Finding my Christmas spirit

Christmas listEverywhere I go at the moment I’m being asked “have you finished your Christmas shopping yet?” “Is this a Christmas present you are buying?”  “Are your Christmas plans all finalised?” “Are you going away on holiday?” “Can you believe it’s Christmas next week?”

No. No. No. Don’t know, haven’t decided. And I’m in complete denial that it’s Christmas next week.  Can we change the subject and talk about something, anything else? The weather? What about lipstick? I know a few good shades that might suit you? Are you interested?

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Lou Loves – November favourites

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Check. Out. This. Stash.

November. What a whirlwind that was. I was in my element zooming around the countryside, largely with work, loving every minute of it.  For someone who has an office-based role, I’ve done a damn good job recently of not spending much time actually in the office!  We also got a new bathroom at home, which meant for three looonnng weeks we were trudging backwards and forwards to Mum’s house to shower (my work trips were timely, I was sending home texts that said “just had a lovely bath” – meanie, eh?!).  On a negative note though, my blog suffered a little bit, I hope nobody noticed too much – for a wee while there I was posting once a week, that was about all I could manage without going cuckoo! Eek).  As for December and Christmas – I’m in complete denial, I haven’t done anything, no planning, no present buying: Nothing. I’m not sure I’ll start for another week or so either, there’s too much happening! (more…)

Coconutty Bark (sugar free goodness)

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My version of Cave Girl’s brilliant recipe!

Way back in September I took part in Sugar Free September. The whole low/no sugar movement is gaining momentum and I thought I’d give it a whirl. The Executive Summary of that story is:  I did it, I feel great and fast forward now, We’ve stayed sugar free (mainly) because we feel GREAT.

Sure, there’s been a couple of what I call ‘Relaxing Moments’ but they aren’t biggies by any stretch of the imagination.  What am I relaxing on? Wine mostly – Pinot Gris to be precise, my tipple of choice when the weather gets warmer.  In context though, as someone who had a serious weakness for chocolate at 3pm, it’s nothing short of miraculous that I’ve eaten four squares of chocolate since late August. That’s it for the extent of my ‘sugar deviation’ not bad, right?   I’m staying sugar free because I feel amazing. But I won’t witter on about that here because I went on about it here. 

Anyhow, one of the things I enjoyed most about Sugar Free September was trying out new food and recipes and I thought it would be fun to share my favourite recipe from September. If you follow me on Facebook you’ll have seen this before as I shared the recipe for Pecan and Caramel Bark from the Cave Girl blog which, frankly,  is a recipe of pure genius.  So, with Cave Girl as my inspiration, I made up my own barky version and… YUM!  Both bark recipes are so good that, even if I fall well and truly off the sugar bandwagon, I’ll still whip this up. Now, while I shared the recipe on Facebook, those little buggers at Facebook are playing mind games with me as some of my posts on my Facebook just vanish – like POOF! Gone! I have no idea why (if anyone knows – please enlighten me as this palaver drives a woman batty). So, for prosperity, here’s the Coconutty Bark recipe I posted on Facebook here on the blog: Now it’s kept safe for us all to enjoy!  (more…)

Australis Bombastic Bronze Eyeliner – You need this in your makeup bag!

Australis 10hr eyeliner Bombastic BronzeIf you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know I get very excited when I chance upon makeup that’s both seriously inexpensive – and seriously good.

First though a point to clarify: Something in my book that is ‘seriously inexpensive’ is something under NZ$15. If you are in the USA and reading this, yes, I can hear you gasping: I’m aware the NZ$ equivalent of US$15 will get you big bang for beauty buck in the USA. However, bear in mind that, whilst I am cognisant that I’m truly blessed to live, arguably, in one of the world’s most beautiful countries, we are not blessed by our cost of living, nor makeup prices. Both subjects, incidentally, see me getting quickly up on my soap box so I’d better change the subject, stat. Anyhow, there’s my Lou Logic for arriving at NZ$15 and under as my ‘seriously inexpensive’ beauty find price point…

I stumbled across Australis’ 10 hour waterproof eyeliner in Kmart and I was hooked for two reasons: 1) NZ$13.50 is a price point that sings to me and 2) It’s waterproof, so it’s likely to live up to the 10 hour sustainability promise.  As I tried out the testers of the three available colours in the 10 hour wear range I thought to myself that the Bombastic Bronze colour reminded me of MAC’s Teddy eyeliner, one of my favourite dark brown eyeliners. Like Teddy,  Bombastic Bronze has has a shimmer with faint gold flecks running through it, so it’s not just a matt brown, it’s got the X Factor. (more…)

Hollandaise Sauce (It’s easier than you think)

SAM_4635Eggs benedict. Asparagus with Hollandaise. The thought makes me go weak at the knees and my mouth water.  Everytime I make this sauce for visitors they are wowed that I’ve made it from scratch.  The thing is, I’ve bought pre-made Hollandaise sauce and I’ve been really underwhelmed – it just doesn’t compare to the homemade version.

