December 29, 2015

Toodles 2015, Hello Shiny New 2016

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Well this year has been one for a few changes, and before the year is finished, I'd like to reflect on the highlights and poignant parts of the year. I think it's become a blog tradition for me to reflect, as this is my online diary of sorts and I like to keep myself in check and to ensure I count my blessings. 

Last year's reflection post was interesting. I spoke about being on a windy path to happiness and ended it with a toast to everyone (myself included) to finding self fulfilment, new adventures, stopping to smell the roses and making brave decisions.

Well I did indeed make some brave decisions and we have had some new and fun adventures... but I am still very much jogging along the windy path and will never really see myself getting off. I'm still excited for the challenges and goal kicking that is going to happen in 2016.
And so this year's reflection can be summed up by my top 5 memorable and important points:

December 13, 2015

Cavalier Espresso's Christmas French Toast

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This blog has been neglected a little in the last couple months but I assure you I haven't forgotten about it. I have about 30 odd post ideas sitting in draft which I haven't executed yet because I've been working hard on makeup and hair practise and concentrating on my little business, whilst working as a senior business analyst/consultant during the week, leaving me not much quality brainpower to post anything that I feel 100% happy with!

I did want to quickly check in to say that I had a beautiful brunch with Jase at the cafe just downstairs from our apartment; Cavalier Espresso. We're regular coffee orderers from this cafe now and have brunched there on quite a number of occasions, but last past weekend, they served up something spesh ;)

October 20, 2015

Triple C Energy Balls

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Bikini and shorts season is on the horizon and I am probably not the only one that is a bit self conscious about what has stored up during winter! Lately, I've inserted a few health-kick foods into our diet at home because as much as I love snacking on chips whenever I'm famished, - justifying it with an equalising workout - I know that's not going to help with getting into fighting shape for the summer.

I've been meaning to give these protein balls or energy balls a go for awhile now, and managed to try some at a Boost kiosk right before we boarded our flight to Hawaii. They were simply delicious and I needed to replicate them at home stat! 
These chocolate, coconut, & chia seed balls, that I like to call Triple C Energy Balls, hits the spot when you're kinda hungry and low on energy but want a snack without the guilt trip afterwards. There's no sugar, no flour, no eggs, no dairy, none of the traditional baking stuff, which I find odd ...but pretty oddly refreshing!
Jase loves them and I've made them half a dozen times since tinkering around with a few recipes. There's no baking here, you just need a small food processor for blitzing. They should be made in 15 minutes!

Click after the jump for the recipe!

October 08, 2015

Favourite Finds #2

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[Photo of a delicious Dole Whip taken at the Dole Plantation farm in Hawaii]

When I first built up this list of links (at least a month back - WHOOPS), the weather here in Sydney was torrential rain, windy and grossly cold. Just when I thought I put my winter coats and tights away because Spring/Summer was here, I pulled them right back out again. And then over this past long weekend, the glorious sun and hot winds came out blazing and we were treated to temperatures of 30+ degrees celsius. This is what you get for living in a country full of extremities.
No matter where you are though, I hope you find some time to yourself to unwind, relax, grab an iced tea (or hot cuppa) and perhaps feel entertained or compelled to expand your mind a little while you thumb through the following list. I know it took a long time to post another one of these. So I've blown out this time and have 20 odd favourite finds (reads) to share :)
As usual, you'll see a mixture of good reads themed around personal entries, funny reads, business-y subjects, girl-power and a mix of interweb finds ranging from unusual, funky and pretty things, beauty bits (and perhaps a quick fire review), life enhancing and uplifting ideas.

September 22, 2015

Almond Brittle

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What's this? A food post? Where did that come from? it's only been, oh I don't know... FOREVER. I do apologise. I shot these photos in June so that's how long it's been since I've shared a food related post but fret not my friends, the food mojo is picking up again.

