Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015

This morning I woke up and realized that it was a last day of 2015. I will probably have a quiet but enjoyable celebration of coming 2016 New Year with my husband.




I read my post from last year and it inspired me to reflect on 2015. It seems like I have achieved most of my aspirations from last year. Traveling was probably the highlight of this year.

Locally I traveled to...

Melbourne

Sydney


Byron Bay, Lennox Head and Ballina



Stanthorpe



Internationally I went to...

Austria




Home (Ukraine)





New Zealand




There was some new experiences...like music festival (I went to the Future in March and had so much fun)


...and wine tour in New Zealand (Central Otago)


...and embraced a new hobby of growing orchids



Financially I seems to be better off too. All but one credit card have been paid off and cancelled. My remaining credit card has very low limit and gets paid off in full each month. I use it for travel etc. but I have been using my saving account for majority of my purchases. I also re-financed my mortgage and that took a lot of pressure off. The minimum repayments are well below the current rent rates in the area but I want to pay it off as much as possible to give myself even more financial freedom.

At work I had lots of eventful moments but gained from it a lot as well as having a chance to meet lots of wonderful and challenging people. I negotiated to have Wednesdays off and it made a very nice difference to my work-life balance.

I would like to carry on with my previous aspirations:
  • Practice positive self-talk and be aware of negative thoughts, unjustified assumptions and conclusions. Appreciate what you have and work on aspects you wish to change.
  • Get rid of things you don't need or like.
  • Limit contact with people who bring you down or waste your time. Spend that time instead on quality friends, me-time and family.
  • Continue eating healthy and exercising regularly, aim to make 80% of the meals.
  • Explore! Visit new countries, cities or be a tourist in your own back yard.
  • Keep my unit looking nice - get rid of clutter, keep it clean and replace old and ugly bit.
  • Appreciate what you have :) 
plus add one more thing... drink less alcohol!







Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day 2015

I spent three days at home lounging around, watching TV and taking naps. It was wonderful but I started to get a cabin fever so today I decided to get out and check out the shops.

Shopping on Boxing day in suburban shopping centers scarred me for a while with standstill car parks, people everywhere, screaming kids and mostly useless leftover stock on offer. So I figured Brisbane CBD was my best bet. I found car park on the street straight away only short 5 minute walk from the center. Queen street mall was still packed with crowds and I saw few shops letting only limited numbers of people at a time (Windsor Smith and Hype).

I went to Zara, David Jones and Myer (only one level as I couldn't handle going up the escalators), L'Occitane and Topshop. I didn't bother with the change rooms as the line ups were huge and I though it would be easier to return something instead (like the cute yellow dress I picked up from Topshop but it just doesn't suit me).

Anyways I ended up with...



1. Guerlain L'Homme Ideal Cologne set $58 reduced from $84 from David Jones
It is not the first male fragrance I am more than eager to wear myself. I told my other half that I got it for him but I plan to use it myself (hehehe). It is the most perfect and fresh blend of sweet citrus, almonds and musk with slight earthiness from vetiver.

2. L'Occitane Fleurs de Cerisier L'Eau $35 reduced from $70 from L'Occitane
This must be my favorite version of their Cherry Blossom fragrance. I tested it couple of months ago at L'Occitane outlet at Harbourtown but decided to walk away as I've already spent too much money that day. However I wanted it badly. I went to the L'Occitane boutique with the sole purpose of hunting it down and there it was at 50% off. It has fruity but well balanced opening featuring watermelon and currants minus the headache-inducing nuance of a lot of modern fruity fragrances. Then it mellows to soft floral base. I love the fact that L'Occitane uses high-quality natural ingredients in their perfumes.

3. Illamasqua Nail Polish in Prismatic $8.50 reduced from $24 from Myer
I love every single Illamasqua nail polish I've collected in the last couple of years. They have good coverage, drying time and staying power. Not to mention gorgeous and unique colours. Prismatic is a soft blue shade with lots of pink and purple particles that change to gold in certain lights.


