Thoughts of the week – 21/9

1. PRELIM BABY, PRELIM. Beyond excited that my beloved Port Adelaide has made it so far in this finals series, their first time in a preliminary final since 2007. I was at that game (v North Melbourne at AAMI Park in Adelaide) and at the start of this year’s finals I changed my Facebook profile pic to a blurry selfie I took on the night. There’s your good luck charm right there.

2. Even more exciting was the phone call I received from a good friend early on Monday morning. I don’t have a membership this year so I was resigned to waiting until 2pm with the rest of the plebs to try and get a seat in the nosebleed section of the G where I would likely be alone and surrounded by Hawthorn supporters. Instead she invited me to a corporate function with a three-course meal, drinks and excellent seats, plus her wonderful company. I’m even more excited now if that was even possible.

3. Less exciting was the incredibly awkward wait through the week to see if Port would beat Freo to get through and what time the AFL would schedule the prelim. It was locked in for Saturday (Sydney get Friday night as they finished minor premiers) but a time wasn’t decided upon. I knew it would likely be earlier as both possible opponents for the Hawks were interstate teams that would want to fly back home after the game. The reason I was so worried is that a couple of months ago Julia and I booked tickets to see Sara Bareilles, which I had been really looking forward to. I knew it was footy finals time but the reality was it would only be about a one per cent chance my team would be playing on that night. Hello one per cent. The AFL confirmed the ridiculous time of 4.45pm for the final but luckily that will still give me time to get to the 9pm start at the concert.

4. One of my best friends and colleagues is a fanatical Hawks supporter and we’re devastated that I’m on secondment while our teams prepare to play each other in such a big game. It’s been text messages and Facebook comments and emails and memes at 20 paces though.

5. Port Adelaide v Hawthorn is really the battle of the hot captains. I’ll be the meat in a Travis Boak/Luke Hodge sandwich any day of the week.

6. Speaking of Boak, so very proud to see him and Robbie Gray make the All Australian team this week. Very much deserved.

7. Very happy to see Sydney make it last night and do such a number on North. They look pretty ominous and I have a feeling regardless of my game today, it could be year of the Swan.

8. Boomer Harvey is an absolute grub and always has been. Deserved the week and the MRP are kidding themselves.

9. Joel Selwood dressed as Jake King for the Cats’ Wacky Wednesday was utterly hilarious, especially when King dropped him off on a motorcycle.

10. I’ve discovered Titus O’Reily in the past couple of weeks and I don’t know how I lived without it. His sports satire blog and Twitter account are utterly hilarious.

11. Finally, for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the amount of football commentary and retweeting on my Twitter account over the past couple of weeks, rest assured the season is only a week from being over. I’ll calm down then.

12. Also for those reading this and thinking I have very little going on in my life at the moment, you would be wrong! In the next week I finish my three-month secondment and then head overseas for five weeks. Clearly though, football is the priority.

Get poppin’

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The Clinique Cheek Pop Blush was definitely on my must buy list for Hawaii. I’d seen the four shades reviewed on a heap of blogs and everyone and her grandmother seemed to love them. Plus that flower print is just super cute.

I bought Berry Pop which is a cool toned bright pink shade and not really your traditional berry. The formula is really creamy and if you press into the pan you can leave a dent. However it applies beautifully with a brush and leaves the loveliest pink glow on your cheeks. While it is reasonably pigmented, I found it easy to work with so no chance of looking like you have clown cheeks on the first stroke. There’s also no shimmer but it’s more a satin than a matte finish.

I’m a big fan of Berry Pop and it might have taken over from Tarte Amazon Clay Blush in Natural Beauty as my favourite pink. I’m also going to look at picking up another of these when I head overseas, probably the coral shade. They’re fantastic and very much recommended.

The happy list

Kors

September football finals time / Port Adelaide’s resurgence / Unexpected invitations / Anticipating plans / Jokes with my family / Soft new sweatshirts / The changing weather and not wearing a coat / Passport stamps / Friends who care and take an interest / Barbecue chicken on soft white rolls / Sleeping in / Twitter wit / Reading newspapers from the back / Red Bull on sale / Blogging and discovering new blogs / Reinventing my iPod playlist / Vintage finds after long searches / Being right in the best way / Daydreaming / Lucky nail polish / Uniqlo discoveries / Cold beers after work / Being missed / The Mindy Project season 3 about to start / Pineapple M&Ms and Freddo Faces / Titus O’Reily – the best / Long lunches / Heated debates and leisurely debriefs / New skincare / Re-reading old favourites / J.Crew sales / Fancy headphones / Free chocolate / Instagram stalking / Receiving parcels and packages / Hot football players without a shirt on / Counting down / Bottles of ginger beer / Linen and silk dresses / Blush / Big decisions / Imagining summer swims…

