Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Iconic American Foods Everyone Should Try

So yesterday I went to America. Well kind of. Sort of. Okay not really. 

I actually went to a super store called USA Foods. It is basically a supermarket stocked with exclusively American items, which you can't really find anywhere else in Australia. It's heaven for homesick American expatriates, tourists, those wanting to throw a mega Halloween party, and just anyone vaguely Americurious. I personally just wanted to see how many variations of weird sweet foods I could get my hands on! 

I went with my boyfriend as practice for our America trip next year. I purchased some of the top iconic American foods one should taste to truly experience America in all it's sweet fantastic glory.

So this is what I bought and what I thought of each item...

Reese's Puffs cereal

What the cereal looks like

This was the thing I was most excited about! A cereal with my favourite Reese's peanut butter cups in it? What could better! 
Looked cool, smelt like the peanut butter cups, was very hyped... all good so far. Then I had my first bite...

I really, really wanted to love it, but something was off. After much consideration I've put it down to the Hershey's cocoa used. It's weird and fake tasting. And it tastes like floury low quality powder is coating every puff. I thought about it and realised I find the chocolate on Hershey's kisses average, so maybe it's that? I don't know... it's just underwhelming and fake tasting. A let down :(

Verdict: C

Lucky Charms cereal

What the cereal looks like


I wasn't even going to purchase this, but I'd heard good things and it looked so pretty! It's the most amazing looking cereal I've ever seen, with cereal in the shape of different little charms and big colorful marshmallows in lucky charm shapes. 

And it's not just the appearance that's amazing, it's also incredible tasting! Maybe because it's not coated in horrible fake tasting cocoa powder like the other two cereals I bought! Also the marshmallows don't really taste like marshmallows and are kind of crunchy, but trust me that's a good thing. They are so sweet and yummy!

Verdict: What an A+ cereal in every department! Well perhaps not in health and well, perhaps not in being very breakfasty at all (should be a dessert). But hey, what do you expect from American breakfasts!

Kellogg's Smorz cereal

What the cereal looks like

So here I wanted a bowl of s'mores in all their gooey, melty chocolatey marshmallowed glory. But what I got was a bowl of freeze dried marshmallows mixed in amongst gross cocoa powdered little crunchy biscuits. I really feel like this disgusting cocoa powder should have been identified as a bad thing and eliminated from all American cereal by now! Disappointing.

Verdict: C

Toast 'Em Pop Ups - Frosted S'mores flavour

My desired s'mores experience was much better created in my toaster than in my bowl thank goodness. This was a yummy biscuity tasting rectangle filled inside with a melty gooey mix of chocolate and marshmallow. Very warm and comforting. Pretty impressed with this, and it tastes better than the competing Pop Tarts offering. 

Verdict: A-

Wrigley's Dessert Delights Mint Chocolate Chip Gum

Dessert in a gum. Tastes like mint chocolate ice cream. Has like 5 calories total, thus guilt free. Looks like Essie's Mint Candy Apple colour. Amazing. Yum. 

Verdict: A+

Wrigley's Dessert Delights Strawberry Shortcake Gum

Alright but not better than normal strawberry gum by Wrigley's. Just okay tasting, but a novelty. 

Verdict: B-

Big Red gum

A spicy hot cinnamon gum that burns your mouth and nose a bit. Pretty interesting flavour but I think I prefer sweet tasting gums. And it doesn't do that stick to your head burn and sear a red mark on your face thing anymore! Probably for the best, but less fun :p

Verdict: B-

To find out more about USA Foods and where you can find it in Melbourne check out this website.

Have you tried any of these foods? What do you think? What are some other American things I should try, keeping in mind I'm travelling there soon! I need your help and guidance guys! :P

P.S. I have decided to only do Survey Sunday's every second Sunday from now on in case you were wondering. This will allow me to write more posts of substance and will also help me think of new, exciting questions! Turns out it isn't easy to think of an infinite number of questions! Doing it every fortnight will keep it fresh and fun :D So they'll be back next week! xx

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Beginnings of Christmas - My First Festive Haul of 2012!

I know some of you will think this is probably about a month premature, but boy oh boy am I excited for Christmas already! 

