Sunday, 31 August 2014

In & Out #1

Ah, I love a good In & Out post - a break down of things I'm loving and things that have fallen out of my favour, for now. Inspired by my early years as a reader of blogs, this format reminds me mostly of Laura and Elle, and are still some of my favourites to read.


In


My new Vitamix - the mother of all blenders! If you're not quite sure if this is worth the price tag, it is. The blending action on this is so crazy the friction creates heat - so you can make a piping hot soup from raw ingredients in under 5 minutes - crazy!! We've also blended tahini from raw sesame seeds and more typically, it makes a killer smoothie or juice. To go with the latter, I've recently come across simplegreensmoothies.com and would highly recommend you have a go. Unlike some dodgy renditions I've tried out from random sites, this one seems to be highly reliable taste-wise. A personal favourite is the Chocolate Covered Cherry. Delish.

Baths - As I mentioned in my most recent Sunday Sesh, moving into my new apartment marks the first time I've had a bath since moving out of home 10 years ago. A whole domain of lovely bath products has now been made relevant to me... like I need another excuse to shop. Nonetheless, I've been loving a bit of a peruse of new bath products, and recently made two custom concoctions from The Bathory. They smell divine and the packaging is gorgeous - thoughts on the actual baths coming soon!

Decor dreaming - Any move brings with it new inspiration for how to design your perfect space. I love our new apartment, but unfortunately it came furnished and I'm less than enamoured by the owner's taste! This has left me spending hours on end re-thinking my ideal use of the space, how I would change it if I owned it, and given I don't, how we can re-work it, add to it and remove from it to make it perfect for us. I love design in general, and could literally search furniture, decor, layout and design ideas for hours on end. And I have been.

Threading - I got threaded last week and while it wasn't my first time, it was my first time in a while. I won't let that happen again! I've been waxing my own eyebrows for the better part of 2 years now but threading is cheap as chips, and the result was tidy, well-groomed and neatly shaped. Now just to work out how to keep my eyes from tearing so I can keep from looking like a crazy lady.

Blogging - As I mentioned in my I'm Back post - the last few months have been some of my busiest, ever. That, combined with my buying ban, unfortunately left me a bit uninspired, beauty-wise. I was just trying to get on, and coming up with ideas, taking photos and writing was seeming a bit laborious on my end, and boring on yours. Well, I've now landed in the UK and am in a bit of retail heaven. I've been 'good' so far, but the main upside has been a renewed interest in discovering new things, enjoying old things, and sharing my thoughts. Stay tuned.

Out


Summer - more by force than by choice, Manchester has already become damp and chilly, and any glimmer of summer seems to have resolutely disappeared. Enter Autumn fever. By far my favourite season for fashion, and probably for makeup too. Bring it on!

Traveling - this one is very #firstworldproblems but I spent the last year and a half feeling very unsettled in Copenhagen, not least because Dean spent the first year of that "commuting" between Australia and Denmark. June and July were absolutely crazy with moving followed by a month-long work trip all over the map, and I'm continuing to commute occasionally between Manchester and Copenhagen. We have the privilege to travel more than most, and I by no means take that for granted, but the flipside is that it feels very nice to spend some time getting settled in our new apartment, and new city, and being home for a while.

My hair - I had to have a minor surgery this month to remove a mole from my scalp (side note: Please get regular skin checks with your dermatologist and wear sun protection!) and it's meant that dealing with my hair is even more of a nightmare than usual. It's probably my least favourite feature - fine, dull, flat, and veering towards oily. Not being able to wash it frequently or thoroughly enough has only made matters worse. I really want a good cut/colour/style but there's no way I'm letting anyone near my head until my stitches are out and healed so until then, I'm really just over it.

There we have it - a slightly rambly list of the things I'm enjoying in my life at the moment, and those I'm not. On the whole, life is being very good to me. Here's to new beginnings! What's in and out in your life these days?

Friday, 29 August 2014

My summer fashion staples

Trends come and go but staple products stand the test of time. So, while the popularity of crop tops, jellies and ugly sandals is sure to wane, you can bet I'll have some version of the following must-haves year after year. Maybe you can even snag something good in the sales, ready for next year. Here's my rundown...


