Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson – A Must Read

Differently Normal Tammy RobinsonI have just finished reading Differently Normal by Tammy Robinson. This was a bloody fantastic book BY A KIWI AUTHOR (from The Bay of Plenty!) that I need to shout out about because, if you’ve enjoyed my other recommendations, you need to put this on your reading list.  Tammy is one hell of a storyteller and I LOVED this book and am compelled to shout from the rooftops about it (in fact, several friends have text me in the last week with book recommendations, I’ve simply replied with this link to Whitcoulls online (noting I downloaded my copy on Kobo) 

Differently Normal had me captivated, cracking up, suffering from the eye sweats and reading until stupid o’clock (on a school night).  This means Differently Normal has all the hallmarks of a Must Read and Must Shout Out About.

This incredibly and breathtakingly emotive novel centres on the relationship between two sisters, Maddy and Bee.  Maddy’s life is all consumed with helping her mother care full time for Bee, who is autistic.  Maddy has no time for anything other than her part-time job in a photography development store, certainly a boyfriend on the scene would add too many complications. Their family life, whilst simple, is filled with love and, importantly stability: Any deviation from routine would see Maddy’s wheels fall off.

Cue visiting a new Riding for the Disabled stable where Maddy, meets Albert: And some mutual (albeit reluctantly from Maddy) swooning happens.  Albert comes with his own baggage, an overbearing bully of a Father, to whom Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment. Albert, a man who knows a good thing when he sees it, pursues Maddy and this is where the story gets really interesting… (more…)

Bubble Fabulous Mouth Spa Review

Bubble Fabulous. It’s not a mouthwash. It’s a spa for your mouth.

Have I got your attention?! I hope so, as this new Kiwi product is going to be a sensation and I’m dying to tell you all about it. 

Bubble Fabulous Mouth Spa Review

I love me a Kiwi made product and I get extraordinarily enthusiastic when a beauty or foodie Kiwi-made product comes my way accompanied with my favourite six words: “Would you like to try some?”

This is what happened late last year when I was contacted by Laura, fellow Kiwi girl and founder of Bubble Fabulous Mouth Spa. Wait up. Bubble say what? This is a spa for your mouth – note, NOT a mouth wash! Well, given I switched to black coffee last year and I’m paranoid about having stinky breath: I replied at lightning speed to Laura’s kind offer and said “Yes please!”

Let’s get my impressions out of the way quick smart: Bubble Fabulous rocks, literally: Because you can feel the mouth wash working because it bubbles on your tongue like pop rocks! Hubby and I have been using this system twice daily for three weeks: We are big fans and we’ll be purchasing this for sure when my current stash runs out! No more Listerine for us: We were users, though that said, the amount of chemicals in there makes me slightly anxious.

Before I get into the ‘how to’ deets, the backstory to Bubble Fabulous is a rather neat one, so let me indulge you. Usual story: Someone in the market spots a glaring gap in the market and, shock horror, does something about it (that’s why I’m not an entrepreneur: I lack follow through). Bubble Fabulous founder Laura is a registered oral health therapist (dental hygienist) with a background in design. She was disillusioned with traditional mouth washes, which work like mints: Masking the problem rather than getting to the root cause of it. Bubble Fabulous actually gets the nasty stuff (bacteria) out of your mouth, particularly the tongue. (more…)

Little Honey Self-Tan – Review

Little Honey self tan review

Little Honey self-tan. Heard of it? You should have. If not: You are missing out. How’s that for an intro?

First up – I have a positive beauty review. Yes, something nice to say! Loyal readers, don’t die of shock.

Background: Fake tan. It’s been a bit of an uphill journey to find one that works for me. Expanding on that a little, I do love a rather well known self-tanning mousse*, but I was keen to try something new, not least as the afore mentioned mousse has a list of chemicals that makes me slightly nervous. In the beauty sphere, in general, if there’s a plant based alternative that’s just as good AND IS PRICED RIGHT: I’ll use it.
Anyhoo, after the last self-tanning review I did (here) the lovely peeps at Little Honey sent me some of their goodness suggesting “It was about time I tried this”.  Yes, I agree, it was.

