Why It Is Important To Speak About Mental Health | World Mental Health Day October 10 2018

It’s okay, to not be okay

I have been really saddened recently by the amount of people known to me, friends and family around me, or in the public eye who have been struggling a little bit with life, most silently thinking they have no one to speak or open up to. This is not something new for me, unfortunately growing up I saw this a lot around me and found that people were always very shy or ashamed about it. Fortunately, this seems to be something that with time is getting better and we now have days such as “World Mental Health Day” to diminish some of the stigma that surround it. But I do think that there is more we can do.

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Without walking someones path, you will never really know what it’s like to feel the way that person does or be in their particular circumstances and why they find themselves so close to the edge. Its sad that in our current society, it’s a very common way to feel.

A lot of people I know, including myself, at many stages, struggle with Mental Health. It is something that doesn’t pick and choose, or discriminate. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or if you are perceived to have the perfect life. This has been highlighted more recently with the loss of public figures or celebrities such as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.
There are probably more people than you realise who are suffering or struggling with their mental health in private.

Everyone handles and deals with their health and emotions in their own way. Everyone has a different mindset. But this, is the reason more people need open up and bring to light these issues and talk about our worries and concerns. Life isn’t always simple. For a lot of people, life can be predominantly more complicated than simple and have more downs than ups. So having the ability to step forward and help another person open up or realise that support is around them can really help those who need it the most.

You may find it hard or not be able to empathise with someone when it comes to mental health but whatever it is that that person is dealing with, being there to be a support, even if its just them having someone to talk to can really help.

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Mental Health should be on the same level as physical health. When you see someone who is in a cast, or wheelchair or has fallen down some steps. Many people will run to the aid of that person, asking how they can help. “Can I push you somewhere”, “Lean on me and ill take you to that chair”, “Are you okay, is anything hurting?”.So why when you see someone who is looking sad, crying or you know might be going through something that we don’t do the same?

How hard is it to go up to someone, whether you know them or not and ask, “are you okay?”, “can I help in any way?” or with that person who you know who has gone through something saying “Please know that I am here for you, let me know if you need anything”

People with mental health conditions deserve just as much support and compassion as people with physical health conditions.

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I am not an expert, nor do I have all the answers. But if this post can help even one person reach out when they need help, or have someone reach out to a friend or stranger in need then perhaps more people can spread the message that it IS okay, not to be okay.  There is no weakness in asking for a bit of help or finding support. Be proud of yourself for doing so. Those around you will only have a great amount of respect for you.

Struggling with parts of life is okay. Just remember, things do get better, especially when you open up and talk about it. You are loved and cherished more than you know.

Continue reading Why It Is Important To Speak About Mental Health | World Mental Health Day October 10 2018

8 Simple Reasons To Love Melbourne

Greetings from the land of very changeable weather, hipsters and great coffee

I moved to Melbourne nearly four years ago, four, years ago. I have no idea how its been that long but I will admit, I love it just as much, if not more than I did when we first moved here. Melbourne isn’t (as) flashy like Sydney, nor hot all year round like the far north neighbours. Melbourne is vibrant, cultural, energetic and completely unpredictable. Of course, no city is perfect, but Melbourne, for me, comes pretty close. Here’s why…

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THE GARDENS

One of my absolute favourite things about Melbourne is all of the public gardens. Although I live in the inner city, I still have many gardens and parks within a 10-20min walk. In fact, in and around the inner city there are 12 well known gardens to visit! All slightly different.

A few of my favourites would be Kings Domain/ The Royal Botanical Gardens, Fitzroy Gardens, Flagstaff Gardens and Carlton Gardens.

I think this is something that really sets Melbourne apart from other cities and part of the reason it has more livability than others. Beautiful.

THE VIBE & STREET ART

Unpredictable personality, Vibrant Laneways and hidden secret bars and restaurants are all of what makes Melbourne so unique. From an outsiders point of view, places such as Collins Street and Bourke Street at first glance are just typical city streets. Loads of people, shops and small cafes. From an insiders point of view, there is so much more.

There are little laneways which are home to small, locally owned cafes and restaurants as well as sellers of coffee utensils, sustainable clothing and probably even a hidden gym or two.

There are the famous laneways such as Hosier Lane and ACDC Lane which are always worth a look, but no matter where you go in the city, behind a random dumpster, there is probably something quite unique and beautiful.

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THE FOOD AND COFFEE

Where to even start.

Food in Melbourne is genuinely glorious. It has everything from high flying Brunch spots (Read here) to weird and wonderful (and crazy expensive) options such as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Plus everything in between. As someone who is somewhat health conscious & enjoys living the health wanker life, there are also many options available too.

Melbourne is called the coffee capital of Australia for good reason. More and more brilliant coffee shops are popping up all around. Not only in the hipster suburbs, but also right in the city centre. I will be writing a blog post soon of all my favs but for now, just do a small amount of googling and you will find some finger licking good places.

THE MARKETS

Since moving to Melbourne and living so close to a few big markets I have really become quite obsessed and going to the Market on a Sunday is a bit of a tradition.  Markets are a great place to start when visiting any new place because you get a glimpse of the local fresh produce, food scene as well finding gems from local artists and creative types.

There are a few markets in Melbourne which are definitely a must see. The first being the Queen Victoria Market. Its quite famous in Melbourne and has everything from food to vintage clothing to live bands and much more. There is also a Night Market which runs out of here at certain times of the year which is quite the experience.

My favourite markets are ones which are a little smaller. Being the South Melbourne Market & the Prahran Market. Both have a great fresh produce section as well as amazing deli’s and restaurants.

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THE NEIGHBOURHOODS

From the quirky health cafes and cozy old pubs in Fitzroy, to upmarket clothing and food boutiques in Prahran, the over the top and elegant leafy mansions of Toorak and  backpackers or wind surfers enjoying the beach vibe of St Kilda. The inner city suburbs of Melbourne really are like mini cities or towns in themselves, all known for different things.

The variety of neighbourhoods is part of the reason I never tell friends and family to only come for a weekend. You could literally spend the whole time in just one suburb or the inner city without getting bored!

TRAMS

As much as everyone in Melbourne complains about the public transport, it really isn’t that bad. Especially in comparison to other big cities around the world. In Auckland, your only option is a bus, in London, you have a really overpriced tube or a bus that takes the long way around. Here, we have it pretty good. Free trams in the City Circle which run pretty frequently and they also look pretty cool, especially the older ones. The trams in the city give Melbourne that little hint of differentness as well as just being pretty cool.

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THE DAY TRIPS

This is such an amazing bonus of living in Melbourne. Whether you like the beach, the mountains, the forrest or wineries, within a few hours on the train or via car you can have a bit of everything.

My favourites have to be The Great Ocean Road & The Otways, The Mornington Peninsula, The Dandenong Ranges and going north to places such as Mt Macedon. Which, as a side note, has a had a fair bit of snow this winter, pretty exciting.

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ALL THE EVENTS

Do you like sports? Food? Wine? Beer? Crafts? Clothing?

Well, then Melbourne is for you. There is quite literally an event for everything at some point in the year and if you get bored in between, no doubt there will be a hit band or theatre show which is bound to be interesting and make for a good night out.

You will never be bored, especially if you have a money tree growing in your back yard, which can be the downside off all these events. Melbourne isn’t exactly the most cost effective city.

To sum up. I love Melbourne, for all these reasons and more. I feel very grateful to live here and find myself realising this quite often. Even the small things, such as appreciating the cityscape at 5.30 in the morning can be enough on a bad day to bring me back to life.

Autumn Reflection

As you may, or may not have noticed, things have been a little quiet around here the past few months. Once my backlog of blog posts ran out, I kind of, lost it.
At this time of the year, I find that I can almost become another person. My mood changes and I generally just feel a bit dull. I think they call this SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder but you know what, that’s okay. It really hasn’t been that bad, I think I just do not respond well to the cold weather & the sun going down at about 4pm!

However, things haven’t been all bad so lets recap the past season and see what I have really been up to!

Jose Gonzalez in Concert

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This was something that happened way back in March! but even now when I think about it, it has for sure been a highlight. We did go and see him once before when he played at the Melbourne Zoo twilights but this was so much better and more personal. There was even an hour of Q&A which we attended beforehand, such a treat!

If you haven’t heard of Jose, or listened to his music, go ahead and have a listen. Its really something quite beautiful & different.