 It reminds me of an afternoon sky when you start getting all these pretty colours on a blue background.

4. Guerlain Meteorites in Palm Springs (Rainbow Pearls) $49 reduced from $70 from David Jones
I finally got "the ballz"! I've heard a lot about them but never got around to getting them as I used to use more matte and fuller coverage powders. However in the recent few months my skin improved a lot and I have been wearing lighter and sheer formulas more. I tested them first and walked away as I wanted to do a bit more research. Few times the light caught the back of my hand where I tested them and it was illuminated with very pretty shimmer. I was mesmerized. While waiting for my lunch I've also learned that this particular edition came on very pretty and solid metal container as opposed to their paper packaging.


On top of everything they were sold for quite a bit online and David Jones price was very reasonable. I grabbed my lunch and went back to DJ, half of them were gone within an hour.

My pretties <3

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Parcel from Marie Claire - Summer 2015 edition

I was expecting my parcel to arrive in the mail any day now and it finally got here. First thing I've noticed is the wide variety of products included. It made me very happy as it is the whole point of me subscribing to this service.


1. Lonvitalite masks Coconut Milk and Red Wine (value $16)
They are pre-moistened cloth face masks that are supposed to be worn for 20 minutes. I hope they smell nice.

2. Michael Kors Gold edition perfime sample - Rose Radiant Gold 1.5 ml (value $3.30)
I usually don't have a very good luck with MK perfumes but this one is quite nice. It opens up with lush white florals with pink pepper in the background. It is not terribly unique but I will wear it.

3. Sally Hansen nail polish in Right Said Red 14.7 ml (value $14.95)
Classic bright creme red. Too bad I already have similar nail polishes like OPI Vodka and Caviar.

4. Maybelline Colour Elixir in Fuchsia Flourish 5ml (value $17.95)
It looked very bright in the tube and I instantly wished I got the more subtle pink shade instead. However it turned out to be very sheer and looked quite flattering on my lips. It also feels very moisturizing and has the most gorgeous neroli-strawberry scent. 

5. Maybelline The Colosal Pumped Up Volum' Express mascara 10 ml (value $19.95)
I forgot the last time I had to buy a tube of mascara as these boxes seem to provide me with sufficient and constant supply. I am always happy to try volumising mascaras and I am very happy that it doesn't have that plastic or silicone brush that a lot of other mascaras seem to have these days.

6. Trilogy Make-up Be Gone cleansing balm 10 ml (value $4.60)
I haven't tried cleansing balms yet so this product is of great interest to me. It has the most pleasant powdery floral scent and comes as a solid balm that melts when in contact with skin.

7. Swisse Deep Sea hydrating mist toner 15 ml (value $1.20)
Conveniently packed in small plastic spray bottle and has the most lush rosewater scent. It is definitely coming with me on my next flight. If I like using it I will get a big 125 ml bottle of this stuff which retails for just $9.95.

8. OGX Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner 60 ml each (value $5.60)
Perfect size for my next trip.

9. Elizabeth Arden Superstar Skin Renewal Booster 5 ml (value $14)
I thought it was supposed to be a serum but this product is meant to be used before serum. I don't like overly complicated skincare routines but will try using it under my moisturiser.

10. Paula's Choice Vitamin C spot treatment 5 ml (value $23)
I wanted to try Vitamin C product for my neck lines for ages. I had them all my life but as I got older they became more obvious. I've read that Vitamin C is supposed to improve the appearance of those lines so I am very keen to try this product.

11. Zoeva eye shadow brush (value $17)
This is supposed to be a high-quality German brushes. The one I got is nice and soft oval eyeshadow brush and will be perfect for all-over application.

The total value of this box is just over $135 which makes it the best value box I have received so far. I am happy with everything I got this season and will probably give away only face masks as I have other ones I like using.







Sunday, September 20, 2015

Marie Claire The Parcel - Spring 2015, Special Anniversary Edition

I was impatiently expecting my MC parcel arrive in early September but it was delivered to me only few days ago. I was particularly excited about this one as it is a special 20th Anniversary edition. So this is what I got...


