Chubby cheeks

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This has really been the year of blush for Clinique, a brand I don’t often associate with having especially good or even very many blush products. Their Cheek Pop Blush is incredible (I already professed my love for Berry Pop here) and now they’ve added to their Chubby line with a range of creamy blush sticks. I picked up Roly Poly Rosy, a deep rose pink, in duty free while I was away and have been using it on and off since I returned.

First things first – in a battle of the blush the Cheek Pops would absolutely win hands down. However the Chubby Stick Cheek Color Balms have one thing going for them and that’s convenience. An easy to use, twist up stick that doesn’t require sharpening and delivers creamy, easy to blend colour? Excellent. Works for me. These really are super easy to apply and blend and Roly Poly Rosy leaves a pretty pink flush that doesn’t overwhelm your face. I think it will look great in summer with a bit of a tan (real or fake, eh) but would also suit paler skins.

My one downer with this blush is I don’t find it particularly long lasting on me. I have normal bordering on oily skin and I find after about three to four hours it has significantly faded or disappeared. I suppose the convenience of the stick makes it easy to re-apply but, particularly on work days, I want make up I can slap on in the morning then not think about. So essentially I do recommend these but with that one caveat.

From memory the Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Color Balms come in four shades and you can easily pick them up at department stores or specialist retailers such as Mecca in Australia. I paid about AUD$28 for mine duty free but I anticipate they’ll be priced much higher here.

Chubby cheeks

Barcelona

Barcelona

Where I went: Barcelona, Spain

How long I stayed: Two-and-a-half days, three nights.

How long I should have stayed: At least another day. Barcelona is one hell of a city and now one of my all time favourites. Another day would have given me time to do a few more things, such as do a thorough visit through the Montjuic area (I only went through at dusk on the tourist bus). Another two days would have been even more comfortable because Barcelona is a city it would be hard to get bored in.

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Where I stayed: I stayed at the Hotel Curious, a tiny boutique hotel in the Raval quarter just off Las Ramblas, the bustling main street of the city lined with shops and restaurants (above). It set me back $120 a night and for the location it was an absolute bargain. I easily walked there from the Placa de Catalunya where the airport bus stops and it was walking distance to¬†a lot of¬†other things in the city except La Sagrada Familia and the Park Guell. That said, the rooms are tiny. As in, maybe six feet across if that, then there’s a very small bathroom. Also the bed was as hard as a rock. You spend so much time out of your hotel that it isn’t too big an issue but it is something to keep in mind. The staff were very friendly though and the area is well lit and safe to walk around at night.

What I did: Walked Las Ramblas, visited the waterfront, MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Mercat de la Boqueria (food market), Palau Guell (below), Placa Reial (last photo),¬†La Catedral, Museu Picasso, Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, wandered the Barri Gotic (Gothic quarter), Museu d’Historia de Barcelona, Placa de Saint Jaume, Esglesia de Santa Maria del Mar.

Palau

Getting around: I walked most places I went in Barcelona easily and with no safety issues at night. It’s a really packed city so here’s always heaps of people around. Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia and the Montjuic area are not really with walking distance if you’re staying off Las Ramblas or Barri Gotic but I bought a two-day ticket on the tourist bus and I got to them quite easily and efficiently that way. I also caught the metro a couple of times with no issues. If you’re flying in, there’s a cheap airport bus that drops you in the centre of town at Placa de Catalunya.

What I thought: What an absolutely cracking place. Barcelona is such a fun, vibrant, exciting city. There’s so many great things to do, the weather is fantastic, the people are friendly and the tapas is just incredible. Don’t feel too scared to walk into places – staff will tell you how it works. At lots of the tapas bars you ask for a plate on arrival and they tell you to¬†help yourself to the delicious morsels. It might be two Euro per tapas item so you load your plate with what you want and when you eat each piece, leave the toothpick on your plate. They then count them at the end and charge you for your meal accordingly. I was never a big fan of sangria until I went to Spain but they serve it in massive jugs or glasses over there and it’s fantastic, absolutely delicious. You can have a really fun night just wandering from bar to bar and trying out all their tapas, though I learned pretty quickly that if I have a drink in every bar it wasn’t long until I was pretty tipsy.

I was given a tip about a hidden gem, which is the rooftop bar of Hotel 1898¬†at 109 Las Ramblas. It’s open from April through to October but if you don’t know about, you’d never guess it was there. You have to go well inside the hotel and go up in the guest elevator to the top floor. It’s a little bit more expensive to drink there but the incredible 360 degree views of the city, particularly over the Catedral, are worth it. I went at sunset on the night of a full moon and it was just magnificent.