Unfortunately, lots of people are intimidated by making Hollandaise because it’s known for being finicky and temperamental, or to be more precise, splitting.  I’m pleased to report this recipe has never split on me, far from it: It turns out perfect everytime, the only problem is reigning in how much you eat! It’s also easy – it takes two minutes for the sauce to come together, which I like, I’m not known for having the best attention span in the North Island. I think the secret with this fool-proof recipe is that it contains less butter than most other Hollandaise recipes. Before you starting high-fiving me thinking this is a calorie friendly sauce, hold fire: It does contain cream.  But it’s delicious. Give it a go! (more…)

Benefit Gimme Brow – Does it live up to the hype?

Benefit Gimme Brow ReviewA few months back I read with with interest the beauty blogger hype around Benefit’s new(ish) brow product, Gimme Brow. This product promises, with a few brush strokes, to deliver slightly fuller brows that stay in place all day. Seeing as I’m a bit partial to a brow product (in case you hadn’t noticed) I figured this was a product I needed to get my paws on. Conveniently my mate Toni was heading through Auckland Duty Free so I asked her if she’d do me a favour and visit the Benefit counter (living in the provinces is not conducive to visiting Benefit or MAC in person – that’s probably just as well). Anyway, fortunately Toni folded like a cheap pocket knife, she loves beauty as much as I do, and off she skipped to the Benefit stand. (more…)

Speedy Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti and meatballs recipeI put a call out on my Facebook page a while back to see what recipes you lovely blog readers would like to see: Speedy savoury dinners seemed to be a bit of a popular theme! Well, you said, I’m delivering.

This speedy meatball recipe totally fries my burger as I can get this dinner on the table within 25 minutes, while multi-tasking with those those tedious domestic activities like supervising homework and getting lunches ready for the following day.    This recipe is also really versatile: Haven’t got pesto? Add a sauce (sweet chilli sauce, tomato paste, BBQ sauce, hell, tomato sauce if you like). Don’t like/haven’t got cheese? Leave it out.  If you want to speed things up, use a pre-made pasta sauce (I make pasta sauce in bulk from scratch and keep it in the cupboard in sterilised jars…  Since Operation Sugar Reduction I find pre-made pasta sauces like Dolmio far too sweet).

Lastly, here’s a tip: Make double the meatball recipe (get the kids to help you with the rolling) and keep them to cook the next night. Stuff them into wholemeal pita breads, or roll them up in tortillas. Add salad and your favourite sauces/dressing (mayonnaise, pesto, hummus, sweet chilli sauce, you get the idea). This is another speedy, popular, tasty and healthy mid week dinner.

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Lou Loves – October Favourites

Here’s my round up of things that have been been spinning my wheels since we last chatted! I’m not full on into Christmas shopping mode yet, but, if you are, then everything I’ve mentioned in here are great gift ideas for beauty or foodies in your life!  Also a few people have asked me what kitchen gadget I use to make zoodles – keep reading, all is revealed!

Vanilla & Almond Macaroons from Little Bird Organics:  These morsels are raw food at their best and bliss ball lovers will totally goof off from the first mouthful. I discovered these on a trip to Little Bird’s Unbakery in Kingsland, Auckland during Sugar Free September. I was desperate for a sugar free treat so I bought two packets, Vanilla & Almond and Chocolate.  Long story short: We got hooked (hubby prefers the Chocolate ones).  I actually bought this packet as a thank you present for a friend, except they taunted us so badly we had to eat ‘em… and I had to go buy some more. These are delish with a cup of tea/coffee.   Price around NZ$11.00, available from organic shops, or online at Little Bird Organics.  I’m so obsessed with these I’ve been playing around in the kitchen trying to recreate them. I’m getting close. One more batch and I’ll nail it. Brace yourselves.

vanilla and almond macaroons little bird

 

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