September 11, 2015

Pearls of Wisdom For Myself

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Today's my birthday and I'm feeling like a wise (old) owl today, so I thought it would be nice to write down a few bits of advice and what I've learnt in the last year, kind of like those posts where you write to a younger version of yourself, but I'd like to write this to myself a year ago. A time when I left my corporate job, stuck 2 fingers up to the sky (peace sign of course) and proclaimed #yolo.

Your time in Europe with Jase is precious. 5 weeks is going to fly by and you're going to pine for more when you come home. Cherish it always and if you forget for a moment how lucky you were to experience 5 weeks of bliss on the other side of the world, sort out your thousands of photos and edit that video already!

Your patience will be tested and you have to believe that things happen for a reason, things in life are timed for a reason. Trust in the timing. Everyone's timelines are different. Opportunities will come in their own time as long as you put the effort in.

That nagging feeling you have had about pursuing your hair and makeup dreams are not going to go away anytime soon (they haven't gone away for almost 10 years). It's probably going to take you almost the end of your 8 months off to realise this, but when you do realise that the opportunity is NOW....take action and keep working hard. Something that has always been part time can become full time. Yes it's not going to pay the bills at first but you can find a balance between your analytical and creative brain and take up contract roles in the corporate world. Make it work for you. 

If you're going to preach the #yolo mantra, go hard or go home. 

You hate quitters, so don't even think about being one yourself. Stop worrying about the things you can't do and find ways to do things with what you CAN do. Everything always has a workaround.

Remember those that have supported you all along. Take stock of those peeps that raise your spirits and lift their hand up to you for high fives... and forget the ones that doubt your dreams or simply don't care. You're getting too old for that crap.

Aspire to the successes of others and remember they also fought hard for their dreams. You will have to as well. 

Learn learn learn. You can never know enough about your craft(s), and you can always learn more about other people's perspective on things. 

You're going to want to go out less than before... it's okay. You're allowed to be more introverted in your older age. Own it. But don't be too much of a hermit.

What do I hope for my next year after this birthday?
  • Tick off my never ending to-do lists, or stop calling them to-do lists and re-label them "brainstorming sessions"
  • Carry on practising patience and mindfulness. Remember to be thankful that I have the luxury to make the decisions I can afford to make today... others aren't so lucky.
  • Carry on learning. 
  • Commit to the workout plan. 30 minutes a day is NOTHING.
  • Plan the next eye-opening trip... hello NYC take 2! Don't take Australian beaches for granted!
  • Remember whatever I end up doing or decide to do for myself or our family, happiness, above all, is always the most important thing.
I'm off to celebrate my birthday, starting with a day off to get my hurrrr did. Brunch, cheeky wines, quality time with friends, french crepes, beach time, a nice dinner out and catching "Straight Outta Compton" is also on the agenda! Have a great weekend! 


September 08, 2015

30+ Days with Hylamide

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I feel like my skin story is a never ending novel, this is probably Maria’s skincare story Part 3; Serums.
Until recently, I never saw the need for serums. I gave into the hype of the Estee Lauder Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher once after hitting my quarter century and felt like it didn’t do me any good. It was like applying slippy silicone on my face with no real visible results. I didn't having any wrinkles back then, and luckily still don't, but I like to prescribe to the mathematics theory that acne-prone skin = zero to few wrinkles (do not hold me to that one). From what I've read though, moisturisers can only protect the skin so much and the potent workers are really, serums.   With my birthday coming up, I’m well into my 30’s, and having spent a lifetime growing up under the kiwi sun as well as the Aussie sun, it’s probably time I tried to see how serums could improve my skin texture while prolonging its elasticity while I still have it.

August 31, 2015

Bye Bye Winter, Hello Spring

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Cowl Neck Knit (Country Road sold out, similar here , here and here)

I pretty much skipped on posting any fashion/style posts through all of winter.  It has been especially arctic in Sydney this year and I was just in hibernation mode,  really trying to knuckle down on building my hair and makeup portfolio, and then of all days I've decided to post on the last day of winter.

