Let’s Talk Mocktails, and Birthday Giveaways!

IMG_0224_2

Style Unearthed turned one a week ago. Much like the day I pressed ‘create’ on my first WordPress site, the day whooshed by in a haze of work, kids, house and life. There wasn’t time to celebrate in a big way, but it’s nice to know that my little online space has been around for 12 months. Thank you to everyone who has read and contributed in that time. It has been so nice to build new relationships and get to know you through comments and social media. Here’s to another year! To celebrate, Style Unearthed is having a giveaway. Keep reading for all the exciting details…

Prize One – A case of Bionade Organic Soft Drink

In normal birthday circumstances, cocktails or drinks would be poured, music would play and fun would be had. Thanks to the lovely people at Bionade, who sent me a case of their organic soft drink to celebrate Style Unearthed’s first milestone, I was able to experiment with some mocktails. I had to compete with my husband to try the drinks, and the cola flavour disappeared before I could even try it – he’s fallen in love with them! There are five flavours to choose from – cola, lychee, elderberry, herbs and ginger and orange (my favourite). They are very low in sugar, so are great for people who don’t want to drink their calories. Bionade is brewed using the same process as beer, and is 100% organic. It’s therefore free from nasties so it is suitable for everyone to drink, and a great alternative to normal soft drinks.

IMG_0218_2

I bought some lemon and lime to compliment the citrus in the orange flavour, and some mint to add a fresh kick. Poured over ice, it made for a refreshing summery drink that will be a regular favourite of mine in warmer weather.

IMG_0222_2

Do you have a favourite cocktail or mocktail? For a chance to win a case of Bionade worth $86, please share your favourite mocktail or cocktail recipe below.

Prize Two – Sass necklace from Ashloc Designs

Sass Necklace

I first saw Ashloc Designs on Instagram last year. Kylie makes gorgeous jewellery from clay in a wide range of colours. I always receive compliments when I wear my melon coloured necklace. Her creations are now getting so popular that she’s selling in shops as well as on her online store. They are available in so many colours, and there is an Ashloc Designs piece of jewellery to compliment any outfit.

Kylie is offering one lucky reader a Sass necklace worth $35. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below telling me how you would feature the Sass necklace in your Winter wardrobe.

Prize Three – Saviour Glass Screen Guardian

IMG_0229_2

I used to be a loyal Blackberry user, but after having two smashed screens (repairing the first, and then getting a cheapy phone second), this product would really have come in handy! Saviour Glass Screen Guardian wants to help you avoid ‘Oh-No Smash Screen Face’ and protect your phone screen. Now, I’m not about to try and smash my iPhone with a hammer, or drop it on the ground, so I will take their word for the fact that it works! I definitely feel more secure if I have a mishap on my phone, knowing that it has the Guardian on it, and a protective case.

For a chance to win one of five Saviour Glass Screen Guardians worth $35 each (available for iPhone or Samsung phones), please leave a comment below and tell me about why you need a Guardian for your phone.

Good luck! Which prize (or prizes – you can enter for all three!) would you like to win? Answer the questions above and you will be in the running. 

* I was given the above products for editorial consideration.

Terms and Conditions

- This competition will end on Saturday 19 April, 2014 at 5pm AEST.

- This is a game of skill.

- You may enter to win each prize, by answering all three questions.

- This is an Australia only competition (sorry!).

- To be eligible to win the case of Bionade, you must live in a metro area as it will be delivered by courier.

- Please leave a valid email address so I can get in touch with you if you win. If you do not respond within 48 hours the prize will be re-drawn. Winners will be announced on this post, Facebook and Instagram.

What I Wore – Cue Dress to a Family Wedding

IMG_0213_2

On Friday, my beautiful sister-in-law was married. We were so thrilled to welcome her new husband into the family, although he has felt like he’s been part of it for a long time already. Our kids adore them both, and were thrilled to be involved in the day. They both looked incredibly cute (and grown up!) in their special outfits, and our daughter had a ball having her hair done.

I decided to buy a new outfit for the wedding – it was a special one, after all! I had also been asked to perform a reading, which I was very honoured to do. You have heard me rave about Cue clothing before, and it was one of the first places that I went to look for an outfit. Their dresses are beautifully cut, and I find that they fit me well. The sizing is consistent, and they are incredibly comfortable. The staff at my local store are fantastic – nothing is ever too much trouble, and they’re always happy to give constructive advice.

Cue have lots of Japanese inspired fabrics and looks this year (I saw both Summer and Winter dresses that suited this style) and I was drawn to the colours of this dress. It is nipped in at the waist, which I always love, and had pockets so it had to be a winner! It probably could have done with a belt, but as my shoes were navy and I didn’t have a belt to match, I went without this time.

I chose navy wedges, as it was a garden wedding and I didn’t want heels becoming stuck in the grass. They are Corelli brand from Williams, and were a lucky find in an end of season sale. The fantastic thing about this dress is that it has so many colours in it, and can therefore be worn with a variety of accessories to make different colours pop. It would look great with gold sandals for a casual Summer look.

It’s no secret that I love Swarovski jewellery, and I wore a couple of my favourite pieces – earrings that my family bought for my birthday last year, and a purple and blue ring to match the colours in the dress.

IMG_0214

My hair was cut the day of the wedding, and I asked my hairdresser to use a ghd to do some loose curls. Unfortunately the weather was wet, but this suited my hair as it tends to frizz in the rain and humidity! Is it just me, or does it always make you slightly nervous waiting for curly hair to drop? I certainly got some strange looks with my big hair when we went out for lunch that day.

I can’t wait to wear this dress again – it was comfortable and I felt wonderful in it. Cue strikes again!

Do you enjoy getting dressed up for weddings? What is your go-to outfit?

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole into ghd Wonderland

ghd Collage

My first hair straightener was a $40 version from Priceline that I bought when I was a uni student. Straigheners were the next ‘big thing’, and my parents couldn’t understand why I needed something to straighten my hair when it was already straight. I have quite thick hair that tends to frizz at any sign of moisture, so it’s always a bit tricky to control. The thought of nice, straight, fizz-free hair made me very excited! About six years ago, I was given a ghd for my birthday. My hairdresser had worked magic with one and I was keen to try and re-create the look at home. My hair dressing skills leave a lot to be desired, so the easier the ‘do, the better. My ghd has stood the test of time, and still works, but when I was asked to try the ghd Wonderland styler I jumped at the opportunity.

The styler arrived with a heat proof travel bag, two hair clips to secure hair while styling, and a plastic holder to pop on the end to keep the plates together while it is stored. It heats up quickly, and will also switch off automatically after 30 minutes if you forget to do it manually. The plates are contoured to curl the hair with ease, and the ceramic plates left my hair feeling smooth. I was so glad not to have the dry feeling often associated with heat styled hair.

IMG_0208

To straighten my hair, I sectioned it with the clips and worked with the bottom section first. This ensured that it was smooth underneath which I find makes the difference with my hair. I then straightened the top part, smoothing it down. One thing I loved about it is that it didn’t create poker straight hair – it was left with some body and movement. You can see the before and after pictures above on the left.

Today I wanted to try something a little bit different. The ghd website has lots of fantastic videos with how-to hairstyles and inspiration. You can find them here. There are up-dos, and instruction about how to do ghd curls. This is what I decided to go for this morning. My hair had been in a pony tail all day yesterday, so had bumps and twists in it already. While it doesn’t look all that different in the before and after photos, it was smoother and the waves were more defined. After taking about 20 photos, I still didn’t manage to get the perfect one (as usual!). I have attempted curls with my straightener before, and had some success, however I always find one side of my head easier than the other to do. I watched the how-to video a few times and then tried my best to re-create the look. As my hair is not as long as the model in the video, and the fact that I don’t own a paddle brush, the result was a little different but it was surprisingly easy to do. My old straighter used to get a little bit stuck in my hair as I tried to curl it, but the Wonderland slid through easily. While I know I need to practice a lot more to perfect curly hair, I will certainly have fun trying. It will also be good to play around with some up do’s for something different, especially to find something easy but more interesting than a pony tail.

I absolutely love the ghd Wonderland styler – it’s easy to use and leaves my hair looking smooth and shiny. The straighteners have definitely improved since my first version six years ago, and I think I will be a loyal ghd customer for a long time coming.

* I was given the ghd Wonderland styler to try for editorial consideration. 

Do you have a ghd or another hair straightener? What is your favourite look? Have you ever used how-to videos when styling your hair?

5 Vegetarian Recipes for Meat Free Week

IMG_0178_2

This week is Meat Free Week. An initiative created by Lainie Bracher and Melissa Dixon, it was started to raise awareness about meat consumption and production. The movement urges people to omit meat from their diets for one week each March. Meat Free Week is gaining traction since it’s inception in 2013 – it has provoked discussion in Australian parliament and has initiated conversation across a variety of media channels. You can find out more about it here.

I have been vegetarian for four years this May. Never being a big fan of meat I found that I wasn’t eating it much, and enjoying it a lot less. I did some research, and with animal rights and sustainability factors taken into account, I decided to take the plunge into vegetarianism. It did take some adjustment, for myself and my family. I fielded quite a few ‘But what will you eat?’ questions, but on the whole, everyone has been very flexible. Offering to bring something for myself always helps! Being vegetarian does not mean that you are stuck eating lettuce leaves and broccoli. I do still eat some ‘faux’ meat (soy based protein, mostly) to bump up my protein levels which I struggle with on occasion. While I still ate seafood for a couple of years, I now omit all meat from my diet. Since becoming vegetarian I do feel healthier – I used to suffer from stomach issues which are now thankfully few and far between. Our household has many dairy free items due to an allergy, however I still eat some animal derived products. I do buy free range eggs and responsibly farmed meat when I purchase it for other family members.

To promote Meat Free Week, I wanted to share 5 vegetarian recipes that have become my favourites. Some contain faux meat, which may not be for you, but there are always alternatives that you can try instead. Consider trying even just one vegetarian meal per week if you’re not sure about stepping outside your comfort zone. You may be in for a delicious surprise!

Vegetarian Burgers

IMG_0179_2

 

This is one of my favourite meals, as there are a variety of options. You can use something like a Sanitarium Not-Burger, or Fry’s schnitzel, a store bought lentil patty, or home made patty made from a variety of legumes or beans. I top the burger with my favourite fillings like pineapple, beetroot and salad. Serve with home cut sweet potato fries, and you’ve got a delicious dinner!

Lentil Pie or Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

IMG_8337

This is a family favourite (our five year old clears his plate when it is served), and it’s perfect for the cooler weather we are about to start having. It is incredibly simple to make, and can be served with pastry or mashed potato (or sweet potato) on top. You can find my recipe here.

Roast Vegetable Salad

IMG_8696

My next two favourite recipes include roasted vegetables. They’re healthy, super easy to prepare and can be thrown into salads and pastas, or used as side dishes. One of my favourite Summer salads can be thrown together and include your favourite salad veg, along with roasted sweet potato, potato, pumpkin and carrot. You can see the full recipe here for other delicious variations.

Vegetarian Roast Dinner

IMG_0204

I always have fond memories of Sunday roasts at my Nana’s house. There are still plenty of meat-free options. Sanitarium make a vegetable roast, seasoned with rosemary and mint. You can also have a go at making your own nut roast. I made a cashew version a couple of Christmases ago. While it was fiddly, it was very tasty and filling, and requested by family again this Christmas!

Caramelised Onion and Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart picture

Photo credit

I made a variation of this tart for dinner last week, and it is even more delicious when served as lunch left overs the next day. My recipe is a little simpler than the one above, as I use pre-made shortcrust pastry. Brown the onions and then caramelise using brown sugar. Put the pastry, onions, sliced Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and sliced Bocconcini cheese. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees, and cook until the pastry is crisp and the cheese is melted. The flavours work beautifully together, and is a lovely dish for lunch or dinner.

I hope these recipes might urge you to try something vegetarian in Meat Free Week. You can find lots of great recipes at taste.com.au, and on the Meat Free Week website.

Do you eat any vegetarian meals? What are your favourites?

Four Ways to Take 10, 000 Steps a Day

WIHS Collage

The title of this post might seem like a silly one – ‘Just walk, Sarah!’ would be the obvious answer. I am currently taking part in the CARE Australia Walk in Her Shoes challenge. You can read all about it here. This week, I am walking 10, 000 steps per day to raise money for projects supporting women and girls in Africa. At the conclusion of the seven days I will have walked 50kms. Some women walk this distance multiple times a week to collect water, firewood or food – items we can easily access and therefore take for granted in the Western world. As they are walking to procure items necessary to live, they often miss out on important opportunities such as education and employment. If you would like to sponsor me (I would be so grateful) you can do so here. Every dollar counts!

While my job is reasonably active, I average around 7000 steps moving around during the day. On days I am at home, sitting down to work, or playing stationary games with the small ones it is a lot less. I feel incredibly lucky that I have to think of extra ways to move, as it means that I have easy access to all the things I need. During the Walk in Her Shoes Challenge, I have been viewing videos showing what life is like for women in other countries. CARE Australia have been working hard to install water bores and taps so people can have easy access to clean water. Hopefully through their (and other charities) hard work, someday soon these women and children will be able to walk and move for pleasure and exercise rather than out of necessity.

Like me, you may want to move and exercise more for your health, and maybe even to raise some money too. There are so many charity walks and initiatives involving exercise now, that it is easy to find one that suits you. Here are three ways that you can help you integrate more movement into your day.

Four Ways to Take 10, 000 Steps a Day

Just Dance – The easiest way I have found to get extra steps up is to move to music. Having a lounge room dance party, or dance around while you’re making dinner (just watch your fingers when chopping veggies!). By having the Fitbit app open while I’m moving I can see the types of movements that register – squats, bobbing up and down and moving from side to side all activated both the Fitbit and the pedometer.

Get Jumping – Jumping on a trampoline is fantastic exercise, and it’s not just for kids. Trampoline centres are opening up all over the place, and run exercise and self defence classes. According to the Flip Out Trampoline Arena website, NASA have proven that trampoline classes are four times more effective than traditional gym classes. I haven’t tried a trampoline arena yet, but the little one in our backyard is always great fun and really gets my heart pumping.

Stride Away – One exercise machine I favour at the gym is the elliptical trainer. Having knee problems can make it hard to run for long periods of time without pain, so the elliptical is the perfect answer. I feel like I am running, and am taking steps, without putting pressure on my knees.

Exercise Incidentally – Park the car a little bit further away, get off your train or bus one stop before you need to, walk to a shop close by if you run out of milk or take a pet for a walk. You will be surprised at how many extra steps you will take!

What tips do you have to get moving more? Can you suggest any other techniques I can use to get to     10, 000 steps?

 

Trying a Trend – Tartan

Tartan Collage

I have been a lover of tartan from way back. My family has Scottish heritage, so I feel that it is in my blood. Tartan does not have to mean kilts and tam o’shanter hats – this Winter it is on trend and there are lots of fashionable options. The pattern is not only coming through in accessories, but you can also find skirts, shirts and a good old pair of tartan troos (trousers)!

Let’s go shopping in the latest edition of Style Unearthed’s series trying a trend – tartan!

1. ASOS High Waist Trousers – $55.45 (on sale, with free shipping). I love the dark tones used in these pants. They would be perfect for work, and could be teamed with ballet flats or loafers. They are currently out of stock, but keep you eye out for a new shipment!

2. Ness DOT Small Cross Body Bag – £24.99. Ness was founded in Edinburgh in 1996, and brings tartan to the high street. It offers lots of cute clothes and accessories, and has some fun with the traditional print.

3. Boohoo Rochelle Tartan Trousers - $45.00. These relaxed fit trousers would be perfect for a weekend brunch. You could style them with a tucked in, relaxed white tee.

4. Lyle and Scott Tartan Gloves – $41.59 (on sale). I just picture these cute gloves peeping out of the sleeves of a Winter coat. They are made from a wool mix fabric, and would be perfect for keeping your hands toasty warm.

5. Pull & Bear Slipper Shoes – $30.70 (on sale). While these do have a touch of the ‘old man slipper’ look about them, they would look very cute with some dark skinny jeans and a blazer. They are a loafer-style shoe, which is a very on trend shape at the moment. Loafers are also ridiculously comfortable.

6. ASOS Midi Skirt – $55.45 (on sale). While tartan skirts normally scream ‘school uniform’, this midi length skirt with small box pleats is fashionable and on trend. Pair it with a dark coloured tee, or knit and pumps or ballet flats for a cute work look.

7. Tartan scarf by Twyggi on Etsy - $71.21. A scarf is a perfect way to integrate a trend into your wardrobe if you’re nervous about trying something for the first time. The mix of wool and silk would make the scarf soft and snuggly – perfect for cool Winter days.

8. ASOS Shirt in Classic Tartan Check - $49.51. This classic cotton shirt is very versatile. It would look great dressed up with a suit for work, or down with skinnies, ballet flats or ankle boots.

Wearing Tartan Tips

- Pair tartan with block colours like white, black, bottle green or navy blue. Most tartans will have several colours, so you will be able to play up certain shades.

- Consider how you are styling your tartan. A skirt probably won’t look best with box pleats, a Peter Pan collared blouse and black Mary Janes – you will be taken right back to reminisce about your school uniform! Try a cool tee and some low pumps.

- If you want to integrate the trend into your wardrobe, but can’t pluck up the courage to try trousers or a dress, try some accessories first. A cute pair of loafers with jeans, or a scarf tucked into your Winter coat will add a point of interest to your outfit and help you try something different.

Which trends will you be trying this Winter? Will you wear some tartan?

Walk In Her Shoes Challenge

WIHS2

This Sunday, I will walk 11km at a local challenge walk for fun and exercise. I will pound the pavement of our local botanic gardens, chatting to a friend and soaking up the atmosphere with other walkers and excited families. For me, walking is something I do for fitness and fun. Other women don’t have a choice – they must walk to survive. Today is International Women’s Day, so it is a fitting day to bring you this post. It is not sponsored – I have joined this challenge on my own and think it is important enough to share with you.

Each day, girls and women in developing countries walk long distances to collect food, water and firewood for their families. As a result, they are not able to attend school or work, limiting their prospects and locking them in a cycle of poverty. They do not have ready access to clean water, nourishing food, or education and are denied the right to make decisions about their health.

WIHS4

In 2011, CARE Australia wanted to continue their aid work in developing countries, and specifically target raising money geared towards improving the lifestyles of these women and girls. They decided to start the Walk in Her Shoes campaign. For one week (this year is 17 to 23 March), you sign on to walk either 25, 50 or 100 kilometres over the course of the week. Broken down, this is only 5000, 10 000 or 20 000 steps per day. The recommended amount of walking in order to stay healthy is 10 000 steps, so you can be raising money and awareness just by going about your day. By signing up and asking others to support your efforts, you can raise money to help some people who really need it.

When you sign up, CARE Australia will send you a pedometer to track your steps, and if you have a smart phone you can access their brand new app to track your steps and donations. The app also takes you on a journey through Ethiopia as you walk, allowing you to learn more about one of the countries you will be helping.

WIHS8

Why should you support Walk in Her Shoes?

  • Of the world’s poorest people, 70% are women and girls.
  • On average, in developing countries, women and girls travel more than six kilometres per day collecting water. On each trip, they carry between 15 and 20 litres of water.
  • Two out of three children who do not attend primary schools are girls.
  • Women produce 50% of the world’s food, but only own 1% of its farmland.

Where does our money go?

One of the concerns that many people have when donating to charities is what the organisations spend the money on. CARE Australia are very clear about where their funds are distributed.

  • 5% – Accountability and administration
  • 9% – Fundraising costs
  • 86% – Program expenditure

How can you help?

You can join the Walk in Her Shoes challenge here. If you would like to donate to my cause (I would love to raise $500) you can donate to my page here - no donation is too small, as every dollar helps!

Please come and support CARE Australia on Facebook, follow them on Twitter or Instagram.

Do you think you will join the Walk in Her Shoes Challenge? Which issues do you think affect women and girls the world over?

 * Thank you to CARE Australia for supplying me with photos to use for this post. 

Autumn Fashion Shopping List

Autumn & Winter Shopping List

The seasons have finally clicked over to Autumn, and I for one cannot wait for the cooler weather. Autumn, with it’s golden leaves, crisp mornings and warm sunshine, is by far my favourite season. I walked to yoga yesterday morning and could feel that much-longed for chill in the air. The thought of pulling on long pants, cardigans, and accessorising with a chunky scarf makes me ridiculously excited!

The stock for the cooler weather has started to drop in store, so I am sharing my Autumn fashion shopping list for the season ahead. I have lay byed a couple of items already to secure my size, but I will be doing some more trying on this weekend after this little online window shopping session.

1. Forever New Belted Vest – $69.99. This would look great with jeans for the weekend, tucked into long, brown boots. You could also make it work with black pants and some ballet flats for a smart casual work look. Add a long sleeved tee underneath for warmth, or for a bit of colour.

2. Cue Tartan Dress - $395. I absolutely love Cue’s dresses. They are all cut in a classic style that make me feel fantastic. This is more than I would normally spend on a dress, but I turn 30 this year and may have just found the perfect party dress. There have to be some advantages to being a July baby! Having Scottish heritage, I have always been a sucker for some tartan, and this one is similar to one of my clan’s patterns. Add some black opaque tights, a pair of killer black heels and you have an outfit fit for a birthday girl!

3. Peter Morrissey Crew Rib Pullover - $39. While this jumper is on the thinner side, I think it will still be very warm. I decided to go up a size so I could layer it over a t-shirt for extra warmth. My plan is to pair it with blue jeans and ankle boots. Neutral colours like cream and grey are everywhere this season, and can be brightened up with colourful scarves or jewellery.

4. Forever New Cleo Cable Sweater - $69.99. The colour and cable pattern drew me to this jumper. I work in a part of Sydney that can be very cold, so a snuggly jumper is a must. I love that this style of jumper is coming back, and if you have a Nana who is handy with the knitting needles (or you’re crafty and clever yourself) you could have a handmade version for a fraction of the price.

5. Peter Morrissey Sequin Pullover - $39. I always find it hard to find warm clothes that are suitable to wear out at night. It’s always nice to feel a bit dressed up, but if you’re walking to and from cars, restaurants or friend’s houses, you don’t always want to lug a heavy coat. This pullover feels fantastic on – lovely and soft – with a hint of sparkle. I will be wearing it with black pants for a dressier look.

6. Long Tall Sally Chelsea Slim Leg Jean – $82.50. As a tall woman, jeans can be tricky to purchase. Long Tall Sally sell clothing especially made for tall women – extra leg length? Yes please! I have been on the lookout for the perfect pair of black jeans, and I will be investing in a pair of these this season.

7. Diana Ferrari Haviland Boots – $169.95. Last year I managed to pick up a gorgeous pair of heeled ankle boots from Diana Ferrari, and this year I would love some flat ones. As a teacher, heels aren’t always practical, especially when I need to do playground duty and garden with the students. Flat boots are much easier for me to wear, and mean I can run around after my own two kids with ease.

8. Long Tall Sally Heavy Jersey Trousers - $82.50. Another item I have been searching for over the past several years is a pair of long, slim black trousers. I have my fingers crossed that at last these will be the perfect pair. Long Tall Sally post to Australia for only $9.95, and their collection is very reasonably priced. I love that I will be able to order something that will be long enough – no more change room disappointment with the cuffs of pants flapping around my ankles!

Winter time also calls for a killer jacket – this year I have picked up a fantastic leather-look biker jacket that I pulled out of the wardrobe last week. You could also choose from a classic trench or warm pea coat. Watch this space for a jacket selection in coming months!

What is on your must-have list for Autumn and Winter? Have you bought anything yet?

How to Get the Most Out Of Your FitBit Flex

Fitbit Flex pic

While doing some research into pedometers, heart rate monitors and the like last year, I came across the FitBit. There are lots of similar monitors like the JawBone, however after all my research the FitBit Flex was my top pick. I was surprised with it on Christmas morning, and have really been enjoying using it.

The FitBit works with a free app you download to your smart phone. You wear it on your non-dominant wrist, and go about your business. The strap comes in two different sizes (you get both in the pack) and insert the chip into the strap that fits you best. The chip and phone connect via blue tooth, and share your steps, active minutes, calories burned and distance covered. You can also use them with fitness tracking apps like My Fitness Pal to monitor your food and water intake. I especially love it now that I’m back at work and on my feet a lot more – it is interesting to see how many steps I take, and just how active I can be in a standard work day. It makes me walk a little faster, do a few extra laps of the room and even do a few star jumps every now and again!

IMG_0198_2

Each day, you should walk around 10, 000 steps. You can choose steps, distance or active minutes as your aims. The device has five small lights, which you can tap at any time to check on your number of steps without opening the app. Each light corresponds to 2, 500 steps. When you complete your goal for the day it will vibrate and then flash at you to celebrate. The colours on the app will change from red, to orange and green as you progress through the day. It’s great motivation being able to see how much you have moved, and if you set it up, the app will send through push notifications when you’re approaching your goal.

IMG_0199_2

I have had the FitBit for a couple of months now, but wasn’t overly active during the holidays. I was very interested to see how it would hold up during different exercises. As it is an accelerometer, it is made for walking and running. It will log star jumps, the elliptical trainer, and the stationary bike if you ride with your hands on your knees (which is tricky when wearing leggings, as I found out the other day as I kept sliding off the seat!). Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for weight work or strength training, or yoga. The FitBit is water proof, but I haven’t given it a water test as I’m too afraid I will break it. I read reviews of people who wore them during mud runs and obstacle courses, and they held up well.

Due to the fact that it doesn’t measure some exercise, I have still been wearing my heart rate monitor at the gym. Don’t mind the resting heart rate – I’m not that fit, and it wasn’t feeding through properly. The FitBit will talk to My Fitness Pal and calibrate your calories burned for the day.

The FitBit can also measure your sleep. Let the app know when you’re about to go to bed, and it will track how long it takes you to fall asleep, when you wake up during the night and if you have any restless periods. It’s very interesting to see if there are any patterns, and how beneficial your shut-eye is. You can also set a silent alarm, and the FitBit will vibrate to wake you up. It’s great for early mornings when you don’t want to wake anyone else up.

How to Get the Most Out Of Your FitBit Flex

- Wear it all day, every day. This is the only way to track accurately and to pick up on any patterns you may be forming. Even if you think you’re not moving much, you might be surprised. It will also spur you on to do incidental exercise.

- Use it in conjunction with other apps. The FitBit talks to a variety of other health and fitness apps. Choose your favourite, and you will be able to track your food and water intake if you’re that way inclined.

- Use it with other monitors. If you enjoy doing exercise other than walking or running, wear a heart rate monitor at the same time as the FitBit. You will be able to check the accuracy and have a well-rounded look at what benefits the exercises are bringing you.

Do you use any fitness monitors? Do you have a FitBit? What do you think of it, and use it for?

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Gifts for Women and Men

Valentines Collage

Valentine’s Day is only a couple of days away, so if you’re wondering what to get your significant other, look no further! This handy little last minute Valentine’s Day gifts for women and men guide will hopefully provide you with some inspiration. My husband and I have never been big on Valentine’s Day. Sure, I would love a big bunch of flowers delivered to me, but in reality (with a joint bank account and V-Day flower prices!) I would prefer a different present. We tend to make do with a card, a nice home cooked dinner and maybe a small treat or two. That being said, I would be perfectly happy to receive most things on this list!

For Him (1)

Etsy is home to all things printable, and Smart Party Planning has created some cute love themed beer bottle labels. Simply choose your loved one’s favourite drop, stick the labels on, and you have a personalised present ready to go. You could present them in a wooden or cardboard gift box, and include some bar snacks for an extra treat. The labels can be purchased here for $5.

For Her (2)

Everyone has a favourite scent. Surprise your Valentine with a bottle of their everyday perfume or after shave, or something new to wear for a special occasion. Hot Couture by Givenchy is my favourite, and it has special memories as I wore it on our wedding day. You can find a bottle at The Iconic for $85.95.

For The Sentimental (3)

Bus or tram rolls are everywhere at the moment, so why not buy one unique to you and your partner, with your significant dates recorded. You could include your first date, first kiss, wedding day or the dates of birth of your children. While this gift isn’t strictly last minute, it would make a lovely addition to your wall. You can find it on Going Underground’s Etsy store here for roughly $30 AUD.

For the Newly Dating (4)

Not everyone loves to spend a bomb on Valentine’s Day. If your new flame is hoping for a little something, and you don’t want to go over the top, pick up a cute card from Kikki-K. This particular one comes with stickers so you can personalise it, and make it reflect your relationship. Kikki-K have also teamed up with Koko Black to bring you delicious chocolate in an extra cute wrapper. You really can’t go wrong with chocolate and a sweet card!

For the One (5)

Boys, please repeat after me – ‘You can’t go wrong with a little blue box’. Many a woman would be absolutely thrilled to receive a gift from Tiffany and Co at any time, especially on Valentine’s Day. My favourite is the classic Elsa Peretti Open Heart pendant. Peretti’s simple designs are always beautiful, and this piece would make the perfect gift to declare your love. You can find it here for $185.

For the Magazine Junkie (6)

Magazine subscriptions make fantastic gifts at any time of year, and they really keep on giving. My favourite read at the moment is Country Style, but whether your significant other is into fitness, fashion or photography, there will be a magazine for them. If you choose to purchase a subscription you could buy a current issue of the magazine and wrap it with a few themed presents to match to present (think gardening gloves for a gardening mag, a new lip gloss to match beauty or some cute cookie cutters to try new recipes) on the day. You can browse iSubscribe’s selection here.

For the Foodie (7)

A picnic for two in a beautiful location would make the perfect romantic date. Pack your favourite foods and drink, and select somewhere special to you both to celebrate. I love classic whicker picnic baskets – they make a picnic feel just a little more special, don’t you think? You can find a basket for two here for $49.

For Relaxation (8)

Some French champagne or Italian prosecco is a beautiful treat for a special occasion. You could make up your own gift basket with your partner’s favourite things, or leave it to someone else to do the hard work for you. This basket features a bottle of Moet et Chandon and assorted bath products. Perfect for a night of relaxation and pampering! You can find it here for $218.95.

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration, or reminded you that Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly – this Friday! Have a wonderful day with your loved one.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What will you be giving your sweet heart this year?

* This post is not sponsored, and I have not been given any of the products to trial. It does not contain any affiliate links.

Come and check out some Valentine’s Day love with Norlin from the Baubles, Bubbles and Bags Style File, Nikki at Styling You, Vanessa at Style and Shenanigans, B from BBeing Cool, and Melinda from Just More.