Living in Activewear

Probably the biggest change in the past few months has been that of my day to day. I went from a 9 to 5 office job to completely changing my career and jumping into the world of health and fitness. It was something that I had wanted to do for so so long but didn’t have the nerve to, but finally after much contemplation, I did it and I love it! Weirdly enough, the thing about this I thought I would love the most, living in active wear, has become my least favourite part. Literally no one enjoys pulling on uncomfortable tights at 5am… and there have been a LOT, of 5ams…

Taking my love of Reformer to the next level

& starting a Pilates Reformer course at Elixr School of Pilates.
Because isn’t that was everyone does when they love something that much?
Probably not, but hey ho, that’s what I did and it has been quite the uh… experience. The course itself is very intense and the face to face component is only 5 weekends with the rest being self taught so a liiitttle out of my comfort zone. But so far, so good. Its been really strange to study again that’s for sure and I have definitely had my ups, and downs and moments of ‘whatthehellamIdoing’ but its all part of the fun! I can’t wait to actually be a qualified instructor as I do have some big plans once the exam is over.
Watch this space

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No-Makeup, Makeup

For so long, I was the person who wouldn’t step foot into my workplace with out a full face of makeup on. Part of my morning routine was getting up 20 mins earlier just to be able to do so. Let me tell you, once I started starting work before 6am that went right out the window.
But I am actually really enjoying it.
It has made me more conscious of my skin in both good and bad ways. In the good ways it has made me really stick to my skincare routine & has somewhat stopped me eating chocolate everynight (because no one needs those sugar pimples) but in the bad ways I really do notice every imperfection my skin has, so i’m having to come to terms with that, which I guess is also a good thing right…
So all I have really been using is my trusty Maybelline Instant Age Rewind, L’oreal Baby Roll Mascara & my Benefit Goof Proof Eyebrow Pencil. And thats it. So simple and easy when its 4:45am!

Walking & Podcasting

This year has really been the year for podcasts. I feel like they are really making a break and you can literally find something for everyone. One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to spend my time walking, being productive instead of just listening to the same Spotify playlist over and over (which I still do sometimes).
So these are some of my favs & ones I would reccommend:

  • Lower your Expectations
  • Talking Tastebuds
  • The Healthcode
  • Wheybox Podcast
  • Ladies who Lunch
  • The Heart of it

This is quite an interesting range, all quite different really but they are what get me through my early moring walk to work without too much fuss.

 

And that’s about it. Autumn for me is definitely one of the more uneventful seasons of the year/ I have been so crazy with all things as above. I will try and keep on top of my blog throughout winter! Especially considering the cold weather gives me a great excuse to sit at home under the heatpump!

 

The Granada & Seville Travel Guide | Spain

Beautiful castles & flamenco anyone?

 

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In all of Spain, these are two places I wish I could have spent more time in. These are two of the most beautiful, culture filled and historically rich cities I have ever visited. When I was booking this holiday, I was told to only add one or the other onto my trip because of my time frame, but I didn’t, and I am so glad I didn’t because they are both amazing places which deserved a visit.

 Seville and Granada are part of what some call “Andalucia’s Golden Triangle”. Triangle because there is one other place in the area which is also a must visit called Cordoba. I however, didn’t visit because of the time limits but I will definitely make a point of it next time.

 Granada

I am still to this day, almost a year later, unsure if this or Lisbon was my favourite place of this holiday. I would probably say both as they are pretty different and equally beautiful. Of all places I went, I think I probably took more photos in Granada than anywhere else, purely because I wasn’t sure that it was even real.

It really is one of those places where you could just stare at the city and landscape all day and not get bored. Beautiful is an understatement.

In terms of getting here, I would recommend either bus or BlaBla car, which was my personal choice, however in hindsight, although it was the quickest way of getting there and the lady was absolutely lovely, maybe learn a bit more Spanish than I did first because it made for quite the awkward roadtrip!

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Accommodation
I stayed in a Hostel called ‘Old Town Hostel‘ which in terms of location and staff was great! I arrived at about 10pm and had it not been for another guy arriving at the same time I may have never found it, as it is very hidden down a small alleyway! However, all ended well.

Things to do

I must admit, my main reason for wanting to go here, and probably the main reason of most people, was to see the Alhambra (Tip: Book in Advance!! You don’t want to be one of the people having to line up at 4am to get in). The Alhambra, in brief, is an absolutely stunning Moorish Castle/ Palace that has a very detailed and beautiful history. It’s well worth a visit.

Another must visit I would say is a viewpoint called Mirador de San Cristobal. It has an amazing view from afar of the Alhambra and even the walk there is worth the walk alone.

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Other recommendations for Granada depending on the length of your trip would be

As for food

Meson Alegria – A bar with some amazing Tapas. Granada is also well known for the fact that you order a drink and receive a free Tapas, this place was no exception and the food & atmosphere was amazing! Even at 11pm!

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 From there, I took a bus & AVE Train to Seville
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Seville

When I was planning my trip to Spain, I had to choose between Madrid and Seville and although I never visited Madrid, I am so glad I chose Seville. It’s so colourful and has its own unique kind of beauty. The food is amazing, the people are really welcoming and friendly and (fun tip)  if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you can visit the site where the Water Gardens of Dorne was filmed at the Real Alcáza.

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This is also another place where I would highly recommend doing a Walking Tour. I did mine through the Hostel I was staying at (more on that soon) and it was super informative and interactive.

Accommodation

There is only one place I would recommend staying in Seville, whether you are traveling alone or not, and that is La Banda Rooftop Hostel. It is by FAR the best place I stayed on my whole trip. There is a reason they have a 9.6/10 rating on Hostel World. The people are great! SO friendly and accommodating, the rooftop bar is a great place to meet people, I would recommend doing one of the family dinners! They also have a nightclub tour type thing which was really fun. The beds are super comfortable, the place is clean and all around just so cool! If I get a chance to go back to Seville, you bet this is where I am staying.

Things to do

  • Flamenco Show – 100% recommend everyone go and see a show in Southern Spain. Honestly one of the most magical experiences I have ever had. The energy and emotion is completely captivating. Just do it.
  • The Real Alcáza – I personally didn’t have time, however I heard it is similar to Alhambra so I wasn’t too sad.
  • Metropol Parasol – This building is basically what people describe as a ‘stylish mushroom’ and is quite different to anything else I saw in Spain. However, its really cheap to enter and has the most stunning views at the top!
  • Plaza de España – Truly a beautiful plaza. The architecture and (TILES) design is stunning. I recommend going earlier in the day as the crowds are really something else.
And for Food
My food highlight was a place called Bartolomea. Everything I ate here was just GOOD. Would definitely go back even though there are SO many places to eat in Seville. The decor is also really nice & the staff are friendly.

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And there you have it, the last of my Spain Travel Guides. Probably not forever, because I will definitely be back. Spain truly was amazing and although I haven’t visited much of the Northern part of Spain (its on my list!) I say, GO to Southern Spain. Its extremely beautiful, diverse and full of history & culture.

I would love to know where your favourite parts of Spain are! Please leave a comment and let me know!

Also feel free to share with friends and family, especially if they are planning a trip soon.

Leave a comment or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.
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Tips To Get You Back Into Your Exercise Routine!

Regain motivation and get back into it!

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How was your Easter? Did you eat 12 Hot Cross Buns like I did? or maybe a few too many chocolate bunnies… Easter this year seems to have extended from one long weekend, to two long weekends! Plus, all of that discounted chocolate and leftover goodies really does a number on the old, motivation and waistline.. Woops.

I am someone who really loves health, nutrition and fitness and am very passionate about other people learning to love it to. I say learning, because it took me a LONG time to find the right balance and relationship with fitness, food & exercise. So I know how hard it is to get back on the bandwagon after a break. So here are my top tips for getting your groove back!

Buy Some New Active Wear!

This doesn’t have to be expensive. Go to cotton on body, Kmart, Target or look out for sales online! I find that having a few new bits or a new top and leggings to put on really makes me want to go and test them out and show it all off! Nothing wrong with making yourself feel good at the gym by buying a new outfit.

Get Things Ready The Night Before

Whether you are going to the gym in the morning or in the afternoon, have it all ready to go the night before. There’s nothing worse than getting up in the AM and realising all your gear is in the wash or the back of the cupboard. Have it ready to go so that first thing in the morning you can either put it on or chuck it in your bag for later!

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Find Something That You Love & Enjoy

Groundbreaking advice. I know. But really, it’s pretty simple! If you find something you love to do, you are more likely to want to go and do it, prioritise it and book it! Whether that is a class, going for a walk with a friend or booking in to play a game of tennis or squash! If you love walking, go for an extra walk at lunchtime. Every little bit counts.

Don’t Set Yourself Up For Failure

Spend a little time writing up a few fitness goals. Whether that’s doing X amount of push-ups or working out X amount of times per week.
My tip is to be really real with yourself. If you know that in the past you have said “I will workout Monday to Friday” and it just hasn’t happened for some reason or another, don’t write that again. Put ” I will try to work out 3x per week” that way, if you do end up working out Monday to Friday it will make you feel great for achieving your goal rather than feeling stressed on Tuesday night when you realise you can’t go the next day.

Go When The Time Suits You

If you aren’t a morning person, don’t go in the morning.

When I first started my fitness journey I was so obsessed with this idea that you HAD to workout in the morning on an empty stomach or otherwise it wasn’t worth it, so why bother. BOY was I so wrong. The best advise I can give you is go when it suits YOU. Don’t listen to any stupid rule saying you have to be at the gym at 6am and train for an hour. NOPE.
I find that I have the most energy and motivation in the afternoon so that’s when I choose to go. You just need to find out what you like and what time of the day will help you keep a consistent routine.