So here's saying bye bye to winter with one of my favourite knits of the season.  This may not be the best time for wardrobe inspiration in Australia as we head into spring but I would place bets that this is a great kind of piece to have on stand by in the closet.  A classic and neutral camel shade with versatility in wear. It feels cozy like a blanket, yet you can wear it either as a loose cowl neck top or a shoulder baring top for some extra sexiness. Dress it up with a pencil skirt and heels or dress it down like I have, with ripped denim.

While the peeps up north of the globe are saying hello to winter, I am very much looking forward to the warmer months to come down under, winding the clock an hour back, and veeerrryyyy much anticipating flowy boho maxi dresses,  gladiator sandals, bronzed skin and beachy hair, I can't wait!


August 13, 2015

Style Is Eternal

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I've been slowly purging my wardrobe of all those items that I seem to cling onto in the hopes of "one day it will be in again" or "one day I will fit it again". The goal is to only hold onto the classic items that can see me through day and night, season to season. This must be a grown up thing, but I'm seeing the need to de-clutter more and more and investing in timeless pieces that are made well and can last the distance is becoming more important.

YSL fashion house is legendary and has been around since the 60's, and while I saw all the fashion within the pages of Vogue, I didn't take a whole lot of notice until I was drawn to the YSL beauty campaigns that came later and then became a constant admirer of the whole brand from afar.
Known for their androgynous style and the introduction of the tuxedo suit for women, this year, the iconic Le Smoking jacket has been modernized via the 'Iconic' Smoking Jacket. Aside from that little black dress that everyone always talks about, I think there's nothing like a good fitted blazer that could be dressed up or dressed down to suit your current mood. A well made black blazer would never succumb to the threat of being tossed out of the wardrobe.

I'm not yet close to investing in a YSL Jacket, but a girl can dream and save her pennies.
Here's my dream wish list for a complete Saint Laurent look that will last through the ages. All the items in this set are streamlined, chic, and a good mix of textures. All the pieces are great on their own, and are interchangeable with so many other pieces for dressed down or dressed up options. Change the striped sweater out for a crisp white shirt or white t-shirt for an even cleaner look. Dress the set down by swapping out the leather pants for ripped denim and change out the red pumps for low top sneakers. Swap the tote out for a classic black clutch and you've elevated the look to something suitable for evening. Whack on a red lip and a sleek low bun, or wear your hair out in beachy styled waves and a neutral lip. 
I could go on forever as the style options within this set are endless. 

"Fashion fades, style is eternal" - Yves Saint Laurent


* I was reached out by Farfetch to come up with a Saint Laurent collection set that was timeless in style. See the full Saint Laurent collection here

June 29, 2015

Swatch Of The Week 3 - MAC VIVA GLAM VI Lipstick

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Much like the last post, this series of beauty posts is purely to swatch lip colours and a quick synopsis of my thoughts. A dictionary or gallery of lip colour references if you like. No perfecting, straight out of the tube lip swatching action. If the lip product needs the aid of a brush or a cotton bud/q-tip, primer, extra layers etc I’ll definitely make that known.

This is all in the name of helping others find the right shade of lipstick, that lipstick that might just brighten up your day and inspire you to pop a bit of colour or nude in your life, and also selfishly, a reminder to myself of what I have in my stash.
No "season appropriate" colour discriminating here, anything goes. If you would like me to swatch a lippie, please let me know in the comments below.

No swatch fest is complete without this cult brand! This week I'm trying on: MAC Viva Glam VI

June 25, 2015

A Dark Chocolate Tart made by JLP

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Today's post is brought to you by JLP aka Jason loves pretty aka Jase baked a dark chocolate tart. Follow the link to see which recipe he used for this deliciously more-ish dessert :)

June 23, 2015

Favourite Finds

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If you're one of those peeps that like to go online to look up a specific item, then find an hour later you are YouTubing best fails of 2015, this is maybe the kind of post you like.
Every now and then I'm going to plop down my favourite links around the globe. They're most ideal for those times you have a bit of time to kill on the train to work, need some advice, want to know about things you don't know, or some general inspiration and tips for a bit of zing in your life.
I like to visit links I haven't seen before and my phone/Evernote app is full of screenshots and links that I like to save for a rainy day and feel like sharing the love among friends. You may find some bits and bobs about my opinions on things. Read on if you like :)

Here are my current favourite finds.
1.  4-7-8 sleep method for insomniacs.

