December 18, 2014

Eyes Forward

The gears have well and truly clicked into drive mode as we speed our way toward Christmas and the end of the year. Many of you may already be winding down in regard to your work duties, others like myself still have a few more days until that sweet salvation of what is the end of year break. Along with copious amounts of food accompanying the merriment and festivities, parties and events are a huge feature on the calendar at this time of year. The parties start in the weeks before Christmas even rolls around and really seem to continue well into January. If you ask me, I think that we don’t really snap out of party mode until we’ve seen Australia Day through. How could we not enjoy this time of year though, especially living a city like Perth? The weather is great, the beaches are beckoning. The summer vibes are in full effect.

This time of year can also be a little harsh on the bank balance. All the gifting and going out can see your handbag filled with everything but cash. Maybe you’ve succumbed to a couple of new outfits or shoes, or both, to see you through all the parties. I understand, it’s a bit difficult to recycle an outfit when you’ve got a party on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but you might be able to swing it for New Years Day BBQ. After all, most people are probably too tired to even notice. So when you’re a bit strapped for cash, but still want to be on your A-game, you have to be thrifty and there’s nothing better than a budget beauty buy. 


If you read my previous post reviewing Red Cherry eye lashes, you’ll know how much a simple pair of falsies can completely alter your look. It’s one of the most effective ways to switch up your look from day to night and takes very little effort – once you get the hang of it! I have to say, I’m still perfecting my technique but I’m definitely getting there. The range of Red Cherry lashes stocked by Manyfruits covers all the bases and any look you’re wanting to achieve. My personal preference would be for an eyelash that still looks natural but has a teensy touch of drama to it. Starting from $5.50 a pair with discounts offered for multiple pairs purchased, you can’t go wrong and if you look after them, you’ll get many uses out of them. I find giving them a gentle wipe over with a moist tissue after removing to be sufficient and I store it back in its case for next time.

 
If you’re tending to your lashes, you can’t forget your eyebrows. Well shaped and groomed eyebrows are everything. I personally have my eyebrows threaded. I am complimented often on my eyebrows and I have to say, I owe it all to threading. I will not let wax anywhere near my brows. With threading, the shape is so much more precise. When I was sent the Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow duo kit from Manyfruits, I was ecstatic. I am familiar with the famed Anastasia salon, in fact one of my friends had her brows shaped at their Beverly Hills salon. If anyone is the guru when it comes to brows, it has to be them. Their brow products are some of the most holiest of holy grail beauty products, and for good reason. They are fantastic. Though not exactly the cheapest products, the Dipbrow Pomade is $28 and the Highlighting Duo pencil is $30, they will last for months upon months. The smallest amount of pomade is needed to define and fill in your brows. Using the pencil after to highlight the areas under and above the brows is the perfect finishing touch; it really makes the brows pop. I love the pencil. Love, love, love the pencil. 

Wearing Red Cherry #101 on the upper lashes with #502 on the bottom lashes. Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Ebony and Highlighting Duo pencil on the brows. This is a very heavy and thick eyelash. Much heavier than the #40 which I previously reviewed. I wouldn't choose to wear this particular style again. Having smaller eyes I think they are too overwhelming for me, plus I generally prefer a more natural effect. As you can see, the Anastasia products do a great job on defining the brows. It was a very hot and humid day when we shot these photos and the pomade stayed put the entire day.

Not having used these two products before it helped me to watch a couple of YouTube tutorials just to get an idea of the best way to apply the pomade and use the pencil. You’ll need an angled eyebrow brush for the pomade. Putting a small amount of the product onto the brush, dab it on a tissue or the back of your hand before applying. I have used the angled tip of my brush to draw a guide line and then filled in with soft, short strokes and also just worked the brush through the brows. The second technique gives a more natural result and that would be my preference. Most importantly, do not be heavy handed! A little goes a very long way. I used the ebony shade, which is the darkest in the range and it certainly is dark. If your eyebrows are very dark and full, as mine are, the ebony should be a suitable match for you. If you have dark hair but your eyebrows are not so full and a little more sparse, you may find the ebony too dark and wish to go down a shade. 