Prepare And Plan

Whether its self-guided plan or booking into classes, know what you are doing at the gym for that week or day. On a Sunday night, look at your schedule, look at the classes available that week or text a friend and find out what time or day they would like to go for a walk or run and schedule things in.
If you are doing your own workout at the gym, go online and find a plan or book a session with a personal trainer and write your plan out before you go. There’s nothing worse than getting to the gym and realising you don’t know what to do! Hello motivation killer.

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Try Something New

The beauty of the internet now days is that all you need to type into google is “Free gym classes in (INSERT CITY)” and you will generally get a whole list of trials come up.
Make use of these and go and trial a few new things! Yoga, Pilates, KX Pilates, Step Classes or Boxing!
The list is endless and you might find something you really love. Its also good to note that a lot of gyms or centres do 1 or 2 week trials so go and see what you can find!

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A bonus tip which isn’t in this list but I know is super important is that, find a gym that you LOVE. If you go into your gym and people make you feel uncomfortable or the trainers are constantly looking around the gym when they should be paying attention to you, they don’t have classes or equipment that you want…then you should probably find a new one.
A fitness routine has more chance of sticking if you are going to a gym that you love going to!

Just remember. Something is better than nothing. If you start working out again and you can only go 2 times per week, that’s okay. Listen to your mind and body and find what works for you.

I really hope these tips have helped at least one person. These tips aren’t supposed to be revolutionary or anything new, they are just things that we all know, but need reminding of sometimes.

What are your best tips? Leave a comment, share with someone who needs a little extra motivation! or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.
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The Costa Del Sol Travel Guide| Spain

Sun, Sand, Spanish beaches and Great Food

 

MALAGA

Malaga for me was just a ‘stop off’ destination. It was the place that I flew into because it was the cheapest and easiest from Barcelona! However, it is now that place that I would definitely go back to as I felt I did not get to explore enough. It is a place that has all the Beachy Vibes, Highrise Hotels, Resorts… but also a lot of history.

From the airport, the easiest way to get into the Town Centre is via a bus. Its cheap and makes a lot of stops so you really just need to look at a map beforehand and get off where you need to. The trip took about 30mins and once you are in the Town Centre, the easiest way to get around is just to walk!

 Quick Facts

If you are Artsy: Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881
Currency = Euro
You can take a ferry over to Morocco – it takes about an hour.
Language = Varieties of Spanish & English in most places
How to Pay = Card & Cash – Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November

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Accommodation
I booked a bed in a 10 person mixed dorm at a cheap & cheerful hostel called Picnic Dreams Boutique Hostel. Now, this probably isn’t the cheapest hostel you can find, however I would highly recommend. The location was perfect, people were really friendly and the place was clean! Plus there were little curtains over each bunk for privacy.

Things to do
I only really had a day and a half in Malaga and wanted to get an overview of the place. So I booked into a Walking Tour called Malaga Free Tour Monuments. It was a good way to get a brief history of Malaga and also get shown around to the various stand out points,  such as Picasso’s house, the Alcazaba and the Museums.

Top places I would advise visiting in Malaga are:

As For Food

Los Gatos – Traditional Spanish food – open really late – Great vibe – fairly cheap
100 Montaditos – Fun Spanish fast food – Tapas – all really cheap, also really cheap alcohol, fast service.

Marbella & Puerto Banus

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Getting from Malaga to Marbella & Puerto Banus is fairly easy as its a short bus ride (BlaBla Car could also be an option – I definitely had a good, but interesting experience using this service!).
From there it is quite easy to hail a cab to where you want to go. Mine was to my accommodation in Puerto Banus – aka my splurge of the trip Hotel Bluebay Banus.

Puerto Banus is an interesting place to say the least and not somewhere I thought I would ever find myself. Its basically a ‘Mini Town/ Marina’ just west of Marbella. You can walk down to the dock and see yourself staring into very high end stores and watching the millionaires sail out to sea on their Luxury Yachts.

It does however have beautiful beaches, beautiful people, a relaxed but party filled atmosphere and many a beach club. Pretty cool… but I definitely felt very out of place!

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Top Places I Would Recommend Visiting/ To do’s in Marbella & Puerto Banus

  • Walking around Old Town Marbella
  • Cocktails at The Sinatra Bar
  • Go to the beach – there are many
  • Go shopping
  • Wander through Alameda Park
  • Take the Fly Blue Ferry from Puerto Banus to Marbella & back – Great views and probably one of the more fun things I did in this neck of the woods
  • Visit the Puerto Banus Beach Clubs
  • Take the walk (if you are crazy like myself) from Puerto Banus to Marbella. It is quite the walk but the views are absolutely worth it

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There are also a fair few day trips which you can do from this part of Spain.

My Top Recommendations:

  • Frigiliana – One of Spain’s most picturesque whitewashed villages.
  • Nerja
  • Granada – Post Coming Soon!
  • Ronda – Has Spain’s oldest bullfighting ring as well as being beautiful sitting on the side of a gorge
  • Gibraltar – Tax Free Shopping and a nature reserve? Yes, thanks.

Costa Del Sol is definitly somewhere I want to spend more time when I get the chance. I feel like I really only touched the surface of this side of Spain! Can not wait to go back.

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I would love to hear all your recommendations! Things I need to add to this guide??
Leave a comment, share with your friends or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.

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In preparation for Autumn…

Bye Summer, its been so. so good.

Autumn, apart from the beautiful leaf colours, is probably my least favourite season. It starts to get cold, with the odd hot day mixed in so you never really know what to wear. My least favourite part? The days start getting shorter, especially when daylight savings ends! All of the good Summer fruits and veges are gone and you are basically left with all the boring ones. Who even likes autumn?

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However, I want to try and make the most out of it this year… so here are a few things I want to do & buy to be #fashionable’er… and a bit more adventurous rather than sitting home and sulking about not being able to go to the beach!

Get An Amazing New Coat

Explore a New Garden

 Drink More Tea Get a Pair of Good Quality Chelsea Boots

Read 3 New Books

 Get a Black Pair of Jeans
 Find a Nice Chunky Knit And Another Blue Pair…
 Go To a New Farmers Market  Bake Something Autumny
Mix up my Skincare Routine – Hydration is Key Sort out My Scarf Collection!

My mantra currently is making the most out of everything, find something positive in every day and every situation! So even though the days are ge4tting shorter, its getting colder and beach days are less attainable, its really not that bad!

What is your favourite thing about Autumn?

 

    Leave a comment or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.
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5 Summer Highlights & Photo Diary | 18′

Travel, Friends, Family, Food & a whole lot of sun!

 

 

Summer this year has been one of my favourites in a while! I feel like for one I actually spent enough time outside, went to the beach more often, caught up with my friends and actually visited my family in NZ.

Summer is by far one of my favourite seasons… for at least the first 2 months, then the heat starts to get too much and you start dreaming about coats and scarves. However, for those 2 months, it is BLISS. Only having to wear one layer

 

 

NZ
Because I wasn’t able to go back to NZ for Xmas this year, I decided that it would be worth going back for a long weekend to see the fam. Let.me.tell.you. Arriving at my grandparents at 1pm after travelling for 15hrs really made me question whether it was worth it for 4 days! However, I always love going back and seeing (mostly) everyone, even if it is brief.

Tennis
This summer, finally, Dietmar and myself have taken up tennis. We have lived in an apartment building for the last 3 years with a tennis court & never made the most of it. Well, times have changed.

Now, I am not great, or even good, at tennis and have lost many a ball over the fence (and thanks to trespassing laws, never to be seen again) however, I really, really enjoy it. Not only does it require a bit of exercise, its been a fun activity for us to do together.
I like this Sunday tradition, hopefully we can stick at it for the foreseeable future and my new years goal of ‘starting a sport’ can be ticked off.

Market Shopping
Market shopping can be a bit hit and miss for me. I do love going to the market on a Sunday… but because of the sheer amount of people that also love it, if you aren’t in and out by 10am, you are in for a whirlwind of 100sss of people. However, generally even if its a bit later we have been going anyway. It works out to be a lot more affordable, we like to support local producers and the quality of the fruit and vege is so much better than the supermarket. They also have a lot more affordable organic options which is a huge bonus!
A highlight of our market shopping each week is stopping by Clement Coffee Roasters for a long black and sometimes a cheeky pastry! Check them out too.

Beach
This summer we have definitely made more use of the beach than before. We do live semi close by so we really don’t have too much excuse! But this year I have made an effort to at least try and get down every now and then to soak in some sun, enjoy the sea and watch all the dogs (Screw people watching, dog watching is THEONE).

 

 Being More Active & Meeting Two Inspirational Fitness/Health & Sustainability Dreamboats
This summer has been the first summer… ever. that I have managed to stick to a fitness routine and keep active for the whole season! Seriously proud of myself for that one. My diet as such, has not been perfect but I am trying! I eat a very balanced diet (IMO) and am happy with where I am at (minus the digestive problems but mate, that’s a whole other post).