2.  Mac matte lipsticks to come in permanent including shades that match current lip liners, I have my eye on Kinda Sexy. Velvet Teddy and Heroine are in the line up for future MLP Swatch of the weeks!

3.  Blogilates 3 min abs (now no one has excuses for no time... this is literally just one song's worth of abs) or the 8 min swimsuit slim down. I was shocked at how much I was dying during these few minutes. If you feel like a challenge, how about 1000 abs? I may be a bit nuts, but I want to work my way up to this! If any of you guys are going to try this out, lets keep each other motivated!

5.  Cat Thug Life…I can’t get enough of cat antics or of any animal thug for that matter

6.  If you ever want to nosy in a fashion makeup artist’s kit, prepare to have your jaw drop at Val Garland’s makeup kit (warning it is a heart emoji eye inducing 46 min long video). If you don't know who she is, she's well, only one of the world’s most famous and well respected makeup artists. It's really refreshing to see she does not discriminate between high end and drug store makeup brand, she only likes to use what works... ahhhh, a lady after my own heart. Now if only Pat McGrath would open up even one of her 8 makeup suitcases for a show-and-tell ey?

7.  Also in the same vain, I've finally started to crack into the ultimate beauty companion; Pretty Honest by well renowned beauty writer; Sali Hughes, whether you’re just starting to peak an interest in beauty, a bit of a beauty noob, a beauty fanatic, this book is a great read and I’ve learnt a few new bits and bob advice from a few chapters so far.

Currently also reading... Paris Pastry Club.  You didn't think I would be reading novels would ya?Reading this probably doesn't help my thighs but ... the sweet anecdotes with the most perfectly organised sectioning of recipes, I especially love the section of recipes that serves ONE. This also contains the most useful tips, like did you know you could get the most perfect dent on top of a loaf cake by piping a bit of butter down the middle of the loaf? 

Umm... this is possibly my holy grail mascara for my non existent stubby lashes. Max Factor Masterpiece Glamour Extensions Volumising Mascara. WOW.  I spotted Chloe Morello plopping this mascara on her lashes and heart eyed emojis grew at the sight of her lashes elongating right before my eyes. Granted, I don't have the length of Chloe's lashes, but man I can really fake it till I make it with this mascara. Apologies for the close up phone pic, but I couldn't take a better pic of my eye with the big camera. I like to think that the legendary Pat McGrath had a hand at developing this little wonder, and this just confirms to me what a living legend/makeup Goddess she really is. There's another one called Masterpiece Transform High Impact Volumising and the names just all get really confusing (I had to check the website 4 times to double check whether I typed the right name), but let me tell you they are all SO WORTH IT. 


oh and if you're a non-bride kind of bride, don't forget to check out the new issue of Hello May. My dream is to be featured here some day. Have u checked out this band Duke? I was recently lucky enough to get the opportunity to do Hair and Makeup for their lead singer; Josie. GORGEOUS.

11.  An example of working from the bottom and getting to the top of your game; How Rachel Zoe Made It. The hard yards do eventually work out. 

12.  5,4,3,2,1 guide to packing light for travel


June 18, 2015

Swatch Of The Week 2 - Colour Pop Lippie Stix in Heart On

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Much like the last post, this series of beauty posts is purely to swatch lip colours and a quick synopsis of my thoughts. A dictionary or gallery of lip colour references if you like. No perfecting, straight out of the tube lip swatching action. If the lip product needs the aid of a brush or a cotton bud/q-tip, primer, extra layers etc I’ll definitely make that known.

This is all in the name of helping others find the right shade of lipstick, that lipstick that might just brighten up your day and inspire you to pop a bit of colour or nude in your life, and also selfishly, a reminder to myself of what I have in my stash.
No "season appropriate" colour discriminating here, anything goes. If you would like me to swatch a lippie, please let me know in the comments below.