You can really identify a grinch by their frequent exclamations of horror and annoyance such as "Whaaaaat?! Christmas decorations are up already... but it's only August/September/October!?"


Whewww. Glad I got that out of my system.

So anyway, I am excited and already feeling so festive as you can probably tell. Over the course of this week, during many a lunch break from work, I checked out all of the new Christmas product ranges just released this week from many of my favourite brands. And I bought a fair bit for myself too...

So I wanted to show you some of the goodies I bought, and hopefully they will give you some gift buying ideas for your family/friends, or even just for yourself (like these were for me!).

First up we have the most incredible smelling Christmas candle I've ever encountered. It's by the iconic candle brand Glasshouse, who have just released three Christmas candles for the festive season.

I purchased one candle, which was my favourite of the three. It's called Christmas Party, and the scent is described as a "celebratory blend of ground nutmeg, orange and shaved ginger to capture the party spirit". To me it smells like a fresh, sweet, light mix of tangy orange, which is beautifully balanced by the smell of Christmas spices and cooking. It's simply amazing, and not too heavy or laden with deep spices or headache inducing. It lifts the spirits and is a pleasure to smell.

Also how cute is the jar, which you can continue to use long after the last wax has burned out.

They don't come cheap, at a whopping $40 (sadly they don't come in the cheaper smaller size that retails for around $16). But the smell of Christmas and the memories and emotion that evokes... I feel that's pretty priceless :P Also they last for absolutely ages. My last one served me at least a good year of sporadic burning (lasts over 80 hours). And the scent is so strong then even when it isn't burning the whole room smells like the candle, so it's almost unnecessary to burn it lots. I just love the scent so much I'd be happy to use it any time of the year. I purchased this candle from David Jones.

Next up I checked out the Christmas offerings from the gorgeous brand Philosophy. Their new gift packs were so adorable! The one I ended up purchased was called 'The Bake Shoppe'.  The products come in the cutest box, and inside are two of the yummiest sounding body products I've ever seen!

The first body product is a shampoo/shower gel/bubble bath called Christmas Cookie. It actually is like going to a Mrs Fields store, biting into a freshly made vanillary cookie and smelling the delicious smell wafting out of the crumbley goodness. It froths up so well as a shower gel, and it is the most luxurious experience to lather yourself with the foamy cookie bubbles. In the bath it's like being in a hot oven of baking Christmas cookies, with lots of bubbles and froth. I haven't used it as a shampoo yet (have any of you used these type of products as shampoos? Thoughts?).

The second body product is a body lotion called 'Sweet Creamy Frosting'. It smells exactly like vanilla or caramel frosting on a cupcake, and the delicious smell lingers on your body for hours after application. I especially love this lotion because Philopsophy don't seem to offer complementary lotion options of their shower gel type scents. So I had to snap this up while it was available.

This gift pack cost $30, which is the same price as a full bottle of their regular sized shower gels (each of the bottles in this pack is half the size of the big ones). Philosophy is sold in Melbourne only at David Jones on Bourke Street. I think this would make a great gift/Kris Kringle for Christmas, or just a must grab item for yourself :P 
They've also brought out a Candy Cane full size shower gel which would also make a great gift! I just would prefer to bathe in cakes in preference to mint.

Although not technically created for Christmas, I'm also in love with another of Philosophy's products I picked up this week - their Cinnamon Buns shower gel! This is my favourite product by them. It smells exactly like a vanilla chai latte. The lather and foam it creates is like bathing in a mug of chai. I can't adequately convey to you how genius and luxurious and wonderful this product is, only that you must get it. Now.

It's $30 and would make an excellent present for anyone who is as much of a sweet tooth and a stickler for indulgent sweet bath and body products as I am. I just love how each of their products has a recipe on the front of them too!

Next we have a festive foodie item. My sister brought home with her a surprise for us the other day... one of my favourite Christmas snacks! 

They are German Glazed Lebkuchen which you can buy here from Aldi shops. Basically they are soft gingerbread covered with a sugar glaze with a chocolate base and they come in different colours and shapes. They are delicious and very festive and cheap! Get your hands on some if you get the chance.