My current routine – September 2014

bathroom

Face

01. Cleanser: La Prairie Foaming Cleanser

02. Toner/lotion: Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2

03. Cream/moisturiser: La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo (day); Proactiv Refining Lotion, Neutrogena Anti Wrinkle Deep Wrinkle Night Moisturiser, La Roche Posay Redemic, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Concentrate

04. Facial Mask: Rodial Dragon’s Blood Hydraluronic Mask, Alpha H Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask, Wild Ferns New Zealand Rotorua Mud

05. Exfoliator: Alpha H Liquid Gold, L’Oreal Men Expert Pure Power Scrub

06. Make-up remover: Bioderma, Sanctuary Spa Ultimate Cleansing Oil

Body

07. Shower gels/soaps: Natio Orange Blossom Shower Gel

08. Body lotions/creams: Hamilton Urederm, Lolita Lempicka Body Cream

09. Nails: Revlon Color Stay Gel Envy Pocket Aces, Maybellline Color Show Sea-Quins

10. Body exfoliator: Beau Jardin Sugar Scrub in Citrus Grove

11. Foot cream: N/A

12. Lip balm or lip treatment: Smiths Rosebud Salve, EOS mint balm

13. Perfume: Fresh Cannabis Santal, Kate Walsh Boyfriend

Hair

14. Shampoo/conditioner: Lush Big Shampoo, Kerastase Elixir Ultime Shampoo, L’Oreal Elvive Fibrology Shampoo and Conditioner, Redwin Coal Tar Shampoo

15. Mask or other treatments/products: Schwarzkopf Moisture Gloss Mask, John Frieda Perfect Ends Deep Infusion Oil, Alterna 24-hour Volume Spray, David Babaii Bohemian Beach Spray

Make Up

16. Foundation: Max Factor Second Skin Foundation, Benefit The Big Easy, Revlon Skinlights Highlighter in Bronze

17. Powder: Revlon Photoready Bronzer

18. Blush: Clinique Cheek Pop in Berry Pop, Bourjois Cream Blush in 04

19. Mascara: Bare Minerals Lash Domination

20. Lipstick/lipgloss: L’Oreal Extraordinaire Orange Tempo, NARS Niagara, Bite Lush Fruit Lip Gloss in Garnet

21. Eyeshadow: Cargo eye shadow in Yukon, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, Clinique Chubby Stick for Eyes in Bountiful Beige

22. Eyeliner: Rimmel Scandaleyes Eyeliner in Taupe, Sephora Contour Eye Pencil in Cappucino and Snakeskin Dress

Five reasons to visit Kyoto

Golden temple Kyoto

Ah Japan, still one of my all time favourite trips. The whole country took me by surprise – I was expecting it to be alright and it turned out to be utterly amazing. Maybe there’s something to be said for a lack of expectations.

If Tokyo is modern Japan with all the lights, sirens, bells and whistles, then Kyoto is throwback to it’s past. The two cities could not be more different, with Kyoto still seemingly like a charmingly overgrown village. Some of Japan’s most beautiful temples are here and there is so many wonderful things to see, do and eat. Kyoto really honours it’s history and everything is beautifully maintained – this is the Japan of storybooks. You even see trainee Geishas wandering around.

If you are visiting Japan then you absolutely have to include Kyoto on your trip.

1. Kinkaku-ji – the Golden Pavillion

Kyoto’s most beautiful temple and possibly one of the most beautiful structures anywhere in the world. It’s covered in gold leaf and situated in the most serene, picturesque setting so it’s impossible to take a bad photo. I went during summer but I would love to go back and see it in winter, covered in snow. While you can walk all around the temple and the beautiful gardens, sadly you can’t go in.

2. Bamboo forest at Arashiyama

Possibly my favourite thing I have ever seen IN MY LIFE. I first saw a photo of the bamboo forest in the Lonely Planet guide and it was enough to make me put it on my list of things to see. It’s breathtaking and spectacular and utterly, utterly peaceful. I loved it and recommend it to everyone going to Japan. I think my love for it is also because I had such a great day all up when I went there – riding the quaint little street car to Arashiyama, visiting the wonderful Tenryu-Ji Temple and Zen gardens, eating the best street noodles and drinking an icy cold Sapporo at the train station before coming home. Arashiyama is on the outskirts of Kyoto so make a day of it as there’s plenty to see and do there.

3. Shimbashi

Otherwise known as possibly the most beautiful street in the world. Shimbashi is situated in the Gion district of Kyoto and runs alongside the Shirakawa river. Cherry trees border the street the whole way along and during blossom season it’s said to be absolutely breathtaking – I sent at dusk and it was gorgeous but any time of day would be amazing. This is Geisha headquarters and you’ll also see traditionally built restaurants, clubs and ryokan. This is an expensive part of the city but there are also plenty of other cheaper options in the area for a night out. I had fantastic tempura in a restaurant not far from here.

