What I’m reading next – August 2014

augst books

So I went ahead and did it, I bought Gone Girl on the strength of the intriguing movie preview. I think I’m probably the last person in the world to have a crack at reading Gillian Flynn’s best seller. At present I’m about halfway through and have quite enjoyed it (good Lord those characters are thoroughly unlikeable though!) and I have a confession to make. I skipped ahead so I know the twist. Yeah, I know but I just can’t help myself.

Another book that’s been filmed is Outlander by Diana Galbadon and by all accounts the series is pretty good. The book is ENORMOUS and tells the story of Claire and her husband who go on a holiday to Scotland after WWII. Claire was a war nurse and spent quite a bit of time away from him so the trip is about them reconnecing. Somehow while they are on their holiday she travels back in time to the Scotland of 1743 where she is an English outsider who must seek protection amongst a Scottish clan. This clan includes one Jamie Fraser and after they are forced to marry, she is torn between her old love and a new one. Interesting premise and another highly popular book.

I also bought Nate Berkus’ Things That Matter after holding it on my Book Depository wish list for a long time. It’s a beautiful interiors book that shows how people build a home that has their own personal sense of style imbued throughout. I do love a good coffee table book and I’m excited to spend some quality time with this one.

Five reasons to visit New York

US November 2011 147

New York, New York, a wonderful town…

When I visited New York for the first time, I expected it to be life changing. I’m not sure why – I’d been plenty of other places and come back as little old me but for some reason I thought the Big Apple would be different. It wasn’t. It’s a great city and there’s so much to do and see however I think I probably overplayed it a little bit in my head and was let down as a consequence. I’ll also fully admit I wasn’t the super planner I am now when I visited so I kinda feel like NYC is a missed opportunity in some ways. Don’t worry though, I’ll be back.

New York is definitely a city you need to visit at least once in your life time. Manhattan is tiny and therefore infinitely walkable, so everything feels like it’s right within arm’s reach. The shopping is easily the best in the world and the food and museums are pretty great too. Trust me, if you want it then NYC probably has it.

1. The shopping

I cannot rave enough about this. For a starters, US shopping is the best and then you pack the best of that into a couple of square miles and it’s heaven. Chain retailers like J.Crew, Gap, Zara, Old Navy, Madewell, Joe Fresh, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and Club Monaco, the dazzling array of drug stores, designer boutiques, department stores from Macys through to Bloomingdales, Bendels and Barneys – it’s all fantastic and the prices are generally great for Australians, even with a fluctuating dollar. Plus no trip to New York would be complete without a souvenir from Tiffany, bought from the flagship in the shadow of Central Park.

2. Brooklyn Bridge

The walk over this iconic bridge is a good one plus it’s easy and not too long. It’s such a great spot for photos of the city and souvenir snaps of yourself on the bridge. When you arrive in Brooklyn it’s a little bit of a walk to anywhere interesting but it’s definitely worth setting aside at least half a day to walk over and see what all the fuss is about (plus Brooklyn has Target!).

3. Museum Of Modern Art (MoMA)

My favourite modern art museum in the world. It’s a joy to look through and has an enormous collection of work to keep you occupied. I was pretty disappointed with the Met (beautiful but boring) and this kinda revived my love for NY museums. Warhol, Pollock, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Rothko, Mondrian, Picasso and so much more in a really easy to navigate building. The museum store is amazing and worth a visit while you’re there. MoMA is also close to Rockefeller Center (so you can do Top of the Rock), a Magnolia Bakery and a J.Crew so you can eat and look good after you visit.

4. Breakfast at Balthazar

This came recommended to me by a friend and now I’m passing it on to you. Balthazar is a bit of a cult hero on the New York restaurant scene, somewhere elegant and fancy. However they do a fantastic breakfast and so you get to enjoy all that wonderful ambience at a far lower cost. I had one of the best breakfasts of my life there – sour cream waffles – and so I recommend it to anyone paying a visit. Plus you can walk it off in Soho afterwards and check out all the cool shops.

5. The Highline

The Highline was listed in my travel guide but I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t stayed right alongside it in Chelsea then I probably would have passed. Which is a shame because a Highline walk is one of NYC’s underrated gems. It’s a disused railway line that has been converted into a garden and it’s a little slice of heaven running above the city. There’s plenty of places to stop and rest or take happy snaps and it truly is one of the loveliest places in the city. Sure, Central Park is totally charming but the Highline’s quiet elegance and hidden location gives it that little something extra.