 

However, this summer I was lucky enough to meet Zanna Van Dyk & Steph Elswood whilst they were on a whirlwind tour of Australia and it was great! They are both so lovely, welcoming and really down to earth. You don’t feel like you are going to a meet-up, more just hanging out with friends! It was so cool. (On another note, Zanna has an amazing blog which you can find here)

Home Made Iced Coffee
This for me has become a solid summery weekend drink. I love coffee, probably far too much.. and am not ready to kick the addiction just yet! but to mix it up I started making an iced version which is DELICIOUS.
Ingredients:
Coffee (Instant or brewed shot of espresso)
Ice – Loads of ice
1 Frozen Banana – Its important that its frozen.
Unsweetened almond milk (or regular milk if that’s your jam)
You could add Stevia/ Coconut Sugar etc if you like it sweeter.
How to: 
Put all ingredients in a blender (minus some ice for later) and MIXX.
Enjoy with the extra ice and a reusable straw with some coconut sugar sprinkled on top (if you are the ultimate environmentally friendly health wanker like myself)
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This summer has seriously been so great! I was happy, fulfilled and just generally in a great place! I am now (kindof) looking forward to the colder weather! (but I will miss my tan!) Bring on the coats and scarves! What was your favourite part about summer this year? And if you are in the northern hemisphere… what are you looking forward to??
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Tried & Tested | Concealers

For those days when the under eye circles are just getting a little too much

It has been a little while since my last Tried & Tested post! So I do apologise! I have been trying to get together (& finish) enough products to warrant doing another one and considering I am slightly obsessed with concealers I have finally managed to do so! (you’re welcome).

This is a bit of a mashup of all sorts tbh..  We have some affordable & some, not so much. However, considering I wouldn’t ever really spend a craptonne on a high end concealer, I think you will find something within your budget.

Collection Lasting Perfection

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Unfortunately this first one probably isn’t for the Australian readers as it is REALLY hard to get a hold of here. I have found a few places, one being Fishpond & another being Ebay however, I can not comment on what the delivery etc is like as I have never ordered it online.
If however, you are in NZ or the UK, it will be fairly easy to find and its definitely worth a look. It doesn’t have a great shade range however if you have a lighter skin tone you should be okay. It is a thickish formula with really good coverage. It doesn’t crease on me and doesn’t go patchy at all. I do recommend working quite quickly as it dries faster than some.
I also use this as a eye shadow primer and it does not move!

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer

I enjoy this concealer on days that I don’t need as much coverage or I need to cover up a spot as I have this in my skin tone and not a shade lighter (the shade range isn’t fantastic). It blends really well and is light to medium coverage. It sets very easily with a bit of powder and won’t move all most of the day on me. It is very brightening under the eyes as you would expect and is best applied with a sponge.

Mecca Max Life Proof Cream Concealer

On the website this concealer is classed as a ‘eraser for the face’. I don’t think I would go that far, however, it is a great concealer and I do love it. It is very similar in texture and coverage to the Collection concealer mentioned above (maybe the formula is a tiny bit thinner), so for those aussies wondering, this would be a good dupe. It blends SO easily and for that reason + the amazing coverage it has been my current go to. It also has an okay shade range and lasts well on me (with setting powder).

L.A Girl PRO Conceal HD

I wont lie. I bought this concealer because of the hype! If you haven’t bought anything because of Youtube or Instagram, then good on you! But me, I love a good social media recommendation. One thing ill say about this is that the shade range is FANTASTIC. There is literally a colour for everyone. It has about a medium coverage and is great for brightening under the eyes. I have also used it on spots here and there and its covered well. I will say that the lasting power isn’t as good as others, however if it was something you wanted to pop on for a few hours then it would be perfect.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser

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For me, this is the perfect everyday concealer. Its really easy to apply under the eyes, blends like a dream, doesn’t crease, works fine under powder and gets rid of those pesky under eye black circles. The shade range def isn’t great and the coverage is maybe light to medium but when it does the job, lasts all day and goes on special a LOT, its worth a go. This is the one I recommend to everyone.

Revlon ColorStay Blemish Concealer

This one is at the bottom of my list, not because it is the worst, but because its not one I tend to reach for the most. This is def more of a face concealer and wouldn’t recommend for under eye use (Hence the name I guess…). It does cover spots well and doesn’t go cakey. It’s easy to apply and blends out really well. It doesn’t tend to last all day (although none really do on my spots) but I don’t mind touching up with this one here and there.

Concealers are great. On days where I have ‘no makeup’ on, I will still use one of these as one of my 3 products. My current WishList includes: Urban Decay Naked Skin, NARS Soft Matte Complete Concealer, Two Faced Born This Way & a few more affordable ones.
PLEASE let me know your recommendations.

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Current Beauty Essentials

Beauty Lies Within..

It’s definitely been a while since I last posted anything beauty related! So I thought why not do a bit of a overview of things I’ve been trying && loving recently.

Although trying out new products is oh so fun, the more time goes on, the less I seem to change em up. I used to try and get a new Primer, Foundation & Brow Pencil every time I used one up but now, I know what I like so I tend to stick to & repurchase what I know works. With, the odd exception because I am still a bit of a beauty addict at heart. So I thought, why not share what I am lovin’ at the mo. Maybe you will find a new gem or two…

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L’occitane Almond Shower Oil & Body Cream

After hearing the constant hype in the beauty community about the renound Bath & Shower oil, it became a.. IMUSTHAVE IT. But, its rather expensive. So I thought I would put it on my Xmas list & I was lucky enough to receive it, in a set with the Hand Cream, Body Moisturiser & a Soap Bar (DREAMY).
After trying it now for a month solid, I can say, it IS worth the hype. I def use it more as a bath oil (You only need the teeeniest amount) and omg I always feel so soft & lush afterwards. I generally follow up with the body cream to get the ultimate effect and it has really become a solid in my pamper routine! The cream is as you would expect, lush. But it also soaks into the skin really well & doesn’t leave you feeling sticky and having to dance around the bathroom for 10mins waiting for it to dry!

Sukin Shaving Gel
Ive never really been one to shave my legs… with a shaving gel. Never saw the point and thought it was a waste of money (whats wrong with a bar of soap?). I still stick to this statement however, I do love this product. It is actually a men’s face shaving gel but it wasn’t being used for such things so I decided ‘wastenotwantnot’ and gave it a go.
Now I wouldn’t say its super magical but, if you do like buying shaving gel for your legs, then maybe pick this one up when its half price because it does the job well and lasts forever!

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Origins Out Of Trouble 10 Min Mask

Of the 3 Origins face masks I have tried, this is the one I would repurchase.. which I find rather funny because it was the one I was least excited to try. It is one of those products that really does what it claims to. I only use this on problem areas of my face when I am breaking out but I know that when I use this at night, the next morning my spots will be half the size and not giant volcanoes. It also doesn’t dry out my face which is magical because a lot of 10 minute masks or blemish masks tend to do so.

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L’Oreal Miss Baby Roll Mascara

This mascara is nothing like I have ever used before. You can see in the close up photos that the wand is really weird! I bought it on a whim because I wanted to try something new and I can almost say, that it is now my holy grail! Which is a huge statement because I didn’t think any mascara would ever make me want to throw out my Cover girl Lash Blast (which you can see me raving about here).
It gives a great amount of volume, without clumping, and is also quite separating and lengthening! It is the ‘doesitall’ mascara I have been wanting for so long.
Also, the packaging is pretty cute which is an added bonus.

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Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner – Eastend Snob and Stila MECCA20 – Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

I will admit that lip products are not my favourite products in my makeup bag. I love eyebrows & lashes & base. So when I do find lip products that I like, I tend to just use those ones ALL the time rather than mixing it up. I know what colours suit me and work for me. So these two have become my everyday office lip combo.
The lip liner I bought thanks to Amelia Liana and her obsession for Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk as I had heard this was a good dupe and I wasn’t about to pay big $$$ for a lip liner. It’s a very creamy lip liner and doesn’t have to be sharpened (Hallelujah).

The Stila Liquid Lip I bought during Mecca’s 20 Year celebration (read about what I bought here) and now that I have had and used it for a while I can say… the colour is amazing but the formula can be really drying if you don’t prep your lips enough. This is why I decided to see what it would look like & perform over top of the Rimmel Lip Liner and it was such a win! Not only does it last perfectly most of the day, it doesn’t flake off in a funny manner, get really dry or leave your lips with a weird tint. WIN.

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What are some of your favourite bits at the moment? Leave a comment or find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.

Living A Healthy Lifestyle and Finding YOUR Healthy

Focus on yourself, not everyone else

 Being healthy nowadays is such a relative term. What one person deems to be healthy can be completely different to someone else, and to someone who is just starting out trying to become healthier, it can be really overwhelming!

 As someone who has spent the last 5 or so years trying my hand at every diet and ‘lifestyle’ on the market and managing to come out the other side with good and bad experiences, I thought I could give a few handy tips on becoming a healthier, fitter and happier.

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Ditch the diets
I think this one is the most important. The best way to become healthier is to really just go back to basics. Try and get into a solid routine of having a good breakfast, lunch and dinner with minimal processed foods as well as a couple of healthy snacks in between if you feel like you really need it.

Find what exercise works for you
Just because someone tells you that running is the best exercise, doesn’t mean it is. For them it may be, but for you it probably isn’t. Trial and error is your best friend! Try everything you can! Bootcamp, swimming, weight training, pilates, yoga.. there are so many options. It’s important to try out as many things as you can until you find what you enjoy. Don’t just do something because it burns the most calories. Do it because you love it and eventually you will start to feel better and mental & physical results will follow.