Incidentally, I’d read a number of rave reviews about Little Honey all over social media this time last year. I never tried it: To be honest I felt the price tag ($45 for their bronzing mist or $55 for the bronzing mist + application mitt) was a bit steep. You see, I get sick of  forking out for pricey-ish products that don’t deliver. Besides, I was put off that Little Honey was so frequently mentioned in my social media newsfeeds last year. You see, I’m such a cynic that my school of thought is when it looks too good to be true: It usually is. As an aside, I also dislike hype.  I still haven’t read 50 Shades.

Side note: I was SO keen to try Little Honey that, on 16 December last year I messaged them, cheekily, and asked if they’d like to send me some (I’ve never done that). They politely declined. Funny how things work out, LOL.

Anyway, with Little Honey’s Flawless Bronzing Kit finally in my hot little hands a few weeks back: I got excited.  I received a Bronzing Kit containing their Flawless Bronzing Mist  and a flawless blending glove. The latter claimed to deliver a streak free finish. Yeah, excited I was.

little honey self tan review
The Flawless Bronzing Kit. Nicked this photo from Little Honey’s website. Thanks Little Honey.


And I’m still excited. You see: This bronzing mist stuff is the SCHIZZ. That’s the executive summary. You need this stuff. It’s the best self-tan I’ve used.   At this point, I must extend my sincere apologies to all those influencers whose reviews of Little Honey I was so dubious about last year: You did know what you were talking about. Opps. (more…)

St Tropez Review Self Tanning Products Review

St Tropez Self Tanning Products ReviewSo, I’m right into fake tan, all tanning products for that matter. I’m a pale and pasty English/Irish girl  (albeit with some throwback French and Eastern European presenting itself) and, whilst  I’m fairly olive and tan up beautifully – I don’t ordinarily attempt to naturally tan: The sun scares the shit out of me (hello melanoma). So, I’ve taken it upon myself to frequently partake in stocking up my bathroom cupboards with self-tanning goodies so I can do a DIY tan job. When St Tropez contacted me recently to ask if I’d like to try out some of their (newish) self tanning products to review, I was all over that like a rash. “I’m your girl”, I replied with gusto.

I got sent:

* St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Tanning Lotion 200ml – (Medium)
* St Tropez Gradual Tan Body Lotion Tinted 200ml
* St Tropez Instant Tan Face & Body Lotion – Medium/Dark 100ml

I gave all of these self tanning products a good bash for a week and a half before penning (aka filming) my, erm, rather unfavourable thoughts. Here goes. Sigh. I hate being a Negative Nellie!  I’m really  (truly) grateful to be sent these self tanning products to review… I just didn’t think they worked – and I think there’s better products out there (for me at least).  

In the event (unlikely event, that is) that you are utterly inspired to try out these products after watching this… Head to Beauty Lounge, Farmers, Pharmacies and the like.   I’m not a newbie to St Tropez, a few summers back I used one of their self tanning products. Whilst I can’t remember what it was called, I do recall it was awesome, so it seems these three products I were went sent are a bit out of the box! Note, this is my opinion, I’m sure there are people out there who love these products. Simply… They didn’t work for me.

Oh, here’s the instant tan on my face – the before and after. Barely a difference, eh?

St Tropez Instant Tan

My Emergency Makeup Look

Emergency makeup lookI haven’t done a makeup tutorial post for ages. Truth be told, they are a pain in the ass to photograph and the posts take 100 years to write… And I don’t have the time nor inclination! If I knew how to edit videos maybe I’d do a start to finish quick and easy video tutorial (remember last time I tried that and I poked myself in the eye with the tube? #fail).

Anyway, for the last few days I’ve worn this super quick and easy minimal makeup and I’ve had a few compliments about the “low key Lou look”. Thus, I thought this would make a good tutorial, whilst also putting it out there that I don’t always wear a full face (just most of the time, ha).