4. Nijo-jo Castle

Kyoto has the Imperial Palace and Nijo-jo Castle and I initially thought the former would be the most spectacular. Not so, the Imperial Palace is pretty underwhelming so use your time to visit Nijo-jo Castle instead. Traditionally occupied by the shogun, the impressive castle is surrounded by a moat and stunning gardens. You can take a tour through the castle and it’s amazing walking though beautiful traditional Japanese rooms that have borne footsteps for hundreds of years.

5. Japanese drugstores

Of course drugstores are everywhere in Japan but in Kyoto they seemed to be the best. The most incredible selection of cosmetics and skincare you’ll ever see with lots of Asia-specific ranges and diffusion lines from well known brands such as Shiseido. Honestly, I couldn’t understand half of what everything was but it didn’t stop me buying a truckload. Matsumoto Kiyoshi was my favourite and I could have easily spent hours in there just wandering around.

The not quites

 

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A couple of weeks ago I saw the Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stains on ASOS and got a little bit excited. Firstly, Revlon on ASOS? Who knew. Secondly these weren’t out in Australia yet and after seeing them on a couple of blogs, thought they would be right up my alley. After careful online research I chose two: Barcelona Nights, a dark fuchsia, and Miami Fever, a neon looking coral.

These would have to be one of the most disappointing products I’ve used in a long while. Honestly, they are just terrible. Usually I wouldn’t bother posting them but Priceline and Chemist Warehouse have been doing Revlon sales all over the place and I wanted to warn people against wasting their money. The Moisture Stains are clearly meant to be a cheaper version of the YSL Glossy Stains – the product looks similar, similar applicator and a similar initial look and feel on the lips. But where the YSLs are all class (and yes, a fair bit more expensive), these are gluggy and horribly patchy on the lips, plus there’s really no stain left at all after the gloss part wears away.

Revlon is better than this and they have a whole history of great lip products to back that up. My advice would be to avoid these completely and spend your pennies on the YSL version. If that’s out of your price range then go with the brilliant L’Oreal Extraordinaire glosses or the equally as fabulous new Maybelline Color Elixir lip gloss. Neither have staining qualities but they are amazing quality lip glosses and far superior in every way to this trash.

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Things I bought #34, 68 & 108.

34 H&M dress

When I first went overseas in 2007 I fell in love with H&M. Honestly, I couldn’t get enough. Here was all this cheap but great clothing, like nothing we could buy in Australia at that point. So many of the pieces from that trip seven years ago have held up and are still in my wardrobe today. Even in New York in 2011 I had a great run and came home with some great stuff, same again in Tokyo and Bangkok a year later. My love of H&M only grew from there and when I heard it was finally coming to Melbourne I was beyond excited.

I have to say that the results have been, for the most part, pretty disappointing. Last year when I visited in Italy and the UK nothing seemed to be quite right, both in terms of style and quality. All the cheap-but-great stuff seemed to be replaced with a pile of mass produced mediocrity. This makes me sad because as much as I can appreciate a great pair of YSL heels, I’m also a fan of a great $30 sequinned top. The Melbourne GPO store is beautifully appointed but the merchandise isn’t great and a year later I’m still seeing pieces I first saw in Europe last year. I’m hoping when I return to Europe in a couple of weeks H&M has returned to its former glory.

All of that said, a few of my best purchases this year have been from the H&M Melbourne store. Funny how that happens. The digital print dress above was a $30 score after lining up for half an hour a few days after the place opened. I’m a sucker for colour and a ruffle and this combines the two nicely, plus the cut is extremely flattering and the quality is decent. It’s the kind of dress that makes a bit of a statement so you can’t wear it too often, but it will be great to have up my sleeve for weddings and holiday parties. I actually saw quite a few in store the other day and they’re on sale, so if you’re in Melbourne and you like it then stick your head in.

My two other favourite purchases are both jeans. I can’t say H&M was ever really on my radar for great denim and I generally buy mine from Target (underrated) or ASOS (lots of variety) these days. But my indigo ASOS favourites have succumbed to stretching over a LOT of wears – I’m a one pair of jeans at a time kind of girl so they get worked pretty hard – and I needed a replacement. My preference is a skinny or straight cut with minimal detailing and a darker wash. The first pair I bought at H&M fit the bill nicely and are a stretch skinny in a deep blue with the slightest touch of grey and the perfect amount of fading. They also fit snugly at the waist and come in at the right amount at the ankle – I hate when there seems to be a lot of excess material there. A bargain for just $59.95. Earlier in the week I was having a poke through on my lunch break when I saw a pair on sale for $30 in a brighter, more traditional blue and so I grabbed those as well. One wear and they are perfection. Both pairs are also far better quality than I was expecting, which is another bonus.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is but H&M seems to do just enough to keep me hanging on. Damn you. And if you’re on the hunt for great jeans then definitely don’t overlook them.