Meal Planning

I’m close to three months into doing my meal planning monthly instead of on a week-by-week basis, and I’m loving it. I used to enjoy my weekly meal planning, but found that I was repeating a lot of meals and kept getting stuck in a rut. It’s also a lot easier to opt for take away on lazy days when you don’t already have something planned in advance (not a good thing). I’m trying to work a couple of new recipes in each month in the hope that my regular “routine” of recipes will expand over time. Here’s a general idea of how I go through and plan my meals for the month, based on the days of the week. I try to sit down for about half an hour at the end of each month and set up the plan for the following month all in one go. Of course it is flexible, as life can sometimes get in the way, but I find having a whole month’s plan in place has really saved me time and energy. Oh, and keep in mind that as well as these general rules I also pencil in one night a month for us to go out for dinner, and one for us to have takeaway –

Monday: I try to make this meal something nice and light, usually fish or chicken.
Tuesday: Tuesday night is Mexican night! We usually have something like beef or chicken tacos/burritos. Nice and easy and fast to prepare.
Wednesday: Wednesday night is RED MEAT night. Sebastian is a huge red meat eater, so this night is usually catered for him. Steak or lamb is usually on the bill.
Thursday: I try to make a kind of chicken dish on a Thursday night, chicken is easy to use in so many different recipes that this is one of the easiest nights to pick a recipe for.
Friday: I’m usually exhausted on a Friday night, so if we have something fun planned (like dinner from our favourite Thai restaurant), I’ll try and plan it for Friday so I don’t have to worry too much about cooking.
Saturday: I usually have more time to spend preparing and cooking, so I’ll usually try to pick a new recipe or something a bit more time consuming for Saturday nights.
Sunday: Sunday night is usually a heartier sort of meal, and always something that we will have leftovers remaining for Monday’s lunch.

FOTN: Date Night @ The Casino

Here’s a fun little fact about me – I am pretty much obsessed with pokie machines (in particular the keno ones). I can smell them a mile away. Sebastian and I went on a date night to Crown Casino on the weekend, and I discovered something even better than keno machines… Electronic roulette. We spent most of the night sitting and playing the electonic roulette, and I had a win of $60! Which was surprising as I very rarely/never win anything. Let’s not mention the fact that Sebastian came THIS CLOSE to winning $25,000. After a successful time at the Casino (for me at least), we headed out for a rather unsuccessful dinner at Mom’s Dumpling House. Definitely not my favourite dumpling house in Perth, but I’m always happy to try something new. Here’s what I wore on my face:

Givenchy Photo Perfextion Foundation in Perfect Ivory
NARS Creamy Concealer in Vanilla
Laura Mercier Loose Powder in Translucent
Josie Maran Cream Blush in Sunshine
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light
Inglot Eyeshadow in #390
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Black
Maybelline Master Precise Liner in Black (yes, I use two kinds of liquid eyeliner)
Hourglass Arch Brow in Dark Brunette
Lancome Hypnose Mascara in Black
Hourglass Panoramic Lip Pencil in Icon
Chantecaille Lipstick in Cerise

Current Skin Care Routine

It’s been a little while since I last shared my skin care routine, and only a few products have changed. It’s so nice to have a holy grail collection of skin care products that I know my skin loves, and I can add different things to my routine to mix it up from time to time. I’ve discovered over the years that regular exfoliation is the best way to help keep my skin clear, but now that I’m in my 30s I’m also focusing on hydration and trying to keep everything looking and feeling nice and ‘supple’. Here are the products I’ve been using on a regular rotation recently –