To finish off on a Christmassy high, check out these festive nails of my sisters:

They remind me of Christmas holly or mistletoe! 

This is how she created them:

-Painted a white base with OPI's Alpine Snow
-Blobbed Essie's Fiesta on the nails for the berries/flowers
-Added dimension to the blobs using Essie's Bahama Mama on a toothpick
-Used Essie's Mint Candy Apple for the leaves
-Added dimension to the leaves using OPI's Fly (Nicki Minaj collection)

So that's it guys! Hope this post got you thinking about some good Christmas ideas and started to get you pumped about the festive season. I had fun typing it and thinking about Christmas!

Which brands Christmas ranges are you most excited about? I'm looking forward to checking out Lush and The Body Shop next. Do you get excited about Christmas as early as me, or do you think I'm crazy? :P

P.S. There are only 58 days until Christmas!!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Nails of the Week

This week has been a very nail focused week in our household. Just thought I'd share with you some of the polishes and nail art that I've been excited about this week! 

First up is my most recent nail polish purchase...

OPI's Just Spotted The Lizard

Without flash - truest to actual colour

With flash - shows how sparkly it is under certain lights

This polish is part of the OPI Spiderman collection that is currently available. It has been widely hailed as the exact dupe for Chanel's much acclaimed Peridot polish. Everyone seems to be talking about this colour and much excitement resulted when OPI released this cheaper alternative. 

My thoughts on the polish? 

That it really confuses me! It's like a chameleon polish, one second I love the colour, the next I'm not too sure. It's a brilliantly metallic sparkly gold colour with tinges of green, and it's one of those polishes with duo chromatic properties. It goes on brilliantly and smoothly with a great formula and lasts for ages. One coat is nearly opaque but two makes it look extra sparkly. 

But I don't tend to like gold polishes, or yellow, or even this kind of mustard green. And I don't love metallics. So really I should probably loathe this, and to be honest I did look past it at first. My sister then recommended it to me and then it really caught my eye. Opal is my favourite gemstone and in the bottle this polish looks very opaly, which was its main drawcard as far as I was concerned. But sadly this does not translate to the nail (please tell me if you know of any actual Opal looking polishes!).

This colour is at it's best under natural sunlight. I'm still very unsure about it, torn between thinking it's only alright and loving it. Perhaps it will grow on me. I don't really understand why there's so much hype surrounding this colour?! However, I have been complimented on my nails today far more than usual so perhaps that says something.

Either way definitely buy this over Peridot, they look identical! 

Next my friend did an excellent job of nail art this week. And the result was this very cool, abstract type pattern:

She said she painted the base coat first and then waited until it was completely dry. Then she used sticky tape to tape off a few abstract lines on her nails, and then painted black polish over the top. Once that was completely dry she peeled the tape off and voila! 
I think this would also look great using pastel colours, or all metallics.

Then we have another creation from my sister who has particularly enjoyed venturing into the world of nail art lately. Im not quite sure what pattern she was doing, but it sure looks great! It kind of reminds me of an American flag pattern or something.

Without flash

With flash

It was my lovely Mum's birthday this week too - Happy Birthday Mum! Part of her present from my sister included these two nail polishes, which I also love!

L-R: OPI's Java Mauve-A and Revlon's Raisin Rage

Java Mauve-A is a creamy dusky pinky brown colour, and Raisin Rage is a darker creamy plummy pink colour.

I think both are really great colours for everyday wear, and particularly suit women over 40. They are both great dusky, pinky colours which complement most complexions without looking over the top.

So that's my week so far of nail polish purchasing and decorating. It's becoming an addiction I swear!

Have you tried any of these polishes? What do you think of these colours? Also please let me know if you know of a good Opal looking polish!

Hope you are all having great weeks! xx

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Survey Sunday - October 21st 2012

It's Survey Sunday time!! Here we go...

1. Have you ever broken a bone, and if so what one?
Never! *touches wood* But I have dislocated a few fingers a couple of times playing basketball.

2. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? If so where and what of?
Just my ears are pierced. I am so scared of needles that it took me until year 9 to summon up the courage to go, and even then it was like a lamb going to slaughter situation. Barely hurt, but it’s the psychological aspect of needles I can’t take! No tattoos, that’s a few too many needles thanks!