1. Redwin Coconut Balm - value $5.99
I love the original PawPaw Ointment and keep coming back to it after trying other alternatives. However I am keen to give this product a shot. It basically has lots and lots of various oils plus a bit of beeswax.

2. Frizz Ease Smooth Start Shampoo and conditioner - value $32
I find John Freida products is somewhere in-between your stock standard supermarket brands and higher-end professional products. I know that this particular line been around for a long long time so they must me doing something right. As a bonus it smells very nice and has creamy consistency. Hopefully my fine blonde hair likes it too.

3. MOR Rosa Noir Hand and Body Milk - value $5
I prefer milk consistency of body products in summer as it is a lot lighter than creme. However I want to see how deep and rich Rosa Noir goes in heat. 

4. St. Tropez In Shower Gradual Tan - value $10
This is the star product of this box! I've heard about in-shower self tanners but haven't seen any. Can you tell I am very keen to try it? I can see using it while waiting for my conditioner to absorb into my hair. Plus no mote sticky residue other gradual tanners may leave bind which can be uncomfortable in summer. It does cost a whopping $40 for a  200 ml bottle so I hope other companies will bring out similar products.

5. L'Oreal Color Riche Matte Lipstick in Ouhlala - value $21.95
Another product that has been around for a long time (30 years!) and is still very popular for all the right reasons. I love the scent of Color Riche lipsticks, it brings so many memories. I think I got my first one from a magazine when I was 15 and used it down to the stump (it was a nice nude brown shade). This one is very bright fuchsia pink and is a welcome addition to my lipstick collection as I don't own this colour yet.

6. Clinique Smart Custom Repair Serum - value $26.60
I have a love/hate relationship with Clinique products so I am happy to test this serum first, so if it doesn't agree with my skin I can just throw it out. It supposed to adjust to any skin type and improve imprefections, I have a combination skin so I really hope it works.

7. Estee Lauder Modern Muse Le Rouge EDP - value $3.60
Estee Lauder release some gorgeous fragrances throughout the years. However it seems like they have been following trends a bit too closely with their recent releases. This one opens with with some rich red fruits, then heavy powdery vanilla comes out along the lines of Black Opium and La Vie Est Belle. It mellows out after few minutes with generic drydown.

Another great box with over $100 worth of products. I was expecting more wow factor out of their Anniversary Edition but I still like it as I can see getting a lot of use out of this box.


Thursday, September 03, 2015

May-August '15 empties

 I actually finished 20 item in the last three months and threw away a huge bag of lip glosses and lipsticks that I haven't used for a while and figured out won't have an urge to use in the future. I am happy with a small selection of lipsticks, few lip glosses and few lip balm floating around my bags and drawers.

I also went on few trips so it helped me to finish few travel-sized products I had stashed away.






 1. L'Occitane Verbena shower gel (travel size)


My overall impression - Thick clear shower gel that foams up nicely. Oh and the scent is gorgeous, I actually prefer it to the perfume version.

Would I buy it again? - I wouldn't say no to it if I got it as a GWP or on sale but I probably wouldn't pay full price for this product. After all it's a shower gel and they all tend to be more or less similar.





 2. Klorane dry shampoo


My overall impression - As you may know I am a big fan of this dry shampoo. It has subtle scent, gives my hair volume and doesn't glue it together like some other similar products.

Would I buy it again? - Yes, again and again!





 3. Revlon Matte eyeliner in Mink




My overall impression - Revlon products don't usually excite me. I had more bad experiences with them than good. I got this eyeliner in one of those beauty boxes and thought, why not. I was pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be one of the best eyeliners I've used. Matte finish provided slightly powdery texture so it literally glided in one smooth line, was easy to blend and colour lasted all day.

Would I buy it again? - Yes! Once I use up my other brown pencils I will be more than happy to re-purchase it and wouldn't mind trying other colours.




