Wednesday, 29 August 2012

IPads And My All Time Favourite TV Shows


When your life seems to be all work, sleep, eat on repeat, you need to find things that get you excited and passionate. Things that can provide entertainment, escapism and something to look forward to.

Since starting full time work, I’ve been pretty overwhelmed by my lack of spare time, huge commutes, long work days that leave you exhausted by the time you finally get home, and the fact that I’m always seemingly living for the weekends. So I’ve found it really important to find things that make my work days a bit brighter and more bearable.

I have a few go-to activities that provide me with great joy and escapism, however the number one at the moment is my addiction to TV Shows. Specifically dramas.

One enormous tip I can give to those of you that have a long commute or travel lots on public transport is try and save up and BUY AN IPAD (which I did really recently!).


Isn't she pretty?

Before my iPad, my 45 minute train ride to work and then 45 minutes home again nearly killed me. Now when I wake up in the mornings and when I step out of my building at night, I really look forward to my iPad TV show watching on the train. It’s a perfect amount of time to watch a full episode, and train trips fly by so fast to the point where I barely notice them anymore. Sometimes I even wish they would go longer so I could watch another episode! 

I feel like I’ve gotten back an hour and half of my life a day (that equates to 7.5 hours over the work week!), and time is so precious to me. So an iPad has been a brilliant investment for my life and wellbeing. It creates my own little movie theatre on the train where I can zone out and be fully engrossed in my shows and not even notice I’m on a train.

So getting your hand on an iPad would be one of the biggest work/life balance recommendations I could give you.


Anyway now to get to what I actually watch on my iPad!

If you are anything like me, you’ll whizz through every season of a whole TV show and then constantly be in search of your next potential show addiction. I’m currently waiting on about NINE shows to start in the new season, which is pretty crazy! So I’m always looking for new recommendations of the next show I should watch. I’d actually love it if you guys could recommend shows to me!

So in case you share this show addiction of mine, I thought I’d create a couple of posts on my favourites. This one will be my all time favourite shows that are now finished and are my top shows of all time. The next post will be current favourite shows that are still being produced.

So let’s start with a BANG. My favourite show of all time...

#1

One Tree Hill (9 seasons)

Part of my OTH collection - have leant the others out to friends who now share my addiction!

Basic Plot:
The show centres around two half brothers- Lucas and Nathan, and the girls in their lives- Peyton, Hayley and Brooke. It covers their struggles with their selfish and difficult father Dan, relationships with their friends and family members, and the issues experienced as a teen and as a twenty-something.

It’s 9 seasons long and the first four seasons span their 16-18 year old lives, and then the show skips forward five years in season 5 and shows their lives from 22 onwards. It’s great to be able to follow the characters as they grow and see where they end up.

Genre:
Drama, Romance, Feel Good. 

Why I love it:
It’s one of the only shows I’ve watched that focuses on the life of the young adult (rather than just teen or college student). The characters grow as you do, and I started watching it when I was the same age as them (around 16) and then finished watching it when I was a similar age to them.

The show includes elements of many different interests of mine. For instance there’s a fashion designer, a music label owner, a singer, an author, a sports star, a movie producer, a model/actress, etc. Through each of these characters we see their related element play out, so it feels like many shows in one.

It’s such a feel good show that portrays relationships so incredibly well, and you get to know the characters in enormous depth. There are some really fast paced thrilling episodes, but also plenty of slower moving relationship focused ones, but all of it is full of drama and incredibly exciting. It’s just such a genuine, sincere, lovely show.

Yes... I do have a Clothes Over Bros T-shirt!! (don't judge me too hard - I wear it as PJs!)

Any Negatives?
Stick with it, first season takes a while to get into. I watched the first five episodes and got slightly bored, and then a bit later really got back into it! After about episode 10 of first season, the show is absolutely amazing. So stick with it, I promise you’ll love it! Also some people weren’t sure about the five year jump that occurs in season 5, but I think it was a perfect addition to the show.

Favourite Characters:
Brooke, Nathan, Julian and Jamie.




