Lou Loves – Faves February

That monthly blog post where I witter on about beauty and foodie goodness, i.e. Lou’s faves – for the month of February. On that note: HOLY CRAP! Where did February go?  I can’t decide if I’m rapt that with 1 March NZ has landed upon the start of autumn (rapt because I’m sick of hot and sticky sleepless nights) or sad that summer BBQs and wines on the deck with my friends will soon be coming to an end… Might as well roll with it I guess… There’s nothing I can do about it!

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara (waterproof)

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara review

You might recall I bought this Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara at the start of summer. I took a pic of me ‘wearing it’ (you know what I mean), whacked it on Facebook, used it a couple of times and decided it was, frankly, alright,  but nothing worth waxing lyrical about. I wasn’t enamored with the brush, it seemed to be designed so it wasn’t conducive to combing the lashes, mine ended up clumpy, in part because the product was so wet when first applied.  I detest a ‘super wet’ mascara.  So, with a sigh, I biffed the tube to the back of the third drawer down in my makeup trolley (LOL).  Later I read a few negative reviews about the product and was comforted that I wasn’t alone in deciding that this mascara didn’t stack up (for me, especially so, compared to my beloved, albeit pricey, Lancome Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara). Or so I thought.

Fast forward to early February and, dammit, my Doll Eyes mascara ran out.  I decided I couldn’t justify parting with $60 at the Lancome counter when there was a full brand new tube of Lash Sensational right under my nose. So, in a way, I was forced into giving it a decent test run. This is bloody fortunate as I’ve done a U-turn on my initial thoughts – I really like it! However, this comes with a caution: I’ve had a play around to make it work for me…

lash sensational mascara review

Remember I said the mascara applies wet on the lashes?  Well, I’ve helped the tube dry out slightly by wiping the excess product off on some tissue prior to use (wasteful, I know!). Good news: This has been the trick to not having the wand too wet and, consequently, the tube has slightly dried out. Why is this good? Now that it’s dried out a tad, Maybelline Lash Sensational delivers long spidery and thick looking lashes (at a sharp price).  No flaking, no smudging. Whoop.  Here’s a pic of it on my mug:

Maybelline Lash Sensational (and if you are wondering on my lips is a mix of two MAC lippies: Heroine and Up the Amp).
Maybelline Lash Sensational (and if you are wondering on my lips is a mix of two MAC lippies: Heroine and Up the Amp)

If, like me, you are an eyelash curling junkie, you’ll be pleased to hear that the waterproof formula keeps the curl in place (for this reason I only ever use waterproof mascara:  I know it’s a bastard to get off, but this job is EASY PEASY with coconut oil or Clinique Take the Day Off Balm!) .  

Executive Summary: I stand by previous declarations that Maybelline is the queen of inexpensive mascaras. Watch this space to see if I head back to the Lancome counter…  

Where to buy: Farmers, Kmart, pharmacies stocking Maybelline. Price: NZ$26.99.

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Lipidol Cleansing Face Oil Review

 If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know I’m obsessed with my nightly pre-cleansing routine. Pre-cleansing that is, to get rid of all ‘my face’, before embarking up on my regular skincare routine. I use either coconut oil or Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm as my pre-cleanser before I launch into regular face cleansing (usually double cleansing!).

Well, in the interests of market research I’ve branched out to try some new  products.  On a trip to Farmers a wee while back, I stumbled across a rather modest looking stand from Lipidol.   I paused, intrigued, largely at the lack of prominent in-your-face signage and promptly discovered, thanks to some research on my phone, uncovered that the range is from Union Swisse, the makers of Bio-oil. Everything on the stand was $9.95: You know what a bargain hunter I am!   

lipidol cleansing face oil stand

There were six products to choose from:  Sunscreen Oil; Overnight Facial Oil, Cleansing Body Oil, Cleansing Facial Oil, After Shave Oil and After Shower Oil. $9.95? I wanted a piece of the action!

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Colourpop Cosmetics Review – Yay or nay?

colourpop reviewI’m a bit late joining the Colourpop Cosmetics bandwagon:  Beauty bloggers gave this affordable cosmetics range from the US a huge thumbs up throughout 2015. Sometimes I’m slow to embrace hype.  Anyway, executive summary:  The hype is deserved –  I’ve given all the products a bloomin’ good road test since I got them for my birthday in December (forty, cough). I’m now cheerfully reporting back to say “Colourpop is definitely hype worthy!”  Here’s a speedy review of my Colourpop Cosmetics purchases:  Two blushes, one eyeshadow (that required phenomenal willpower, the range of shades is the bomb), one lipstick and a matte liquid lipstick.