Listen to your body
This one is hard and has taken me SO long to get right. It goes for food and exercise. Food wise, if you are following some kind of plan and that plan tells you that you have to eat at 3pm, but you really don’t feel like it, then don’t. Your body can tell you when it is hungry and when it is not. Exercise wise, it is important to recognise the difference between really not wanting to go for your workout and your body telling you that you have done enough. That takes time. But same goes; if you wake up and really do feel far too tired to go for that run, then maybe just go for a walk or stay home and stretch and see how you feel afterwards.

Quality workouts over quantity
Instead of trying to work out 6 times per week and potentially running yourself into the ground, start with 3 workouts a week where you try your absolute hardest and see how you feel. The following week you might be able to add in an extra one.

 Start small
Small changes can make the biggest difference.
I think it is so important not to go all or nothing. 90% of the time you end up burning out after a couple of weeks rather than making it a long term thing. You don’t have to completely change your lifestyle overnight, (if you have, then seriously, good for you) , you are allowed to take time. Doing small things like getting your exercise up by going walking at lunchtime or drinking one extra bottle of water in a day, or cutting out the sugar in your coffee really makes a difference over time.

 Find something positive in every day
Life is just one big annoying mind game and sometimes it can feel really overwhelming. At times like this I like to take a breath and just think of things that I am grateful for or something positive that has happened in my day, even if that is something really small such as appreciating that delicious coffee that gets you through that Monday afternoon.

Keep accountable
If you are really struggling with feeling unmotivated to go to the gym or are having self control issues in the food department, keep accountable to someone or someones’. Whether that’s booking into a class at the gym with a friend or using an app such as Snapchat or Instagram to send pictures of your meals to your bestie. These things can help you to make better choices overall.

Don’t beat yourself up, just try again tomorrow.
Changing your lifestyle generally doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself time. In the great scheme of things, that extra meal you had is not going to matter. That pizza you ate, or that workout you missed, isn’t going to destroy your progress. You really just need to give yourself time. You are human, we all have bad days, so eat that pizza, it is completely normal.

When it comes to health & fitness, everyone is different. What works for someone, won’t work for someone else. Or it might, for a while. But to be a healthy and happy person overall, you need to find what works for you, what YOUR healthy is.

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Please note: I am not a qualified Dietitian, Nutritionist, PT or Health Coach. Please contact a professional if you would like in depth advice on anything mentioned.

The Ultimate Nutty Banana Muffin Recipe

Because Banana Bread requires far too much self control

I made these muffins as a ‘lunchbox’ snack, to beat that afternoon lull that we all love.. They are full of only good ingredients & are so delicious. They are also fairly versatile and can be personalized depending on how you are feeling that week.

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Ingredients:

1.5 Cups Spelt Flour
3 TBSP Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder

3 Eggs
3 TBSP Coconut Oil
Splash Vanilla Extract
3 Overripe Mashed Bananas

9 tsps Nut Butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan bake.

Mix the Flour, Coconut Sugar & Baking Powder together in a large bowl
– I use a whisk to mix these ingredients together as it distributes them better

In a small pot, heat the coconut oil enough to melt it but don’t let it get to hot and bubble or start spitting.

Mash the bananas and add these into the dry ingredients along with the eggs & vanilla extract.

Lastly mix in the coconut oil. At this point you will be able to tell whether the mixture is too runny or thick. If it is too runny, add in extra flour 1tsp at a time until the mixture gets to the right consistency. If it is too thick, add in milk a little at a time until it gets to the right consistency.

Fill muffin cases half way & add 1 tsp of Nut Butter in before filling the cases to the top.

Bake for 20-25mins or until a fork comes out clean.

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These muffins come out fluffy, soft and delicious. To change up the recipe, instead of using nut butter, you could always add in chocolate chips, berries or even just some chopped nuts.

If any of the ingredients in this recipe look unfamiliar or you don’t have them, feel free to comment and I can give you some recommendations for substitutions.

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The Melbourne Brunch Guide | 6 Places You Can’t Miss!

Melbourne does love a Sunday Brunch

Melbourne is well known for being the Australian capital for all things Coffee.. but do you know what goes really well with coffee? Great food! Brunch is my favourite meal for sure mainly because it is only really enjoyed during the weekend and probably only became a thing because people wanted a glorious sleep in. So, here are 6 of my favourite pick for places to go in Inner City Melbourne.

Top Paddock – Richmond. 

The Food at this place is incredible. Not even just the range or the taste. The presentation is immaculate (‘Cough, Cough’ the Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake). There are ‘healthier’ and some more indulgent options depending on how you are feeling, however I would reccomend having a fairly big appetite when going!
The cafe itself has a really beautiful design. Its comfortable and quite open  compared to some other options in Melbourne.

Tip – Get in Early! Or you may be waiting a fair while for a table.

Pilar of Salt – South Yarra/ Richmond. 

Once again – this is a cafe that if you want a decent table and a short waiting time, get in early! I have been here a few times, early morning and after lunch and it seems no matter the time, theres a chance of waiting! But for a good reason.
Firstly. The coffee at this Cafe is seriously top notch! The cold brew however is def a go to for me as its just, good. Like, really good.
The food here is also pretty bloody good and the menu does cater to a lot, if not all walks of life and it quite veried (Would you like the Pancakes? an Eggs Bene? Or maybe an Hawaiian Poke Bowl?). The atomsphere of the Cafe itself is also really cool both inside and in the back/ outside area. On the way out you must also get one of their delicious treats from the front desk (Drooools).

Tip: Request a place to sit if you are fussy, or you may end up at a very busy and loud share table.

Serotonin Eatery – Burnley.

Seratonin Eatery

Are you the type of person who loves Smashed Avo, Vegan Pancakes or a Matcha/ Tumeric/ Cacao Coconut Latte with a Smiley Face like myself? Then you will love this place! As the name would suggest, you walk into this Cafe and you cant help but feel Happy! If it isn’t the Smiley face on the Top of your  latte, the Japanese Style share tables will seriously make you go, Wow. This Place is Cool!
The food is all Plant Based, very nutritious and delicious 🙂 Even the names on the Menu make you  smile and feel good (Positive Pancakes and Smiling Smashed Avo have to be my favs!)
My Favourite part of this Cafe however has to be the incredible comprehensive list of drinks! Protein Lattes, Coconut Cacao Lattes, Tumeric Lattes’ – ALL THE LATTES. I seriously love it and want to try them all! Even if you arent hungry, just go there for a drink!

Tip – Google map it by street view before you go or you may not find it easily ( like me and end up waaaay down the road).

Oscar Cooper – Prahran.

I have been lucky enough to dine at this cafe a few times and each time I have thoroughly enjoyed it! The atmosphere is really nice. Its cosy and warm in the winter (even when you are seated right by the door) but they also have some outdoor seating options which would be great in Summer! Their Jaffles look amazing and I have been told they certainly are. My fav dish is definitely the buttermilk & banana pancakes (dreamy).

Oscar Cooper

Higher Ground – CBD

This place is #instagramgoals

If you are in Melbourne for a short amount of time and based in the CBD, after a typical Melbourne brunch. This is your place. The menu is pretty great with a wide range of options for everyone (once again has the famous pancake as it is a sister cafe of Top Paddock). The savoury dishes are also good!

I had the Lamb Sausage Roll and although the portion size was smaller, I was still satisfied. The interior of this place is actually just incredible. Its so big with a load of greenery. It IS the place to instagram.
Tip: once again, get in early so you aren’t waiting an hour!

5 and Dime Bagel

This one is a little different to the others and as you can imagine, is Bagel focused. If you like a good bagel. This is where you need to go ( or one of its suppliers). For me this ticks the box of a really good, cheap, on the go (but you can eat in) breakfast or brunch. You do need to get there early during the weekend however its so worth it. SO many options of things to have on and they actually do really great coffee to have with them!
My personal favourites are the Bacon Maple Chipotle or the Smoked Trout!

There are so many more amazing Cafes around Melbourne! This list could really go on forever! Where’s your favourite place? Where do I need to add to my list?

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Reflecting on 2017

Well first, a delayed, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Heeelooo 2018. I love the new year. No, I am not all about the ‘New Year, New Me’, it’s more of a New Year, Lets learn from last year and kicksomeass. But first, lets reflect on the year that was.

