeling I’ve had in a long time. I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to be in the lives of these special young people. I’m also extremely grateful to be working with some genuinely nice, supportive people who I get along with so well. And I already got a pay rise so I’m feeling particularly warm and fuzzy toward my new employers at the moment.

5. Christmas jumpers. I don’t think anything could make me feel more  Christmassy than a group of adults wearing the most garishly decorated Christmas jumpers imaginable. Christmas jumper are EVERYWHERE right now and I am very, very pleased about this.

6. Mental Health Check. This time last year, my mental health was not in the best place. My anxiety was out of control and I was slowly isolating myself from all the people in my life by disengaging from any situation around me that was making me feel anxious. With all the changes that have been going on in my life this past month or so, I’ve been noticing big improvements with my anxiety levels and that I’m reacting much better to turbulent situations.

7. Summer Clothing. I’m not sure if this is classified as a happy thing or an unhappy thing. Basically this month we are finally having some warmer weather and after about six months of cold weather, it’s time to crack open the box of summer clothes that’s been gathering dust at the top of my wardrobe. The good news is I can finally justify shopping for new summer clothes. The bad news is that I can’t put off going to the gym a moment longer!

8. Blogmas/Vlogmas. – I really wanted to take part in Blogmas this year but sadly time just got away with me this past month. I am enjoying reading what other bloggers are writing about for Blogmas and I love how creative and inspiring some of the posts are. And I don’t care how old I am, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without 24 Days of Zoella.

9. Gilmore Girls Marathon. In preparation of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I power-watched all seven seasons on Netflix over the past few months and then spent an entire weekend watching the four-part mini-series as soon as it came out in November. It did not disappoint. I now feel like I need a Gilmore Girls detox after being immersed in all things Stars Hollow for so long. I think I deserve a wand and a crown or at least a cup of Luke’s coffee for my effort #teamjess.

10. Gloria Jean’s festive flavours. It always starts to feel like Christmas to me when Gloria Jean’s bring out their festive flavours for the year. This season, the flavour is Candy Cane mocha and the chiller is just soooo unbelievably good! There’s a Gloria Jean’s booth very close to where I work so the temptation to overload on Candy Cane Mocha chillers will be strong this Christmas.

What are some things that are making you happy this Christmas?

xox

September Goals

Happy September everyone!

I’ve seen a lot of bloggers sharing their September goals over the past week and it got me very inspired to think about what I want to achieve before the end of 2016 and reassess the list of resolutions I made at the beginning of this year. Some I’m close to achieving (resolution 8: double my number of Instagram followers. Yay!) and others I don’t have a prayer of finishing (read ALL the books on my to-do pile. Only 48 more to go!). I feel like September is a good month to have a good think about making realistic goals and really power towards them. September is also the start of Spring here in Australia so it feels like a good time of year to shake off all those wintery cobwebs and get started on some exciting new projects and life changes.

Try Something New

Even though my life has been full of fun changes this year, I feel like I haven’t really pushed my boundaries much this year and have been very content inside my safe, comfortable bubble. I’ve found myself going to the same restaurants, the same shopping centres, doing the same gym work-outs and it’s been getting a little bit hum-drum. My challenge to myself for the rest of this year is to try one new thing each month so if anyone has any recommendations, send them my way!

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Image found on instagram @marywangerin

Change Some Eating Habits

I’ve been watching a few food documentaries on Netflix lately such as Cowspiracy and Food Inc. that have been making me re-think the amount of meat I have in my diet. While I don’t want to give up meat completely, I definitely want to introduce some meat-free alternatives into my diet and start with having at least one meat-free day a week. I also want to start growing some of my own herbs and veggies in my garden so I know exactly what they have been grown in, what they have been sprayed with and where they have grown. I don’t exactly have a green thumb though so this will be challenging. Pinterest is going to be my best friend for the next few months!

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Less lunches like these!

Exercise

My goal this year was to build up my fitness and hit the gym at least five times a week. I was doing great before winter but rainy days and the enticement of hot chocolate in front of a warm fireplace have done terrible things to my work out schedule.  As a result, I’ve fallen way, way behind. Now that the warmer weather is coming, I have no excuse for not getting my sweat on so time to dust off the dumbbells and get this booty moving!

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Does being pulled along behind a boat count as exercise?

Get Organised for Blogmas!