Note, as I have oily skin, I don’t get a lot of wear out of this look – as I don’t bother to prime my face, nor set my foundation with a light dusting of powder (necessary for me to lock my base in place). But, it’s a quick and simple look that, longevity of wear aside, is fit for purpose. I guess you could say this is my ‘Makeup in an Emergency’ look!

Products used are below, there’s a new find in there – a McDaddy brow product at a hamburger-like price. I know you guys like it when I find good yet mega affordable products. (more…)

Lou Loves – July 2017


Chanel Perfection Lumiere VelvetChanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet (Smooth Effect Makeup SPF15)

I don’t want to love this coz it was $90 for bloody 30ml. Shiiiit. This makes this item one of the most expensive items of makeup I’ve ever bought. 

This foundation was, fessing up time, an emotional “make me feel better purchase”.  I’ve been a bit down in the dumps lately.  I didn’t expect to love, love, LOVE it… But I do.  It’s perfect for my oily skin. Did I mention it goes on like velvet? This pricey liquid foundation delivers a stunning sheer to medium coverage. Great news: It’s totes buildable so it’s great for me for day wear as well as a night out. Brace yourself for this next comment: It’s the best foundation I’ve ever used. My skin looks flawless.

Chanel perfection lumiere foundation review
Foundation on my mug. Taken in my car, coz, you know, lighting is always better in the car.

Brownie points deducted for alcohol being in the ingredients list, not a huge amount, but potentially unnecessary, so worth a mention. Also it’s quite fragranced: I love the smell, personally, but this could put some off. As for the SPF, who the hell relies on sunblock in their foundation these days? Not me. That’s why the folk at Skinnies invented their sungel.

Will I be replacing this foundation when it, gulp, runs out? Hell yes. Bring on Duty Free I say.

Note: If you’ve got normal to dry skin, I’d check out Chanel’s Vitalumiere. I received a tester of this: Gorgeous, but when push came to shove, the lady at Chanel’s counter suggested that Perfection Lumiere would be better on my oily skin. She was right.  My Mother-in-law text me last night from Duty Free saying “I need to get a foundation, what should I get?” I sent her in Chanel’s direction. (more…)

Dreamy Full Noise Potato and Bacon Bake

potato and bacon bakeMost people have a potato bake ‘go-to’ recipe, eh?  Not me, my efforts are always slightly different and TBH always a bit ‘meh’.  However, I’ve nailed it: This is the potato and bacon bakes of All Potato Bake recipes. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I’m not even a massive potato fan (apart from chips… #nuffsaid).  In the midst of a cold Rotorua winter, danger: For me, this is comfort food at its finest.

Hang on, if you are calorie counting, stop right here. Exit out of this blog. This dish is totes not conducive to weight-loss, in fact hubby said to me, and I quote “Shit, we’d better not eat this too often we’ll get fat’. In our house, hence, we call this ‘Full Noise Potato Bake’.

Firstly, as a bit of a disclaimer, the origins of this recipe don’t like with me, nope. They lie with my buddy Portia.  We went to her house for dinner a few weeks back and she dished up her version of this. I asked nagged her for the recipe, as it was WAYYYY better than my potato bake. Finally she relented and shared the secret. The two secrets are, incidentally:

  1. Dried Maggi Chicken Soup (you know,  the one that comes in the packet, like the crucial Kiwi Dip ingredient, Maggi Onion Soup).   Now, I’m not usually a fan or a supporter of pre-packaged foods, but I’m not so LANA* about it that I can’t make an exception.  
  2. Par boiling the potatoes. My potato bake efforts have yielded dishes with semi-hard potato. Meh. Nobody likes it semi hard.

The next day after Portia wowed us, which was a Sunday, we all had a hankering for Portia Potato Bake.  The hankering was so bad that, in the torrential rain I set off to Countdown on a mission for Chicken Soup and potatoes (cupboards were bare).  Me being me, I had a fiddle with Portia’s recipe and this was the result. I nailed it, if I do say so myself: It’s same, same, but different, to Portia’s Potato Bake.  The addition of bacon and onion knocked it out of the ballpark, IMO.


