May 08, 2016

Bloom and Grow

I started and stopped writing this post more than a few times. It wasn't that I didn't have the words. The words were plenty, swirling around in my head. Sometimes though when you're going through a funk and life is a little shambolic, the words are there but the feeling to put them down ain't always following behind. 

I've been a little quieter than usual on the social media front. Part of it I attribute to getting stuck back into Perth life and seriously, why is it so cold all of a sudden? The other part, the overwhelming part, is that I've been feeling a little lost and attempting to find my direction. The GPS failed me slightly and it's back to navigating the old school way. Plotting out a route rather than going on auto pilot. 

In these last couple of weeks, if there's one overwhelming take away from the dead ends, detours and bumps in the road, it's that time and patience can really work magic.

I suppose I found myself concerned far too much on the destination. I failed to appreciate and enjoy the journey so far and was running the risk of letting this consume the rest of my travels as I made my way to my landing place. Cliche and corny but right now for me, very true. In trying to reach that destination, I was zooming along with no thoughts to the speed limits or road rules and it was only a matter of time before I had to slow down, even shift down gear to a snail pace.

This photos accompanying this post were taken a few weeks ago at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Each year for a very short period of time, the cherry blossom trees bloom. For most of the year they remain flowerless and then when the time is right, when the conditions are perfect, they explode in beauty. Just like magic. 

Even when their branches are bare, these trees are lovingly tended to but just in the right amount. Through a cold winter when it may seem like spring will never show up, the grounds staff at the park continue to look after and nurture these trees. A bit of patience, a lot of time, they know it will all come right. Just like these trees, everything in our life has its time and its season. You can't make winter end faster, but you know the sun is waiting for its time. All will be as it should be, even if it can't be seen yet. The flowers never forget how to bloom. 

April 09, 2016

Jet Set Skin

Fourteen weeks into 2016 and I've managed to already rack up 49,924 miles/80,345 kilometers in air travel, which equates to a touch over 100 hours flight time. Unfortunately that doesn't automatically equate to a major spike in my frequent flyer points. The airlines are always messing about with their programs and despite flying more and more, I seem to be earning less points than ever.

In the last six months I've been back and forth to New York three times; incredibly this year alone I've spent seven weeks there. Before anybody wonders, yes I am very much gainfully employed though I have become extremely adept at getting the most value out of my leave time and managing work schedules.

Though the long haul aspect of travel is never really that attractive, I do believe I have a good routine down pat to make it easier and somewhat more pleasant. There's the usual, but very sound, advice to stay hydrated with water (I avoid alcohol completely) and to stay fresh faced wearing minimal or no makeup, which I most definitely subscribe to. I'm always conscious to select certain routes, and even aircraft, to make the actual flight more tolerable. I get as much rest and sleep as I can, I guzzle down the water and keep my skin moisturized so that when my feet finally get back onto the ground I'm in not too bad a state, mentally or physically.

Looking after yourself is paramount when stuck in a metal tube for that amount of time with the cool, dry recycled air constantly pumping around you. Your skin particularly needs a little extra attention both during and post flight especially if you're going between two very different climates. I am quite fortunate to be able to say that I am happy with my skin almost all the time but even with being bestowed with good skin, there are times when I need to show it a little extra TLC.

Having been a long time user of the La Clinica range, I was actually introduced to it by my friend and fellow blogger Sydney Shop Girl, I know very well how effective its products are. I most commonly use products from their Anti-Ageing and Gly-C ranges but was very interested and receptive in trying out their Rebalancing Vitamin A range when offered the opportunity by the company.

The rationale behind deviating from my usual and giving the Rebalancing range a go was based on its formulation and ingredients that specifically help to perk up your skin and restore its radiance, and in fact La Clinica recommends its use during travel to avoid lackluster, jet-lagged skin. How could I resist?

