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November 15, 2016

Just Because

If your upbringing was anything like mine, you may also have a mother who has a penchant for keeping the 'nice things' for a 'special occasion'. If this sounds familiar then you will know what I mean. The nice plates for when guests come over. The crystal vases kept in their boxes. The linens that stay in the cupboard and have probably never been used.

Try as I might, I've not been able to change her habits in this regard. I've even taken the morbid route and asked her what the point of all this preservation of the 'good stuff' is if she should not use these things during her lifetime. Her swift reply was that it would then go to me.

Personally I do not subscribe to this line of thinking. I believe in using the good stuff.  All the good stuff. I don't believe you need a reason or a specific occasion to make each day just a bit special. With so many of us become increasingly busier and perhaps even experiencing stress, I believe that to regularly enjoy the things that bring you joy help in making life that little bit more pleasant.

Making the every day special is the sentiment behind Jo Malone's celebration of 'just because'. To treat others just because you thought of them. Or you wanted to spoil them and make them smile. Sometimes the person you are treating might just happen to be yourself, and why should we not get to treat ourselves?

Just prior to leaving for New York (literally, the day before I flew out), I was invited to the Jo Malone counter at Myer Perth and better introduced to the Jo Malone brand. Though I was familiar with the brand already, I had not explored the range fully and learning about the ability to combine two or more of its fragrances to custom create your perfect personal scent was both interesting and appealing. This is what the brand refers to as The Art of Fragrance Combining. What appeals most to me about this is the ability to translate my favorite scents over the seasons, simply by adding another layer. As I travel between Perth and New York often, I am obviously finding myself in the opposite season and a warm and rich scent that works beautifully for a New York City winter is not the best choice for the height of summer in Perth.

My preference when it comes to scents leans toward the lighter florals. I always describe it as a light floral with a splash of water. That's exactly how I think of it in my mind. It came as no surprise to me that I gravitated to the Wild Bluebell, which I am told is one of their popular scents. The English Pear & Freesia was recommended to me by the Jo Malone fragrance specialist, and pairing these two together created something lovely. It was interesting that I found certain scents which I would ordinarily never have even tried, such as the Wood Sage & Sea Salt, to be quite pleasant and for this reason I definitely suggest visiting a Jo Malone counter or boutique to have one of their fragrance specialists help you work through their range. It is a very expansive range!

I was very generously gifted the Cologne Collection, which has been released as part of their Christmas range. The packaging is classically Jo Malone with a little twist of mischief with the black and gold harlequin print. These miniature colognes were perfect to take in my suitcase and the mix of scents worked from Perth to Abu Dhabi through to New York. Included in this collection are 9mL bottles of Lime Basil & Mandarin, Basil & Neroli, Pomegranate Noir, Mimosa & Cardamon and Wood Sage & Salt. Between them, these take you through the citrus, floral, fruity and woody scent families.

I also received a bottle each of the Wild Bluebell and English Pear & Freesia and a travel candle in the Lime Basil & Mandarin. The travel candle was a very thoughtful addition, to take with me on my trips to New York. I can imagine that the zingy freshness of this scent will definitely help perk me up after the many hours of flying. Did you know that Jo Malone makes a mammoth candle weighing in at 2.5kg? Now that is one candle I would love to have in my house.

The Merry Mischief Christmas collection has been released to counters as of Sunday 13 November. With a variety of products that start from $50 and are ready for gifting (all are packaged exquisitely) you will surely find something to help spread the holiday cheer.

October 06, 2016

Making a Statement

For those who have the fine pleasure of knowing me off the web, they would have no qualms in confirming my claim that I can be an outspoken and forthright person. Speaking my mind is not something I struggle with though I don't deny that sometimes the delivery could be fine tuned, but hey, I can't weigh myself down with all the coulda, woulda, shouldas.

Although I always recall being this way I believe it's a combination of nature and nurture. Intrinsically my character and personality is such that speaking up comes easier to me than it may others, yet I have definitely found that as I've become older and entered the world of being a  'professional career woman', I've developed my assertiveness even further. In what I do I am outnumbered by men and it's very easy to be overlooked or not heard when you're a female, especially when you're of a petite stature and sometimes even mistaken for a high school student. Yes, seriously. I take it as a compliment that perhaps I've found the fountain of youth, but I surely cannot believe anyone would think me to be in my teens!

