July 23rd, 2015

Planning A Weekend Away – Checklist

Nothing refreshes the mind like a weekend away, especially one spent out in the middle of nowhere. It’s so much easier for me to relax if I take myself away from all of the things that need doing around the house (15 piles of laundry, anyone?), it’s almost like forced relaxation but I’ll take it in any way I can get it. I thought I’d write a little checklist of the steps I take when planning a weekend away, because nothing takes the stress away from organizing something like a good ol’ checklist.

Start by brainstorming/researching the area you want to visit – I live in Western Australia, and there are a number of country towns that can be explored in our south west region. We tend to stick to the main towns (Dunsborough, Margaret River, etc), but I like to do a bit of research on the area I want to visit to make sure it fits the bill for what I want out of the getaway. If we’re in the mood to do wine tours and eat a whole lot of fancy food, I’ll opt for somewhere like Margaret River. If we want to cut off from civilization and spend time in nature, Pemberton is a great way to go.

Check trip adviser for accommodation suggestions – God bless the internet, because I have no idea what people did to book accommodation before the glory of Trip Adviser. Having said that, be sure to read reviews as well as look at ratings, as ratings can go down if there is too much time between reviews. I try to look out for all of the important things – a comfortable bed, privacy, cleanliness etc.

Write a list of places you want to visit and things you want to see and do – A general internet search of ‘things to do in X’ should give you a general idea of the things there are to do in the town you’re visiting, but there are always some gems tucked away in a more in-depth google search. I don’t like having a set in stone plan of things to do on a trip like this, but having a general idea of what you can do and see around the area you’re staying is always a good idea.

Cover all your bases – You may be staying somewhere with no internet connection or TV satellite, especially if you’ve picked somewhere deep in the country away from the hustle and bustle. I always make sure to pack a deck of cards or board game to make sure we have something to do for entertainment if all else fails.

Plan your meals and write a food shopping list – If you’ve opted for a more relaxing getaway, you may need to think about what you’re going to make for lunches and dinners. As someone who needs to know where her next meal is coming from, I highly recommended thinking about the meals you’ll be having while you’re away, and making sure anything you need to make at your accommodation is covered.

Write a packing list – I will never be someone who can just throw everything into a bag and walk out the door. I will, however, always be the person who has a bandaid/tissue/spare pair of socks if you happen to have forgotten something. I guess that’s a good thing? I like to write out a packing list because it takes the thinking out of packing, and means I can get it done in 10 minutes and I always know I have what I need. Having said that, I like to pack as light as I can.

Confirm your reservation – A simple, but necessary step. You don’t want to drive 5 hours to your accommodation only to discover your booking has been lost in cyberspace. I’ve heard some horror stories like this, so I always double check the day before we leave.

Have I missed a step? Let me know in the comments below!

July 22nd, 2015

Holiday Snapshots – Pemberton (Scarlet Woods Chalets)

I booked a little getaway for us as an early celebration of Sebastian’s birthday, and it was heavenly. We both felt like we’d done the Dunsborough and Margaret River region a bit to death over the last year and a half, so I decided to branch out and find somewhere new for us to stay. After doing a bit of research online, I settled on the Scarlet Woods Chalets in Pemberton. As it turns out, staying somewhere with no internet connection and nothing to do except relax is a really wonderful thing. Granted, we did get out and about on one of the days we were there, but that time was spent hiking through a forest and exploring the small town of Pemberton. Nothing fast-paced, nothing fancy. Just good old fashioned relaxation. Our days basically went like this: sleep in, enjoy pancakes and bacon on the balcony while watching the fog roll into the valley and the kangaroos practicing their boxing out on the lawn, play monopoly while eating copious amounts of cheese and drinking scotch (or red wine), grilling on the BBQ, and enjoying freezing cold nights in the hot water of the jacuzzi on the balcony. Like I said, heavenly.
July 21st, 2015

How I use my Plum Paper Planner (and initial thoughts)

I recently made the decision to purchase a Plum Paper planner, and to set my Erin Condren planner aside for a little while. I don’t remember exactly what made me decide to do this, I think I might have just been feeling a bit sick of my Erin Condren and wanted to try something new. I haven’t changed too much in the way that I plan, but I thought I’d do a bit of a refresher so I could talk about my initial feelings about the Plum Paper planner.

I opted for this cover for the planner, as it was my favourite design on offer. This is really beautiful in person, but I will say that although it comes with a clear frosted plastic cover you can easily see wear and tear damage along the bottom edge of the card cover. I think a fully laminated cover is the way to go, if you’re someone who uses your planner on a daily basis. I’ve only had this for a month now, and it’s already showing some damage. Oh, and I’m loving the organizational tools I’ve put in place for my planning sessions. Having all of my pens/pencils/highlighters etc. in this clear acrylic organizer has made life a lot easier. I’ve also started using this receipt organizer to store all of my stickers in.

