Beetroot Quinoa with Haloumi (Cable Bay inspired)

beetroot quinoa with haloumiWe had a girls’ weekend away in Auckland recently and we did a day trip to Waiheke Island.  Astonishingly, three out of the five of us either live, or have lived, in Auckland…Yet only one person had been there! Crazy!  

Waiheke Island totally exceeded my expectations – it’s utterly gorgeous, really quaint with an abundance of things to do.  If it wasn’t for the Kiwi accent, money number plates and Auckland glistening in the distance, I’d have sworn I was in a different country.

Our day consisted of shopping and eating (did you expect anything less?) and one of the highlights was our trip to Cable Bay vineyard. Here, upon arrival, after a long hot walk uphill to get there, we collapsed into chairs on the verandah and swiftly ordered a couple of bottles of vino and a bunch of food to share.  Oh my God – my tastebuds were in heaven.  All of it was top notch.  There was one dish in particular that had all of us in heaven – beetroot quinoa with haloumi.  My friend Diane and I (possibly more of a foodie than me), launched into a “pick that flavour” frenzy, with the goal of me having a crack at re-creating it.   Clearly, as you are reading this blog post, I succeeded and I’m rapt with the result!  So here we go, Cable Bay inspired beetroot qunioa with halloumi.  This is on my Christmas Day menu for 2015 (I’ve got nothing else in mind so far apart from my Damn Yummy Christmas Ham!). (more…)

Keagan’s Pineapple Heads Review

My little guy, Keagan, is as much of a fan of the beauty aisle at the supermarket as I am. We spend ages sniffing shower gels and moisturisers to make sure we get just the right one and he loves trying out new products in the bathroom (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?!).

So, when an email popped into my inbox from Pineapple Heads, offering my little guy the opportunity to try out some of their all natural skincare and haircare products for kids, I was in like Flynn. I’d been eyeing up Pineapple Head’s products for a while now and I was thinking about getting him some! So I knew Keagan would be all over this and, sure enough, when the package arrived he shot off to the bathroom to have a shower to give everything a good test run. 

Later, after a decent period of ‘testing’, I sat him down to get the download of the Pineapple Heads range so I could write up my blog post. But, nope, turns out we weren’t just doing a blog post, he wanted us to do a “proper review” to go on You Tube! He was so excited he even tidied his desk to be the backdrop for the clip.  So, I relented and I’m really proud of him:  I think he did a great job!  So, here it goes, over to you Keagan for your product reviewing debut!


Makeup – If I had to pick one….

I often get asked about my all-time favourite makeup products and I figured a round up of my ‘all time favourite’, ‘can’t live without’ products would make a great post.  I guess this post could also be called “If my makeup bag got nicked, I’d replace it with…”  

I raved about this in a recent favourites post: The Body Shop’s Instablur.  LOVE….  I’ve been doing Crossfit for the last couple of months, in the middle of the working day, when I’ve had a full face on. Long story short, I leave, and I still have a full face on. My Sport-Billy colleague Nat, who runs at lunchtime, and also has oily skin, is also blown away at how makeup lasts with Instablur.  I love it so much – I just bought my second tube this week! (more…)

DIY Nut Butter Recipe

We love nut butter in this house: Peanut, cashew, almond, it’s all bloody good, but I resent paying up to NZ$15 for it, even though it’s mind-blowing delicious.  So, I had a play around making my own with my food processor and, more recently my NEW sparkly Nutribullet – and BINGO!  Easy as and I saved some money so I can put that towards the new MAC foundation I’m lusting after (Waterweight, if anyone is interested)…. I know, I’m a shocker.

Nut butter, if you haven’t tried it, is delicious in so many ways: Try it on sliced apple; On rice cakes topped with tomato or beetroot (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! My crossfit bunny friend Lauren introduced me to this, it’s currently my favourite snack!); Or, spread on toast (Vogels, of course, sometimes it pays not to over complicate things…).

What nuts can you use? Any!  Almond, cashew, macadamia, brazil, hazelnut – you can use seeds too, sunflower are my favourite to use (I’ve done an award winning combo of sunflower and cashew butter).

nut butter (more…)

My Food Bag – Putting the mojo back in week night cooking

my food bag 4You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of My Food Bag!  This is the brainchild of some savvy peeps who spotted a niche for delivering bags of delicious ingredients to your door, along with step by step nutritionally balanced and delicious recipes.  You can read all about it here. I’d better save some space: This is going be a long blog post!