Anyone else doing Blogmas this year? For anyone who doesn’t know, Blogmas is a December project where you blog every day of the month until Christmas Day, generally on a Christmassy topic. I love Christmas so much, this project is right up my street. However, seeing as I struggle to finish more than one post a week, daily blogging will be quite the challenge and will require all the organisation skills I possess.

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Work on my Spring Wardrobe

Now that the weather is starting to get warmer, it feels like it’s time for brighter, lighter clothing and accessories. If you look in my wardrobe right now, you will be greeted with a wall of black, brown, dark blue and all different shade of grey (not fifty, but close!). I love the Spring colour that are in this season and want to try and introduce some of the blush, lilac and nude pink tones into my wardrobe so it’s time to get my shop on.

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Paris in Springtime – flowers everywhere!

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year? Let me know in the comments x

 

 

 

Ten Happy Things

Life lately has been truly wonderful. I feel very blessed to have a life that is filled right now with special people, happy surprises and exciting adventures around the corner. For a long time I felt stuck in an unpleasant rut and was not looking towards the future with hopeful eyes so I’m appreciating every blissful moment. These are ten things that have made me happy lately and I hope there are many more to come.

Weekend Adventures. Last weekend I went on a family trip down to South Yunderup and stayed in a lovely guest house on the Murray River. We ate malteasers while sitting around a log fire, ate dinner in a cosy country pub and sat on the jetty while my mom fished on the river for hours and hours. It was bliss.

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Spring Excitement. It has been such a lovely, long winter with plenty of rain and chilly mornings so I can finally say that I’ve had my fill of winter this year. I’m ready and waiting for Spring! I was out on my little patio this week tidying up and planting some herbs so I’m excited to get that ready to be used for sitting out and reading in warmer weather.

Father’s Day. This is something that I take for granted too often but I got to spend Father’s Day with my dad this year, something that many people my age don’t get to do. I also got to spend part of Father’s Day with my boyfriend’s family and have baby cuddles with his tiny newborn niece. There is no sweeter smell on earth than newborn baby smell!

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Acts of Kindness. On Saturday while I was at work, my sweet boyfriend drove my beloved little Ginger Ninja to his house and vacuumed, cleaned and polished it for me until it looked like a brand new car again. I think this might have had something to do with the fact that  he was sick of having to lift his legs over the ten coffee mugs littering the floor of my passenger seat but I’m still very grateful 🙂

New Arrivals. This week my cousin arrived from England to stay with us for a year on a working visa. I’m so impressed with how brave she is. I never would have had the courage at 21 to leave my family and fly all the way to the other side of the world by myself. I’m so excited about this new adventure she’s about to have and I’m looking forward to being able to share part of it with her.

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Relaxation. On Monday, my mom and I spent a very chilled out day together at our local shopping centre. We used to do this all the time but life has been in the way a bit lately. We had lunch and shopped and went for the most relaxing massages ever at one of the beauty salons. It was a perfect day.

New Books. One of my projects this year has been working through my ginormous ‘to-read’ pile of books that has been accumulating for years. The pile covers two shelves on my bookshelf and are doubled up and squeezed together. I’m proud to say I’ve managed to whittle it down to nearly one shelf since January but the books that are left to read are mainly ones I’ve been putting off reading. They are not exactly light reading. So when I was shopping for my dad’s Father’s Day present last week, there’s a possibility I may have slipped a few new books into my basket to break up the intensity of switching straight from Anna Karenina to Mein Kampf. I can’t wait to start reading them.

Netflix show. I have been binge-watching some great new shows on Netflix these past few weeks! I’ll be including them in my July/August favourites post later on in the week so make sure you check those out as there are some real goodies! And, as always, I am always open to new suggestions 🙂

Christmas shopping. I have always been one of those people who start planning for Christmas in June and play Christmas carols all year round. It is no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve already started my Christmas shopping and am so excited to give my presents. I found some real bargains this week that I know my family are going to love so the problem now is how I’m going to wait until Christmas to give them out.

What are some things that made you happy this week?

 

 

5 Things I Loved About Dubai

To be honest, Dubai has never been on the top of my travel bucket list. This is purely because in my mind I imagined it to be a hot, humid desert city which had extreme cultural differences. We booked a four day layover on my last trip overseas and even when our travel agent was raving about how amazing Dubai is and how much there is to see and do, the Middle East was probably the place I was least excited to visit.