4. Tresemme Salon Finish hair spray

My overall impression - Strong hold hair spray with somewhat pleasant scent. It didn't discolour my hair, nor turned it into "90's formal" hairdo. But I wished it had a bit more flexibility and finer mist.
Would I buy it again? - No, I prefer other products.





 5. Kiehl's Creme de Corps body cream (trial size)



My overall impression - I took with me to New Zealand as I knew it would be cooler and dryer there and my skin will need extra TLC. It was very nourishing and lush, absorbed quickly and didn't have strong scent. i could really tell it was a premium product.
Would I buy it again? - Maybe, I am not sure how it is going to behave in warmer and more humid QLD climate. Might be a bit too rich.



6 + 7. Shiseido Tsubaki shampoo and conditioner (trial size)



My overall impression - I got this product as gift with purchase in Singapore and I haven't seen it anywhere else. I must admit it was once of the best travel shampoos and conditioners I've tried. Both of them were rich and creamy and left my hair super soft.
Would I buy it again? - I would if I can find it.



 8. Pure Tan self-tanner in light/medium (trial size)


My overall impression - I took it with me on a trip as I wanted to brighten up my otherwise pasty winter skin. It turned out to be a bluish-brown thick cream with shimmer. The scent wasn't too bad either. It promised a tan in just one hour - easy done! I applied it and waited in the bathroom while reading magazine and browsing my phone so I wouldn't ruin hotel sheets. The i rinsed it off and got dressed. The tan continued to develop for few hours and was very even and natural-looking.
Would I buy it again? - Yes, already have! I managed to find it at Myer and got two tubes on sale.




9. L'Occitane Shower Oil


My overall impression - I've used this product before so I knew how gorgeous it was. It is one of my favorite shower products to use in winter as you don't have to slather moisturizer on while standing on cold tiles.
Would I buy it again? - I got this bottle as a gift with purchase but I probably wouldn't pay full price for it. Quite often they have this shower oil on sale or as a part of special promotion so I tend to pick one up before winter.



10. Clarins Tonic bath and shower gel
My overall impression - This product makes me miss old Clarins. Hopefully they won't discontinue or reformulate it as they did with few other skincare items I used to like. It is very tick and you need a small amount to work it into a rich foam. I am also a big fan of potent herbal scent that only Clarins seem to do well.
Would I buy it again? - Once again it's just a shower gel but I would get it as a part of special promotion or GWP.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

David Jones deluxe sampler tote SS '15



 It is that time of the year when David Jones releases their bi-annual deluxe sampler tote which is available for $19.95 with any beauty purchase.

I have been getting them for few years as I got lots of nice product to try out of them and overall I think they are a great value (often valued over $100)






In my tote I had...

David Jones tinted day cream and daily face cream
My skin is very temperamental and can break out easily so these are going straight into donation, tinted cream has mineral oil in it so it is a big no-no for me personally.

St. Tropez bronzing mousse
Comes in a cute 50 ml bottle and is perfect to take with me on my next holiday. I also get way more applications out of the mousse formula compared to gel or cream.

Ecoya limited edition candle
This miniature candle has warm but clean and subtle scent, right up my alley! Bonus points for cute glass jar.

KORA Organics lip balm
I had good experience with Kora products so far but wouldn't pay full price for them. This lip balm is clear and almost scent-free so it will probably be my next lip-primer.

Burt's Bees cream cleanser
I prefer foaming cleansers to cream cleansers but will give it a shot as an eye make-up remover.

Molton Brown Gingerlily body wash
I like receiving miniature body washes in my packs as I often use them at the gym. Molton Brown body washes are very nice but once again there is no way I would pay full price for them.

Philosophy time is a bottle serum
This is supposed to be an anti-aging product but it also delivers other benefits as even skin tone and reduction of pore size. It comes in a very cute 2 ml pump bottle that is perfect for 1 to 2 weeks trip.

O.P.I nail lacquer in Pussy Galore

How could I walk past a nail polish called Pussy Galore?! I don't usually go for shimmery pink nails but this one dries to a matte "sand" finish that sort of reminds me of a sugar coat. It was fun to wear and looked nice on my nails but it started chipping just after one day.




