I’m sure I only just hit ‘publish’ on my 2015 favourites – and now it’s time for January’s faves! I struggled to limit what made my ultimate favourites this month, as there’s been loads of makeup I’m loving, partly as a result of my USA haul arriving when my little brother paid a courier delivery man on his holiday home to NZ. I tried to talk my brother into becoming a courier so he could deliver all of my goods himself on the regular. I even found him a cheap van and hire and reward van insurance but he was having none of it. He pulled through in the end by finding this man, though! Here’s what made my relentless cull!

L’oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara (waterproof)

I’ve had a few doozies with impulse purchase mascaras in the last year, but I hit the jackpot this time with Volume Million Lashes Mascara: It’s a game-changer that has BOOTED Maybelline’s Falsies Mascara out of my first place ranking. Why? We’ve had a hot and muggy summer here in Hawke’s Bay and even with the Falsies (waterproof), I’ve got unattractive black mascara smudges up around my browbone (cheers mugginess and oily eyelids). I had resigned myself to just putting up with smudging in the summer. Cue Volume Million lashes: Boom! No smudging, no budging: This stuff stays put all day and I have long spidery and super volumised lashes!

Oh, I also love how it applies quite dry. Let me explain: Have you encountered how some new mascaras apply really wet and you end up with it everywhere? This drives me nuts: With new mascara I always wipe excess mascara off the wand with a tissue, which upsets me because it’s super wasteful. Anyhow, with Volume Million Lashes you kind of have to yank the (anti-clump) wand out of the mascara tube and, ah, because it’s got a really tight hole you don’t end up with a truckload of mascara on the wand. Genius. I can’t wax lyrical about this mascara enough. I even love the packaging. Be warned though, you need a good waterproof eye makeup remover to get this waterproof goodness off (Neutrogena is great, Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm is even better). Price: NZ$35 (9ml tube). Get it from Farmers, Kmart, Pharmacies, etc.

volume million lashes loreal review

Kmart Home Décor!

Kmart’s buying team need a high five or a pay rise. Their latest shipment of home décor has seen me staggering back to work after lunch clutching large shopping bags (I work across the road – which is unfortunate). We are moving homes soon, thank goodness, we have been needing a new place to live, it’s a good thing we can sell this through Reali, anyway, my magpie instincts have kicked in and I was unable to resist collecting super affordable knickknacks, prints, mirrors, lighting, crockery ($2), duvets and different styles of wall decals to brighten up our new home, as well as giving it a new lease of life in the process too. I love mixing up old/new/vintage/up-cycled and, to be honest I haven’t found my interior design style, but I love having a crack! Also, don’t worry we have decided to do something like rent moving boxes instead of buying them, so we can easily transfer our new and old items into our brand new home, without spending a fortune or having to figure out where to store the moving boxes after we’ve moved! Here’s Kmart’s February 2015 catalogue here.

Incidentally, I’m loving the following NZ-based Facebook pages riddled with oodles of affordable home decor inspiration (including the upcycled), check out Rough Diamond and As Eliza Slept. Drool…

The elevator lamp is my favourite – $19! I’m also itching to hang the set of three vintage mirrors: These were $15.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

This isn’t a new find for me, it’s a re-purchase from iHerb that I’ve fallen in love with again. This is an egg shaped latex-free sponge that you dampen and use to apply foundation by bouncing the sponge onto your skin, moving towards a blending/stroking motion towards the end (that’s how I do it anyway!). The result is a flawless foundation finish that’ll leave you wondering why you have been missing the party. The pointy tip of the egg shape lets you get right into the corner of your eye (so you can blend out concealer too) and the flat bit is fab for blending. You’ve got no chance of attaining the dreaded ‘tide mark’ around your jaw line with this bad boy. As a bargain hunter from ‘Nam the price of US$5.99 from iherb sings to me. Incidentally the Beauty Blender, which works in the same way, is also an awesome foundation sponge, but at NZ$34 I have dug deep and concede the Real Techniques version is just as good as the Beauty Blender (at a fraction of the price). Real Techniques products are available at Life Pharmacies in NZ (Yippee!!) and this sponge is NZ$19.99. Online bargain hunters can also find this at iherb for US$5.99 (postage is extra, but it’s reasonable). Tip: There’s loads of imitation Beauty Blenders/Miracle Complexion Sponges on the market. There are none that come close to these (though I stand to be corrected!).

On another note, what I’ve learnt about foundation in recent years is that there isn’t a ‘one size’ fits all application method. For example, my Revlon Colour Stay and Estee Lauder Double Wear Light foundations work best applied with a sponge, not my fingers. BB cream is best applied with a Real Techniques stippling brush or the warmth of my fingers. My new Nars Sheer Matte foundation only looks good if I apply it with my Real Technique’s Miracle Complexion Sponge/Beauty Blender, otherwise it goes cakey and I can’t get it to blend to save my life. Some things in life are not straightforward. Play around with your foundations and try a new way of applying them is the moral of my story.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Sponge = Awesome. I can’t say the same, unfortunately, for NARS Sheer Matte Foundation. High end is not always best: The staying power is pants on my oily skin, it goes patchy, and the coverage is ‘meh’. I’m probably going to whack this up on Trade Me and chalk it up to experience!