You can imagine how surprised I was to find myself in a thriving city that is so friendly to tourists, have more international companies than we even get here in Perth (hello, Starbucks!) and have more attractions than we could possibly fit into our four days there. Dubai is now one of my favourite travel destinations and I’m so keen to go back as I’m sure what I experienced in my measly four days was just the tip of the iceberg of what this city has to offer. These are my top five things I loved about Dubai (purely from a tourists point of view) and I can’t wait to visit again to add more adventures to the list.

Skiing

Whenever I imagined myself eventually crossing off the ‘learn to ski’ item on my bucket list, I always dreamed it would happen in a little Christmassy village on the Swiss Alps or the trendy slopes in Canada with a group of Australian backpackers. Learning to ski in a mall in a city in the middle of the desert is certainly not what I had in mind but I think this was probably my favourite Dubai experience. Ski Dubai is an mountain-themed ski resort right in the middle of the Mall of the Emirates, complete with a chair lift, miniature chalets and even penguins. You can go snowboarding, skiing, tobogganing or even just sit in the cosy restaurant with a hot chocolate and watch the skiers. It really does feel quite magical!

Shopping

If you ever decide to take a holiday to Dubai, make sure you bring a wad of extra spending money and at least one empty suitcase to fill up because the shopping in Dubai is pretty impressive. As we were only in Dubai for four days, we went to the The Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. These are two of the biggest shopping centres and have attractions such as ice rinks, giant aquariums, theme parks, bowling alleys and every kind of restaurant imaginable.  I consider myself to be a champion shopper but even I was overwhelmed with how many shops there are in the major shopping centres. Also, most shops stay open until 10pm most nights so you really can shop til you drop. The Dubai Mall is also a great mall to go to if you’re only visiting Dubai for a few days as it is right next to the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world, so you can easily walk from one attraction to the next and kill two birds with one stone.

The Water Parks

The weather in Dubai is mainly hot and humid so it’s a blessed relief to visit one of the water parks to cool down for a bit. We spent a day at the Atlantis water park and it was one of the most enjoyable days on the trip.  We spent the entire day on the water slides and the longest lazy river that I’ve ever been on but there are plenty of other activities to do there such as visit the marine park, swim with sharks in the aquarium or wander around the many shops and restaurants in the resort. One thing I would recommend when going to the water park is to make sure you take flip-flops for walking around the park in between rides. There isn’t a lot of shade on the pathways and the paths get super-hot so there were a lot of people (including myself) burning their feet on the hot bricks.

The Desert

One of the attractions in Dubai that was highly recommended to us was the Arabian Nights tour. Basically, you get picked up at your hotel by a driver and taken out into the middle of the desert to a Bedouin camp where you go dune bashing, camel riding and sand boarding. There are tents set up in the camp where you can get a henna tattoo, try shisha, get your photo taken in traditional clothes and buy souvenirs. You also have a barbecue dinner cooked for you and belly dancing to entertain you while you eat. It sounded like a lot of fun and we were all excited to try this unique experience.

We found a tour on Trip Advisor and it probably could have been a little bit better than what it was. The dune bashing was the pinnacle of the tour and was better than any ride we went on in Atlantis. The drivers are completely fearless and at one stage, our land cruiser was driving nearly horizontally along the side of a sand dune. The rest of the tour was slightly disappointing as many of the activities were not as described on the tour website but it was still something that I’m glad I experienced. The drive alone into the desert is worth the money as you get to see how quickly the landscape of the city changes from ultra-modern architecture to total starkness and the only inhabitants you come across for miles and miles are camels and their owners.

Food

One thing that really impressed me about Dubai is the diversity of food options there are to try. After visiting Tennessee a few years ago, there are many American food franchises that I enjoy that haven’t arrived in Australia just yet but have found their way to the Middle East. Even the food courts in the shopping centres have a wide variety of cuisines so tourists from all over the world can generally find something to suit their tastes. During our visit to Dubai, we stayed at the Grand Hyatt and their hotel breakfast was one of the most extensive buffets I’ve ever seen in my life. It was actually overwhelming how many different cuisines there were on offer and my stomach continued to let me down as I couldn’t possible try all the different foods there were on offer.