I was provided with the entire Rebalancing kit and an additional product of their multi-functional Skin Detox Facial Exfoliating Scrub & Mask. This was everything I needed to care for my skin given that the kit includes a cleanser, face mist, serum and day, night and eye creams. Plus a soft wash cloth all encased in an extremely handy toiletry bag which is perfect for travel. Everything fits in that toiletry bag and you just need to throw it in your suitcase. Every product in the kit is full size, so at $163 it represents exceptional value. Speaking from experience, a La Clinica kit lasts me over a month of use. A little goes a long way with their creams and serums.

Up front, I want to mention that the Rebalancing range does contain vitamin A and for some people this can result in a minor breakout due to its detoxifying action, but do persist through this initial purge and if you are someone who often has breakouts or has to deal with acne, this range is also great in helping your skin to clear up and restore its equilibrium.

A creamy cleanser is my preference, which is the type of cleanser in the range. It means that I don't have that squeaky tight feeling after washing my face and I find that when used with the wash cloth it removes my makeup without the need for makeup cleanser. The aptly named Emergency Booster Serum is brilliant. Living up to its name, I found it certainly did give my skin that boost and amp up a perky glow even when I felt like death after sitting on a plane for 26 hours. Most of the time I don't have the patience to wait in between the separate application of the serum and day or night cream so I put one or two pumps of the serum in my palm and mix it together with my cream to apply as one. Perhaps that is an off label use of the products, but it works for me.

What I absolutely loved was the Skin Detox Facial Exfoliating Scrub & Mask. That is a mouthful to say but it is amazing. It is a scrub and mask in one so that means less to pack. Multi-tasking and multi-functioning is the name of the game. Whenever I arrive at my destination, I always give myself a good body and face scrub in the shower. It's quite grainy which I like in a scrub and has a very fresh and energizing scent. The way you use it is to first apply it as a scrub onto your cleansed, wet skin and then after you've finished massaging it around your face you leave it to sit for up to ten minutes to do its work as a mask. I came to like using it in the shower; I would cleanse my face at the beginning of my shower, use it as a scrub and then leave it on while I washed my hair or shaved my legs. With the warm water and steamy environment it felt very hammam-like and after I washed it off my face was baby soft and so fresh and so clean. I am for sure going to include this in my regular routine.

I've been entirely happy with how well the Rebalancing range products worked for me. It really nourished my skin and I do believe it delivered on giving me that extra level of care to help my skin look mostly unaffected by the long flights, the jet-lag and going from a blazing hot Australian summer to a New York winter. Though I would possibly have never tried these particular products as I assumed it was catered more toward problematic skin due to its focus on clearing and balancing the skin, I found it was very much well suited to counteract the negative effects of travel and flying, particularly dull and dryer than usual skin.

March 21, 2016

Spring and the City

Mic check. One, two.

Hello. Hola. Greetings from New York City. It's Sunday 20th March today which means the official start of spring. Though looking outside my window with the view of Queens over the Citi Fields stadium through to the city, the outlook belies the ticking over of seasons from winter to spring. Interestingly enough, snow was forecast for today but it never made its way to the party.

Despite the slightly cool and crisp weather for the most part of the last few weeks, there have been days of superb warmth and sun which produced perfect conditions to spend some hours in Central Park with lunch grabbed from the nearby food hall at The Plaza Hotel. I can never say no to one of the lobster roll combos from Luke's Lobster down there.

Enough of my rambling though. I have more to share with you but it's another wonderful Sunday in New York City even if the sun isn't out in full force to celebrate the start of spring. I won't let that stop me from making the most of the day, so for now, I'm signing out.

February 11, 2016

Freshly Scent

If scent is an intrinsic part of a person’s identity, you could easily pick me out of a line up based off olfactory senses alone. A full bouquet of florals sprayed with a mist of fresh water and the gentlest sprinkling of spice is me all bottled up.

When it comes to fragrances, I gravitate toward niche and specialist perfume brands and houses, such as Penhaligon’s and Santa Maria Novella. Though often times pricier than the more popular designer brand perfumes, for me the exceptional quality makes it an easy purchase. Often employing a small batch approach to their production, I find these scents to be so beautifully and intricately composed 

Slightly obscure and less known in the Australian market, Le Labo is another of my favored perfume brands. Though their fragrances are very delightful, what I really love is the entire concept behind selecting and purchasing one of their perfumes. Each perfume is compounded and bottled at the time of purchase to ensure it is nothing but fresh from the day you walk out of the store with it and with the option to personalize the label, that special little touch makes it a perfect gift. 