  1. A no-fuss crossbody bag: summer means hot, so unless you're going to the beach, carrying around a big bulky bag on your arm just feels a bit heavy. I tend to go for smaller, lighter crossbody bags, which have the added bonus of being hands free (your G&T will thank you). I'd recommend at least one neutral/go-to and a brighter colour to inject some fun into your wardrobe.
  2. Comfy heeled sandals: I'm oddly difficult when it comes to sandals - I find most either too glitzy or too jesus-inspired. As a result I usually find one pair I like and wear them to death. Luckily the simple clean lined (if not bulky) B&W styles for this season have offered up a range of options. I prioritised finding a pair of comfortable and easy to wear open-toe heels to ward off the temptation of wearing flats for 3 months straight. This Zara option are low with an easy-to-walk-in heel without looking orthopaedic, strappy but simple, neither too bulky nor too delicate, and the black will go with everything.
  3. Boyfriend jeans: The perfect loose fitting style for when it's too hot for skin-hugging denim. Boyfriend jeans can easily be dressed up or down, and because of their versatility I think it's worth investing in a nice pair with the right fit. I'd recommend something similar to this JBrand pair I bought a couple years ago which are baggy through the leg but still fitted enough around the waist to be flattering.
  4. Open knit jumper: An open-knit jumper is the perfect remedy for balmy summer nights. We've all met that uncomfortable threshold of being too hot with a cardigan and too cold without one. An open-knit style provides some warmth, but still shows some skin. Go for a cotton make with a slouchy fit.
  5. Sunnies: Opinion differs about whether sunglasses are investment pieces and I'm definitely in the 'yes' camp. Find a pair you love and make sure they have proper UV protection. No need to get too trendy here - a classic style that suits your face will continue to look chic year after year. My Ray-Ban Clubmasters are my first pair of prescription sunnies and it's a total revelation.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Scrubs

Pardon me if I interrupt your late-90s TLC dance party with a quick beauty post. Dissapointingly, I'm not talking about guys who think they're fly (also known as bustas), and these scrubs certainly do get a fair bit of love from me... I'm referring to these happy new additions to my shower, two exfoliating offerings from Soap & Glory that have both face and body covered.



Soap & Glory Scrubatomic: I gave up physical facial scrubs for the better part of a year in favour of more gentle acid alternatives, but I'd been feeling that my skin was a bit congested - not broken out, just some blocked pores that I felt would be better addressed with a good slough. A mix of good reviews and a sort of elation at my new found access to Boots led me to Scrubatomic. Billed as a daily facial polish for all skin types, this scrub has both AHAs and exfoliating beads, i.e. the best of both worlds. It smells deliciously of peach, and contains fruit acids, clay, antioxidants, and shea butter. Recommended use is 4-7 times per week and for my tending-towards-sensitive skin this is way too much - 1-2 times a week has me sorted. But, it's non-drying and is an affordable option that gets the job done when you really need a proper exfoliating session.

Soap & Glory The Breakfast Scrub: I cannot even put into words how glorious this product smells. Like proper maple syrup, with banana, honey, and almond. The pot warns that "this is not a food", and it's a reasonable precaution to take! It's called The Breakfast Scrub, and this stuff really does settle a craving for a stack of pancakes. The smell alone makes this a worthwhile purchase, but luckily it's also a perfectly effective body scrub. Skin is left smooth and hydrated, but without a greasy film, and ever so lightly sweetly scented. A serious winner.

And there we have it. Dare I say that with these two in tow, I don't want no [other] scrubs.

Monday, 18 August 2014

A petite Japanese beauty haul

One highlight of my time away was spending 10 days in Tokyo for a conference (check out my instagram for some of what I got up to!). I was more interested in exploring the city and eating than seeking out beauty, but I did quickly pop into a Matsumoto Kiyoshi (notable by its yellow sign, and highly recommended for Japanese beauty finds!) while I was in Harajuku. This was towards the end of the trip and I had spent over a week checking out all the girls' immaculately drawn cat eyes so the haul is exclusively focused on replicating that look (the other less-than-subtle graphic makeup is another story!)


  • Majolica Majorca Lash King Mascara: The brand is owned by Shiseido, which by the way, has SUCH a more varied offering within Japan than elsewhere! I've heard good things about these mascaras for those with short or hard to curl lashes. Even though I don't fit in this camp, best to play to your strengths, right?
  • Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Deep Black: A liquid eyeliner pen that I'm hoping will make achieving thin lines and flicks all the more easier. I haven't had great luck with these sorts of things in the past, but here's to hoping. Side note - does anyone else with long eyelashes find they get in the way applying liquid/gel eyeliner to the upper lash line?!
  • Love Cherie by D.U.P. Eyelashes in 05 nude: A minor confession - I've never (never!) worn fake eyelashes. Given they're such a 'thing' in Japan, with literally endless options, I thought it would be fun to give them a go. I kept it simple with a natural looking pair -  I didn't want anything too long or crazy - but now I'm wondering whether these will even make a difference on my eyes. We'll see.