If you’ve been to Dubai before and have had different experiences or have any good recommendations, I would love to hear them so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading x

 

 

 

 

Ten Happy Things

At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to start being more mindful of practicing gratitude as part of my self-care plan to help calm my anxiety. One of my practices this year has been writing a weekly list of ten blessings I have in my life and no matter how awful my week has been, how crazy my anxiety has gotten or how topsy-turvy life has become, I always manage to find at least ten things each week that I’m grateful for and finding those ten things helps a little bit in keeping my thoughts in perspective and my attitude in check. Here is my list for this week and I would love to hear some things that you’re grateful for in your life at the moment.

Family time. On Thursday we celebrated my dad’s 54th birthday by going out to dinner at the local chip shop and to watch Suicide Squad at the cinema. We take up nearly a whole cinema row when we all go together and I love the fact that we are a family that enjoy spending time together and doing simple, fun things together.

Job opportunities. This week I got a call about a job interview for a position I have been interested in pursuing for a while now. After months of sending out endless job applications, just getting an interview feels like a massive breakthrough and regardless of the outcome of the interview, I feel very blessed right now for this exciting opportunity.

Boyfriend bliss. Next Wednesday, I will have been dating my sweet, kind, caring boyfriend for exactly two months and we are in a happy little bubble of newly-dating bliss. He treats me like an absolute queen and without getting too mushy, all I can say is that I couldn’t be happier right now.

Writing and blogging time. One of the blessings of being in casual work at the moment is that I’ve had so much time lately to work on my writing and blog posts. Prepare to be flooded with blog posts!

Meeting inspiring people. The church that I attend supports many different people doing mission work around the world and on Sunday morning, we had a teacher speak to us about the work she is doing in orphanages and women’s prisons in Afghanistan. I can’t even comprehend the bravery it must take for a single woman to go to Afghanistan by herself with the hope of sharing her faith in a country where Christianity is forbidden and women are treated so differently. After hearing some of her stories, I feel very blessed to live in a country where I have the freedom that I experience every day as a woman and as a Christian.

Afternoon naps. I don’t think this requires explanation 🙂

Getting organised. I decided at the beginning of this month that August will be my month to get organised. I’m dedicating the whole month to sorting out, clearing out and getting all those annoying jobs done that are constantly clogging up my ‘to-do’ list but never end up getting done such as ‘organise my teaching paperwork’ and ‘clean out bathroom drawers’. Because I moved around a lot during my teenage years, I became a terrible hoarder and I find it really difficult to throw things away, no matter how old or worn-out they are. So I’m actually really proud of myself with the amount of clearing out I’ve managed to do so far. It’s a teeny amount in the grand scheme of things but I’m slowly starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

New Phone. After weeks of researching and phoning around different phone companies, I finally got a new phone plan and the new iPhone 6s and I just love it. I’m so happy with the clarity of the photos and the video recording quality so maybe this will be motivation to start that youtube channel I’ve been thinking about doing for months now.

Rainy days. I am probably in the minority here but I just love rainy days and I can’t get enough of all this beautiful rain we’ve been having here in Perth this winter. Every year when spring arrives, I always feel like I’m not quite done with winter yet but this year Perth has had a pretty decent visit from Jack Frost and I am loving it.

Extra work opportunities. This week I’ve been given the opportunity to work some extra shifts at work which means more money to go shopping with. This is always a blessing in my eyes.

 

 

June Favourites

After spending three weeks sailing around Europe on a beautiful Royal Carribean cruise ship, the month of May was a tough act for June to follow. However, a relaxing, chilled-out June was probably exactly what I needed after all the excitement and adventure of May and the perfect opportunity to try out some new products. My June favourites are a pick-n-mix of different purchases I’m loving, artists I’ve been enjoying and organisations that I’ve been admiring this month. I’m so excited to share these discoveries with you and I would love to hear about what you’ve been loving this month. Enjoy!

Beauty

This month, I’ve been all about the brows and so my absolute favourite product of June has got to be my Benefit ‘Gimme Brow’ fiber gel. I bought this gel from Sephora in Dubai after one of the Benefit make-up artists gave me a make-over and I think I’ve used it nearly every day since then. My brows are quite sparse, wiry and are much lighter than my hair colour so this gel is perfect for me. The gel coats the eyebrow hairs and the skin to fill in any gaps, makes the hair look thicker and sticks it into place so you have a much neater, more polished brow line. The applicator is shaped like a tiny mascara ward and is the perfect shape and size for shaping as you can make sure you coat the tiniest of hairs without adding great big blobs of product in the process. The gel is also buildable so you can create a natural look during the day and then add extra product at night for a more dramatic evening look without getting crusty eyebrows in the process.