Anyone with a sense of humour will love the descriptions and the way this brand has a bit more spunk than your regular makeup brand! This week I'm trying on: Colour Pop Lippie Stix in Heart On

June 15, 2015

All Tucked In

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Scarf: Seed Heritage (also in black) | Coat: Bershka | Jeans: Zara | Shoes: Zara

We have had a few weeks of pretty cold weather here in Sydney and I have to say I have well and truly lost my Kiwi skin. I find myself donning coats, woollies and stockings during colder temperatures here, when you would have found me wearing skirts with bare legs in the same temp back in Auckland circa 2009.

Nothing is better than being rugged up and all tucked in a big blanket scarf. This scarf is so soft, its seriously giving me life haha. It prolongs that same warm and cozy, stay-in-bed feelings, like the ones that make you continually hit snooze on your morning alarm and has you not wanting to get out of bed :)


June 09, 2015

Swatch Of The Week 1 - Maybelline Color Drama in Fab Orange

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This series of beauty posts is purely to swatch lip colours and a quick synopsis of my thoughts. A dictionary or gallery of lip colour references if you like. No perfecting, straight out of the tube lip swatching action. If the lip product needs the aid of a brush or a cotton bud/q-tip, primer, extra layers etc I’ll definitely make that known.

This is all in the name of helping others find the right shade of lipstick, that lipstick that might just brighten up your day and inspire you to pop a bit of colour or nude in your life, and also selfishly, a reminder to myself of what I have in my stash.
No "season appropriate" colour discriminating here, anything goes. If you would like me to swatch a lippie, please let me know in the comments below.

May 28, 2015

Plain & Simple

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While I have been slowly editing down my wardrobe into staple classics with the addition of a few seasonal trends, I love nothing more than turning to the classic white tee + comfortable denim combo. But on occasion you have to look a bit more pulled together, and nothing elevates a simple white tee + denim combo more than a pair of heels.   

May 11, 2015

Minted Art + Mia Loves Pretty + A Giveaway! - CLOSED

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Our walls at home are pretty outdated. In fact all we have on the first floor are 13 framed pictures on the big wall above our couch, with photos dating pre-2010 to 2012. A big 12 slot picture frame, with photos dating pre-2010 to 2012. And lastly a 3 slot picture frame from Thailand, with photos dating, you guessed it, pre-2010 to 2012. Upstairs, we have a small hallway mirror which I have taken off the wall to use as a makeup mirror in our office, some very outdated Florentine prints (so outdated I don't even notice them anymore) and then a watercolour print that we bought from paris which is now peeling off the wooden canvas that it has been DIY mounted on. Pretty sad.

While I know our current rental is not our forever home, I think it's about time we change out some of the photos we have hung up, and its also time for a bit of a wall spruce up.

 We have a lot of off-white walls but also a dark navy wall features on one side of the whole apartment. I recently bought THIS hexagon copper mirror set from Ikea based on these inspirational photos that I love, and have been scouring the interwebs for some affordable art prints which could  also help brighten up the common walls around our apartment in a cheerful and pretty , yet clean and uncluttered kind of way.

(Photo credit: No Home Without You)

(Photo credit: Binti home

Low and behold, it was like fate when Minted recently approached me and asked if I was interested in having a gander at the range of products they offer on their website. While I knew they had a beautiful range of wedding stationery and a wonderful range of general stationery, I did not know they had a collection of art.

May 08, 2015

Why Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation Is My Bae

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Yes you read right, I used the word "Bae". I couldn't think of a more current, affectionate and trendy term to describe my current favourite foundation. Why is Nars All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation my favourite?

April 28, 2015

Kumara & Feta Tortellini

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I think it's time for a meal that makes you feel all cozy and comfy indoors.

April 09, 2015

Bliss in Monterosso

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Cinque Terre is absolutely beautiful. 

March 31, 2015

A Creme Puff Nest That'll Knock You Out

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This is a home made treat to make this weekend. A nest of Creme Puffs, that'll make you so giddy you'll be laying eggs for Easter :)

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