Good news too: Colourpop ships internationally (including to NZ). Bonus! (more…)

Lou Loves – January Favourites

January 2016.  It’s been and GONE people!  Here’s a round up of good stuff that lit my internal happy fire last month. Not one to depart from my usual random style, here’s a scrummy squeaky cheese, a swoon inducing lipstick, a crash hot chick-lit read, a recipe that I’m super proud of (with a mini review chucked in) and a Facebook page that nearly causes me to wet my undies with the giggles (my bladder ain’t what it used to be after childbirth, sniff).

Waimata Haloumi cheese

Waimata Haloumi review nz

I can’t get enough of haloumi, aka ‘squeaky cheese’ and I’m careful to make sure there’s always a block in the fridge. I reckon it’s a transformational ingredient that can take something stock standard, like a leafy green salad, or an otherwise bland couscous salad, to a whole new culinary stratosphere.

Now simple, original haloumi is already the schizzle, so imagine my delight when I discovered Waimata had flavoured haloumi – three different kinds! There’s their usual traditional flavour, along with mint, chilli and cracked pepper. I’ve scoffed loads of all of them, except the cracked pepper, that’s potentially too gourmet for Rotorua, I can’t find it anywhere! My favourite is the chilli, or maybe the mint. Or maybe the chilli. Hell, they are both to die for.

Haloumi is great for frying or grilling, I adore the contrast of the squeaky crust and the smooth, creamy deliciousness inside. Haloumi is outstanding on any kind of salad (check out this beetroot quinoa dish with haloumi), however we are enjoying it best currently in this recipe.  I also used Waimata mint haloumi at our neighbourhood degustation in November as the first course (there were eight courses, I had a food coma for 48 hours afterwards and a hangover that lasted until Wednesday). Here I fried off the haloumi and piled it high with a olive/herb/sun-dried tomato concoction (yell out if you want the recipe, I’ll blog it). Heavenly delish and it looks flash – and it’s easy to chuck together, which is my kind of entertaining food.  Best of all, Waimata haloumi is affordable foodie fare, NZ$7 for 190g block.  I get mine at Countdown.

haloumi with herbs and olives
Waimata mint haloumi with a sun-dried tomato, cherry tomato, olive and herb topping. AMAZING!

That Day in June – By Martina Reilly

That day in June Martina Reilly reviewAh holidays. Here, I turn into an introvert, bury my nose in a book and it’s hard to get much dialogue out of me. Of all the great reads I devoured over my Christmas and New Year holiday, That Day in June, by Martina Reilly, is my standout top read. The plot centres around Max, a high-flying PR exec and Sandy, a runaway who lives on the streets. Every day Max brings Sandy a coffee, an act she looks forward to. Then one morning Max doesn’t show up, so Sandy sets out to find out what has happened to him. When she finds him, she discovers that he’s a broken man who has lost everything and, suddenly, the two of them have a lot more in common than they could ever have imagined.

This heart-warming and unusual love tale reeled me in right from the start and, being the nosey bugger that I am, I was hanging on the edge of my seat with curiousity to find out exactly what drove Sandy to leave home as a teenager, resulting in a life on the streets.  This read is best described as a slightly quirky chick lit. I enjoyed the alternating narrative: The story is told from both Max and Sandy’s point of view. Five stars. Get your tissues at the ready: I got the eye sweats (again, a newish development since I became a Mum!). (more…)

Best Ever Chunky Guacamole Recipe

guacamole recipeI’ve been hit up by a couple of friends over the summer holidays pointing out that my chunky guacamole recipe isn’t on my blog. Opps!  Best I fix that!  It seriously is the best ever guacamole I’ve ever tried. Yes, I know that’s a big claim!

This guacamole recipe is reasonably well known across several groups of my friends:  I’ve been making guacamole in my Napier circle of friends since sixth or seventh form (I’m old skool – I still think of school years in ‘form years’!).  As for my Rotorua buddies, they first had this in Ohope three or four years ago.  It made such an impact I dished out the recipe and the name got a rebrand: They call it ‘Holy Moly Ohope Guacamole’, LOL. It’s slightly more sexy than plain old ‘Guacamole’, I guess.  Anyway,  lots of my friends tell me they now make guacamole using this recipe which chuffs me to bits. However, it turns out I’ve been a bit lax by  not sharing the recipe on my blog. Suffice to say I’ve kicked myself up the bum!  So, here you go, embrace the rest of the avocado season here in the Southern Hemisphere! (more…)