Mercat

I found the food in Spain to be really diverse and there’s an abundance of fresh fruit and snacks available. If you’re walking Las Ramblas then head to the Mercat de la Boqueria where you can buy these gloriously coloured cups of chopped up fresh fruit (see above), jamon (ham), empanadas, desserts, juices, paella, cheese and almost anything else you can imagine. It sits at 91 Las Ramblas and there’s plenty of small restaurants on the outskirts if you want to sit down rather than walk around with your food. It’s a really cheap ay of having a great meal. My other food favourite was the amazing Chok, a chocolate store and patisserie at 3 Carrer del Carme (near where there street runs off Las Ramblas) which has the best doughnuts, cronuts and macarons you will ever see in your life. I ate a raspberry macaron as big as a hamburger and I loved every single bite. They also have great hot chocolate. Also if you’re passing one of the local cake stores, make sure you go in for a Crema Catelana, which is basically a cake version of a cr√®me brulee with burnt custard and sponge cake. Mine was probably one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.

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Something I didn’t know and no one bothered to tell me before I went to Barcelona is that you should absolutely buy your tickets to La Sagrada Familia (above) and Park Guell before you go because they will be near on impossible to buy on the day, or you’ll end up missing out or having to go at odd times because they sell out. I found Park Guell a bit of a non event but you absolutely cannot miss La Sagrada Familia. It is one of the most incredible and fantastical buildings I have ever been to in my life and it’s pretty hard not to be awestruck. It’s actually not finished¬†and you can see construction continuing on the outside – all of which is funded by the entrance fees. I ended up scrambling to find wifi in the local McDonalds just to buy a ticket online so I didn’t miss out, but I’m definitely glad I did. If you’re keen on seeing more Gaudi architecture then Palau Guell is another great place to visit. It’s a house designed by Gaudi and as well as it’s amazing interior, you can also walk all the way on to the roof and catch some great views of the city.

My only other must-see for the city is the stunning La Catedral. It’s one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been inside – it’s actually open in the centre with a small garden and water features. It’s lovely to walk around in a calm setting and take a bit of a breather. Afterwards the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona (Museum of Barcelona) and Museu Picasso are really close by and worth dropping in to. I’m not a huge contemporary art fan so while MACBA was really highly rated, it didn’t do much for me.

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Overall, Barcelona is a really easy city to wander through. You could spend hours going through areas such as Barri Gotic and just checking out the old cobblestone streets and tiny stores with an ice cream in hand. I also really regret not having at least an extra day to thoroughly go through the Montjuic area – I only went through on the tourist bus and I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Otherwise I feel like I got a good mix of things done and there’s a really good walking guide in the Lonely Planet guide which I used and was fantastic. I really loved my time in Barca and I’d go back or recommend it to others in a heartbeat.

Barcelona

A cut above

Boda

All my life I’ve been a suburban hairdresser and do-it-yourself-at-home kind of girl. When you have super long hair like I had for many years, there’s really not a lot of difference in cutting a few layers into it wherever you go. I was really just there for the head massage during the hair wash. I’ve only had my hair coloured in a salon once – blonde highlights to go with my ‘Rachel’ cut in 1997 – and have generally stuck to dying my hair at home with a box of dark brown dye that matches my natural shade.

After I returned from Italy last year I finally took the plunge and had my hair cropped into a long bob. I took a couple of pics of Emma Roberts and Lara Bingle’s blunt, textured cuts and went to my usual salon and saw my usual person. She did a great cut in terms of it being easy to wear, however it looked nothing like the photos. When I went back for a trim nearly two months later, someone else cut my hair and did a much better job. This time she took a lot more off it and cut a really good angle that looked especially sharp. I loved it but I didn’t love when she went on maternity leave and I didn’t have the option of her cutting my hair again. So I went back to my usual stylist for my next trim and I just didn’t like the result. It wasn’t short enough, it was a bit shapeless and I got the sense she was just cutting to what she knew rather than what I wanted. So the search as on.