I’m using the monthly layout the same, and am still highlighting items to reflect what they relate to. Green is for bills/money and things to do with the house, pink is for social events, yellow is for work, blue is for gym appointments, purple is for my mortgage, and orange is for other reminders (family doctor appointments, birthdays etc). The week-at-a-glance page comes with this tickable checklist, which I love and have been using to track all of my to-dos for the week.

My week-at-a-glance section is similar to the Erin Condren, but the columns are narrow and are not broken into morning/day/night. For the first week or so I struggled a bit with how I was going to use this section, but I’ve found my flow with it now. The Plum Paper planners come with additional pages that you can add at a cost, and my favourite is the bill tracker. This is especially handy for people who are trying to track their budget and work out how much they’re spending on utilities each month.

Good
The design and aesthetic of the Plum Paper planner is superior to Erin Condren in a lot of ways. The colours are far more attractive and they flow better throughout the planner itself. I like that at the end/beginning of each month the previous month’s days are greyed out, rather than having the previous month’s colour scheme continuing on for a few days. It’s also far more attractive in general, there are less quotes and fussy patterns throughout the planner. If you prefer minimal design this will work better for you. Also, it’s cheaper. The Plum Planner with 3 additional monthly inserts (and stickers) and shipping came to $85 AUD. The Erin Condren planner plus stickers and shipping came to $142 AUD.

Bad
The paper is more glossy than the Erin Condren, which some people may not like. This actually works well with the pen I use (the Staedler pigment liner 0.5), so it’s not a huge con for me but might be for some. The stickers are also incredibly glossy, and every pen I’ve tried to use on them has slid off and smudged if I haven’t left it out to dry for a while. This is time consuming and kind of goes against all of the time-saving benefits planning offers us. The columns in the week-at-a-glance are more narrow than the Erin Condren one, so if you have any old stickers that you want to use they’re not going to fit perfectly. If you’re a bit of a perfectionist, this will be annoying. Oh, and as I mentioned earlier on in the post, the card cover is prone to wear and tear along the edges.

So that’s how I’ve been using my Plum Planner, and a few of my initial thoughts. If there is anything else you’d like to know about the Plum Planner or how I plan in general, or if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

July 20th, 2015

Sephora Haul (and how I order from the US site…)

Ordering from Sephora has become a sort of hit-and-miss process, which can be extremely frustrating (especially when I’m approaching the end of my favourite foundation). I recently placed an order, and thought it would be a good time to update you all on how I order things from the US Sephora site using a parcel forwarding service. Because I tend to order 4-5 products at a time (depending on cost), I find in the long run it ends up being cheaper for me to get things sent here from the USA. It was even better when the Australian dollar was strong but what can you do?! I posted a how-to style post on Hop Shop Go a couple of years ago, but their site has changed a little bit since then. This is how I order now –

Step One – sign up with Hop Shop Go. Hop Shop Go is my favourite parcel forwarding service. I know Australia Post offer something similar, but I’ve heard enough nightmare stories from people of their parcels going missing and Australia Post not doing much to help them out that I’m happy sticking with what I know. When you sign up with Hop Shop Go you’re issued a postal address, and you’ll need this for later. Please note: to use Hop Shop Go you will also need a PayPal account.

Step Two – sign up as a Sephora member. Sephora have a great rewards system, and you can accrue points to exchange for sample sized products and additional benefits (if you get enough points under your belt).

Step Three – get shopping! Hop Shop Go will not ship aerosols or nail polishes. So no perfumes, sprays, or the Sephora for OPI range for us. I’ve also found I have a much greater success rate with orders that fall under US $100, so I always stick to that. If you’re unsure what to buy from Sephora, see here. Please note: if your order gets cancelled, Sephora will hold onto your money for a few days. So if you’ve been squirreling away your pennies for a little splurge on makeup, you may have to wait a few days longer if your initial order is cancelled.

Step Four – time to order! As you progress to the checkout you’ll be asked for an address – this is where the Hop Shop Go personalized address comes in handy. When placing the order, I always use a VISA. Again, I’ve had more of a success rate with this so it’s what I stick to now. You should get a confirmation email regarding receipt of your order, and then a second email when your order has shipped. These usually come within two or three days.

Step Five – forward that parcel! You’ll receive an email notification when your order arrives at the Hop Shop Go facility. At that point you can log onto the site, click on ‘Ship + Track’ and go from there. My orders usually arrive within a week and are delivered by DHL.