Wearing Red Cherry #WSP. Check my previous review for more on this particular lash style.

Using the highlighting pencil afterward, the matte shade is great for above the brows. Just a light touch and then blend. The shimmer end is perfect underneath, especially in defining the arch. I was happy to use just the shimmer end of the pencil on my eyes with a single coat of mascara on my lashes with no other eyeshadow. I think the shimmer end could also work well if you like to line the inner corners of your eye. The highlighting pencil is one product I will be keeping in my makeup arsenal. Having used it, I am not surprised that it’s the cult product that it is. 

Wearing Red Cherry #41. Good for length with a nice curl. In addition to the #WSP, these are a style I'd choose to wear again. They are probably a 'neater' looking lash than the #WSP in that all the lash strands are positioned in a straight line along the band, whereas the #WSP lashes are placed in a criss-cross pattern throughout. Although for some this can simulate their natural lashes, I do think it can sometimes look a bit messy.

You can find the Red Cherry lashes and Anastasia products on the Manyfruits website. Just in time for Christmas they are offering some very affordable packages, and have offered one package for mini Christmas giveaway. As with all good presents, the contents are a surprise, but you can be sure to find that it includes one or two of the products that I have loved. Check out the Oyster & Pearl Instagram for more details.

December 10, 2014

Animalia

I remember as a child, one of the most preferred books to be checked out of my primary school’s library for reading time was Animalia. Thumbing through the richly illustrated pages was a journey into the animal kingdom. It never ceased to amaze and excite me, no matter how many times I would site and pore over the book, each time I’d find something else I hadn’t seen before. It’s an unfortunate aspect of growing up and growing older that we often lose this amazement and delight in these simple pleasures. Everything is “been there, done that” and very little seems to truly excite us with the same wide-eyed enthusiasm of childhood. 


Being invited the Perth Zoo Instameet held over the wekend wasn’t just an ordinary run-of-the-mill day at the zoo for me. It was a chance to become reacquainted again with my inner child. To be struck down with giddy excitement over meeting Tricia, the zoo’s much loved elephant. Indeed, Tricia has been a resident at the zoo since I was a little girl and she was a somewhat younger elephant.


It was also an opportunity to meet a number of other Perth bloggers and Instagrammers, some who I already know and others I had yet to meet in person but had already become acquainted with through their accounts. Split into two groups, the group I was in was led by Keiran, a very passionate employee of the zoo who gave us an insight to the work they carry out.


Though many may argue that animals should not be kept in such facilities, the conservation work that is undertaken at Perth Zoo is vital to see the continuation of a number of species. In an ideal world, yes, these animals would not be housed in zoos and they would live in the wild. Unfortunately this is not the world we live in and due to the actions of humans, we have and will continue to see a number of species disappear forever. Conservation work is at the fore of the zoo's operations, with breeding and rescue programs in place that will help in facilitating the future release of these animals back into the wild.


Visitors to the zoo can help in supporting the conservation programs through one of the many "close encounter" experiences. Starting from as little as $5 for the unique chance to feed one of their giraffes, these special experiences are perfect for the animal lover wanting to get up close to their favourite animal. I was lucky enough to feed a giraffe and enter the elephant enclosure to meet Tricia and her friend Permai. I was also somewhat unlucky to have orangutan poo flung at me while viewing these great apes from the top of their enclosure. We were told by Keiran and the keeper that they tend to do this as a prank toward people they do not know. I can tell you that I gave my reflexes a test that day and very deftly avoided the poo projectile.


These close encounter experiences seem to be a lesser known feature of a visit to the zoo which is a shame because they are definitely something worth adding on to make your day just that little bit more special. With experiences that will suit all budgets, it's also a fantastic gift idea. With Christmas coming up in just two weeks, it's a gift that will definitely wow the person receiving it.