My second beauty favourite of June has got to be my Rimmel ‘Wake Me Up’ concealer.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this concealer! During the winter, my skin always feels a bit dull due to the lack of sunshine so just adding a few dabs of this under my eyes makes a dramatic difference. It has a lovely brightening effect that make your eyes look instantly more awake so on the early mornings when I’m still half asleep and don’t have time to put on a full face of make-up, popping a bit of this on with some BB cream and mascara goes a long way to making me look more alert. The only negative I found with this product is that it’s not the heaviest of concealers so if you’re looking for a concealer to cover breakouts or redness, this probably isn’t the one for you.

Youtube

A youtube channel I’ve been absolutely loving this month has been Jubilee Project. The channel is a collection of short films, mini documentaries and films that aim to change the way we view the world in a positive way and to inspire change for a good cause. My favourite series of videos on the channel is a collection of interviews called ’50 People 1 Question’. I love the way that these videos have been created; the footage is so raw and honest in the interviews and all the clumsy, fumbling moments and awkward pauses are included.

Movies

Did anyone else sob themselves silly while watching ‘Me Before You’? Oh my goodness, how good was this movie?? When I first saw the trailer a few months back on youtube, I went straight out to buy the book because I already knew I was going to love this movie. Firstly, because of the Ed Sheeran song on the soundtrack. Secondly, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. And thirdly, her shoes! I love her quirky fashion sense and I love that he loves her quirky fashion sense. This is one of the few novel-turned movies that I actually like (the book is always better!) and I thought the acting was just phenomenal. Any over-acting in a story like this could have easily made the movie sickly-sweet but Emilia and Sam played their parts perfectly.

Books

We’ve had a blustery, rainy June this year in Perth which has given me the perfect opportunity to cosy up with a blanket and wade through my ‘to-read’ book pile. My favourite book this month has got to be ‘Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. This book was given to me as a Christmas present and I think I read the entire book in a day.  The story is about an internet security officer who is hired to monitor the company emails of the local newsroom and while reading the email correspondence between two of his female colleagues, forms an attachment to one of the newspaper writers. It sounds a bit creepy but it’s actually an incredibly sweet story and while this is not generally the kind of book I choose to read, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone looking for something light-hearted and fun to read.

My second favourite book that I read this month was ‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey. This was such a unique story and the perfect book to read in winter-time as the story takes place in a log cabin in the middle of the woods of snowy Alaska in the 1920’s. ‘The Snow Child’ was inspired by a Russian fairy tale and is the tale of an elderly childless couple who are visited by a mysterious little girl in the middle of winter. This is one of the loveliest fairytale re-tellings I’ve read and the only word I can use to describe it is magical. The language, the descriptions, the storyline – everything about this book is just magical and I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it.

Charity

One organisation I’ve been hearing so much about this month is the Perth-based Love Thread Project. The purpose of the project is to combat social justice through the fashion and creative industry and to empower and educate young women at-risk, which is something I am personally very passionate about supporting. The organisation runs regular fashion and creative workshops and events, all with the purpose of encouraging dreamers to find their passion, connecting like-minded people and ultimately raising awareness and support for women who are in need of help. 100% of the profits from the Perth workshops go towards funding a fashion restoration program in Bali for young women who are survivors of human trafficking.

 

Feature image courtesy of the-uglyfish.co.uk

99 Things I Love in 2016

I got the idea for this post from a blog I started following recently called Reflections of a Redhead. On the blog, the writer offers up the challenge to other bloggers to write a list of 99 things that they love and she enjoys doing it so much herself, she’s done it three different times. I love this idea because it’s such a great exercise in practicing gratitude as it forces you to think about all the blessings you have in your life and helps you appreciate them a little bit more. While I was writing my list, I was thinking about all the unique experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life and I even contacted a few people I hadn’t spoken to in ages to recount a funny moment I remembered sharing with them.

So here is my list of 99 Things that I love in 2016. I hope you enjoy and I would love to know some things that you’re loving right now. If you decide to write your own list as a blog post, please leave a link in the comments as I would love to have a read.