 Summer

2017 started out on an  interesting note for me. I started with a bang fitness wise. Bought a few inspirational books & off to the gym I went. I managed to soak up a lot of sun, went to the gardens a lot & started my walkingeverylunchtime routine (which I have managed to stick to hooray!). We also had our friends Nick and Illana visit around Chinese New Year so we were able to have fun showing them around and enjoying the festivities before they flew back to NZ and Dietmar shipped off to South America.
Autumn
The start of Autumn was great fun. I spent a lot of time at the gym & being really active. I signed up to an Insurance Benefits program called AIA vitality in which exercise and being healthy is what earns you points. It’s actually really great. I also had my amazing Aunty come and visit for a girls weekend in which we did a tour up the Great Ocean Road – it was really cool.
 This was also the season where I travelled a lot. First – NZ to visit the fam – back for a few weeks & caught up with a few friends. Dietmar returned  from his adventures & then I shipped off to Europe for my 3 week whirlwind trip around Spain and Portugal! My solo trip of a lifetime! Definitely one of the major highlights of 2017. 2 Countries, 5 cities & all the little towns inbetween!
Winter
The beginning of winter was dedicated to getting used to normal life again. After living alone for 3 months and then flying off myself, getting back and realising I had to adjust was surprisingly hard. I managed to spend some quality time with Dietmar, baked a lot & cooked a lot of comfort warm food! My birthday rolled around & I was completely spoilt with gifts and a LOT of chocolate from my beautiful friends.
Dietmar and I also did another trip up the Great Ocean Road for our anniversary and stayed in Apollo Bay which was really nice!
This was also the time that I left my job – flew back to NZ for a few weeks to visit all the friends and fam & then came back to Melbourne to start my new position. Was a whirlwind of a time!
Spring
Cherry Blossoms! I love spring. The weather starts to warm up again, all the flowers start to bloom and people just become happier! I started spending my lunchtimes walking around the botanical gardens & ate WAY too much fruit… because when berries are in season, I will eat them. Dietmar and I also managed to hire a car and take a trip up to Portsea & do the Portsea-Sorrento Artists Trail which is a beautiful walk.
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I also relaunched my blog & began planning out all my ideas for 2018. We had some magnificent lightening and thunder storms & I started to take more care of my health & fitness by joining a 12 week challenge at the gym. We had our friends Michael & Sarah visit from NZ for 10 days which was so great! We did many amazing things. High Tea, Dior Exhibition, Lunches, Brunches & dinners and my personal favourite, The Book of Mormon, where I discovered my absolute love for musicals.
Christmas came around & it was one of my favourites in Melbourne so far. We spent it down in Barwon Heads with my cousin’s & their extended family. Food, many kids & sun made for a fantastic day. Hiking on Boxing Day really topped off the festive period.
Overall, 2017 was really amazing and I am so happy with everything that happened. As per anyone’s life, there were ups and downs but I know that I was challenged and have managed to come out the other side feeling so proud of myself and accomplished. Definitely ready to see what 2018 has in store and to smash all my goals!
What are your goals for 2018? Does anyone else just have this feeling it is going to be the best year?

The Barcelona Travel Guide

 The city views are EPIC
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Barcelona is an interesting place. Before I went to Spain and Portugal, Barcelona was THE most hyped place. Everyone was giving me tips of where to go and what to see (yes, it was helpful, im not saying it wasn’t), however. I personally think it can be a little overrated. No one tells you about the 4million tourists who come out after 10am. 
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But in saying that, I still did love it and would go back because you just can not see enough in 4 days!
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QUICK FACTS:
Pickpockets are a thing here so just have some common sense and keep a hold of your personal things. Keep bags close to you, don’t put phones etc on tables etc – Especially on the Ramblas!
Currency = Euro
Language = Spanish & Catalan –  Touristy Places people speak English too
How to Pay = Card & Cash – Definitely have a small amount of cash on you
Best time to Visit = Between April & June or between September & November
QUICK TIPS:
– Get up early in the morning to do sightseeing
– Book tours earlier in the day and make sure to book in English
– download offline maps to get around – however location tracking is a bit off in the lane ways
– Loads of places have free Wifi – if you get stuck – go to Starbucks
– Walk as much as possible – I came across so many random amazing buildings just from walking around and getting lost
– Sangria & Alcohol in general is very cheap
Tinto de Verano is the ‘traditional’ drink in Barcelona? (Do not quote me on that – it’s basically Sangria)
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ACCOMMODATION
 Hostels: I would highly recommend staying in hostels. As someone who had never done it before, I chose not to stay in a hostel for my first city but I really do regret it! Hostels are a great way to meet people and generally all the good ones are located in the city centre. After speaking to a few people the ones that continuously popped up were: Kabul Backpackers & St Christopher’s Inn.
Airbnb: Airbnb is a great option for couples or if you are a solo traveller meeting up with friends. They can generally be found in all areas of the city and for a great price! You will get to meet some of the locals which is always great and they can give you some recommendations & tips you may not have had before for that area.
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The little street I stayed in – El Born
 GETTING AROUND
I won’t lie. I don’t think I’ve EVER walked as much as I did when I was in Barcelona. I personally think there is no better way to see the city. One of my many joys of this city was seeing all the nooks and crannys that you can only see by being on foot. I clocked up a ridiculous amount of steps.
 However other options for the less able/ time restricted would be:
  • the Train/ Subway/ Bus – It’s fairly inexpensive.You can get a T10 ticket for around 10 Euros… and I think I only used about half while I was there.
  • Taxi’s are a pretty good option for when you have luggage etc. I used them to get to the airport and from the main area in the city to my Airbnb and it wasn’t too expensive. TIP: Generally the taxi drivers do not speak English so good luck!
  • I personally never used a bike while being here however, I wish I had, especially early in the morning when there is no one around.
THINGS TO DO
There are SO many things to do in Barcelona. You could seriously spend a week here and still not have seen half of it. It can be quite hard to pick and choose so I thought I would just give a run down of my favourite things!
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This magnificent Roman Catholic Church kind of speaks for itself. I have never seen anything quite like it. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí was really one of a kind and when this is finished it should be one of the wonders of the world. Photos really do NOT do it justice.
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It isn’t expected to be completed until 2026–2028 and I 100% would love to go back and see it once it is done. I would recommend doing a guided or audio tour.
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Some of the best views of the city can be seen from up here. I would recommend coming near the end of the day as its a great place to see the sun set. Also, look out for the days and times of the Magic Fountain Show as its definitely worth staying to see! Although to get a good viewing spot you need to be early. I would recommend going an hour or so early and wandering around the grounds as you can really see some great views from less popular spots!
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View from the top – Can see Mt Tibidabo in the distance
You can get here via the train – which would be the easiest or you could potentially just walk, bus or take a taxi.
Tip: There is no Uber in Barcelona at this point so taxi is the best option if you have luggage.
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Unfortunately due to the amount of people in the market at the time I didn’t manage to get any photos however I loved this place. Its so vibrant and beautiful! A lot of Fruit and Vege as well as Seafood and Meat. There is also the usual Deli’s, Bakeries & Crepe stores! And, all the Spanish food you can imagine (plus Cheese Cones. Google it)
It is located just off the Ramblas (on the left hand side if you are walking from the beach) so it is quite easy to find!
A tip I will give is to go tot eh back, the further you go into the market, the cheaper it gets!

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View from the bar at the top of the Cable Car
The cable car goes from Barceloneta Beach up to Mt Montjuic and you see some of the most amazing views of the city. I will say that it is a little overpriced and is much better going from Montjuic Castle to Barceloneta rather than the other way around because the queue is insanely long!
 SHOPPING
Although I didn’t do a lot of actual shopping in Barcelona, I did do a lot of wandering and window shopping. I was mesmerised by the sheer size of some of the stores such a Zara and Mango. It was insane.
The places where I found the most popular with the best shops to, shop, were Passeig de Gràcia & la Ramblas. There were also a lot of small laneways off the Ramlas which had Outlet stores and smaller brand stores. I would 100% wandering through these just to have a look in some of these stores.
No matter where you go in the city, there will be a lot of shopping opportunities
  BEACH
Now, I will say this straight away. If you love the beach, this is for you however, go early (like, before 10) because after that there are just SO many people walking around trying to sell you things that it is seriously off putting.
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I didn’t spend a whole lot of time at this beach because of that. It’s really quite annoying. But, if you walk a little further down to the other beaches, it SO much nicer.
I never thought I would be one to enjoy visiting castles. But here we are, like, 4 down and I have to say, I love it! Castles and the history behind them is awesome. I visited this castle on my last day in Barcelona as I had a change of plans and needed something to do. I took the Cable Car to half way and then decided to walk the rest of the way up. TIP: Don’t do that.
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The views from the top of the castle are seriously spectacular. You can see the whole of Barcelona – 360 degree view. Which if you think about why these castles were built, is quite important I guess!
I would recommend going early in the day. But in saying that, in terms of tourist amounts in comparison to the rest of Barcelona, it was quiet!
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FOOD
I don’t want to add much in here because in all honestly, I researched a lot of restaurants etc before I went to Barcelona and I don’t think I even went to one of them! I was so busy that I basically just ate on the go half the time or popped into small hole in the wall places – which I would highly recommend!
There is however a bar/ restaurant I went to which was fantastic called La Luna which had great food and drinks.
I also had a ‘local’ coffee shop which I went to every morning called Cafés El Magnífico because the coffee was top notch and the people were really lovely! They didn’t even mind my extremely broken Spanish!
 LANEWAYS
The Laneways in Barcelona were really just something else. SO beautiful. Nearly every other corner you turn, you will see something different and unique. Because of the history with all the different cultures and people. The structures can be quite different from one lane to the next.
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The Jewish Quarter and the Gothic Quarter which I saw whilst on a walking tour  (P.S highly recommend this walking tour!) were probably by favourites.
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 This place to me was like being inside a fairytail. It felt magical being here! The architecture really is something else. I spend probably 2 or 3 hours here . You basically buy a ticket to go in at a certain time but there is another part of the park which is free so you can wander this part in the wait time.