Thank you to Perth Zoo for the invitation. It was a truly memorable and very special day full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

December 03, 2014

L'heure du Thé

It was famously written in The Portrait of a Lady that "there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea" and who am I to argue with the literary greatness of Henry James? Perhaps one day when I am cited over one thousand times in the Oxford English Dictionary I will be in a position to do so, but even then why would I argue with someone who evidently enjoys the ritual of afternoon tea as much as I do?

The simple pleasure of a well brewed pot of tea and small delights to please the taste buds is something that does wonders for the soul, even more so when shared with a dear friend. I don't think you can underestimate the wonderfully restorative and calming properties of a beautiful cup of tea and there's surely nothing better than an afternoon spent with a special friend who is as sweet as the treats on offer and with whom the conversation flows as freely as the dainty tea pot.


Upon learning that afternoon tea had made its way to Bistro Guillaume at Crown Perth, there was no question that I had to partake and in fact, indulge, in this much loved past time of mine. I say indulge as it is billed as an "indulgent" and "decadent" afternoon tea complete with a glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne for the price of $65 per person. Served only on Saturday and Sunday from 2pm, the dining room of Bistro Guillaume was teeming with tables of women (surprisingly, only women) navigating their way through tiers of sweet and savoury treats.


The glass of champagne is served upon being seated and we are given some time to view the menu to make our tea selection. The tea of choice at Bistro Guillaume is none other than the exquisite Mariage Frères. Our tiered stand of goodies is delivered to the table along with a separate slate tray upon which are the spanner crab sandwiches. Reaching for the small square of sandwich first, there's a very positive but incoherent noise that makes its way out of both of our mouths. The crab was flaky and sweet, mixed up deliciously with the creamy mayonnaise and was a good choice to start off with.


When it comes to afternoon and high tea, I thoroughly enjoy the savoury component and always am left desiring just one or two pieces more of savoury items. The savoury treats help to balance out the sweetness that follows and I often find them much smaller in size that so though there may be an equal number of savoury to sweet pieces, there's just not quite enough savoury. This is what I felt of the composition of the food that day and my friend agreed.  We loved every savoury piece so much and just wanted a little bit more.


In addition to the spanner crab sandwich, we were served a small slice of a chicken waldorf champagne baguette, rare roast beef on a crouton disc, smoked salmon and dill creme blini, veal sausage roll and a mini quiche. Each was happily consumed with approving nods and grunts shared between the two of us.


The sweet situation consisted of mini scones sandwiched with raspberry coulis and creme chantilly, white and milk chocolate mousse, lemon tartlets, vanilla creme mille-feuille and two macarons, one being pistachio and the other salted caramel. We broke each macaron in half so we could both try the two flavours and of the two my favourite was salted caramel which thankfully was not sickly sweet as anything made of caramel can sometimes be.


The scones were less cake and bread like and more like small rounds of shortbread. Upon biting into one, it broke up like a cookie and had more crunch to it than a scone ordinarily would. The tangy filling of the lemon tartlets was really quite smooth with the sweetness and the acidity balanced perfectly. 


Upon seeing the chocolate mousse covered in ganache I thought to myself that I had eaten this before. It looked so very familiar. I attend a number of conferences and professional events held at the Crown complex each year and one of the best things about these events are our meals. I have been served a white and milk chocolate mousse covered in chocolate ganache more than a few times and sure enough when I took a small forkful of the mousse there were the familiar white and brown layers. I thought this was interesting although I'm sure the catering for events and conferences probably does borrow heavily from the various restaurants.