My motivation for trying out My Food Bag was simple: a) They’ve finally started delivering to Rotorua and b) I’ve totally lost my mojo for weeknight cooking.  I just can’t get in the groove and we’ve fallen into the habit lately of having mince one night, chicken the next, salads for two nights, rice the next…  You get the drift. There’s nothing wrong with this, but what’s been troubling me is that I just can’t get inspired about week night cooking (weekend cooking, no problem!).  I own a crap-load of recipe books, hell, I am (ordinarily) a walking recipe book, but I just can’t think of what to cook. So I hoped My Food Bag would get me out of a spectacular cooking rut.

What bag did we order?

There’s five different bag options to suit fussy young kids, or hungry teenagers. I went for ‘My Gourmet Bag’ which feeds two adults four meals for a week.  The price was $142 (inc delivery). I decide against the My Family Food Bag option, which would also have fed our nine year old: He’s a fussy eater and I was just too nervous he’d turn his nose up. Besides, I liked the sound of eating gourmet with my hubby for four nights! Yet, to feed the boy, this meant I had to get organised and prepare some food in advance, I’m trying to cut down on cooking two separate meals! So I knocked up a Lazy Lasagna and this went down a treat most nights!

How did we find My Food Bag? Here’s a narration of our experience!

Day Zero (Sunday)

Our delivery was scheduled for Sunday afternoon between 3.00pm and 5.00pm. At 3.17pm a Courier Post van pulled up with a driver kitted out in a My Food Bag polo shirt. He cheerfully brought a box and bag of My Food Bag goodies to my door and greeted me with “Hello, you must be a new customer?  Enjoy! See you next week!”  The driver wasn’t even out of our driveway when my phone beeped with a text from My Food Bag saying “enjoy the goodness, if you have any questions, give us a ring”. It was like a Domino’s pizza delivery, only more thrilling.  As someone who has trained in customer service and sales for a living, I was thinking that My Food Bag is nailing their customer service and PR so far.

my food bag review nz

Our goodness arrived!


Flash eyelash serum – Review

Flash before and after

Flash eyelash serum. Yeah, it works.

I’ve been faffing around with eyelash extensions in recent months. I totally loved the dramatic eyelash effect, along with the time the extensions saved me in the morning (no more curling and applying mascara). But, there’s a downside: Repeated extensions played havoc with my eyelashes, which were left brittle, snapped and sparse.  Dammit.

I’d seen a few promo pics on Facebook for eyelash serums like Revitalash and LiLash but my bum, frankly, was puckering at their NZ$120+ price tag. Then, purely by chance, I spotted Flash Eyelash Serum at Rotorua’s Life Pharmacy and, this time, the $50 price made me smile. I was super hesitant and skeptical that the serum would really work, but curiosity, urged on being troubled by my short and snapped eyelashes, I thought “stuff it” and dubiously handed over my hard earned cash.  Note, I hadn’t even heard of Flash at this point, I was buying ‘cold’. (more…)

Lou Loves – September Favourites

The blog post where I wax lyrical about beauty products and food that made me happy in the month of September… As it turns out (it wasn’t planned), all of this month’s beauty faves fall into the ‘cheap and cheerful category’.

maybelline browdrama review nzMaybelline Brow Satin Smoothing Duo-Brow Pencil & Filling Powder 

Maybelline have been on the money lately, pumping out products galore that are getting good reviews. Naturally I jumped on the bandwagon and bought a few things including this eyebrow pencil that’s got me most excited.  Why? The colour is spot on for my dark brown caterpillars:  It’s an affordable staple for your makeup kit; It has a 2mm pencil for precision AND a smudger that has a built in filling powder at the other end. The result is filled in, gap free eyebrows without that painted on ‘sharpie’ look that have been doing the rounds far too much in recent years!  Top marks Maybelline! Price:  $19.00. 

LA Girl Glide Gel Liner (Paradise Purple)

I spotted a LA Girl cosmetics stand tucked away in the corner of my local Life Pharmacy (Rotorua) recently and got a little excited. Why? I’ve heard great things from fellow beauty bloggers about the LA Girl pro concealer and I was keen to see if other items from the range were rave worthy (Note, I still haven’t tried the concealer yet!). I got this purple eyeliner for  NZ$9 and what a great surprise! I don’t usually hold ‘cheap’ eyeliners in high regard but this is stunning. The colour pay-off is brilliant, it applies super smooth (like a gel liner). It’s also waterproof and smudge-proof. Tick, tick and tick – and lastly, did you hear the price? Keep an eye out for these in your local Life Pharmacy. I’m sure I’ve seen this range in the Warehouse too (?).  LA Girl is also widely available online. Sleek matte me fandango purple review