PS I also have a full list of NYC tips here.

Frends with benefits

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I am a dirty, dirty single white female style copier. Hand is up. I had seen Frends headphones on blogs and in magazines but it wasn’t until I actually saw them up close on a colleague that I really felt the burning desire to own a pair. Seriously, total lust.

Frends headphones are designed to be jewellery for your ears and basically a chicer, more fashion forward version of an everyday piece of technology. My colleague has the rose gold and white version which are just stunning but I went for the black and oil slick pair. You can also change the caps on the ear pieces to refresh the style rather than buying a whole new pair.

Everything about these headphones is luxe. They look beautiful, the leather padding on the ears is butter soft, sound quality is awesome and they fold up into a tiny leather pouch so they don’t get damaged. I absolutely love them and consider myself the coolest looking kid on the Lilydale line at the moment.

I can’t say I ever thought of myself as someone who would consider a pair of headphones an investment purchase, even though I do listen to a hell of a lot of music. As one friend put it when I was contemplating buying them, “I bet you’ve spent the same or more money on plenty of other things you don’t wear as much as you’ll wear these.” Spot on. At $165 they certainly aren’t cheap but they definitely are beautiful and useful. You can buy them direct from the Australian website but I got mine from Shopbop which seems to be a little bit cheaper and has free shipping.

And while we’re talking music, this is my August mix…

Bang Bang - Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj / Budapest - George Ezra / Crazy Stupid Love - Cheryl Cole featuring Tinie Tempah / I’m Ready – AJR / It Was Always You - Maroon 5 / Lost Stars - Adam Levine / Only Love Can Hurt Like This - Paloma Faith / Pop Goes The World - Gossip / 40 Days and 40 Nights - Rob Baird / And of course the whole Begin Again soundtrack

Highlights package

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Revlon on the left, Maybelline on the right all through the images

When I was in Hawaii, two things I really wanted to have a look at were the new Revlon Highlighting Palettes and the Maybelline Face Studio range. The Revlon ones looked like a cheaper version of the much loved and far more expensive Bobbi Brown Shimmer bricks, while the Maybelline range had all sorts of good stuff, including blush/highlighters.

Australians may not realise that US drugstores generally don’t have testers, which makes for a different experience. You basically buy something and hope for the best. I can say that one of these products is amazing and the other is going to a new home after only a couple of uses.

I bought the Revlon Highlighting Palette in Rose Glow first – it seemed to be the right combination of shimmery bronzy pinks. There was also a bronze palette and a lighter, more gold palette to choose from but neither really appealed. Needless to say I wasn’t able to test it prior to purchase which is a shame, because it’s a total waste of money. I find it chalky and it has these enormous chunks of glitter that spray all over your face. Fifteen years ago I would of loved it but it seems like Revlon has really missed the mark on this. These are now out in Australia but I can’t say I recommend them.

On the other hand, the Maybelline Master Hi Light Hi-Lighting Blush in Nude is a great buy. It’s funny, I picked this up three or four times but kept putting it back, thinking I was just unnecessarily replicating the Revlon purchase. They are quite different – the Revlon is very pink and the Maybelline is a true nude, as the swatches show. However this is silky and shimmery, and leaves such a nice glow when used with a light hand. I don’t think this particular shade works as a blush as there isn’t enough colour, but there were some deeper hues in the line. I love this and there’s not a speck of glitter to be seen in it anywhere. I’d love for Maybelline to bring this range here as it’s quality stuff and I’m regretting not getting another couple.

Things I bought #36, 47, 73 & 91.

Suzanne Grae

I loves me some Tencel. I can’t help it, I was a teenager in the 90s so I grew up with thinking wide leg Tencel jeans were it and a bit. Now that it’s all coming back (though please, do not call it ‘chambray’ or plain old ‘denim’) I couldn’t be happier.

I love Tencel so much they should call me Tencel Washington. ZING!

No, seriously. I’ve bought four pieces in the material this year and already own a collarless jacket so I can comfortably say I could outfit myself in Tencel quite easily regardless of season. I bought a pair of shorts from Sussan reduced to just $20 that I’m looking forward to wearing come summer and I also grabbed a pair of pants in a jogger style from Sportsgirl for $30. Sadly these are long gone so there’s not much point recommending you head in-store.