I can't complain about the quality or the taste of everything we consumed that afternoon. My favourite savory item would be the spanner crab sandwich and of the sweet items I would pick the vanilla creme mille-feuille filled with the luscious creme patisserie that oozed out from between the flaky layers of puff pastry. If there is something I would like to see though is more of a French feel to the menu. Although everything served has taken some cue from French food, whether it be the raspberry coulis and creme chantilly in the scones or the blinis and baguettes in place of more English style savouries, I feel that Bistro Guillaume could serve an afternoon tea which is distinct from all the other afternoon teas available in Perth by giving more of a nod toward traditional French treats and those that are less commonly found in Perth. I would love to see the likes of madeleines and caneles, which would definitely set Bistro Guillaume apart as I don't often see these offered by many cafes in Perth and on a personal note, I miss eating caneles so nothing would make me happier. Although quiches and macarons are undoubtedly of French origin, they've now been adopted as part of our Australian diets and feature in most afternoon tea menus. There's no reason to not continue serving them, but if there's one thing that could set Bistro Guillaume's afternoon tea apart from the rest would be taking full advantage of its French roots.

Bistro Guillaume on Urbanspoon

November 30, 2014

A Technicolour Summer

It's a new dawn, it's a new day and it's a new summer. The page has turned over on the calendar today and we welcome the return of the Australian summer. Here come those days of seemingly never ending sunlight and heat. The sun greets us earlier than ever and come evening, hangs around like the dinner guest who just will not leave. The temperatures soar and we're almost shocked to remember just how oppressive the Australian sun can be. However unbearable the heat may become, it's a magical time of saltwater and sand, cold drinks and browned skin.


Summer to me is all about bright colours and fun. A playful and carefree time. It's gratitude for the city where I live, enjoying the beaches and the coastline from which come the long awaited cool afternoon breezes. Summer Rising, a collaborative project by Perth based international artist Francesca Gnagnarella and local well-loved fashion label Ethel & Leo is a celebration of this hypnotic time of year. A visual feast of colours, prints and textures, the pairing was a perfect match made in technicolour heaven.


I was invited to be amongst the first to view this special showcase last week, held at Francesca's beautiful home which doubles as her creative space and gallery. The collaboration between Francesca and Jess, the talented creator of Ethel & Leo, came about almost as a synchronistic event with neither woman having met or even knowing each other but both wanting to collaborate in some form. As Francesca tells it, "when I first saw Jess' dresses at Telstra Perth Fashion Festival I just fell in love with every single one of the them, and the same happened to Jess when she saw my paintings for the first time; she just died." This mutual respect and appreciation for each other's work led to them exploring the possibility of working together. With their shared love of the Western Australian coast and similar vision, passion and philosophy behind their creative pursuits, Summer Rising was born.


Showcasing Francesca's amazing art, ranging from canvasses that cover the expanse of an entire wall to smaller sized pieces enframed in colourful perspex, with Jess' summer ready designs, I found this to be one collaboration that truly worked in harmony. The collection of Ethel & Leo's dresses made in bright colours and fun prints were perfect for the warmer days ahead, accessorized with show stopper beaded necklaces. The shapes were flattering and easily worn by women of all body shapes and sizes. In particular I loved the trapeze style dress worn by Francesca that evening. What's quite exciting is that Jess is turning one of Francesca's paintings, The Future of Now, into a limited edition silk run which will be used in one of her designs.


For her part in this collaboration, Francesca created a series of bright, coastal and summery works to embrace the feel of the exhibition which would work in synergy with Ethel & Leo's collection. She says that it was a fun experience to work with vibrant colour palettes before she starts work on her next series which will be exhibited in Hong Kong and based on an entirely different subject matter. Francesca draws her inspiration from the landscape and finds a great deal of her inspiration in the colour palette offered up by Mother Nature. This is not at all surprising when seeing a vivid painting of orange, red and pink accented by 23 carat gold leaf which looks like it has been plucked directly from the sky and applied to the canvas.


If you are interested in viewing Francesca's work, please contact her via email on info@francescagnagnarella.com and as always, Ethel & Leo can be purchased via their website and from their Claremont boutique.

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