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream – Nutribullet style

chocolate banana ice cream NutribulletI’m still head over heels in love with my Nutribullet, which is just as bloody well, as I dithered for ages trying to decide: a) Should I get one?  Then, b) Once I’d decided yes to a), which model should I get? Much research on this followed and in the end, I got so overwhelmed, when we were in Briscoes, and I was about to have a melt down, my nine year old said “Mum, for an extra $30 you might as well get the McDaddy powerful one”. He’s so wise. I listened.  Incidentally, do you ever find that, sometimes big decisions are easy – and the little ones see you scratching your head and pondering until the cows come home? My Mum will, at this point, recall that it took me 18 months to decide what dining room table I wanted to buy (after deciding to list mine on Trade Me, spontaneously, to “see if it would sell”. It did). 

Anyhoo, one of the tasty treats I’m really enjoying whipping up in my Nutribullet is ice cream.   I’ve always got a stash of frozen bananas in the freezer as my local greengrocer gives them away once they’ve started to “turn a bit manky” and I snap ’em up. What can I say? I’m an opportunist. Frozen bananas are amazeballs as these lend themselves superbly to be whipped to smithereens for smoothies and now, I’ve discovered, – ice cream.  I’ve played around with a few flavours and my favourite, hands down, is chocolate banana.  It’s such a simple dessert and that it’s guilt free on the account of no refined sugar (yeah, I’m still on my reduced sugar soap box). Dairy free peeps will be ALL OVER THIS too. Frankly, what’s not to love? (more…)

Zoodles with avo pesto cream and haloumi

 

I got home from exercising after work one night last week and the cheesy aroma of toasties hit me as I walked in the door.  “Hi”, hubby said. “Want toasties for dinner?” Whilst I was rapt he’d been proactive, thanks, but no thanks, I didn’t want toasties. I’m trying to avoid bread and starchy carbs at the moment. Why? Oh, you know…. I had a bloody good holiday and ate (and drank) with reckless abandon.  I refuse to weigh myself so I have no idea of the damage: I gauge my weight by the fit of my clothes.  Unfortunately my jeans and I to have momentarily parted being friends and, hell, a new skirt I got at the start of the December is saying “yeah nah, you can’t wear me!” Holy moly, it staggers me how quick I can do damage to my waistline.  Anyhow,  somewhat predictably, I’m on that post New Year’s health regime (and I’m motivated, so long may that continue) so no toasties weren’t really on my dinner cards.  With a rumbling tummy I rummaged in the fridge, fighting off cravings for bread or pasta. Then, out of nowhere, healthy, creative and delicious inspiration struck!  I love it when that happens.   This zoodle with avo pesto cream and haloumi dish was the result of that inspiration and cured me good and proper of my pasta and cheese cravings.   Conveniently I was aided by having a perfectly ripe avo on hand that needed devouring and I’d made a batch of basil pesto I’d made a few days previously.  FYI My stock standard pesto recipe is here by the way, noting the recipe is actually is for coriander pesto, but to make basil pesto just replace the calling for coriander with basil, easy as!

I posted a photo of this dish on my blog’s Facebook page and it got a bit of interest.  In fact, by the time I woke up the next morning, my UK foodie Aunty, Angie, had been to Tescos, made the recipe and eaten it and sent me a message of the finished dish with claims of “Delicious! We loved it and we’ll be making this again!”   Cool!  Since then two of my colleagues have made it for dinner and they’ve given me raving feedback.  Lastly, I’ve also made it again and this time I served it up to my vege-dodging husband.  He declared it “beautiful and delicious” (he’s not known for his compliments, so this is a revelation).

I know the recipe is on Facebook, but experience has taught me it’s not easy to re-find recipes I post there, so here it is, blogged, you know, all proper like. (more…)

Asparagus with dukkah and hollandaise sauce

asaparagus hollandaise and dukkah recipeI’ve been dithering about whether I should blog this recipe for asparagus with dukkah and Hollandaise sauce.  Why? Because it’s so easy: It’s one of those recipes that’s ‘not really a recipe’. But I decided to for two reasons:  Firstly, it was my favourite dish on our 2015 Christmas table (well, actually, we dish up on the kitchen bench, but let’s not split hairs) and, secondly: Recipes that are ‘too easy to be really be recipes” are my kind of, err, recipes.  This recipe is super low in prep faff factor, mainly as I always have a stash of dukkah in the pantry that’s ready to go at all times.  (more…)