To give you an idea of what a typical order will cost, I’ve broken it down for you. As I mentioned earlier in the post, the Australian dollar is performing terribly at the moment. This plays a big part in whether orders from the US are worthwhile.

Total cost of products at Sephora: $87 USD ($117 AUD)
+ Shipping (this is calculated on the weight of your package): $23.13 USD ($31 AUD)
Total = roughly $148 AUD

Total cost of products in Australia (with no shipping cost): $140.51

One of the big benefits of ordering from Sephora is the range of products available. The fact that I can order the only foundation I use from the site, but cannot find it anywhere in Australia is a big selling point for me.

And now for what I ordered! The main reason for my order was to pick up another tub of the Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, but I thought I’d pop another couple of staples into the cart to make shipping worthwhile. So I also grabbed another tube of my holy grail mascara – Lancome Hypnose, and my favourite go-to lip shade – the Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Conditioner in Rose. I was also gifted three free samples but I only picked two, the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, and the NUDE Skincare Progenius Omega Treatment Rescue Oil. Using my Sephora reward points I also picked up a deluxe sample size of Dior’s ‘Diorshow’ Mascara, and Bobbi Brown’s Long Wear Cream Shadow Stick in Shadow. Now I just need to sit back and wait for them to arrive!

July 17th, 2015

Thoughts of the week…

01) As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, there are rumours afoot that Bath and Body Works is opening an Australian store. I haven’t purchased anything from them in a while mostly because I couldn’t justify the cost of shipping, but if a store opens near me you best believe I will be buying them out of warm vanilla sugar products quick smart.

02) Things I did not know but am now excited about: Lana Del Rey is releasing a new album this year. The first song from the album has been released, and it’s lovely. It’s safe to assume this album will be my Summer jam.

03) Jen from Organized Jen (now Pretty Neat Living) is pregnant! Happy days.

04) Did you know Pepsi is a part-time food blogger?

05) Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are going to be in another movie together. Excellent.

06) Speaking of Amy and Tina

07) Trump your cat.

08) Bryan Cranston is the best.

09) This was my favourite thing on the internet this week.

10) This song gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and it’s one of my favourites from Joy William’s album. I absolutely love it.

July 16th, 2015

June Empties / Project 50 Pan (part 9)

39) Head & Shoulders Shampoo in Apple Fresh – This is the second bottle of this shampoo I’ve finished up while participating in the Project 50 Pan, and I’m already close to finishing another. This is Sebastian’s go-to shampoo, and I use it once a week or so to help clarify my hair. I actually really like the way this makes my hair feel, and the small is amazing. Apple scented hair products 4EVA.

40) Slatkin & Co Salted Caramel Scented Candle – I just had a big whiff of the remains of this candle, and it smells amazing. I picked this up from Bath & Body Works (from the US store using parcel forwarding) a couple of years ago, it’s one of their seasonal scents and unfortunately I haven’t seen it on their site since. I’ll be keeping a sharp eye out for the rumoured Australian Bath & Body Works store, perhaps they’ll stock it?

41) Philosophy Cookies & Cream Shower Gel – This smelled more like chocolate than anything else, but it was a real treat to use in a hot shower on a cold winter’s night. Delicious. These Philosophy 3-in-1 products are designed to be used as shower gel, shampoo, and bubble bath, but I only ever use them as a shower gel. It did the job well enough, but I don’t think I’d repurchase this scent again. Sebastian l-o-v-e-d this.

42) Tresemme Moisture Rich Shampoo & Conditioner – I like to include these little travel sized products as one full sized product, because it’s my challenge and I can do what I want! I really liked this shampoo/conditioner duo, the combination of the two left my hair feeling pretty amazing. I would definitely consider buying the full sized versions of these in the future.

43) MAC Matte Eyeshadow in Blanc Type – Yes, that is a whole eyeshadow. Gone. And I used every last little crumb of it. This shade works really well as an all over lid colour or a highlighter on me, but it probably wouldn’t show up that well on anyone darker than a piece of paper. I need to keep this somewhere handy so I can remember to ‘back to MAC’ it in 25 years when I finally finish enough MAC products to qualify.

July 15th, 2015

What We’re Watching – Winter 2015

The Simpsons – We recently finished up with ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, and this has become our new go-to short episode comedy show. We’re not really following any sort of pattern with episodes we’ve been watching, we just pick whichever episode tickles our fancy. Though this has been mostly episodes in seasons up until around season 10. Because early Simpsons is the best Simpsons. Obviously.