Fresh Start with Nadia Lim – Review

Fresh Start with Nadia Lim

Fresh Start with Nadia Lim. The newest kid on the block from My Food Bag. We’ve had it for one week – here’s my review of Fresh Start, which, for the record, we paid for (this is not an advert of any form of sponsored post). However, before I forget, if you’d like to give a My Food Bag, err, bag a go, go to the bottom of this post: I have a referral code for you to use – we’ll both get $10 off our next order! 😊

First,  I’m going to assume, for the benefit of keeping this post as brief as possible (noting I always have too much to say) that you are all over the My Food Bag concept. If you are, in fact, not ‘all over that’ – read this blog post from a while back where I reviewed My Food Bag (long story short: I super complimentary things!).

My Food Bag’s newest bag, Fresh Start with Nadia Lim, is essentially, same, same but slightly different to other My Food Bags.  Fresh Start is the option for those wanting to get ‘healthy’ and/or drop some pies.  All meals are 450 calories or less per serve. Meals come with lean protein, a shit tonne of veges, and the meals are lower in gluten and dairy to boot. Check out  My Food Bag’s website for all the deets on Fresh Start here. 

Whilst I’ve been wittering on in recent times about the astronomical cost of groceries in NZ, potentially leading you all to believe we are poorer than church mice, we signed up for Fresh Start for the pricely sum of $200 for 20 meals. Why? I’m quite porky at the moment. Uncomfortably so.  Why I am porky is, to be honest, bloody boring and predictable. I’m not going there. I am, frankly, I’m sick of reading blogs/Facebook posts about curvy birds like me who have seen the light and have dropped 20kgs and are now a size 10 and lifting their own body weight at the gym. I AM NOT GOING THERE.  This is Not That Blog.  I am not aspiring to get crazy fit, nor be a size 10 (though I am joining a new gym opening up down the road)… Yes: I’m happy with fitting back, comfortably into my smaller size 14 jeans. I like my curves, albeit some of them are more like rolls at the moment.  Anyhoo, we thought give Fresh Start a nudge. There we go, rationale, done. #simple.

My Food Bag, as I’ve bleated on about before, is a winner in my view: It’s one less thing to think about in a week. No meal planning, no McDaddy grocery shop, just a quick trip to the supermarket to get breakfast stuff. Yes, I know, it’s not a huge task, but it’s one less thing to think about. If you are reading this and have a husband who takes care of all the groceries and cooking and you don’t have to think about it: Good on you. I’m envious. I’m not in that situation and frankly, I get sick of all the organising and planning that goes with running a family. I am not a naturally organised creature, I have to put a lot of effort into it and I find it exhausting. If I lived the single life I’d be the kind of person who would ponder all day what I felt like for dinner. I would pop into the supermarket every night on the way home: Sod that planning malarkey, I’d revert to type! So, scene set, the Number One reason I love My Food Bag is that they cater to my gourmet taste, whilst eliminating all that thought about meal planning and organisation. It helps my ENTP* Personality Type out, tremendously (using the Myers Briggs Framework, but I digress).

What does Fresh Start cost?

With Fresh Start, there’s two options, as shown below.

Fresh Start with Nadia Lim

I signed up for the Lite 20 option, so we had meals for two adults for dinner, with leftovers each for lunch the next day. Hubby had no say in the matter: He does as he is told when it comes to meals. If he took charge, he could make such decisions. He doesn’t.   We are, for the record a family of three, our 10 year old vege dodger has been eating separately from us (he’s cooking his own meals with my help, get ‘em in the kitchen early I reckon).

$200 per week, which sounds on the high side. However, this is just under what I spend a week on groceries anyway, so, being pragmatic, by the time I get breakfast stuff in: Our total weekly grocery cost is more or less the same. 

So, scene set, how have we found Week 1 of Fresh Start? Thanks for asking: Here’s a blow by blow.