In the end, I played it a bit safe (read: boring). I was strapped for time and while I know these brands are available online from elsewhere, I knew I probably would have never made the effort. Nonetheless, whether I perfect my killer cat eye or fail miserably, I'll keep you updated on whether any of these turn out to be noteworthy.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Sunday Sesh #2: 'I finally have a bath!' edition

Wouldn't you know - my fifth apartment (and fourth country!) since moving out of home 10 years ago, and I finally have my very first bath! This is big, people! For years I've had to listen to people gush about their favourite bath products on blogs and YouTube, leading me to have one steadfast rule - holiday hotels must have a nice standalone bath. Thanks to my recent move to the UK, this mainstay for relaxation can now be mine in my very own home! (said with all the exuberance of the Price is Right announcer, of course!). Check out this week's Sunday evening ritual... the perfect way to savour the final moments of the weekend and get ready for a busy week ahead.


The bath

Not the most luxurious experience, but a good slough with a body brush on dry skin does wonders for exfoliation. I've yet to make this part of a regular routine but it can be oddly satisfying.  Using thElemis Spa@Home Body Detox Skin Brush, in long motions towards your heart is meant to aid detoxification, but I can assure you it definitely leaves skin super duper smooth. For my bath itself I'm using a cocktail of Therapie Himalayan Detox Salts and Aromatherapy Associates Bath & Shower Oil in Revive Evening. The salts have a cult following because they literally knock you out. I began a disbeliever but was quickly converted - these things claim to aid sleep and they really do work. When I use them I can feel my blood pressure rise in the bath - not in a scary way, just in a 'good circulation' way, and I'm assuming as your body cools after the bath you drift to sleep. Either way, they smell herbaceous, spa-like and totally relaxing. Perfectly complimented by the bath oil for smooth and well-nourished skin. An extremely luxe combo. 

The treatments: 

Sunday funday is all about treating yourself, so I take care to look after my face, body and hair. While in the bath I smooth on a face mask - this time I'm using Jurlique Intense Recovery Mask - a clay-based mask that claims to clarify and hydrate skin at the same time. It's not the best clarifying mask I've used, but it is a great middle ground for cleansing skin without leaving it stripped. (If I'm honest, for the price, I'd probably recommend the Aesop mask over this one!) Right before getting out of the bath, I smooth over Therapie Cherish Skin Repair Serum, a lovely aromatherapy skin conditioner that is great for skin and smells super relaxing. It's packed with essential oils, so a bit strong and oily for daytime, but it's the perfect overnight treatment. I got mine along with the bath salts and some other bits in the Discovery Kit available on Cult Beauty - perfect both for travel and a highly recommend way to trial the brand. Last up, I'll throw my hair in a turban with a good dose of the Philip Kingsley Elasticizer and sleep in it before washing out Monday Morning.

The perfect lineup for relaxation and revitalisation at the week's end.

I'm back!

Just checking in to let you know that after a swift 2 month hiatus I'm officially back to blogging! In this time I've packed up my life for an international move, attended multiple conferences for work during a 3+ week trip to France, The Netherlands and Japan, made a few quick stops in Copenhagen, visited a friend in Oxford, had a good friend visit Dean and I from Korea, and gone a fair way settling into our new flat in Manchester, UK!! To say it has been busy and exciting is an understatement! Some snippets below for your viewing pleasure, but check out my instagram for more regular updates on what I'm up to.


My summer has not been at all relaxing but it has been super fun. I got to catch up with friends in all of the above said countries, many of whom I had not seen in months going on years. The more Dean and I move around the harder it can be see friends regularly, but the flipside is that we have people we care about literally all over the world. It was my first time in Amsterdam and in Tokyo, two cities I fell in love with and I vow to revisit over and over.

We've now been in Manchester going on three weeks, mostly spending the time settling into the flat, unpacking, stocking the kitchen, and doing other fun home-related things, which thankfully we both love. I've been doing my best to tap into the twitter scene in Manchester to find new venues but please do send through any tips or recommendations you may have for things to do and places to eat, drink, etc! Now that I'm achieving a new normal, I'm also going to resume my regular Mon-Wed-Fri-Sun blogging schedule, this time with all the inspiration that comes from exploring the shops and offers a new country has to offer. First new post is coming at you this evening... stay tuned!

Cat xx