Beauties and Foodies – Affordable Christmas present ideas

Not quite organised for Christmas yet?  Stuck for affordable Christmas present ideas? Keep reading!

Up until we sung Christmas carols at work yesterday I was totally in denial that it’s Christmas time (we don’t even have our decorations up yet at home!).  As a bit of a ‘last minute Charlie’ I’ve behaved slighly contra-personality this year and I finished the bulk of my Christmas present shopping by the end of November (go Lou, you polish that halo!). However, I’m starting to panic with the last few presents I need to buy as I’m totes stuck for (affordable) ideas (Note, If money were no object I’d be taking everyone on a holiday to a tropical island).  Unfortunately the people I have left to get pressies for aren’t into beauty or food  – and I’m stumped!  Anyhow, pondering this made me realise that I’ve got a bunch of good ideas for folk that ARE into beauty and food! (Disclaimer… I think they are good ideas)… So, if you are rushing around going “Oh shit, I need to do some Christmas shopping” and muttering swear words under your breath about what to buy, here’s a blog post that might help with shopping for any folk that are mad for all things beauty, or foodie.

I’ve put this blog post together based on gifts I’ve received that I’ve loved, or things I’m secretly lusting after!  Most things you should be able to buy locally, or online (if you get cracking, stat) and they won’t break the bank.  On the topic of price I’m getting endlessly frustrated at all the Christmas marketing suggesting you should remortgage your house and buy Dad a new 55″ TV, a $1000 food processor for Mum, or your best friend a $200 perfume. It’s the thought that counts, not the pricetag and I reckon the below options are both super thoughtful and not conducive to having your bum pucker at the cost.

Camembert Baker 

christmas present ideas

Cheese is, hands down, my favourite food.  I could give up all other dairy except cheese.  This Camembert Baking Pot therefore, was a perfect gift for me from Milly (my mother-in-law).  All you do is place a camembert in the pot, stab it slightly, put whatever seasonings (i.e. herbs) on it that you like and bake it for about 15 minutes (the pot comes with some recipes).  Hell,  keep it simple, add nothing and let the cheese speak for itself!   The result is hot, gooey, delicious cheesy goodness that’s the perfect accompaniment to crackers/fresh bread – and it’ll wow any visitors.  You can get these from specialist foodie shops (Hawke’s Bay folk get into TFE in Napier,  Rotorua folk Food Equipment on Hinemoa Street have these!). I have also spotted these in Spotlight.  Can’t get into the shops?  Buy online, there’s heaps of stockists,  just Google camembert baker NZ.  Price: NZ$30.

Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector

christmas present ideas

I’ve bought this product so many times the Clarins’ lady at Farmers now asks me if I’m buying for myself or “is this another present?”. I’ve raved about this product here and here, so I’ll keep this short: It’ll be a winner. I got this for my bestie Rhonda for her birthday. She was pumped.  This is a winning product for a young lady (bit of luxe, spoil ’em), your sister/cousin/aunt, Mum, or Nana.  NZ$35 (don’t quote me!).  I like the colour 01  as I find it suits everyone, but there’s a bunch of other gorgeous colours, I just dare not deviate from what works!  Available at Farmers or your local Clarins stockist. (more…)

Lip Liner – Why you should bother

lip liner why you should bother

I reckon lip liner (aka lip pencil) is the underdog of the makeup world and quite possibly one of the most misunderstood makeup products.  I personally didn’t ‘get’ the appeal of lip liner until this year – and now I’m making up for lost time and I’ve transformed into an avid lip liner spokesperson!

So, why bother? Here’s three reasons you too should get excited about lip liner… 

It’ll make your lips look fuller and more defined

In a few weeks I’m going to be hitting a zero birthday (it starts with the number four…) and in the last year I’ve noticed my lips have started to thin, albeit slightly. 

Asking around my friends in their forties and fifties as market research for this blog post, everyone is whinging about the same thing: Bloody lines and thining lips. So why does this happen?  I asked a beautician friend. She told me that the older we get, the less collagen we produce and it’s collagen that gives our lips plumpness.  Seeing as there’s sod all we can do about collagen production (I’m not keen on having a procedure) this is where lip liner comes in.  After a well defined natural lookin’ lip?  Invest in a liner that’s close to the natural colour of your lips, line your lips, fill ’em in and your lips will have way more definition.    Now, all that said, if you have super thin or uneven lips – you should go for a liner that is slightly darker thank your natural lip shade. This’ll make them look fuller. (more…)

Beetroot Quinoa with Haloumi (Cable Bay inspired)

Beetroot Quinoa with Haloumi… Hang on, let me sit the scene.

We 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!

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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…”  

Primer…
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 You’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
Our goodness arrived!

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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 $59 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’. I had read a few Nexter guides all about eyelash serums and the do’s and don’ts so I was ready when the product did arrive! (more…)