3. What concerts have you been to? What was your favourite and least favourite?
I’ve been to quite a few. Lots of festival type ones like Big Day Out, Groovin the Moo, Pyramid Rock and Sound Relief, and then other solo ones. Probably my favourite solo concert I've ever been to was The Cure. Also another favourite was Vampire Weekend, they were absolutely amazing. And Bloc Party was incredible too.

I went to the Animal Collective concert and really didn’t like their set. Instead of playing their famous songs they just jammed randomly and it was absolutely terrible. Just messy loud noise. Also I went to Pyramid Rock the year all the music was cancelled on New Years because of the huge storm that occurred. Was the craziest thing ever, so many angry people camping out and so much rain and thunder. Bad combination.

4. Favourite meal of the day?
I would say it’s dinner, just because I always rush breakfast, and never feel like a massive lunch. I’m a snacker. But I like to have a sit down dinner or go out for a meal. I actually really do like going out for breakfast or brunch though, it feels fancy and the food choices (eggs/pancakes/French toast etc) are divine.

5. What is your favourite cartoon character?
Without a doubt it’s Ike Broflovski from South Park. I’m obsessed with that little man. I have watched every single episode that he is in, and just squirm with delight when he is on screen. I know this is a weird answer but don’t judge me guys. Just go watch him and you’ll see what I mean! “DON’T KICK THE GODDAMN BABY”

6. What is your favourite topping on a pancake?
Generally I just like some maple syrup, sometimes with some creamy butter. Otherwise I sometimes like to mix it up with some nutella and banana. Or perhaps some hot chocolate fudge and sprinkles. But I'm not really a lemon and sugar kind of girl. Anything else though... love my strawberries and hot apple and nuts options from The Pancake Parlour. I am also a big fan of the potato and cheese pancake at this establishment. Basically it's just my favourite restaurant ever. Lovely.

7. Do you face towards or away from the water in the shower?
This is a very odd question! It came up in a discussion I had tonight and we were all surprised at the results when people did things differently to ourselves! I am a face the water person. I need to keep my hair dry when I'm not washing it, plus I just like facing the stream of water so I can see it. You have better control over the water this way! I think I swapped halfway through my life though. When I was younger I wore a shower cap and then I faced away because my hair wouldn't get wet. I just hate the feeling of my whole head being under water, it feels like I'm being water boarded or something. Haha this is such a weird question :P


So now it's your turn to answer the questions! I look forward to reading your answers!

1. Have you ever broken a bone, and if so what one? 

2. Do you have any tattoos or piercings? If so where and what of?

3. What concerts have you been to? What was your favourite and least favourite?

4. Favourite meal of the day? 

5. What is your favourite cartoon character? 

6. What is your favourite topping on a pancake?

7. Do you face towards or away from the water in the shower?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Marie Antoinette Style Feasting At The Hopetoun Tea Rooms

I can't believe it took me this long to discover one of Melbourne's greatest treasures. Hidden away in the Block Arcade, with one of the finest window displays I have ever seen in the world, lies the Hopetoun Tea Rooms.

The tea room has been operating in some form or another for over a century - it first opened in 1891 (for you overseas readers, in Australia this counts as positively ancient). As a result of it's long history, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms are steeped in tradition, charm and decadence.

This is the sight that you feast your eyes upon as you approach the tea rooms. The window is so extravagant that you have to jostle for a space amongst the ever present crowd of people gazing in awe at all of the mountains of sweets. 

This is as close to Marie Antoinette style sweet feasting as you will ever get...

After what can sometimes be a little bit of a wait, you get seated inside the quaint little dining room. It feels opulent to dine in, with its rich emerald walls, grand mirrors and chandeliers.

I've been lucky enough to dine here twice. The first time I ordered a strawberry milkshake and some scones. The scones were delicious, light and fluffy. Although they were served with this weird Rosewater Quince which was oddly chunky. I'd have preferred simple raspberry or strawberry jam thanks! The milkshake was lovely, but just tasted as normal milkshakes do.

The second time I went I had salmon and cucumber petite sandwiches which were amazing and so delicate. Quite a small serve though. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo sorry! 