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View from the little house

They let in a limited number of people so book in advance – but you can also see quite a lot without entry ticket. You can bus to and from or walk which I did. However it is quite the hike.

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The famous seating which you have to get a photo with

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Other places worth mentioning:
Picasso Museum
Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar
Cathedral of Barcelona
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Tibidabo Amusement Park
Casa Batllo & Casa Mila
Placa de Catalunya
Chocolate Museum
 DAY TRIPS
There are SO many options for day trips from Barcelona. Check out Viator for some great group options / ideas.
My Top 3 day trips had I had the chance:
1. Andorra –  Would a LONG day but amazing to be able to go to such a small country! Its in between France and Spain and is about 3hrs from Barcelona. I thought about doing this trip through Viator.
2.  Girona – If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then this place is for you. It is another big city in Catalonia and full of amazing sights and history.
3. Montserrat – This is the day trip that I was actually going to do whilst in Barcelona. It fell though because I may have slept through my alarm that day. It is a short train ride from Barcelona and is home to a beautiful mountain and Monastery. There are a lot of guided tours that go here so maybe do that if you aren’t confident to go yourself. A tip I read is to go early in the AM to see the sun rise.
 All in all, all said and done, Barcelona is in my top 5 cities I have visited. It has the  traditional architecture with instagramable beaches, narrow atmospheric (stinky)  streets with delicious & not so nutritious local cuisine. I loved the local vibe of where I was staying as it was saturated with culture and cute laneways.
I leave you with my best tip. Book in advance & Go to these places as early as possible to avoid crowds! The Sagrada Familia’s of the world are packed for a reason, so you just need to get in early (and deal with it) .
To see more photos of my Barcelona Adventure, follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Beauty Bits I’ve Been Loving

I use all of these things.. on a good day

SKIN

Elizabeth Arden 8hr Cream – Lip Protect: I got this in the airport (as you do) recently as a very ‘it was on the paying counter’ purchase. But I am so glad I did. I have noticed that working in an air conditioned office really does a number on my lips and this stuff has been a moisturising lifesaver. Bonus, its smells and tastes like grapefruit.

Swisse Argan Oil Moisturiser – I got this moisturiser mainly because I wanted a change. Plus, winter dried out my skin worse than ever. Lets just say. Best choice ever. I will not be saving this only for winter as it is now my all year round moisturiser! It just leaves my skin feeling so soft, even when ive been wearing makeup all day. During Spring & Summer I don’t think ill be wearing this during the day as it would be too heavy, but as a night time moisturiser, its a dream.

Kiehls Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado – I recently turned 25 and as such. The eye cream has come out. Not yet the wrinkle cream but knowing my genes, should probably get on to that too. Fine lines are the worst and whether they are only in my imagination or not, I shall begin to treat/ prevent them. This cream goes on great under makeup and is super hydrating. It can take a few mins to soak in but its def worth the wait. I do sometimes use this under my makeup too which works fine!

HAIR

La Bang Body Hair Oil – Now, I know, I gave in to the hype. Its the one all of the Australian Youtubers and Instagramers are talking about and guess what. They are right. Its not a con. I am not being paid to say this!

I generally leave this in all day if I can (If I am bumming around the house and not seeing actual people) and wash it out before bed. i have found since using this that I have less split ends and my hair does take longer to feel dry and frizzy. Which for me, is a revelation.

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Tea Tree oil Shampoo – For me this is a more natural alternative to my medicated shampoo. Now, it doesn’t work the same but it does keep me tied over for that little bit longer than if I weren’t to use it at all which is good. Because it is tea tree based it is also antibacterial and I find it takes my hair longer to become oily.

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Garnier Leave in Oil – As someone who has the driest of dry hair and is living with a constant frizzy nightmare. I need a hair oil that will be softening without weighing it down. This tends to do this. But only if I use it on first day hair.

I am thinking about trying out a leave in conditioner. Let me know if you have any recommendations.

MAKEUP

Collection Mascara –  I am a sucker for collection makeup and as they do not sell it in Australia, I try and top up on my favs while im in NZ. However, I thought while I was at the counter that I would try something new. This is where I discovered my new fav mascara! Its lengthening, separating and quite dry formula so basically everything I love.

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Topshop Lip Liner (in Ceramic) & Lipstick (in Naturist) Combo –  I never thought I would rate TopShop makeup highly. When I saw the collection I wasn’t too wowed, but at the time it was all on special, so why not. This happened to be a great idea because the Lip Liner and Lipstick i got are fantastic. The colour is my perfect everyday colour. My only con is that it doesn’t last THAT long. A few coffees in and you have to reapply. But it reapplies fine so for me, no issue!

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E.L.F. Cosmetics, Blush, Candid Coral – This particular purchase seemed to slip into my overloaded Iherb (discount code: RAC8923) order last minute and when it arrived, I was quite disappointed. I saw the colour and thought straight away. NOPE. However, I tried it and was quite impressed! It is definitely quite subtle, but it is buildable which is the main reason I enjoy it. Its almost impossible to overdo it. Its a peachy pink colour and has a slight shimmer. Perf for Spring!

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Nars Laguna – I remember when I first bought this bronzer, it was all because of the hype. I got it… and never touched it. I was too scared! I wasn’t confident doing my makeup and couldnt believe I had bought this product I couldnt use as it was really pricey!

However, I used it as a way to make myself learn. I wanted to be able to use it to its full potential. Voila! I have. Its now my fav bronser by far and works really well as a contour shade on my skintone. Unfortunately, I have hit pan, so will be looking for alternatives so that I dont run out!

NYX Micro Brow eyebrow pencil – When I was in Spain, I discovered that NYX and Kiko, Have their own stores!! The most I had ever seen was a ratehr big counter in Priceline, I was blown away and decided I HAD to buy something.

Fortunately, I had infact forgotten to pack my beloved Benefit Eyebrow Pencil so was in a position to justify a new one and I am SO glad I did because its now my new fav. Not only is the tip really small and easy to use, its less than half the price of the benefit one!! Although I have never tried the ABH one, I feel as though this would be a good dupe too. Seriously, try it.

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What have your favourite products been recently?

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The Lisbon Travel Guide

Pasteis de Nata – Google it and, need I say more?

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I have waited a while to write these travel posts about Spain and Portugal because I feel that when you first get back from a trip, its all a bit depressing and a little overwhelming! It takes talking to various people to realise all of the things you really loved and want to see (and eat) again.

Lisbon was probably my favourite place I visited in those 2 and a half weeks. Which is a tough call considering I managed 2 countries, 5 cities & 3 towns during that time. It was just SO beautiful and I would say if there’s one place I would (and do) recommend to everyone, that would be it.

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As you would have seen on my Instagram I went to Spain and Portugal earlier on this year and let me tell you, I LOVED IT. Lisbon especially, stole my heart – and my stomach. Dreams people. Dreams.

There were MANY things on my to-do list for Lisbon. However I was only there for 3 days so couldn’t quite finish the list however these are the places I did go and would highly recommend.

FOR THE VIEWS
Alfama. Alfama is great for many things. The small lanes, the hole in the wall coffee places and the teeny tiny restaurants that have old men living above them yelling and shaking their fist if you are noisy after 10pm (Not only is it the oldest suburb of Lisbon, it has the oldest residents..)
But best of all, I think it has the best views of Lisbon. Every ‘I went to Lisbon’ picture you see on Insta will include the view from here because it really is amazing.
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At night
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During the Day

WHAT TO EAT

PASTÉIS DE NATA  Famously, there is a shop in Belem that does the ‘best ones’ however, there wasn’t a chance in hell I was queuing up for an hour to get in. I found the best ones I tried to be from a place called Manteigaira at the Time Out Market.
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In fact, the Time Out, was where I got some of the best food I ate in Lisbon, So I would highly recommend going there and trying a few of the different places.
Its a great stop on the way back from Belem and is also very close to the city centre (as far as I remember) if not, there is public transport just across the road.
You HAVE to try Ginjinha which is a traditional Portuguese Liqueur made from Sour Cherries. You will find little hole-in-the-wall places all over the place (Even in Sintra) and I promise it is delicious.
Fresh fruit. I found myself eating a lot of fresh fruit on this trip. 1, because it was so hot that fruit, just sounded good. 2, it was easily accessible with little carts of cherries and berries scattered all around and 3, its cheap! and tasty.
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On my last night in Lisbon, I had dinner with one of my new friends in a place called Lisboa Tu & Eu. We tried a lot of different things on the menu (sardines were… interesting, wine was delicious!) and the atmosphere was fantastic.
After having the old guy living above the restaurant come down and yell at the owners for the noise, we were moved inside and for the inconvenience, offered alcohol shots along with the other 10 or so people in there (which might I add were mostly older people). It was great. I happily declined the small beverages but I decided from that point on wards that this place was my favourite.
  THINGS TO DO
  • São Jorge Castle – there are also some beautiful gift shops on the way up to the castle
  • So many museums
  • Santa Justa Lift – Didn’t do this myself but have heard the views are to die for
  • Heard great things about the Aquarium
  • The Sight Seeing Trams (Just be aware of pickpockets)

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LX FACTORY
This place was really cool. Super arty, funky and trendy. Its a little strip of old factories which have been turned into boutique, cafes, music stores, cork retailers & creative hangout spaces. I had the BEST chocolate cake i’ve ever eaten here from a place called Landeau. Def try if you get a chance.

