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!).

Colourpop Cosmetics – Lumiere Matt lipstick

colourpop matte lumiere

I’ve been dying to get my mitts on some Colourpop product as this bargain cosmetics range has been getting a tonne of hype from beauty bloggers and it’s gone beserk on social media. Subsequently I’ve had a serious bout of FOMO.  So, for my fortieth birthday in December, I bought myself a few presents.  I’ve got a full review coming up soon of my mini haul as, spoiler alert, there’s a lot to love.  Especially considering the SUPER AFFORDABLE price point (this lippy was US$5) and, bonus – Colourpop delivers to NZ. Big whoop.

There’s one total stand-out for me though in my mini haul and that’s the colour Lumiere from Colourpop’s matte Lippie Stix lipstick range.   This is a dusty mauve pink and it’s booted my beloved MAC Syrup temporarily out of my handbag.  It’s got a super creamy formula, good lastability (as good as any lipstick, nothing lasts ages on me as I’m always eating!). I adore the matte colour, I reckon it really suits my pale olive complexion – it kind of reminds me of Syrup actually, it’s like Syrup’s big sister.  Here’s a swatch, along with a pic of me wearing it so you can see how it compares to MAC Syrup (I know lots of you adore this as much as I do!). Price US$5 which is NZ$7.75 at the time of writing this post.

Colourpop lumiere swatchZoodles with Avo Pesto Cream Recipe

Zoodles with avo pesto cream and haloumi

If there was one recipe that hit the spot in January, it was this one – it encompasses Waimata chilli haloumi, the love of my new spiraliser* and it keeps me away from my beloved pasta (I love pasta but my jeans are screaming “for the love of God woman, cull the pasta”… Noting I don’t always listen, we had Mac and Cheese for dinner last night).  This dish is delicious and my vege-dodging husband happily gobbles it up too. It seems a bit random, I do concede, to use avocado as a base for a pasta-like sauce, but it just works. Oh, so well. My work colleagues (all Paleo) have all made this and gave me a high-five.

Stevens spiralizer

* My super-duper non-detailed verdict on this spiraliser from Stevens is that it’s not super sturdy but does a good job, especially if you can get it on sale like I did. However, I’m not known for being gentle on kitchen gadgets so I’m anticipating I’m going to pull one of the handles off by accident…  When and if that happens, I’ll invest in this one which I’ve had a play on: It’s hard wearing and sturdy and will probably be worth a little extra capital investment for people that are rip, shit and bust like me.

Civil Defence Waikato – Facebook page

Civil Defence Waikato Facebook

The Civil Defence Waikato Facebook page has provided me with so many giggles, smiles and snorts in the last few months (let’s not forget that one time I sprayed coffee out my nose all over my smartphone and duvet), I just have to give them a shout out. Who cares it’s not related to beauty or food?! This is social media at its best: A serious topic made fun and engaging and this is totally how it should be done. Their sense of humour is also totally up my alley. Hell,  I don’t even live in the Waikato region and this is one of the first Facebook pages I check in with when my alarm goes off in the morning!  Go follow the informative hilarity. 

So, that’s my Jan faves, done. What are you loving?  I love to hear!