#2

Lost (6 seasons)

Just part of my Lost collection

Basic Plot:
A group of (very good looking!) strangers find themselves stuck on a deserted island after their plane terrifyingly crashes mid flight. Turns out the island is no ordinary island, and the survivors have to band together to survive.

Genre:
Drama, Suspense/Thriller, Mystery. There is also quite a lot of Comedy and Romance too!

Why I love it:
For its emphasis on human drama and relationships. No other show that I have ever watched has had so many main characters (this has over 20!), all of whom you get to know in enormous detail. Each episode tends to have a specific character focus, so the show will ‘flashback’ into the lives of the character before the island, and you can find out why they act the way they do due to past experiences, and discover what motivates them.

I really love psychological shows where humans are tested to their limits by extreme circumstances. It’s the psychologist in me coming out! It’s a brilliant, addictive, clever show, with the most well developed, plausible characters at its centre.

One of my very lucky friends had the 21st of a lifetime (cost over $25,000!!!!??!) and had four TV shows as the theme/sets - Dexter, Simpsons, Sex and the City and Lost. It actually felt like you were in each of the TV shows, it was that good! I stole this secretly as a souvenir - I think I appreciated this more than anyone!

Any Negatives?
You will probably hear of people complaining about how confusing Lost is. It is a very high involvement show definitely, one where you have to watch every single episode in order. But if you follow it religiously you will understand it. There are constant clues and mysteries and things you pick up on, which just adds to the enjoyment of the show.

Also the show takes a slight sci-fi path in the middle, and so long as you are prepared to slightly suspend disbelief, it makes sense in the context of the whole show. In addition, the ending is highly debated, but one thing to keep in mind is that there are many interpretations to the ending (which sporadic watchers missed), so choose the one that you are most comfortable and satisfied with. A lot of Lost is about personal interpretations and meanings derived from events.

Favourite Characters:
Kate (love it when my name’s a character’s name!), Jack, Sawyer, Locke and Sayid.




#3

Friends (10 seasons)

Box Set!!

Basic Plot:
Centred around 6 best friends living in New York City, and the show follows their lives spanned over 10 years. Covers their friendships, loves, losses, work life, and just everything friends go through.

Genre:
Comedy, Drama, Feel Good.

Why I love it:
It’s so true to life and genuine and it reminds me of my group of friends. It’s so comforting and happy to watch and always puts me in a good mood. It’s extremely relatable.


Poster in my room

Any Negatives?
It’s not as addictive as the top two shows, I love shows that have cliff hangers where I can’t wait to watch the next episode. Even though there is a continuing plot, most of the episodes could be stand alone. Good for quick or random viewing, but I prefer to get fully absorbed in a show. Although I can still do this with Friends, and I have been known to sit there for a few hours and watch episode after episode! Also the episodes only go for 20 minutes, whereas I prefer longer episodes of shows that get me more absorbed.

Favourite characters:
All of them! Particularly the boys! But Monica annoys me.



So there you have my top three shows of all time!

If you pushed me to make it a top 5 (I couldn't help myself!), I would also add Gilmore Girls and The OC in there.

Gilmore Girls is such a clever, witty drama with plenty of comedic moments. The banter that goes on between mother Lorelai and daughter Rory is brilliant - they speak so fast! Slightly slow moving in terms of plot, but along the same lines as One Tree Hill in terms of being a sincere, genuine feeling show. There are 7 seasons, that cover the ups and downs of the mother daughter relationship, family, friends and romance, switching between focusing on both Lorelai and Rory’s lives. Lorelai is a stand out character in this show.



The OC came out at a similar time to One Tree Hill, but instead of being set in a small town with more normal characters, the characters in this are more along the lines of Gossip Girl. Incredibly rich and spoilt, it spans the lives of a group of high schoolers and their relationships. An addictive, exciting, glamorous show that never fails to remind me of summer and of my youth. There is an innocence and sincerity that lies at the middle of this show, that’s different to others of its kind, which makes it a stand out in my mind. Absolutely love Seth and Sandy Cohen! It is let down slightly by its final season however (there are four seasons).



So there is my top three/five (it was hard to decide okay!)