Paula’s Choice Hydralight One-Step Face Cleanser – No surprises here. This has been my favourite cleanser for many years now. It’s gentle on my sensitive skin, and helps to keep breakouts at bay. I like using this with the Eve Lom muslin cloth in the mornings, it’s a small step that makes a big difference.
Paula’s Choice Healthy Skin Refreshing Toner – Again, not a big surprise as I’ve mentioned this as my favourite toner quite a few times now. It’s light, gentle, and gets the job done.
Dermalogica Active Moist – I have two favourite daytime moisturisers, and this is one of them. I tend to alternate between this and the Paula’s Choice Hydralight Moisture Lotion, but as the weather has been a bit colder lately I’ve been using Active Moist as I feel like it’s the heavier and more moisturising of the two.
Paula’s Choice Shine-Free Daily Mineral Complex – Always wear sunscreen! I thrive on people telling me I look younger than my years, and I probably owe most of it to never going out in the sun. When I do go out in the sun, however, I always make sure I’m wearing sunscreen and this is my all time favourite facial sunscreen. I have oily(ish) skin, and this somehow makes everything look nice and matte. It also wears nicely under makeup, and doesn’t leave a white cast to the skin (although that can be hard to determine with a ghostface like mine).
Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Oxidant Concertrate Serum – I was always scared of using serums during the day because I thought they might enhance the oilyness of my skin, but this one is divine, and does no such thing. I honestly feel like this makes a noticeable difference in the state of my skin, so it’s now a regular in my daily skin care routine.
Skinceuticals C + AHA – GIMME ALL THE SKIN ACID! I’ve been using this every other day for a couple of weeks now, and the biggest difference I can see in my skin is that it has really evened out my skintone and reduced a lot of my natural redness.
Skinceuticals Clarifying Clay Masque – I am confident in saying this is the best clay mask I’ve ever used. No word of a lie. I bought this on a bit of a whim because I wanted to try some things from the Skinceuticals range, and I ended up loving this. It’s a little bit on the expensive side, but I think it will last long enough for me to get my money’s worth. It’s a very light mask, unlike any of the clay masks I’ve tried before. It’s easy to wash off, and my skin is left feeling soft and smooth and not irritated in any way.
Skinstitut Hydrating Mask – Another really wonderful mask, this gives an instant hydration boost to my skin. I know I’ll be using this a lot as the colder weather really starts to set in.
Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Wipes – I had a bit of a skincare splurge around Christmas last year, and this was one of the products I picked up. I’d used this a few years ago (and loved them), but the price tag does make them hard to just throw into a basket. They’re really worth the cost though, as great chemical exfoliation that plays nicely with sensitive skin can be hard to come by.

May 2016

Well my triumphant return to blogging is not really off to a great start… sorry about that. I managed to cross a couple of things off of my list of goals for April, but didn’t manage to write a post about any of them. We finished painting our house, I kind of participated in the readathon, but life got in the way and we ended up going on a country drive instead (see snapshot above). I have not yet set up our home office, but now that we’re set up with all the storage solutions we need I will hopefully cross that off the list this month. We did go and see Captain America, but it didn’t end up being a full-blown date night as expected, as I was sick and ended up in hospital. Luckily we managed to go back a couple of days later and watch the movie in its entirety. Onwards and upwards I guess, and into the wonderful month of May. We are only 7 months away from Christmas! #hooray Here are my goals for this month-

Goal 1: Take books to the book exchange
Goal 2: Re-do the herb garden in the back yard
Goal 3: Attend a themed pot luck dinner party
Goal 4: Set up the home office

40 Book Challenge (part 1)

OK, so there is a bit of a backlog as I have not written a book post in 2016, but on the plus side, thanks to my re-reading of a lot of nostalgic books from my childhood I am already 45% done with my challenge for this year. Thanks, Sweet Valley High. Sorry if the earlier reviews aren’t very detailed, I’m struggling to remember my thoughts on some of the books. Anyhoo, here’s what I’ve read in 2016 so far –

Sanctuary Bay by Laura J Burns & Melinda Netz (5/10) – This was a book provided to me by Netgalley, and to be honest it was something I probably wouldn’t have picked up if it wasn’t free. Having said that I didn’t mind this book (from what I can remember), it was suspenseful, interesting, and had it’s share of creepy moments.

Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer (4/10) – I remember this being an easy “beach read”, and really enjoyed the setting of Nantucket. Maybe because I am obsessed with the idea of holidaying in the Hamptons?

If You Dare by A.R. Torre (5/10) – This is the third book in the Deanna Madden series, and my least favourite of the series so far. I love the idea of the Deanna Madden character (my inner introvert loves the idea of being locked away from society and never having to leave the house), but she lost a bit of her shine in this book. I won’t say too much about the plot as it ties in with the rest of the series, but I will say I’ll definitely be reading the next book even though this one fell a little flat for me.

Petals On The Wind by Virginia Andrews (8/10) – I am obsessed with the Dollanganger series, it’s my number one go-to for an easy/juicy/trashy read. This is the second book in the series and is chock-full of the kind of incest/ballet/menstration/murder plot lines that I’ve come to know and love from Virginia Andrews books. Cathy is a self-centred egomaniac and I love her. Too many men in this book have moustaches.

Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (7/10) – Like any collection of short stories, this had it’s ups and downs for me but as a whole I really enjoyed it. The story about the kid in the helicopter hat will haunt me forever.