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BELEM
About 6kms west of the city is a suburb? called Belem. It is well known for the Belem Tower & Pasteis de Belem, which drew me here and I never had 😦 but I also discovered it had beautiful scenery, gardens and the walk/ bus/ tram trip here alone was worth the visit.

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ACCOMMODATION

There is many a beautiful Hotel here, just in any city. But I say, if you want to get to know the locals and get a bit of a different feel, stay in an AirBnb or a hostel. I booked my accommodation quite far in advance and because I wasn’t so sure on this solo travel thing just yet (hindsight tells me BOOK THE HOSTEL). However, my airbnb was great, the location was fantastic and the people were seriously cool (with many pets).

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GETTING AROUND

As with many cities in Europe, the public transport here is great! I used mostly trains and trams to get around Lisbon which worked a treat however there is also Uber which I used a fair bit and buses. All options really cheap.

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Praça do Comércio

I would say however, if you are semi-fit. Walk. Its a BEAUTIFUL city and is best seen that way (just wear sensible shoes because its hilly AF and also slippery!)

DAY TRIPS

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While researching Lisbon, I knew I wanted to do at least 1 day trip and the place that stood out most to me was a Town called Sintra. It is very well known and there are many ways to see it. I chose to do it alone and not with a tour group as I knew there were particular places I wanted to see and didn’t want the time crunch. Good choice in the end I say.
It really does live up to the hype.
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Pena Palace
the Gardens.  It was seriously stunning. I could write a whole post on this place ( if you want it, lemme know) so I will just leave it there. If you would like more info on how to plan a day trip to Sintra let me know!
Overall, Lisbon, Portugal was the best last minute travel decision I could have made. I spend HOURS planning this trip and when a few extra days came up in my schedule I had a really hard time deciding between here and Paris but decided, you know what. I ahve plenty of time in my life to go to Paris and Lisbon won’t be an under-rated destination for long. Overjoyed with my choice. Absolutely can not wait to go back and next time visit the rest of Portugal too!
If you would like to hear more about lisbon or just follow me in general. You can find me on Instagram and here, Facebook and Twitter.

Sukin Loves’

Everyone needs great skincare  

General Products

Skincare is one of those things where, once you find the right products for you, its hard to try anything else as you fear it will either break you out or make your skin freak out in general.

I am now that person. I struggle to bring myself to try anything other than Sukin because I know it works for my skin. There are many reasons I love this brand but mainly because its more natural than some other brands available, it is free from Parabens and Sulphates, the range of products is huge (Minis’!!!) and its really affordable, especially when they have specials!

FACE SCRUBS

I use a range of the face scrubs from Sukin. Partly because I wanted them all and partly because I wanted to see the difference between them. My favourite of the three is still the original (Middle of photo). I use this probably 5 or 6 times a week. Now I know some might say that is excessive but it is just what my skin likes and I notice a difference in the surface of my skin and my makeup application if I haven’t used it. The other 2 I only use occasionally or when my skin needs a little extra.

 Scrubs

MOISTURISERS

I believe moisturising your face is the ONE step that everybody should be doing everyday. Whether your skin is oily, dry, normal or combo – you need to moisturise! The 2 moisturisers I love from Sukin are the ‘ Facial Moisturiser’ and the ‘ Replenishing Night Cream’. I find that when I use these 2 products everyday my skin looks its best. When I don’t, Hello Dry Patches.

FOAMING FACIAL CLEANSER

 This is a new discovery of mine. I don’t use this everyday as I find foaming cleansers can dry out my face if I use them too often. However I maybe use this once a week when I need a quick fix to clogging and removing texture and it works really well. If I have a bit more time I will spend time masking instead.

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DETOXIFYING AND MASKING

On days where I feel as though my skin needs a little bit more love and I have time, I choose to use the Detoxifying Mask followed by the scrub. May seem a bit excessive? Yeah probably! But afterwards my skin always feels so refreshed, looks a lot brighter and feels all kinds of clean! I really recommend the Detoxifying Super Greens range from Sukin.

Super Greens

All in all. I love trying new skincare products here and there but if there is one brand I know I can always go back to, or use when other things mess my skin up, Sukin is it! I am really looking forward to trying more of the range when I can justify it next! 😀

**DISCLAIMER – The products in these photos are well used and loved so may look kinda gross lol**

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Tried and Tested | Affordable Foundations

As a lover of all things affordable, I am always on the lookout for a good foundation that isn’t going to cost the earth.

As someone who works a corporate office job, I choose to wear a full face of makeup Monday to Friday as it makes me feel more confident and I enjoy the process of applying makeup first thing in the morning to start my day.

I have tested many, high and low end, and I have to say most of the ones I turn to because I know they are reliable, are my low end / affordable foundations!

All of the ones listed here are foundations that I have finished! (Yes I know, Applaud!)

RIMMEL LASTING FINISH 25HR

This is a foundation I actually bought on a whim whilst in NZ in April. I needed a medium, but buildable foundation for my Graduation Ceremony and saw this. I had read reviews in the past and had been meaning to try so why not. Once I started using this foundation I actually didn’t use ANYTHING else until the bottle sadly finished (already repurchased to keep in my collection). It is a demi-matte finish and can be built up to a very full coverage. I  apply this with a Real Techniques Sponge, but I find a semi dense flat or round top brush works just as well.img_20170129_190815

 

 

 

RIMMEL WAKE ME UP

To me this is a very good ‘new to makeup’ or entry foundation. It has a fairly light coverage and has a natural, glowy finish. I wouldn’t say it is long lasting but good to chuck on if you are just heading out for a few hours. I however would repurchase as it is a good ‘weekend’ staple for me.

COVERGIRL OUTLAST STAY LUMINOUS

My current go to. It comes with a pump, blends quite easily (sponge def easier than brush) and does leave my face quite glowy. It does provide a light/medium coverage and is more natural looking than other foundations. It doesn’t wear that well but in saying that, if you are the type of person looking for a dewy, low coverage foundation, give this one a go. You might love it! I don’t think this will be the first foundation I repurchase but its 50/50.

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BOURJOIS HEALTHY MIX SERUM GEL

16hr lasting power? Medium coverage to cover imperfections? I don’t think so. However, it is a lightweight, easy blendable, natural looking (kind of buildable depending on the application type) and medium lasting (6-8hrs) foundation. Would I repurchase? Probably, as long as they look at changing the overpowering scent.

RIMMEL STAY MATTE LIQUID MOUSSE

I used to absolutely swear by this foundation! It was one I loved for such a long time when I was convinced I needed something that was full coverage and Matte. Turns out I don’t, and my desires have changed! But I do still keep a tube of this hidden away in my collection for those times I do want something a bit more full coverage and long lasting. This does take a little bit longer to blend, so wouldn’t really recommend it for someone that doesn’t have a lot of time and/or patience but overall it does leave a nice looking soft but full coverage effect.

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If you are on a budget and are looking for something more affordable, maybe give one of these a try!

Also, I am always on the lookout for new affordable products to try so please let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations!

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L’Oreal Skin Expert Pure Clay Mask | Review

Masking is one of my favourite pasttimes

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It’s not often that I use a product and can say after the first use that I absolutely love it. But this, is one of those things! By far one of the best face masks I have used recently and, its affordable!! (Currently on Special for AUD$12.69 at Chemist Warehouse).

When I first saw this is in the pharmacy I grabbed it and put it in my basket without a second thought. As this range is fairly new and not very reviewed yet I thought I would give it a go before I am washed with preconceived ideas – and why not write the beginning of this post while it’s currently sucking the life out of my pores!

CLAIMS
Detoxifying and Brightening  

FIRST IMPRESSION

It is heavily scented. But not in a bad way, but in a way that you are glad its only on your face for 15 odd minutes because you really want to get the smell away from your nose.

APPLICATION

I just applied it with my good ol’ fingers. Usually with clay masks I would use a dedicated brush but this one seemed like an okay texture to use my fingers… and it was such a dream to put on.

Thoughts I had whilst it was on my face. Tight after about 5 minutes but not uncomfortable.

WASHING OFF PROCESS

I chose to use a warm washcloth and water to remove it as this is how I would normally take off any clay mask and it worked great. Did not require much tugging at all at my skin to get it off and my face was completely clean after a few minutes.

AFTER THOUGHTS

Skin almost instantly looking really clean and bright – Check. Skin also felt a little dry afterwards but really not that bad. The next day my skin looks amazing. Very fresh and almost radiant looking (If I must say so myself).

OVERALL

Great for if you are wanting a new mask to try that is affordable and actually does more than just make your face look ridiculous for 15 minutes! I will definitely be going out to repurchase the other 2 masks in the range!

Have you tried this mask? Let me know your thoughts!

x