I’ll do a post soon about my current, still screening favourites. So are you a fan of any of these shows? I’d love to hear your opinions on them in the comments below! I always enjoy a good chat about the TV shows I love!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Chocolate Tour Of The City!


Today marks the three year anniversary of being with my boyfriend Rich, time flies huh!? So on the weekend we wanted to do something fun to celebrate it. It’s really hard when you’ve been in a long relationship to think up new activities to do, because you’ll probably have done pretty much every date type activity there is.

Well there was one idea we hadn’t yet done that I’ve been wanting to do for ages...

... a Chocolate Tour of the city!

Seeing as I’m the biggest sweet tooth ever, you can probably see why this activity appealed to me. Also I feel I should note here that my boyfriend attended of his own free will*.



Basically it involves going to about four different chocolate shops in Melbourne with a tour guide who teaches you about chocolate, and about the history of the chocolate shops you visit. And the best part: you get lots of chocolate samples! Also after visiting all of the chocolate shops, you go to one for afternoon tea (which was included). You also don’t have to eat all of the chocolate samples at the time, you can take some home to eat later.

So I thought it would be really fun to do a post about the best chocolate shops in Melbourne! Perhaps you can live vicariously through my chocolate eating!

This is where our tour went, in order of visitation:


Haigh’s Chocolates (in the Block Arcade)



This chocolate shop was the most generous with its samples. We received three types of them (and got to eat about two of each type):

-A chocolate champagne truffle: a very sweet chocolate with a dark outside shell and a softer ganache in the middle comprised of a mixture of white chocolate, milk chocolate and champagne. It melts in your mouth and tastes very rich and indulgent.

-A milk bud (30% cocoa) that was one of the best and creamiest milk chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

-A dark chocolate freckle (55% cocoa) that was really quite sweet considering it was dark chocolate. I usually dislike dark chocolate as it is too bitter, but this one was lovely and sweet. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better the chocolate is for you... so perhaps this one is a winner!




Ganache Chocolate (on Collins St)



This chocolate shop had the most attractively designed chocolates, with the most impressive sculptures and prettiest colours and designs painted on them. If you look closely at the picture below then you can hopefully see what I’m talking about.


Here we sampled one chocolate:

-A dark chocolate (60% cocoa) with a honey, almond and orange centre. I don’t tend to like chocolates with a lot of fruit or masses of ingredients in them, but this was divine. The texture of the inside was very soft and nutty, and it left behind a lovely sweet flavour.



The manager of this store came out and talked to us about the brand and their master chocolatier who had trained for 16 years in Europe to be a master chocolate maker! Apparently you have to study longer to be a genius of chocolate making than you do to become a doctor... crazy!


The Lindt Cafe (on Collins St)



Lindt is one of my favourite chocolate shops that I frequent a lot, so unlike the first two, I knew my chocolates here.



They gave us a sample of their Milk Chocolate Delice (Macaron), which was lovely. These are best eaten at room temperature however - ours were a bit too chilled. I wouldn’t recommend the Milk Chocolate though as there are far better flavours of Delice: Strawberry, Vanilla and Cookies and Cream are my favourite. Strawberry is just a dream to eat, and probably the best macaroon I’ve ever tasted in the world! Definitely try one if you have the chance.



Lindt also provided us with a little show bag with some information about their brand plus two dark fondant sticks and one milk chocolate square. Lindt chocolate never disappoints, and is the creamiest, meltiest chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

You can also eat in store at the Lindt Cafe (which I’ve done a lot!). I strongly recommend their croissant dipped in melted chocolate, their hot chocolates that you get to mix up yourself, any of their Lindt balls, and their Iced Chocolate.


Koko Black (Royal Arcade)




Out of all of the chocolate shops, I frequent this the most for their sweet cafe items (but rarely for their chocolates). They gave us a sample of their Hazelnut truffle, which tasted a lot like Nutella and was covered with Hazelnuts around the outside, with a creamy nutty mix of ganache on the inside. One of my favourite chocolates of the day!



The environment and ambience in the Royal Arcade is just lovely. There is an upstairs hidden eating room, where you can sit in a lavish parlour styled room and peek out huge ancient domed windows at the hustle and bustle of the arcade below. It’s just so cosy, comforting and hidden up there, and you can fully escape the craziness of the city.