Holly Raw Cold Smoked Chicken Breasts

There’s only one thing better than smoked chicken and that’s hot smoked chicken. Holly’s raw cold smoked chicken breasts have been frying my burger, big time, this month.

How do you get raw smoked chicken breasts? Good question. These are soaked in brine and then cold smoked using native timber shavings. I cooked mine on the George Foreman grill (remember those?!) until they were firm to touch (very scientific). Well, the smell was mouth-watering, but the resulting taste was a subtle smoky flavours that knocked our tastebuds for six. We’ve had our smoked chicken with pasta, chopped into chunks in salad, I’m hankering a hot breast between some ciabatta with some Camembert cheese and a nice chutney next.

Note, I’m not sure how widely these are available, I work close to Holly’s deli and shop in Hastings so I scoot in at lunchtime. But, long story short, if you see these, snap ’em up.

From Holly’s website

MAC Soar lip Liner & MAC Brave lipstick

Here’s a story. Brace yourself. If you follow my Facebook page you may remember I posted this picture (see below) a while back and said something like “I need a new nude lipstick like a hole in the head, but next time I visit MAC, I’m getting this combo”.

Well, that photo/post generated a fair bit of interest, not least from two wise colleagues who also decided they needed Soar and Brave in their life, so we decided to hook ourselves up. Unfortunately, at the time, Soar and Brave had sold out in all NZ MAC stores as a result of Kylie Jenner: Her makeup is on trend right now and this is her favourite lip combo and as a result the demand for these MAC products outstripped supply! So I jumped online: Nope, http://www.maccosmetics.com said: ‘Sold out, come back later’. Crap. So I sent my brother, who lives in Boston, on a mission as he was about to come to NZ on holiday and I figured he needed something to do in between snowstorms. Long story short, he managed to get three Brave lipsticks (one for me and my two lovely colleagues) but only one Soar lipliner (um, I kept that for me, does that make me a bad person?). Currently we are still x2 Soar lipliners down, but, being lovers of the thrill of the chase, we are enjoying trying to get our hands on them.

Was it worth all the palaver? Hell YES! What a great combo (vaguely, I note, reminiscent of my typical late 1990s lip!) My colleagues have been happily rocking Brave daily – meanwhile I’m also obsessed with the dual combo, which is just as well as my MAC Syrup lippy wasn’t going to last long if I didn’t get a new favourite combo – stat. If anyone knows where I can get my mitts on Mac’s Soar lip pencil for my colleagues (at a NZ store), can you let me know, please!

From Pinterest
From Pinterest: MAC Soar lipliner and MAC Brave lipstick.

Maybelline 24hr Eye Studio Colour Tattoo in ‘Bad to the Bronze’

I wish these eyeshadows didn’t have such blinking long names: My fingers get tired typing that. This cream eyeshadow is, again, not a few find for me, rather something I picked up in the depths of my eyeshadow drawer (yes… drawer… LOL) and have used nearly every day in the last month since because, simply, it’s so pretttttty. I’ve wittered on about these cream eyeshadows before in this blog post.

Applied with your finger or a synthetic brush, this eyeshadow deserves to be a staple in everyone’s makeup bag. It applies creamy, dries like concrete (blend it in quickly!), doesn’t crease and is a flattering taupey bronze colour that suits all eye colours. I wear it on its own (blended) when I’m pressed for time for a quick smokey eye. I also use it as an eyeshadow base and whack some bronze/brown eyeshadow on top to get a super intensified colour. I did a tutorial a while back using Bad to the Bronze, check it out here. Price: NZ$19. Available at Kmart, Farmers, New World – speaking of the latter, keep your beady eye out as New World have Maybelline on sale fairly often (and you can just biff one in your trolley with the groceries, eh? Shhh).

Bad to the Bronze

Great Read: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

This latest Jodi Picoult masterpiece only just made the cut for this blog post because the ending left me bitter, confused and dazed! Ending aside (no spoiler here, don’t worry), it’s the tale of 13 year old Jenna, who is desperate to find her Mum, Alice who went missing ten years previously after an incident at an elephant sanctuary. The story is told from the perspective of Jenna, Virgil (the copper charged with the original police investigation), Serenity (a disgraced psychic) and Alice. This beautifully written masterpiece has all the usual Jodi Picoult twists and turns, as well as pearls of wisdom. Despite the ending, I was captivated with this book and, bonus, thanks to Alice’s insights as a science researcher, I very much enjoyed learning about the extraordinary behaviour of elephants (which I subsequently dazzled my son with and now he thinks I’m super brainy).

leaving time jodi picoult review

Lastly, Whittakers’ Lewis Road Creamy Chocolate Milk. Finally – I stumbled across this at New World (after two months of trying to buy it!) and had to get one. Ummm, it’s chocolate milk. Nice, but the earth didn’t move for me (and I fell off the sugar free wagon to try it out). Am I missing something?

So: Any top finds at your end? I’d love to hear!