  1. My crazy, quirky, loveable family. I’m so blessed to have a family who I genuinely like being around.
  2. My fur-baby, Stella. I cannot imagine loving my human child as much as I love this little fluff ball.
  3. Being an adventurer. Travelling alone especially has opened up a whole new world to me and I wouldn’t change my travel experiences for anything.
  4. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and a chocolate flake on a wintery day.
  5. Blogging, which is something I’ve only recently got back into but am enjoying very much. Aside from the writing aspect, I’m really loving the community of bloggers and being inspired by other writers in this little corner of the internet.
  6. The smell of jasmine in the summertime.
  7. Being a Christian. It’s not been an easy road but I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
  8. Blank journals. All the possibilities…..
  9. A really, really good TV series that you just have to stay up all night to watch. Some of my favourites this year have been Game of Thrones, Outlander, Mr. Robot, Thirteen, Prison Break, The Originals and Broadchurch. Go watch them but only if you are prepared for a giant binge-fest.
  10. Bouquets of fresh flowers. I always feel that things in my life are going very well if I have a vase of fresh flowers somewhere in my house.IMG_1406
  11. My little orange car. I love her so much; she hasn’t let me down yet and I can always spot her in a crowded car park no matter where she is.
  12. Being in the company of creative, inspiring people.
  13. My dad’s homemade pizza.
  14. Watching home videos and looking at old photos. I love revisiting memories and having something tangible that captures a moment that you never want to forget.
  15. Making lists. I don’t know why but it just makes me so happy.
  16. My wildly different but very special circle of friends who are scattered all over the world.
  17. Random acts of kindness. It makes my heart feel like it will burst with happiness when I see a person doing something for another for no reason other than pure kindness. It gives me hope for humanity.
  18. Farmer’s markets. I wish I could get up early enough to go to more of these.
  19. Having energy. My health has been all over the place for the past few years and my energy levels have been terrible so I’m ecstatic to be at a stage where I wake up in the morning and feel like I have a normal amount of energy.
  20. Christmas morning. Actually anything and everything to do with Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year and I can’t think of a single thing I hate about it. Except maybe Brussel sprouts. IMG_2489
  21. Bubble baths. If there happens to be Lush products, candles and a good book, even better.
  22. I do quite enjoy my social media, Instagram in particular. This is with the exception of people posting spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones. That is just not ok!
  23. Having a lovely, long lie-in and then eating breakfast in bed while watching Nigella. Bliss!
  24. Having a good scream. It’s such a stress release!
  25. Fairy lights. Everything just feels a bit more magical with fairy lights.
  26. Going to Gold Class movies with my friend, Shelley. She introduced me to Gold Class movies many years ago and we always order ice-cream sundaes that are so big, they come in a fish bowl. Such a decadent treat!
  27. Singing ‘Under Pressure’ in the car with my sister while getting McFlurries late at night. It’s become quite the tradition.
  28. Lying in bed at night when it’s raining and feeling all cosy and warm.
  29. Laughing so hard you pee your pants.
  30. Quirky clothes. I love putting something on in the morning that makes me smile and makes me feel a little bit different. IMG_2223
  31. Going for dessert with my friend, Cherese. It’s a beautiful thing when you find someone who shares the same passion for all things chocolate.
  32. My Scottish kilt. There are a lot of memories wrapped up in that tartan fabric.
  33. Feeling a part of a community when I’m at church. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that feeling and it feels good.
  34. Cruising. I went on my first cruise this year and I never want to go on a regular holiday again. I’ve never felt so pampered.
  35. Red lipstick. It makes me feel like a sassy minx.
  36. The feeling I have when I’m at home. I can only describe it as feeling like I’m wrapped up in a warm, cosy blanket.
  37. Going for massages with my mom.
  38. Edinburgh. This city will always have a little piece of my soul wrapped up in its cobblestone streets and foggy nights.
  39. Musicals and theatre.
  40. My book collection. It made me feel like Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ when I finally had enough books to warrant getting a bookshelf ladder. IMG_2285
  41. Giving presents. I get more excited about giving gifts than receiving them at Christmas, especially when I know I’ve found a present that someone is going to love.
  42. Cream limoncello. It’s like a lemony Baileys that we discovered in Italy this year and it’s just heavenly.
  43. Big, messy, happy family get-togethers with cousins and uncles you haven’t seen in ages and everyone is laughing and being silly and loving each other in their own crazy, comfortable way.
  44. Experimenting with new make-up techniques. I’m determined to perfect contouring!