A terrific trifecta of jasmine, tuberose and lily, Lys 41 is a bold and sophisticated floral. Balanced out by the addition of vanilla, musk and some slight woody notes, the excessive headiness that sometimes comes with florals is avoided. For myself, once it has settled on my skin the overriding scent that comes through is of the white flowers and in terms of wearability, it lasts the entire day.

What about that cute personalized label? Complete with the location at which it was compounded, the date and the name of the person it is for, it’s a lovely keepsake to commemorate a special occasion or even to remember a trip by. The date also serves the useful purpose of knowing if your perfume is still fresh, as perfumes will keep for roughly two years when stored under the the ideal conditions. If you are to believe what my label says, my bottle of Lys was formulated for me on Christmas, but in fact Mr Santa Claus had it put together for me a few days prior though I am sure a day here or there will not make any difference for me as my bottle will be long empty by the time two years rolls around!

Available from Mecca Cosmetica and various stores and boutiques internationally – do visit their flagship store in New York City if you’re ever in town!

February 02, 2016

Sweet Things

If there’s one thing almost all of us enjoy, it’s taking a few moments for ourselves. Whether it’s kicking back at home with a cup of tea and a book or going for a relaxing walk, these moments of me time are often essential in keeping us happy campers in life. It’s a real treat to slip away and just retreat into your own little world of you. When I give myself some time out I usually like to accompany it with something delicious to eat, often of the sweet variety. I can at times have a shocking sweet tooth but fortunately for me, and perhaps to the joy of dentists everywhere, my love for sweets has diminished somewhat as I’ve gotten older although a little something something every now and then is always welcomed, and looked forward to.

When I first heard about Jersey Jack, I knew I had to pay a visit. A gelato bar and dessert parlor? How could I not? I love the concept of a standalone establishment specializing in desserts. Sometimes that’s all you want and need. Not a full meal before you can get to the sweets! Located in Como, I wandered through their doors on a Sunday afternoon during their first week of operation. A cosy spot that is dotted with armchairs along with table seating, I laid my eyes upon the selection of gelato and sorbet. When it comes to ice cream, I can be quite fussy. I prefer creamy gelato or refreshing sorbet and don’t enjoy the overly sweet ice cream creations that are devoid of that rich and good creaminess that gelato should have. These abominations I refer to as “ice cream confection”. Now that I have that off my chest, being an exceptionally sticky and humid day I knew sorbet was the only way to go and after sampling a couple of flavors, I knew mango was the one to go with.

Having enjoyed my cone of mango sorbet, I was delighted to be invited to attend the launch party which was held this past weekend. Again it was another uncomfortably humid day, so no better way to cool down than with a few frozen treats. I was given a champagne cocktail upon arrival which was served with a scoop of yummy strawberry sorbet. Told to sample and try as many flavors as I wanted, I did my best to oblige. I also helped myself to a fluffy cloud of pink cotton candy. No regrets.

My top pick that day was the tiramisu gelato. It tasted just like a piece of tiramisu and I loved the crumbs of savoiardi mixed throughout. What they are churning out at Jersey Jack is on point. Super smooth in texture with intense flavors, it’s easy to eat because it’s not heavy or dense despite the creaminess. Using only local produce, the milk used in the gelato comes from the Jersey cows, which are said to produce some pretty top quality milk.

In addition to the seating inside, there is a secret garden out the back and seating set up out front where you can chill out with your drinks and dessert. It’s a nice little place to while away the time and that’s exactly the intention behind Jersey Jack. Sure, if you’re looking for a quick delicious hit, they’ve got it but it’s also a place where you can take five to sit back and relax. Enjoyed on your own or with company, it’s a great spot to indulge yourself a little and sip that coffee just a tad slower.

Oyster & Pearl . All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.