If you are going here for its cafe, I’d recommend their Belgian Hot Chocolates (also their Light version, which tastes mostly the same and is so healthy for you... right?!), their chocolate mousse, their Iced Chocolate, and their little Chocolate mud cakes. They have some great share plates that give you a lavish assortment of Koko Black’s offerings that are great to order if dinning with a partner/friend.




We finished the day at Olio Cucina, a lovely little Italian Restaurant in the outside alley of the Block Arcade. We all got a slice of incredible tasting orange cake which was very refreshing after all that chocolate, and our choice of tea/coffee/hot chocolate-of which we went the latter (it’s a chocolate tour after all!).

Here are all the samples we were given (somehow we managed to get a pic of all of them at the end from the extras we took/the ones we saved for later):

Our Chocolate Samples!
So all in all it was a very well spent, entertaining afternoon. My couple of criticisms would be there were no white chocolate samples (of which I am a huge fan), and also that we didn’t get to see any chocolate being made or see behind the scenes of the stores in any way. I thought a chocolate tour such as this would include this element. I’ve been to a lot of chocolate factories over the years (Hershey’s, Cadbury, Chocolatier etc), and I’ve always really enjoyed seeing chocolate being made and then being able to eat it after seeing the effort that goes into it. I felt this part of the chocolate process was really missing in this tour.

My favourite of the chocolate shops? That's a tough one! I like all for different reasons! Lindt for it's Macarons, Koko Black for it's cafe, and Ganache for it's decorative chocolates. They were all brilliant though!

The tour cost $37 pp, which was pretty good considering all samples and afternoon tea was included. I think a tour like this would  be more beneficial to a tourist, or someone who doesn’t know chocolate shops inside out the way I do :P

If you don’t want to pay the money, why not go on your own tour? You could probably do it cheaper, and at your own pace, and only sample the things you choose. The good thing about Melbourne is that we have so many chocolate shops, and they all tend to be quite close to each other and plentiful. So it’s easy to barely walk and stumble across about 6 in a 5 minute stroll!

The site of the tour can be found here. We did the Chocolate Sunday Walk tour at 2.15pm.

Have you ever done something like this? Do any of the chocolate shops I mentioned rate among your favourites?

*May have complained about the lack of other guys in the group, but as I pointed out, there were two other couples. It does not matter that the other 22 people in the group were females... :P

Friday, 24 August 2012

Basic Nail Polish Starter Set

So the other day in the comments section of my OPI collections post, one of my lovely readers asked me to recommend a great starter set of nail polishes from good brands (particularly OPI). They also said they had pale skin so wanted to be sure the recommended colours would suit them. 

I also have pale skin, so luckily I’ll be able to recommend from experience! But these colours are also staple colours that look good on most skin tones, for instance they look good on my sister and she is more tanned than me.

There are certain nail polish colours that everyone should own in their basic collection. So I’m going to keep this list small and just cover the top five staple polishes someone would need in a starter kit. They are also my all time favourite colours.

Here are the five main staple colours everyone should own:


A vibrant deeper pink, a peachy pink neutral, a fun pastel mint, a navy shimmery dark, and a pastel pink

Here are my choices of favourite polishes for each of these colours:


L-R: Essie in Fiesta, Revlon in Peach Petal, Essie in Mint Candy Apple, OPI in Light My Sapphire, OPI in Pink Friday
With flash (looks most like the actual colour)
Without flash

Fiesta: A gorgeous vibrant hot pink, that is a deep enough colour to not look too 'Barbie-ish' or garish in the slightest. It applies perfectly, is opaque basically after one coat (definitely within two) and lasts for ages. These two Essie polishes in this starter set are better quality than any OPI I've tried - the brush is better, it's easier to apply flawlessly, the formulation is thinner and both produce an incredibly pigmented, rich colour.

Peach Petal (#115): A beautiful rather subtle peachy-pink colour that is so flattering on paler skin. Very office appropriate. I don't usually buy Revlon, but I saw my friend wearing this colour and I fell in love with it on her nails so I just had to have it! Plus Revlon lasts just as long as other polishes do with my Seche Vite topcoat (mentioned in my Nail Care post recently). 