Monday, August 03, 2015

DFO haul

 On Saturday I had a day to myself so I seized an opportunity and went shopping at DFO (Direct Factory Outlets) near Brisbane Airport.

I've been trying to plan my shop trips to avoid unnecessary purchases. So my goal for this trip was to get some new work appropriate tops and gym gear as I have just started new 12 week challenge. Plus my old gym clothes are super worn, faded and stretched and I would like to still look presentable after my workouts as I will be catching a bus home after the gym.

Overall I had a very successful trip.

 For work I picked up two tops, one from Country Road ($10, reduced from $79.95) and the striped one from Witchery ($30, reduced from $69.95).

Both of them were from the faulty rack but both faults were easily fixed. CR top had a pen mark which was removed with some rubbing alcohol and pre-wash stain remover and the stripe top had tiny hole at the back from security tag. 



 Lorna Jane shop was my next stop. I must admit that I have a love/hate relationship with LJ gear. I have several items that lasted me well for ages and look great and others that faded just after few washes. Still I found some tops that I liked and ended up getting this grey top for $40 (was around $70)


 This tank for $17 (reduced from $46). I am planning to use it as a cover-up over my tight when I head out in public after the gym.

Then I saw this singlet for just $20 (reduced from about $40). I am not a huge fan of slogan anything but the fabric felt very nice and the writing was soft of subtle so I picked it up too,
 Adidas was my last stop and I wished I went there first. They had 30% off already reduced prices of womenswear and shoes. These Aditrack leather runners were originally $100 and I scored them for $28. They are light and compact and look great as casual shoes too. Plus I love classic black and white colour scheme.


 ...and these super comfortable Stella McCartney for Adidas tights for $31

 I will frequent Adidas outlet more often now. I liked every single piece of sportswear I had from them and I like their designs and colors.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Current winter favorites

 I like winter. The days are shot but sunny, the sky is clear and the light comes down at a nice angle. It is a great time to go for a walks during the day and snuggling in front of TV at night. I also love to embrace layered clothes and rich scents. So here is my current winter favorites.






 Keiko Mecheri Cuir Fauve perfume - sweet, smoky and mysterious. It smells very polished and opens up nicely during cooler months.







 Zara leather jacket - got it in Singapore couple of years ago and been wearing it lots! It is super-soft and super-comfortable and can be worn with so many different outfits!


 TOPSHOP cutout booties- they make my legs look slender and are super comfortable to wear. I never want them to fall apart.
 Amouage Epic body creme - ultimate luxury. I love Epic perfume and decided to get matching body creme when it was on sale at David Jones. I find that my EDP can be full on so body creme is a softer version of the scent. I apply it on my chest and shoulders only as it is very scented.


 Glassons stripe top - I got it as soon as I saw it in the shop. It has zipper at the back so it falls really nicely and it is made from soft and comfortable good quality thick cotton.


 Glassons khaki jeans - finally I got myself a pair of these famous skinny jeans. They lived up to their reputation, very comfortable and flattering. I also love the colour as it goes with a lot of clothes I currently have.


 Lorna Jane aviator vest - I got it last year and been wearing it all the time. It went twice overseas with me and I wear it to work to stay warm during chilly mornings and afternoons. It is waterproof  and has very flattering shape (unlike a lot of other winter vests which tend to be very bulky).



Korres guava lip butter - saw it at my local Mecca Cosmetica and fell in love with the scent. I managed to find it on SN and been using it a lot. It feels smooth and rich on my lips, gives them a hint of colour (makes them light pink) and I am yet to experience dry lips this winther.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Recent empties


 1. Benefit They're Real Mascara



My overall impression - I got this mascara as a part of my Sephora set I picked up in US. It had one of those new plastic brushes and claimed to transform your eye lashes into something that resembles false lashes. I found the brush to be very stiff and "scratchy" and got very stiff spider legs look.