I then followed this up with a slice of the most incredible lemon meringue I have ever tasted...

Words cannot describe how amazing this lemon meringue was. It has to be tried to be believed.

Some other notable items on my list of must go back and try are the following...

Red Velvet Swiss Roll:

Strawberry Sponge Cake:


Spiced Strawberry Sponge:

All in all a meal here is a must do if you live in or ever visit Melbourne. My only complaints were that you can often get some quite rude and unhelpful staff, but this is probably just due to the fact they are run off their feet. Still no excuse in a place like this. Also it is fairly expensive. Everything I ate and mentioned above was priced between $8 - $15 per item. They don't take bookings which is annoying, and often you can be waiting a little while to get a table. Try to avoid the peak lunch rush if you can.

If you want to read more check out the pretty antiquated looking website (fitting I suppose) for the Hopetoun Tea Rooms here.

Have any of you ever been here? What is your favourite place to go for high tea and sweet type feasting? Any places you fellow Melbournites can recommend that I must check out?

Monday, 15 October 2012

YSL Shocking Mascara review – Quite a Shocking Verdict!

I finally splashed out the other day on a new mascara because I’m still on my quest for my Holy Grail of mascaras! And I’d heard rave reviews about the YSL Shocking Mascara from like every Youtuber and beauty blogger going around.

I got the sales girl to try it on me before I bought it, and I was very happy with the immediate result even using the disposable mascara brushes which were different to the one that came in the bottle.

The Look I’m After: I want a big fan of long, thick, plush looking lashes. I want them to look really bold and almost false in appearance because they look so good and fluttery!

So after trying YSL Shocking for a week, what do I think of it?

The Cost: 
Very expensive and high end at $52. If it worked amazingly then I’d be alright with splashing out occasionally on a brilliant mascara. But not in this case...

The Packaging:
It is very luxurious and glamorous looking. I love the gold shiny bottle, the ‘Shocking’ written along the side, the twist top that clicks into place and how visible and bold it looks. One of the best mascara packaging I have ever seen!

The Formula:
The formula is very wet and creamy, and has an almost gel like and glossy texture to it. It’s very thick and when it’s on the brush it looks quite clumpy and lumpy. I do like the richness and the pigmentation of the black colouring. It is also scented with a quite strong rose fragrance, that actually irritates my eyes (I don’t even have sensitive eyes). Some people may appreciate the wetness of it because it allows you to layer better, but I just found it got stickier and clumpier the more it was layered.

The Brush:
The brush is absolutely terrible. The bristles are way too short and far apart, and tonnes of gunky formula gets stuck between them. The brush is supposed to distribute the mascara in a hexagonal distribution pattern, but it just makes for a clumpy, wet mess. I feel the brush is what lets the whole mascara down.

The Overall Look and Experience:
All the lashes end up getting stuck together into about 4-5 main points. There is barely any definition, and the ‘volume’ that occurs is just as a result of the wet formula gathering at the base of the lashes. I curl my lashes every day because they are very straight and because this formula is so heavy and thick, the curl drops to being nonexistent within a few hours. There is virtually no length added on and instead of volumising my lashes, it ends up making them look even sparser than before because all my lashes stick together and it makes me look like I have even less lashes.

Overall I just am insanely disappointed with this. My eyes feel irritated and heavy when I use it due to the intense fragrance and the heaviness of the formula weighing my lashes down. Without a curl my lashes just look bland and unimpressive. I wanted the look of a full fan of long and thick lashes, and this achieves neither. Plus it set me back $52!

Verdict: C- (and that’s probably being too nice)

Perhaps when I went to the store and they tried it on me first, their disposable thick bristled brushes worked with the formula way better and it looked far nicer. They were able to distribute the product in much better manner. But with the brush that it comes with, it just takes so much time and effort to get them looking even vaguely nice. Every time I choose to use this I end up wishing I had chosen one of my other mascaras. 

To be honest I should have simply paid more attention to what the Sales girls lashes looked like. She was wearing Shocking and her lashes were so clumped together there were virtually 5 points and it reminded me of a star. I don’t know whether she thought this looked good, but I remember thinking ‘it’s okay I can just apply it differently to get the look I want’.