  45. Stella’s furry little Grinch paws.
  46. Funny travel stories. I love how people do things that they would never normally do on holiday and the hilarious stories that come from these experiences. I have more than my fair share of these particular stories.
  47. Popping champagne corks. The sound alone feels like a special occasion.
  48. Homemade gifts. I love getting a gift that someone has put their time and effort into, it’s so thoughtful and precious. I have many gifts that my talented mom has made me over the years and I can’t wait to hand some of these down to my children as family heirlooms.
  49. Ed Sheeran’s music. And his hair.
  50. Getting to see the Colosseum in Rome this year! This has been a lifelong dream of mine and it was every bit as awe-inspiring as I hoped it would be. IMG_4177
  51. Having someone else blow-dry my hair for me. My hair is a lion’s mane most days and it takes a lot of effort to calm it into submission so it is such a treat when someone else tackles with task for me.
  52. Reading ‘Little Women’ and ‘Matilda’. These two books are my childhood in pages.
  53. My skin. I’ve been blessed with good genes and a mother who always made me wear suncream so my English-rose skin has not suffered too badly in the Australian sun.
  54. Anything to do with Wonder Woman.
  55. Jumping on a freshly made bed. Particularly someone else’s.
  56. Harry Potter books. All of them.
  57. My coffee mug collection. I’m very specific about the kind of mugs that I like so it’s like discovering gold when I find one that meets all my unique specifications (and if it happens to have rose gold on it anywhere, even better).
  58. The exhilaration of jumping into a pool on a hot day with all your clothes on.
  59. Road trips. I love being able to jump in the car and go on an adventure somewhere for the weekend.
  60. Catching people in their unguarded, honest moments. 1471920_10206542337146029_3821385913026043293_n
  61. Bookshops. Second-hand, brand-new, independent, chain stores, I love them all. I love the smell of books, the feeling of undiscovered treasures and the calmness that bookshops exude.
  62. Yoga. I never, ever feel like going to a yoga class but I always enjoy it when I go. I like feeling my body getting stronger as I’m able to hold poses I struggled with before and I like how totally relaxed I feel during the breathing exercises. Yet still I resist!
  63. Toasting marshmallows on a bonfire. One of my favourite childhood memories.
  64. Outdoor eating areas on busy city streets where there are plenty of opportunities for people watching.
  65. Cinnamon scented candles.
  66. Room service. It’s like breakfast in bed all day without even having to do your own dishes.
  67. My mom’s winter puddings.
  68. Water parks, fun fairs and carnivals. I love fast rides and watersides and carnival games.
  69. The luxury of being able to spend hours writing in a coffee shop or playing card games in a pub when there is nowhere else you have to be.
  70. Dancing like a mad woman and not caring one bit. n732347189_1183103_4932
  71. Reading my old diaries in all their cringe-worthy glory.
  72. South African ribs. Mmmm!!
  73. Finishing an article or story or blog post. It’s such a great feeling typing that very last word!
  74. Getting a spray tan. I’ve never in my life been able to tan so it’s a new experience for me.
  75. Growing my own herbs. I’m awful at remembering to water them but when I do, it’s pretty cool cooking with something you’ve grown yourself.
  76. Checking things off my ‘to-do’ list. So satisfying!
  77. Eating strawberries and cream in secret gardens.
  78. My granddad’s house at Christmas.
  79. Finding friends who are just as weird as you.100_1326
  80. People who are encouragers. We need more people like this in the world!
  81. Ben & Jerry’s ‘Half Baked’ ice-cream. Pint-size, please!
  82. That feeling in your tummy when you do something really scary and it actually turns out alright.
  83. Dreamers.
  84. Watching Vlogmas videos on Youtube. All year long.
  85. Aimless wandering in foreign cities.
  86. My friend Taty’s chocolate mousse.
  87. Lying in the warm sun on a fluffy beach blanket smelling of coconutty suncream.
  88. Movie nights at my brother and sister-in-law’s house.
  89. The Shakespeare and Co. bookshop in Paris. If I could only ever visit one bookshop in my life, this would be it.
  90. Drawing for no other reason than for your own pleasure. IMG_1786
  91. The feeling of being loved and accepted and admired for who you are.
  92. Eating the leftovers from a party late at night in your pyjamas.
  93. Leaving a place and feeling like you still have so much to discover there.
  94. The Christmas markets in Berlin.
  95. Quirky things that are there for no other reason than to look cute. Like when people hang hundreds of multicoloured umbrellas from the ceiling just because it looks cool.
  96. Pepperoni pizza and wine on a Sunday night watching ‘The Tudors’ with my favourite American roommate.
  97. Documentaries about psychopaths and murderers. I find them endlessly fascinating and disturbing at the same time.
  98. Coming home from a shopping trip with bags full of treasures.
  99. Knowing that there are still so many unexplored adventures waiting out there in the world.