Sleek Matte Me Lip Cream – Fandango Purple

The bold lip craze continues for me! This was an impulse purchase from Beauty Bliss (my favourite online beauty store at the moment). This is a matte finish liquid lipstick and I’ve rocked this regularly over the last two weeks and it’s one of two lippies going on my girl’s weekend away to Auckland this weekend (MAC Syrup is the other one, no surprise there).  My only grumble is that it’s quite a drying formula.   Applying lip balm five minutes before lip cream application is a must, as is slapping on more balm before you hit the sack at night. Other than that, the colour is intense, as is the staying power, it takes quite some effort to budge it. My nine year old, who loves his goodbye kiss and cuddle before school in the morning, is a fan: He doesn’t have to wipe away the lipstick marks on his cheek (cute). “Oh good, that one is colour stay”, he says before he launches in for a snuggle.  Price? NZ$14.00. Buy it here.  PS It easily removes with coconut oil on a cotton pad  (my No1 makeup remover at the moment!).

Soap & Glory Clean on Me Shower Gel 

soap and glory nz

I almost had a little orgasm in Postie Plus when I stumbled across some Soap & Glory products recently. I adore this range and my Mum and I went nuts shopping up a storm when we found the range in Boots in Bangkok two years ago. The smell of their products is…. sublime (kind of reminiscent of Miss Dior). I’m obsessed with this shower gel. Formula wise, it’s pretty bog standard to be honest, but the smell. Goodness. I’ve been having two showers a day, I’m so obsessed.  NZ$10. 

Toni & Guy Casual Sea Salt Texturising Spray

I love the ‘just got out of bed’ aka ‘just got back from the beach’ look.   Unfortunately I have quite fine and silky hair and it takes a tonne of product (or a good swim at the beach) to achieve that look.  Well, I live an hour from the beach and I’m lazy with my hair, so neither approach is particularly convenient.  

Now, I’m not sure about achieving beachy looking waves from this delicious smelling sea salt spray, but I do get thick and full-volume looking hair after a good all-over spritz.   I usually dry my hair (with a blow dryer or air dry) until it’s about 75% dry, then I spray the product on the damp ends and then scrunch away with my hands.   I also use it when I wear my hair up: My hair has finally grown to shoulder length and a few spritz adds grit and texture so my hair complies with staying in a messy bun.   I’m impressed, noting this is the first sea salt spray I’ve tried. NZ$18. Available from New World.

Eggplant, Feta, Sundried Tomato and Basil Rolls


These were the morsels of the month. I made these one quiet rainy Sunday afternoon during a Homeland binge session on Netflix (I know it seems a bit flash for a quiet Sunday, but the eggplant needed using, it was going to go off otherwise!).  I adore eggplant, I lived at Lake Garda in Northern Italy for eight months on my OE and I practically gorged myself on melanzane.  These are ‘easy as’ to make:

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Slice the eggplant into thin strips vertically (about 0.5cm thick).
  • Brush both sides of the eggplant with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place on a baking paper lined oven tray and roast until golden brown – about 20 mins. Turn after 10 minutes so they brown evenly.
  • Whack a bit of feta down on the eggplant, top with a sundried tomato and a basil leaf (or a dollop of pesto). Roll up. Secure with a fancy-pants skewer (or toothpick, who cares) and scoff them back.



Thai Chicken Cakes with Peanut Satay Sauce (kid friendly dinner!)

thai chicken cakes with peanut satay sauceMonday morning struck, I’m totes out of cooking inspiration.  I grabbed two chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost and vowed that, by the time 5.30pm rocked around, I’d have thought of something vaguely creative and appetising to feed the family.  To be brutally honest, whilst I adore cooking, I don’t enjoy mid week cooking. Time is at the essence, we are all hangry and usually I’m cooking two meals to appease two foodie adults and one gorgeous, but bloody fussy eating, nine year old.   I don’t have enough time during the week, frankly, to faff around preparing two meals. But I usually do. Aggh.

But this is a good news story: Inspiration did strike in the form of these Thai Chicken Cakes – and – talk about hit the jackpot!  Despite my reservations, my boy scoffed this dinner!   Bear in mind my expectations were low: I didn’t have any hopes of him eating them with salad (or the satay sauce – and he didn’t… But it was easy to sub these out for carrot sticks and sweetcorn. I can deal with that without blowing a valve.  Anyway, dinner was totally delicious, it was a 30 minute dinner and it was EASY.  So easy, in fact, we’ve had this dinner twice this week!   (more…)

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