So I am going to try and return this today (they let me phew!). What a depressing experience! I have heard that it works far better with a primer such as Dior’s Lash Maximiser underneath, but I shouldn’t have to spend over $100 to get nice lashes. It should just work brilliantly on its own. I don’t understand why this works so much better for others, how can so many people love it if this is how it works and looks? I’ve tried everything to apply it nicely as well, such a slow wiggle, doing the tips first, layering it, etc.

I thought this would be my Holy Grail, but now the search continues. I think I’m going to examine the Dior mascaras as I’ve used Diorshow Extace before and absolutely loved that.

Any suggestions from you guys would be enormously appreciated. Let me know what your favourite mascaras are and what you recommend I should try! And tell me if you’ve had an experience with YSL Shocking and what you think of it?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Survey Sunday - October 14th 2012

Oh my goodness I've been so so busy I'm so sorry! I really need to start scheduling posts, I think I will really try to do that from now on. For some reason I always liked the idea of spontaneously writing posts then immediately posting them, but it makes sense to write a few when you have time and schedule them. 

So my apologies lovely people, I will get my act back together soon I promise. I have a long list of posts in the pipeline, so I will find the time to get them happening.

Here's a random cute picture of my bunny snoozing to help apologise for my lack of posting lots lately! Isn't she the cutest!! :P

I hope all of you had very lovely weeks and weekends. I just switched teams at work for my first ever graduate rotation (we do four in two years), so that's been pretty hectic. It's good though because my new rotation is more in line with what I want to do and less stats/numbers based. So fingers crossed this will be a good change for me :)

Anyway on to this week's batch of Survey Sunday questions:

1. What's your favourite Disney film? 
It's a tie for me between Aladdin and Cinderella. I was so carried away by the magic and rags to riches ideas of both of these as a child. Plus I loved Jasmine and the Genie, and that glass slipper!

2. What's your morning makeup routine? 
After cleansing and moisturising, I usually use mineral powder foundation (or a sheerer liquid if I have more time), blush, eyeshadow and mascara. Occasionally I'll add in some bronzer or eyeliner if I have the time.

3. Are you a coffee or tea person? 
I'm a tea girl all the way. Can't stand coffee. I drink English Breakfast with a bit of milk, and go through about 3-4 cups a day!

4. What skincare products/brands do you use?
I currently use Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish, Liz Earle's Instant Boost toner, and Clarins HydraQuench Cream. 
I sometimes alternate (or use in the mornings) Dermalogica products such as the Essential Cleansing Solution, the Multi-Active Toner, the Skin Smoothing Cream, and the Gentle Cream Exfoliant. I also sometimes use the the Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase or the Dior One Essential Skin Boosting Super Serum.

5. What's your star sign? 
Leo... rarrr! I don't believe in star signs etc, but the traits associated with Leo seem pretty spot on for me. And it's fun to read them occasionally in the paper/magazines.

6. What exercise do you do?
Recently I've started a bit of a health kick, and I've pleasantly surprised myself a bit with my ability to keep it up! I do weekly circuit type sessions with my friends every Sunday morning, and during the week I try to do 2 or so exercise DVDs. 
I find Jillian Michael's DVDs to be the best for quicker workouts that really deliver results and make you work up an enormous sweat. And the muscle burn the next day is proof that these DVDs do really work. I've done posts on her 30 Day Shred and my Spring Health Kick if you want more information.

7. What are you most looking forward to over the next week?
Tonight I'm seeing one of my uni friends for dinner and to see the new Wuthering Heights movie with Effie from Skins in it, so that should be fun! I'm also looking forward to seeing Taken 2 with my boyfriend at some stage this week, having lunch with my grad friends at work, celebrating my best friends birthday on Wednesday night and celebrating my Mums birthday next weekend. 


Now it's your turn to answer! Just copy and paste the questions in the comments section below:

1. What's your favourite Disney film? 
2. What's your morning makeup routine?
3. Are you a coffee or tea person?
4. What skincare products/brands do you use?
5. What's your star sign?
6. What exercise do you do?
7. What are you most looking forward to over the next week?

Can't wait to read your answers! :)