 

 

 

8 Ways to have a Wonderful Winter

Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and officially the middle of winter. I love the winter season, mainly because it’s such a change from our usual hot weather here in Perth and I am more than happy to take advantage of the baggy woollen jumpers by drinking a lot of hot chocolate and sneaking a few puddings in after supper. However, if you are pining for summer days and want to do nothing more than stay rugged up inside until springtime, here are a few ways to make the winter season more bearable.

1. Try a new restaurant

Just because it’s cold outside, it doesn’t mean you have to hibernate all winter (yes, that includes you, people of Perth). There are some gorgeous restaurants and coffee shops around that have toasty fireplaces and outdoor heaters and at this time of year there are plenty of special deals on (especially during the week) to lure people out on frosty nights.

2. Plan a holiday

If the thought of icy winds and chilly mornings makes you feel gloomy, start planning your summer holidays. Planning a getaway takes a lot of research so winter evenings are the perfect time to start scouring the internet for information on every kind of tropical island holiday you can dream of. It’s even more fun doing this by a toasty fireplace with cosy blankets and a hot cup of tea with biscuits for dunking.

3. Learn a new skill

Winter is an ideal time to perfect a skill you’ve been wanting to learn for a while. Whether it’s learning a new language, mastering a musical instrument or getting crafty with some paintbrushes and knitting needles, it’s much easier being home working on a project when it’s cooler out than in the summer when the temptation is much greater to be outside in the sun with an ice-cream and a good book.

4. Have a bubble bath

Having a bubble bath on a hot, summer day just doesn’t feel right so take the time during the winter months to get your bubble bath fix. Light some candles, put some relaxing music on and maybe even grab a cheeky glass of wine (or two) to make it extra-special. Bubble baths are so beneficial for reducing stress levels and for warming you up on cold winter nights. I highly recommend using Lush’s ‘The Comforter’ bubble bar for mounds of lovely foam and bubbles.

5. Make a bonfire

One of my favourite memories of growing up in South Africa was having all our family over for a braai on a Saturday afternoon (or barbecue for the non-South Africans) and then sitting around the fire afterwards, roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Just looking at an open fire makes you feel warmer and winter is the perfect time of year to get the bonfire going, wrap up in warm blankets and sip hot chocolate under the stars.

6. Experiment with cooking

As soon as the weather starts to get cooler, I automatically start craving warm, comfort food. There is nothing nicer than sitting in your pyjamas watching a good movie while eating a hearty winter stew with crusty bread or a homemade blackberry crumble with hot custard. Winter is a great time to indulge in some hearty, homemade treats and the great thing about making them yourself is you know there are no additives or preservatives harming your body. My challenge this winter is to come up with the perfect Mulled Wine recipe.

7. Get organised

Cold nights at home are a great time to get yourself organised and finish off those projects that always seem to get put off for later days. Catch-up on correspondence, organise your photo collection, sort out your wardrobe, finish off some art projects or sort through all the paperwork that piles up in desk drawers. It is such a satisfying feeling to complete a project that has been sitting untouched for months and I find that getting these things out of the way is like a mental clear-out and gives my brain new space for fresh ideas and inspiration.

8. Try a winter sport

I recently learned how to ski (in Dubai of all places!) and it was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever tried. Even though it can be the last thing you feel like doing on a chilly day, it is so much fun to embrace the weather and try activities you can only do at this time of year. There is ice-skating, snowboarding or tobogganing and if sports are not really your thing, you can even just go for a walk in the park. My body seems to work so much better in the cold weather and it’s so refreshing when you’ve been inside all day by the heater to clear the cobwebs and breathe in some fresh air.