In a time long ago when I used to be able to read sheet music and play the flute, I was sitting with my tutor watching another student playing beautifully on the piano during a recital. She was amazing and I remember my tutor remarking on her perfect posture and impeccable poise, more than anybody else we had seen, and theorizing that she possibly developed that in order to compensate for her slight frame against the hulking size of a grand piano. That coupled with her faultless technique made all the statement that was needed; she meant business.

It's not always your words that tell who you are, and often the words are just a minor part of the story. The way you carry yourself, your clothes, your appearance, your style. They all create that story. Me, I like my shoes to do the talking when I'm not so busy running my mouth.

I love almost all shoes. I'm fairly certain this is well documented. Something about a beautiful pair of shoes sends my heart all aflutter and I begin to scheme on how I can make them mine. There's a time and place for sensible shoes but I always prefer the kind that are little bit more party than business and you can't go past the essential statement shoe.

A lot of the time I plan my outfit around the shoe. When I buy shoes, I don't think about if I have clothing to work with it because it's the clothes that have to get in formation, not the other way around. Three particular pairs of mine that I love are every bit a statement shoe in their own respect. It doesn't matter that it may not be current season, because a good shoe never really ages.

Sophia Webster always serves the fun and whimsical, with bright tones, glitter, printed fabrics and cute features like their laser cut wings. I bought this particular pair, the Keira, last year and don't wear it nearly enough as I should.

I usually gloss over Fendi in the shoe stakes but the Bug heels were one pair I had to have. There was something about the menacing look in the eyes and I don't quite mind the quirk factor of having a face on my feet.

Currently the MVP of the shoe game is the Aquazzura Wild Thing sandal. It's fast becoming an iconic shoe like the Valentino Rockstud. I like to describe them as being a little sassy and a little Sesame Street! They give me Mr Snuffleupagus vibes. Does anyone else see that? I think most are in agreement that the red is the knockout color despite it being available in a variety.

In a couple days I'll be strolling the shoe departments of Saks and Bergdorf's in New York. It's a bit like heaven to me and I can't wait for another little beauty to add to the collection. Watch this space. Or my Instagram.

All photographs by Soul of Shu

September 26, 2016

Hey, how you doing?

Sorry I ain't been through. It's been a minute, thought I'd get back to you.

Major props to any of you who read that to the beat of De La Soul's Ring Ring. Classic song, people. C-l-a-s-s-i-c.

It has indeed been a minute, maybe even a minute-and-a-half, since I've been through here. Maybe you've been wondering where I've been, what's been going on, was a missing persons report necessary? Pull up a seat and I'll fill you in.

Quite simply and very honestly, over the last few months I have not been in any real shape to do much. Both on a social media front and also on the real life front. From the time I came back from New York in April, me being very unwell and sick was pretty much a record on repeat. You should see my record of how many sick days I've taken at work during these months. I'm astounded I have any sick days left actually.

I cannot ever recall a time that I have been as ill as I had been during these months. There was a point I thought I may have pneumonia. My most recent bout of illness occurred just a week and a half prior to my birthday. I was so sick of being sick and for it to happen again just before my birthday, it really upset me. I had planned my celebrations, been shopping for my outfit (I already had the shoes worked out, of course) and to be sick once again was not a birthday present I wanted. This was also the most unwell I found myself to be of all the times I had been sick and I needed the entire week off work. I could not even move from the couch to the bed and one morning woke to my hair and clothes being soaked wet due to my raging fever.

Thankfully, I am now feeling much better. Not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. Being unwell is not just hard on your body but also your mood and your spirits. I had neither the energy or the inclination to do the things I usually do, even down the going out and spending time with friends.

As I remarked to a friend today, I feel that the old me is returning. Perhaps right now I'd say I'm running at seventy-five percent. I won't be hard on myself though. Sometimes you need to be knocked around and knocked down to realize you need to take better care of yourself.

I have plenty to share with you and I look forward to bringing you some of the content I have been creating behind the scenes. Next week I leave once again for New York and of course, I will take you all with me.

But for now, it's so good to be back.

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.