Mad Men – We’re slowly making our way through the entire series of Mad Men, and we’re currently at the beginning of Season 5. The show hasn’t dulled as the seasons have rolled on (although I’m bored to death of Betty Draper’s storyline), and we’re still excited to watch new episodes. I think we’ll miss this when we finally finish it up, but I’m glad we have the entire show to watch and don’t have to wait from week to week like people who got in early did. The benefits of being slow, I guess?

The X Files – I suggested to Sebastian that we re-watch The X Files in anticipation of the reboot next year and at first he wasn’t 100% keen but now he’s on board and it’s full steam ahead. We’re still on season one (one of the worst seasons, IMO), but we’re progressing steadily. This is one of my all-time favourite TV series, and the chemistry between Mulder and Scully will never die. Best TV couple in history, guys. The very best.

Orange Is The New Black – We got stuck back into this as soon as season three started up. So far it doesn’t seem to be as exciting as the previous couple of years (at least not right off the bat), but we’ll see how it develops as the season wears on.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians – This post is titled ‘what we’re watching’, but this one is mostly just me. Sebastian will only watch this if I force him to, which of course I don’t do because I’m not that cruel. Any time that I have free to watch TV on my own (usually only when Sebastian’ travels for work) is spent watching The Kardashians. It’s a ridiculous show, but I love it.

July 13th, 2015

Product Review: Palmolive Body Polish

A truly great shower gel has to smell so good you want to eat it, right? Well if you agree with that statement you’re going to love these new releases from Palmolive. “An exfoliating bodywash gel, Palmolive Body Polish promises to renew and revitalize the skin with naturally derived super fruit extracts containing anti-oxidant properties.” Sounds pretty good, right? All three of these smell really good, and yes they do smell like something I want to eat. So that’s a win. My favourite of the three scents is Acai Berry. Something about it sent me right back to high school, it’s very reminiscent of something I used around that time. The lovely little trip I took down Nostalgia Lane while using this in the shower one evening was quite wonderful actually (isn’t it funny how a scent can instantly transport you away to a different time and place?). I really liked these as a shower gel, but to be honest they didn’t do much for me in the way of exfoliation. I’m used to sugar scrubs that really get in there and work at your skin, these are far more gentle. They work wonderfully as a shower gel, they lather up a lot, smell amazing, and leave the skin feeling smooth and moisturised. If you’re in the market for a cheap and cheerful body wash you can pick up while doing your groceries, definitely check these out. The Palmolive Body Polish retails for $6.99 AUD (for 400ml) and are available for purchase from major supermarkets and pharmacies nationwide (please note: product was sent for consideration for review).
July 11th, 2015

Thoughts of the week…

01) My Plum Planner arrived! I’m really excited to be using it, I love the design so much more than Erin Condren. It has it’s positives and negatives though, so I’m planning on writing a full review post to let you all know what I think.

02) So the X Files were teasing about something being released on 07/07, and it was a couple of seconds of new footage from the new season. How exciting.

03) Joy William’s album Venus is finally out! Go and download a copy ASAP, it’s beautiful.

04) Guys, you need to see Magic Mike XXL. Need.

05) This article on crows is absolutely fascinating. I love crows.

06) We saw Terminator: Genisys last weekend, and it wasn’t as terrible as everyone had made it out to be. I think having low expectations might have helped.

07) GOOSEBUMPS MOVIE TRAILER!

08) I wish Conan had crashed my Magic Mike XXL girls night.

09) I will never not find this funny.

10) Don’t forget to enter our PhysioGel giveaway!

July 10th, 2015

July Goals

I’ll preface this post by saying there is less than six months to go until Christmas. If that doesn’t strike excitement into the pits of your belly we obviously don’t see eye to eye on how amazing Christmas is. Here’s how I went with my goals for June

– Have a board game night with the family
– Clean out the bathroom cupboard
– Plan a fun Magic Mike XXL viewing night with my girlfriends
– Make potato & leek soup
– Go for a walk along the coast
– Start planning a mini holiday for Sebastian’s birthday

Three out of six ain’t bad I guess? A 50% success rate, that’s how I’ll look at it. I haven’t been able to convince anyone to come for a walk along the coast with me, so that’s been postponed for a bit. I still haven’t cleaned out the bathroom cupboard, mostly because it’s reached the state where it’s a full blown effort and I just can’t be bothered dealing with it. I didn’t make potato & leek soup, but I did make a yummy lamb, vegetable, and barley soup, so that’s something. Here are my goals for July –

– Finish organizing (and go on) a mini holiday for Sebastian’s birthday
– Clean out the bathroom cupboard
– Go to see a dietician
– Organize (and go to) Sebastian’s birthday events
– Do my tax return
– Get my eyes tested (I’m due!)

This is a pretty easy list for me to achieve in July, but there’s nothing wrong with that! What’s on your list of goals for the month?

Tags: