Favourites Unearthed

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and that you’re enjoying a relaxing break. I thought I would use my last post of 2014 to bring you some of my favourite things from the past few months.

Favourites Unearthed – December 2014

Jurlique Hydra-Gloss *

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Jurlique products always have a beautiful smell, and this lip gloss is no different. I have the ‘I’m Blushing’ colour, and it gives a soft, sheer tint. It is a little bit sticky, but settles a while after it is applied. The nutri-oils and Vitamin E leave your lips soft and plump. The gloss comes in two shades, and is available for $22 at all good pharmacies and department stores.

Witchery Triangle Halter Top

Triangle Halter Top

My Aunty bought me this gorgeous top for Christmas. The dress in the same pattern had been included in a printed maxi dress post I did a while ago, so she knew I would love it. It’s a gorgeous top in a drapey fabric that is very flattering on, and could be worn with jeans, black pants or even shorts like the photo above. I love the halter neck design, and the fact that it is held together with a gold chain in a necklace style. There is limited stock of this top available online, and it’s currently on sale. I’m planning to wear it at our New Years Eve party, and I’m sure it will be the first of many outings.

The Adorn Collective

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My friend Stacey, and her talented friend/business partner have launched a funky and affordable jewellery line called The Adorn Collective. The range features necklaces, bracelets and rings and is designed to add a point of difference to your outfit without hurting your hip pocket. I was sent two gorgeous pieces – the Kari (above) and the Iona (below). They’ve both become favourites in my jewellery collection, and I have been wearing them a lot. I have my eye on a couple of other necklaces that I think I will need to purchase sometime soon (I have my eye on the Isla)!

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Kerastase Discipline*

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 My hair hates the humidity, to the point where I would not straighten it when I knew it would be humid or raining. It’s thick, stubborn and frizzes easily. When I was contacted to ask if I wanted to trial these Kerastase Discipline products I couldn’t say yes quickly enough and I LOVE them! They are designed to remove frizz from your hair while still allowing movement and shine. My hair is still not perfect (it’s thick – it’s never going to be completely flat!), but it is so much better than it was. I have been using the shampoo and conditioner when I wash my hair every second or third day, and if I am going to heat style it I also add the taming milk. If you are looking for new hair products, and have hair that is prone to frizzing, definitely try Kerastase Discipline. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Swarovski Bolt Earrings

Swarovski Earrings

These are a new addition to my favourite things list. My husband bought them as a surprise for Christmas and I love them. In the past I have only worn white gold or silver, but recently I have been playing with rose gold. It is nice mixing it up a bit, and as the tone of gold seems to be having a bit of a ‘moment’ there are lots of options to choose from. When I opened the present my son said ‘Look Mummy! It’s a box from your jewellery shop!’. Glad to know one of the small members of my family knows what I like!

What are your favourite things at the moment? What did you get for Christmas? Any plans for New Years Eve?

Five Books to Read This Summer

I have always loved to read. As a child, I used to hide out in my bedroom, in the hammock or on the trampoline (used for reading on, not bouncing!) to finish just one more chapter. Much to my own disgust, most of the time I am not an intellectual reader. I read for escapism, I love humour, and I love all things ‘feel good’. You can’t beat the warm and fuzzy feeling when you fall in love with characters in a book. This year I haven’t had as much time to read as I would like, but I am looking forward to have plenty of time to bury my nose in a book or two.

Today I am sharing five books to read this Summer. I have put a few of these on my Christmas list, and will be adding a few to read on my iPad as well.

Patricia Cornwell

Flesh and Blood – Patricia Cornwell

This is Cornwell’s 22nd Kay Scarpetta novel. The most recent novels have been released around Christmas time, and I now look forward to a new book to read each Christmas break. Flesh and Blood follows the story of a mysterious sniper who leaves few clues and no crime scene. Scarpetta tracks him across three states in an attempt to solve the mystery. I am looking forward to getting to the bottom of this one!

Marian Keyes

The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes is one of my favourite authors, and I could read and re-read her books many times over. Truth be told, I have read all of them at least once. I first picked up one of her books in Paris, and proceeding to spend my flight home falling in love with the characters, and really disliking others! The Woman Who Stole My Life chronicles the journey of Stella, a self-help author, who has returned to Ireland from her book tour in New York. The reader is left wondering why Stella has returned to Ireland so soon, and who her mysterious caller is. Hopefully this book is Keyes back to her best.

Amy Poehler

Yes Please – Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler has always tickled my funny bone. I have loved watching her on Saturday Night Live and Parks and Recreation. Her book has won the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Humour, and includes hilarious stories, poetry, jokes and advice. I think this will be perfect as a beachside book, with light reading and plenty of laughs.

Buddhism for Mothers

The Complete Buddhism for Mothers – Sarah Napthali

I have had Buddhism for Mothers and Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children sitting in my bedside table drawer for the best part of five years. I have dipped in and out of them, taken advice when I have needed it, and then returned them for safe keeping. These holidays I will aim to read them all the way through and finish them, putting the advice into practice. This publication includes the two books mentioned above, along with Buddhism for Mothers of School Children, which I intend to read after I finish the first two. It really has some wonderful advice, and no matter what religion you follow it will encourage mindfulness when with your children and help you be the best parent you can be.

Stephen Covey

The Leader in Me – Stephen R. Covey

While this may not be a relaxing read, it certainly is an inspiring one. I read the first edition of this book several years ago, but am looking forward to reading the updated version which contains case studies from Leader in Me schools from around the world, including Australia. The Leader in Me teaches teachers to bring out the best in their students using the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People program. It really does have positive benefits for kids, and even if you’re sceptical please give it a go. Be prepared to be inspired!

What books will you be reading this Summer? What should I add to my reading list?

Five Great Movies to Watch at Christmas

Do you have favourite movies that always put you in the Christmas spirit? I have been watching a few favourites over the past few weeks, and thought I would share five great movies to watch at Christmas with you.

The Holiday

I love a good feel good movie, and this has to be my number one. Iris (Kate Winslet) is a victim of unrequited love, and decides to participate in a house swap with Amanda (Cameron Diaz) at Christmas. She thinks a week in LA will be just what the doctor ordered. I love the characters and the story line, where love wins in the end. The score, written by Hans Zimmer, is also fantastic and is integral to telling the story.

Love Actually

In December of 2002 I went to the United Kingdom after finishing high school. I went ice skating with my cousin in London on a freezing Winter’s night, in the rain, which saw us drying our hair afterwards under the hand driers in a cozy pub. We had a cold Christmas, with the full English dinner and then toured Europe. The next year, Love Actually was released at Christmas time, and watching it takes me back to that holiday. The ice skating rink features in one of the shots (and in the above trailer). The ensemble cast is fantastic, and watching is always sure to guarantee a laugh and a tear or two.

Elf

Elf is the perfect movie for both adults and kids – there are plenty of jokes aimed at the that go over their heads, but a fair share for them to enjoy as well. We watched it on the weekend and all chuckled along together. Will Ferrell is fantastic as Buddy the Elf, a human adopted by Papa Elf in the North Pole, who goes on to search for his biological father in New York City. Get your maple syrup ready, and prepare to have a chuckle.

Miracle on 34th Street

I have linked to the 1994 version here, but either version is great. If you’re lucky you will be able to find them in a double boxed set. Set in New York, Susan meets a very special department store Santa and discovers that Christmas wishes really can come true. This is a lovely one to watch with the whole family, especially near Christmas Eve.

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special

While it’s not a movie, the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special is essential Christmas viewing in my book. I love this series, written by Ruth Jones and James Corden who also star as Nessa and Smithy. It is set in England and Wales, and chronicles the romance between the two titular characters. The cast is hilarious, and the characters endearing. Do yourself a favour, and watch all three seasons. You can find the Christmas special at the end of season two.

What movies or TV shows do you find yourself watching over and over at Christmas?

Any recommendations for me to add to my list?

Five Things to do in Sydney In Summer

One of my long time readers will be visiting my fair city during the Christmas break. She asked if I could suggest a few things for her and her husband to experience while they are here. A few of them are probably a bit touristy, but I have focused on places that have fantastic views to enjoy. When Sydney sparkles on a Summer’s day, there really is nothing else like it!

Five Things to do in Sydney In Summer

Watsons Bay

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Watsons Bay

This is one of my favourite parts of the city, and has been for a long time. The best way to get there is to catch a ferry from Circular Quay, so you can admire all the beautiful harbour front houses. You will stop in gorgeous suburbs like Rose Bay, where the home owners have the harbour as their back yard (often with private boat ramp!). There are many options for lunch – Doyle’s restaurant, the pub, or fish and chips on the beach (or on your own boat should you be so lucky!). The views across the water back to the city are just stunning. You can have a little paddle at the beach, or walk up to the Heads and admire the view out to sea. Plan your visit on Boxing Day to see the yachts heading off on the Sydney to Hobart race.

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo

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It’s often said that these giraffes have the best real estate in Sydney, and I really don’t think that statement is wrong! Taronga Zoo is in Mosman, on the northern shores of Sydney harbour. You can drive, but I love catching the ferry and then travelling by cable car up over the elephant enclosure. You get a wonderful bird’s eye view of the zoo. Be sure to check out the Zoo’s website before you visit, as they have fantastic animal shows, Roar and Snore sleep over opportunities, and also Summer concerts on the lawn. There is also a gorgeous new baby chimp who I think we will be paying a visit to these school holidays!

High Tea at the QVB

QVB

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The Queen Victoria Building, or QVB as she is affectionately known, has been a Sydney institution since 1898. It houses wonderful shops so you can spend hours browsing, and then refresh yourself at The Tearoom. Spoil yourself with a glass of sparkling wine, tasty pastries and finger sandwiches, and revive yourself before more shopping. Make sure you book around Christmas time, as it will get very busy. If you are there at Christmas, be sure to visit the huge tree decorated with Swarovski crystals (it’s a Christmas tradition for us). There is also a Lego display this year my kids can’t wait to see.

Sea Cliff Bridge

Seacliff Bridge

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If you have a spare day and can hire a car, take the coastal drive from Sydney to Wollongong along the Sea Cliff Bridge. This feat of engineering hugs the cliffs and grants endless views out to sea. It really is breath taking. Once you arrive in Wollongong, treat yourself to lunch at the harbour. There are several fish and chip shops for a low key lunch, or you can try tapas at the new level one harbourfront with stunning water views. Wollongong is also a wonderful place for adventure, with sky diving over the ocean, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Bridge Climb

Bridge Climb

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Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic Sydney experience. I climbed the bridge about 12 years ago, and it still rates as one of my best adventure experiences. There are several different options for climbs now, so you can find one that suits you. It is incredibly safe, and you will have the most phenomenal views out to the heads on one side, and western Sydney on the other. No matter whether you live in Sydney, or you’re just visiting, a Bridge Climb is really one experience you should have in your life time. If you do not want to climb the arch, it is possible to climb a pylon which still gives a fantastic view, or you can walk, drive or train it across the deck of the bridge.

Other notable experiences:

– Cremorne to Mosman/Mosman to Balmoral walks

– Bondi to Bronte walk

– Kayaking and hiking in the Royal National Park

– Ferry trip to Manly

– Champagne at the Opera Bar (next to the Opera House)

– A day trip to the Blue Mountains

– Visit China Town for delicious dumplings and yum cha

– Experience Sydney Festival events during January

What are your favourite Sydney experiences? What is a must visit attraction?