I’d heard about Boda Haircutters in Prahran¬†vaguely through blogs and Instagram – it’s one of those¬†fancy places where people get their hair done for the Brownlow and other local events (which really is¬†the pinnacle in Melbourne). However it wasn’t until I starting working with a girl who was a friend of Angie, the owner, that I considered going there for a cut.¬†My friend’s¬†hair was fantastic and modern, so I booked an appointment with Angie for after my holiday. I’ve really enjoyed having shorter hair this past year so I grabbed a pic from¬†Boda’s Instagram of a choppy, textured bob (the pic shown above) and walked in hoping for the best.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a better haircut in my entire life. I also think it’s possibly the only time I’ve ever been given a haircut that looked exactly like the inspiration photo. I filled in a new customer card that¬†asked questions¬†such as¬†what I liked about my hair, what I wanted, what sort of products I use, how long I spend on it etc which helped form a good discussion before the scissors were even¬†raised. After talking me through the cut then¬†chopping off a good couple of inches, Angie did an amazing job styling it. I love watching anyone who excels at their craft, particularly people who do things I can’t. She twisted it while drying it then finished off with some loose GHD curls and I’ve been replicating that at home. It also looks great when just straightened and with a blast of product, retains all the shape and texture.

Also I have to say this for the shampoo part of the process: Best. Head. Massage. Ever. And they had vibrating massage chairs.

So the lesson learned is that there is a huge difference between getting someone to cut your hair and getting someone to style it. You wear your hair every single day – why wouldn’t you want it to look consistently great? I’ve always just been happy to have a haircut that was good enough. My cut at Boda set me back $90, which was only $20 more than where I had been going, and I can say it was worth every single cent.¬†I thought I’d post this because when I was trying to search for a new hair salon I found it all a bit overwhelming – it’s the same reason I’ve never gone for a facial anywhere. The options in Melbourne are endless and it can be tough to make a choice. So this is my two cents worth if anyone is looking for a great haircut in Melbourne, Boda is absolutely my pick. Best haircut ever.

Boda Haircutters is located at 183 Greville Street, Prahran.

A cut above

The November mix

summer

Ghost - Ella Henderson / Fireball - Pitbull featuring John Ryan / Wrapped Up - Olly Murs featuring Travie McCoy / Uptown Funk - Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars / Jealous - Nick Jonas / Rather Be - Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne / Wicked Games - Parra for Cuva / Outside - Calvin Harris featuring Ellie Goulding / Blame - Calvin Harris featuring John Newman / Love Me Harder - Ariana Grande / Out of the Woods - Taylor Swift / Steal My Girl - One Direction / When I Find Love Again - James Blunt / Day Drinking - Little Big Town / Neon Light - Blake Shelton

The November mix

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Jergens is a brand that Australians have long had to resort to international jaunts to get their fill of. Their original lotion with its cherry almond scent is something of a cult product and I remember being pretty excited when I saw my bottle in a Japanese drugstore. More recently I’d been reading about their BB Body Skin Perfecting Cream and added it to my list when I visited Hawaii. Now Jergens is being stocked in Priceline so everyone can get their fill locally.

The thing I like best about the BB Body Skin Perfecting Cream is that it’s totally subtle. It’s not a glow cream or a highlighter or a bronzer masquerading as something else. The cream is designed to be worn as¬† body moisturiser which benefits your skin over time and blurs imperfections immediately. In five days it claims to “hydrate and smooth, brighten and illuminate, even skin tone, visibly firm skin, and minimise the appearance of imperfections.” I can’t vouch for all of that because I don’t wear it with a lot of regularity but I do love the immediate impact it has on my skin. I tend wear it on my arms and legs¬†on work¬†days and I find it does a great job of making the skin on your limbs look much better – kind of like running a good real-life Instagram filter over them. It’s especially good over fake tan¬† and as I said, it’s subtle and only has the absolute faintest of¬†shimmers. Your skin but better.

The cream itself sinks in quickly and isn’t sticky.¬†On me it’s quite moisturising but I don’t have especially dry skin and use other, thicker lotions at night for that purpose. I have the Medium-Deep version which looks¬†like a pinky nude shade when you squeeze it from the tube, however it doesn’t actually give you any extra colour and doesn’t transfer to your clothes in any way. It¬†also has a light, cocoa butter-ish scent that isn’t overpowering and won’t compete with your fragrance. All of this, along with the way it wears, makes it perfect for me to wear to work when I¬†want a product I don’t have to fuss about.

The Jergens BB Body Skin Perfecting Cream¬†is now available at Priceline for $14.99 and I highly recommend it. Even if this particular product isn’t your thing, they have a great line of moisturisers (such as the Daily Moisture lotion which Jessica reviewed and thus prompted me to post this) and their gradual tanners are said to be amazing.