Would I buy it again? - No, even though it gave me decent length the lack in volume department was a deal breaker for me. Plus I want my mascara to make my lashes soft and plush.




 2. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Hair Mist





My overall impression - Well balanced fragrance, neither too sweet or floral. Just clean, modern and pretty. It has a good balance of citrus, rose and patchouli notes mellowed by vanilla. I would wear it when I wanted to smell good but not too overpowering. Love the frosted bottle with square lid too.

Would I buy it again? Yes, it served me well! I got this hair mist in 2010 because I loved Coco Mademoiselle fragrance but didn't want to commit to expensive bottle of EDT or EDP just in case it didn't work for me. So hair mist was a perfect option as it was about 1/2 price of EDT yet had very good longevity. Plus it seems to be less sharp compared to EDT and EDP versions.




3. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes
My overall impression - Thick and moist wipes with neutral and barely-there scent that did a fair job at removing my make-up.

Would I buy it again? -  Not sure...It didn't irritate my skin but at the same time didn't remove my make-up 100%. I am still yet to find perfect make-up wipes and still miss the old version of Nivea make-up removing wipes as they were the best.




4. Models Prefer Tan Application Mitt


My overall impression - Where have you been all my life?! I've used disposable latex gloves prior to getting my hands on this mitt to avoid dreaded orange palms. It spreads product evenly and I find it works best with lotions and foams.

Would I buy it again? - Not sure if I buy this particular mitt as it started to fall apart after few washes. Since then I got myself Jennifer Hawkins one and it seems to be better quality just for few extra dollars.




5. Clarins Multi-Active Night Cream
My overall impression - If it ain't broke don't fix it! Old version was perfect, it was extra hydrating, made my skin glow, didn't break me out and had gorgeous scent. This one is simply blah, they took away all special properties of the original cream and made it very ordinary.

Would I buy it again? - No. I was with paying premium price for the old version of this moisturizer but now I can get something similar from Priceline for 1/3 of the price.




6. L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons Shower Gel

My overall impression - It was a blind buy because I wanted to try La Chasse Aux Papillons perfume but didn't want to spend lots of money on a full bottle of perfume. SN had this shower gel on special so it only cost me $17. I fell in love with the scent as soon as I have opened the box. It is a true white floral that smells like spring meadow.

Would I buy it again? - Probably not as it is quite expensive and the scent of the shower gel doesn't linger for very long. Plus apart from gorgeous scent it was very similar to a clear shower gel you get from supermarket. I also purchased EDT so I can enjoy this gorgeous scent for much longer.




7. Clarins Gentle Refiner Exfoliating Cream


My overall impression - Fine exfoliant suspended into creamy base. It didn't feel scratchy but at the same time wasn't amazing or made a big difference to my skin.

Would I buy it again? - No. It was expensive and didn't deliver amazing results. Plus I figured out that creamy formulas don't work well for my skin.

 


8. Circa Home Pear & Lime Mini Candle
My overall impression  - I got this candle in my DJ sample bag. I really enjoyed the scent, it filled my house with clean and fresh fruity scent that wasn't heavy or nauseating.

Would I buy it again? - Yes! It is in my top 10 candles. It burned evenly and had good scent projection.




9. John Freida Intense After-Colour Conditioner



My overall impression - It supposed to be one of those after-colour conditioners you get in packs of home-dye but in a big tube. I haven't used supermarket conditioners for ages but was very keen to try this products as back in the day I used to dye my own hair and loved how my hair felt afterwards.

Would I buy it again? - Yes, it was very rich and indulgent plus it had gorgeous scent. It made my hair extra shiny and soft but I wouldn't use it too often as it does tend to be on the heavy side.




10. Matrix Biolage Hydrating Shampoo
My overall impression - Nice moisturising shampoo that washed my hair well but didn't stip moisture out of it. It had very neutral scent.
Would I buy it again? - Maybe, it wasn't memorable but it wasn't bad either. I picked up a big bottle on special and it lasted me a long time.