The skirt above is my most recent acquisition and set me back $49.95 at Suzanne Grae. A saying that I really like is “if you change nothing, nothing will change” and I think this applies to fashion as well. I love Country Road, Witchery and J.Crew and the majority of my wardrobe comes from there, however I make a point to stick my head into random places like Suzanne Grae or Rockmans every now and then in the hope of unearthing a gem. I think some of those unexpected finds have turned out to be my favourites. This skirt is no exception – it’s soft and drapes well, is comfortable and long enough for a tall person to wear. I know this will get a massive run come summer and as someone who more often wears shorts, is an opportunity to mix it up.

47 New Look denim

My other favourite Tencel piece of the year is this New Look shirt which cost me $40 via ASOS. Again, it’s not available any longer but it ticked every box in what I was looking for in a denim shirt. The slightly Western styling, perfect colour and heavier weight material are spot on. I’ve had a look on ASOS and they do have New Look denim shirts however they are (sadly) not Tencel, however they do have a range of other great pieces all cheap as chips. There’s a cami that’s now gone on my wishlist. The New Look website also ships to Australia and they have a few different styles as well.

Thoughts of the week – 24/8

kate spade red shoes

1. I JUST CHANNING-ED MY TATUM. I cannot believe this has been in the world for a year and I am only just seeing it now. It’s beyond hilarious but I warn you, it’s catchy and once it’s in your head it won’t come out.

2. You know how sometimes you’re typing words into your computer but for some reason they don’t appear on screen – where do all those letters go? Do they go to a mysterious letter party somewhere?

3. The Revlon Moisture Stains are tres disappointing.

4. I can’t even start on how much love I have for the perfection that was the casting of Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy. Such a funny, awesome movie and he’s great in it. You’re the best, Andy Dwyer.

5. I came across this Buzzfeed list of 24 hair products that actually work and it must be reasonably spot on because I use five of them (John Freida Frizz Ease, Kerastase Masque Chrome Riche, Lush Big Shampoo, Tangle Teezer and spin pins).

6. Stevie Wonder has really gotten me through my public transport trips to work this week.

7. Thanks to everyone who gave advice re candles. I like the look of the Tanda ones but the scents seem more suited to summer for me. I ended up getting one of the new fancier Glasshouse ones in 5 Fleur Musquees.

8. Into the Gloss did Jenna Lyons and my world exploded.

9. My friend just came back from the US with packets and packets of Big Red chewing gum for me and I could not be happier.

10. I’m getting sick and I hate it. Cue the high potency vitamin C and cold and flu tablets.

Eye, eye

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More things on the list of products I bought in Hawaii that are now available in Australia – Revlon’s Bold Lacquer Grow Luscious Mascara and ColorStay ShadowLinks. I’ve seen these floating about in Priceline recently so I thought it would be timely to throw in my two cents worth in case anyone was considering them.

The Bold Lacquer mascara is a bit of a misnomer; there’s nothing bold or lacquerish about it. In fact it’s a fibrous type mascara with a wet finish and a bristle brush that easily gets clogged. I didn’t find it any darker or shinier than a usual mascara. At first I really didn’t like it but the longer I used it, the more I enjoyed it. It adds a decent amount of volume and a little bit of length, though it can be clumpy if you’re not patient. I found wiping down the wand with a tissue every second use of so made it apply a lot easier. This was nice but there are plenty of other better mascaras on the market.

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Revlon 4

The ShadowLinks are tiny rectangular eye shadows that link together with the idea that you can form your own ‘palette’. Each are less than an inch long so they are absolutely tiny and prone to getting a bit lost in your make up bag if they’re on their own. I bought the shimmery chocolate shade Cocoa from the 20-odd different colours available. There’s quite a large selection of shades with a heap of different finishes, so you’re bound to find one that will catch your eye (pun intended).

I’m ambivalent about these too. The pigmentation of Cocoa is pretty poor and it took me a couple of swipes to get the swatch above. That said, if you’re after a dark brown that’s softer and easier to apply, then this would be it. I find it layers well over other shades too. Even though this is the only ShadowLink I bought, my gut feeling is that it’s the kind of product where the quality varies from colour to colour. I would test them out before you buy and if you like, I think they’re going for around $8 each. They’re not must haves for me though.