The Night She Disappeared by April Henry (3/10) – The themes of this book are genuinely horrifying – abduction, assault, survivor’s guilt – but despite all of the ingredients being there, the book didn’t quite hit the mark. I tried to suspend my disbelief while reading this re: teenagers trying to solve a crime, but in the end that’s what let the book down for me.

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes (9/10) – This was my most anticipated book of 2016/all time, as I loved ‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes and it was my favourite book of 2015. Again this is book 2 in a series so I won’t go into too much detail, but if you’re looking for a book that has an evil protagonist please check this out. Joe, I just love to hate him. (PS: thank you SO MUCH to Tonile for sending me the ARC of this, I am still so grateful!)

The Runaways by Ruth Thomas (7/10) – This is one of my childhood favourites, and it still holds a lot of it’s charm for me. Two unlikely friends discovering a large sum of money running away and going on an adventure across the English countryside? Yes please.

Goosebumps Book #14The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (5/10) – If you were a fan of the Goosebumps books growing up and you haven’t yet listened to Welcome To Deadcast, please remedy this immediately. I got the itch to re-read the Goosebumps series after falling into a hole of nostalgic bliss recently and this was the first book I ordered off Ebay. This is one of the books from the series that I have the strongest memories of, as it was the first episode of the TV series that I can remember watching. The cover is perfect and the story is a Goosebumps classic.

Sweet Valley High Book #73Regina’s Legacy (4/10) – Sometimes the fashion on the Sweet Valley High book covers could fit into today’s style, and Elizabeth’s backpack is definitely 2016 worthy. The story in this book is typically stupid, Elizabeth decides to solve a crime with (yawn) Todd rather than call the police and Jessica is her usual sociopathic self who gets everyone in trouble.

Sweet Valley High Book #41Outcast (3/10) – First things first, the hairstyles featured on this cover are a crime. I was never a fan of the books that didn’t revolve around the twins, and this was no exception. Following Regina Morrow’s drug overdose at her party, Molly Hecht falls into a depressive spiral and nobody seems to care or offer her any support. Jessica does something unselfish for once, and at one point people smoke pot. Scandalous.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (5/10) – This book is told from a collection of character viewpoints over the course of a couple of hours as a school shooting takes place. There were a few things I didn’t like about this book, but overall I enjoyed it. I loved how diverse the cast of characters was, but I wish the story went more into detail about the shooter’s background, and I would have liked the scene to be set a bit more in-depth prior to the shooting. Despite it’s flaws this was a gripping read, and I sped through it in a day or so.

Blindfolded Innocence by Alessandra Torre (5/10) – Having loved Alessandra Torre’s Deanna Madden series so much I decided to pick up a book from another of her series. This was an easy read, and although it was a lot fluffier (and raunchier) than what I’m used to, I really enjoyed it and I’ll be reading the rest of the series sometime this year.

Risk by Fleur Ferris (7/10) – I picked this up on the recommendation of Kirsti from Melbourne On My Mind, and I’m really glad I did. It follows the story of Taylor, who’s friend Sierra goes to meet up with a boy she’s been talking to online, and doesn’t return. If you have any young women in your life who have any kind of online presence (who doesn’t these days?), this is an important book to read and share. The story is all too real, and is genuinely chilling.

Sweet Valley High Book #56Lost At Sea (5/10) – Jessica is stunning on this cover, despite being a bit sulky about being wet even though the sun is clearly shining in the background. I hate that the outfit she’s wearing doesn’t match what is described in the book but ANYWAY. A handful of students from Sweet Valley High go on a boating trip for a science project and a big storm hits, Jessica and Winston end up deserted on an island (with a bear?), and everyone else for the most part keep living their lives despite the fact the pair could be dead. Jessica is on the brink of redemption at one point in the book, but at the end goes back to being an awful person and all is right in the world.

Nightmare Hall Book #4The Wish (4/10) – This series creeped me the f*ck out as a kid, but I don’t remember ever reading this one so I was excited to pick it up. The concept is good – a bunch of college students get their fortunes told and they start coming true one by one in the most horrific ways possible – but the ending fell flat and was kind of lame.

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (8/10) – This book made me a bit swoony. I love the idea of two people meeting up online and gradually getting to know each other before falling in love. Possibly because that is how Sebastian and I came to be a couple? This is YA contemporary fiction done right.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (3/10) – This book was a bit of a hard slog for me, and I struggled to get into the story each time I picked it up. I wish they’d focused more on the back story of the main character rather than her life on the run, because that was the most interesting part of the book for me and had a lot of potential.