Mint Candy Apple: A soft mint green pastel colour that has quickly become my number one favourite polish. Like with Fiesta, it applies like a dream. Looks beautiful against pale skin and is just such a fun and cheery shade.

Light My Sapphire: I had to put a dark stylish polish in the collection, but I don't feel solid black looks very flattering on pale skin. It tends to look too gothic. So this is what I use instead. Light My Sapphire is a shimmery black-blue that ends up looking basically black but with a softer edge (so avoids that goth look). In the light the blue undertones come out, and it has a pretty pearlescent finish. Very stylish and tasteful! Being OPI, it is very good quality and applies and lasts brilliantly.

Pink Friday: Is a warm pastel pink that is just rich and pigmented enough to really complement a pale skin tone without making you look washed out. Pastel pinks are one of my favourite shades to wear, and they go with everything. You have to be really careful though because some pastel colours on pale skin can make you look a bit drained of colour and sick (I made that mistake buying Mod About Me-OPI).

So there you have it! What do you think of my top five? 

I was going to put in like a staple red colour for example, but then I realised I never wear reds. And when I thought about why that was, I realised reds really don't suit me. I feel they look garish and ugly against my cool toned pale skin. So I thought I probably shouldn't recommend polish colours I never wear in my starter kit for you guys! If you are pale skinned and love your reds though, I feel blue based or pinkier reds look more flattering on pale skin rather than yellow based reds. 

In general I wear a lot of pastels. In every colour! Pastels look gorgeous against pale skin, you just need to make sure you get the right shade and richness of colour.

Essie polishes are brilliant, however their colour range is quite restricted. They tend to do mainly neutrals. They cost around $18.95 in Australia (Myer stocks them). OPI has an enormous colour range, but sometimes some of their polishes are harder or gluggier to apply than Essie. But I have so many OPIs and love them all to death. They are around $20 (David Jones stocks them).

What would be in your nail polish starter kit? To the reader that requested this - I hope you got some value from this! 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

MAC Lunchtime Haul

The other day on one of my work lunch breaks I stopped by the MAC counter and purchased Sable eye shadow and the Teddy eyeliner pencil and sharpener. 



If you recall my August Favourite Beauty Products post I wrote recently, I stated that I hadn’t found my holy grail eyeliner.

WELL... now I can say I think I just may have stumbled across it. Teddy is incredible!

Teddy is a rich and fairly dark gorgeous brown with subtle gold flecks. It is an eye kohl and one of MAC’s softer pencils. It is so smooth and creamy to apply and smudges brilliantly when you need it to, but once it’s on it doesn’t budge all day on my eye lids. It also suits my eye colour really well, bringing out the gold flecks in my eyes. It’s great to apply along my lash lines and smudge into my top lashes, as it makes my lashes look much thicker. The brown is much more flattering on my eyes than black, and Teddy is a great office appropriate choice.


Teddy

Considering I already have some quite similar MAC brown eye shadows, such as Mulch and Satin Taupe, I probably didn’t really ‘need’ Sable. But that’s no fun is it! Sable is a warmer version of Satin Taupe, and it’s more of a reddish coppery medium tone brown. It's a Frost, so it has a pretty pearlescent shine to it rather than shimmer. 

I really like it, particularly as a crease colour with Naked Lunch across my eyelid. It sort of achieves that brown/mauve/pinkish look that I mentioned I was seeking in my Maybelline Haul post a couple of weeks ago. 

Sable

Because everyone seems to want to know how it compares to it’s quite similar Satin Taupe cousin, here are the two of them swatched together:

Top: Satin Taupe; Middle: Sable; Bottom: Teddy


L-R Satin Taupe and Sable

Which do you prefer? Like I said in my Colours Post, I’m a cool toned person, so I think Satin Taupe suits me better as a more prominent colour (i.e. all over my lid), but I much prefer Sable in my crease as it’s so incredibly pretty.

Both Teddy and Sable were $32, and they are available from any MAC counter or store.

Do you own either of these products? If so what are your thoughts on them?