 

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Things I bought #132.

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I rarely meet a statement necklace and I don’t like and this Sportsgirl one is no exception. This is the second iteration of the necklace the store has done – the previous version had a reddish stone and I think it might have had gold hardware. I remember seeing and admiring it on a sales assistant but I never bought one before they sold out. When I saw the latest version I knew it would be going on my wish list.

I love the look of the blue crystal against the silver, though it actually has a pale gold chain. The stones have an iridescent finish so they change in different lights and the unusual shape is a nice contrast to move feminine pieces. I’ve been wearing mine with fitted tanks and my black Country Road midi skirt.¬†It is a heaver piece to wear but not so much you’ll be left with a sore neck.

I can’t find the necklace online but I’ve seen it in quite a few retail stores. You can pick up your own for $29.95 and Sportsgirl quite often do percentage off sales at this time of year.

 

Things I bought #132.

Thoughts of the week – 23/11

AFL

1. People are carrying on left, right and centre about this Serial podcast but I’ll be honest, if there’s one thing I could not care less for it’s true crime. Good luck to you all.

2. Last week I fell over in a carpark at work while wearing my new Country Road skirt and I’m still laughing at one of my colleagues’ responses: “Oh no! But was your skirt OK?!” It was and so was I.

3. This coming week I’m off to country Victoria for a work overnighter with one of my favourite colleagues. I’m so excited. We’re going to Insta it and create a hashtag. He thinks we should bring someone else along to film a road trip movie but I’m more a DIY person.

4. I re-watched The Lake House this week and though it’s thoroughly implausible, I love it and cry every time.

5. All the photos of the AFL players swimming at the beach in Perth ahead of the International Rules are killing me in the best possible way. Loves me some shirtless and wet athletes.

6. The Erdem Keira Knightley is wearing here is stunning.

7. Guess who has a bright and shiny new gold iPhone 6? Meeeeeeeeeeee! I am never up with what the kids are doing (I think I was the last person ever¬†to get rid of my iPhone 3, not even a 3G) but my phone battery was continually dying and I needed a better data plan so in I strolled to Optus and they’d just taken a shipment.

8. Bundaberg have these new drinks out for Christmas – spiced ginger beer, traditional lemonade and apple cider. I’m very excited. So far I’ve had the lemonade and it’s great.

9. What do we think of the Band Aid 30 version of Do They Know It’s Christmas? They’ve changed a heap of the words so it’s about Ebola and not starvation/general poverty. Not sure I like it t be honest. The original was such a big part of my childhood, we had Live Aid on¬†VHS and watched it all the time. There was also a Band Aid 20 version and what’s interesting is the snapshot the recordings provide of the popular artists of the time.

10. I realised my mum post went up missing half so I’ve fixed that. And the absolute pearler of a story from yesterday was me, sitting at my desk at work when my dad rings me on my work number. Odd. He tells me mum can’t get my car out of park, the gear stick seems to be stuck so can I call the RACV. I was understandably reluctant to do so without having a look at the car myself because I knew, I just knew, the bloody problem wouldn’t be the car. I try calling her about five times and no answer. Then I call the RACV, take my frustration out on the bloke on the phone, and arrange for someone to come around to look at the vehicle. They tell me they’ll need mum’s number so they can ring her when they arrive and I said good¬†luck with that, she¬†won’t even answer for me. ¬†Now I don’t have a workplace I can just leave for any old trivial matter but there was a perfect storm of a big job just finishing and not much else happening, plus the person who came to relieve me was ready early. I decided to try and rush home so at least I might be there when the RACV man arrives. I explain to my boss what’s happened and he says I should have a go at putting my foot on the brake while moving it out of park as it’s a safety feature on a lot of cars. Even though I drive mine all the time I can’t immediately think if I do that so I try and call mum again to get her to try and brief her on the RACV. I tried eight times and no answer – every time it cuts out and tells me the number is unavailable. Next minute my flatmate rings and she’s there with my mum, whose fucking mobile phone battery has gone dead. Dead. She never uses the bloody thing! I do my best to refrain from absolutely ripping her a new one verbally and tell her to try starting it with her foot on the brake. Three minutes later I get a message from my flatmate saying wonder of all wonders, the car is working so I can cancel the RACV. SERENITY NOW.

Thoughts of the week – 23/11