November’s Sample Bar

Hi all!

So on this busy Wednesday I bring you a quick post sharing what I received in my November Sample Bar Glam Pack. But first:

There are only 28 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!

So this month’s Sample Bar Glam Pack was focused on the transition from Spring in to Summer and some versatile products that may be useful in this time.

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What I Got

1. Organic Rosehip Oil by Essano

I liked the cleanser I received last month so was happy to receive a sample of the rosehip oil from the same brand. This is certified organic and is a gem for reducing wrinkles and uneven skin tone. At the moment I have been loving my Trilogy rosehip oil but this will make a handy handbag spare. It doesn’t have too strong of a scent and sinks into the skin relatively quickly however my favourite thing about this rosehip oil is the affordable price. These can be picked up full size (20mL) from the supermarket for a pretty reasonable $22.99.

2. Model Co Cheek and Lip Tint

Most likely the product I was most excited by at first glance was this cheek and lip tint by Model Co. I love the idea of tints but haven’t tried any out. This one is  a berry pink colour and blends out on the cheeks relatively easy. I didn’t have much success using this on the lips and in future see it more as a quick and easy blush however I love the idea of a multipurpose product. This was a half size of their 10mL product which retails for $24.00.

3. Vital C Hyrdrating Repair Creme

This rather expensive creme ($109.70 for 60mL) is supposed to be great for sensitive skin so I was happy to receive a small sample pot to try out. Apparently its high price tag is due to the level of vitamins ACE but I don’t think I would rush out to buy it. Interested to see if it is any better than my Dream Cream by Lush which I am loving.

4. Avene Extremely Gentle Cleanser

Another product suitable for sensitive skin which was great to see. Also good to see a relatively large 20mL sample (those tiny sachets drive me insane). This cleanser is soap free and has a neutral pH to thoroughly cleanse whilst also calming and avoiding irritation. Free of fragrance, perfume and parabens. Definitely happy to try this out and see how well it works. Full size (200mL) is $43.70.

5. Holistic Hair Sea Spray

Another product I was excited to see was this hair spray. For someone who avoids all hair care this was a rare moment but I like the idea of this natural spray, with lime and essential oils (and of course salt!) to add texture to curls and create beachy waves. The scent is pleasant and its another good size sample so I was pretty happy all round. Full size of 250mL comes with a pretty reasonable $22.45 price tag and can be bought online.

6. Daylong Sunscreen

The sixth and bonus product was three sachets of sunscreen. I hate sachets but at least these kind of make sense and are easy to pop into your wallet for those times we forget sunblock. This sunscreen in SPF 50 and is supposed to be light and non-greasy which is always good to hear. It also lasts 8 hours which means one application should last you most of the day. This swiss sunscreen goes for $34.99 (150mL).

The Verdict

Overall I thought the products in the box were all well chosen and none of them were ones I wouldn’t be able to or willing to use. With a lot of sensitive skin care and a couple of season specific products I am excited to try most of these out. My one main negative is that I wish there had been a full size product however the decent sample sizes weren’t as small as usual. Not my favourite box, but not a bad box either. Excited to see what Christmas brings!

What did you think this month?

Xx

 

Saving My Skin: An Introduction

Hi All!

While I sit here drinking tea there are brownies baking in the oven so forgive me if I get a little distracted.

SAVING MY SKIN

This is a post I keep meaning to do but was a little intimidated with tackling it. I have mentioned this previously but I have pretty awful skin and this post is a prelude/introduction to a small project of mine related to that. I know that having bad skin might seem pretty minimal (and in a lot of ways it definitely is) but this doesn’t mean I can’t try to deal with it or talk about it in an honest way. I’m not looking to complain specifically but more just provide a perspective that is mine and perhaps may be similar to some other people out there and that will help explain why I am starting this series of posts.

I get a lot of eczema and just generally dry, angry, resentful skin issues. I have had skin issues since before I can remember although there has always been periods where it was fine and then where it got bad. Now it just seems to be barely manageable (at a stretch) and has become part of how I define myself.  I choose outfits based on how well they are going to cover my skin. I wear tights and scarves to hide redness which is fine in Winter but becomes a little challenging in the Summer. I can only wear makeup on the rare days where my skin feels mostly normal (it seems cruel that when my skin is at its worst it is too dry to try and attempt to hide with makeup, or my super-sensitive buddy  just decides to react to the makeup and get even worse. Awesome). I shy away from any cameras because I hate the way my skin looks and seeing it just makes me angry. I sleep terribly and although it is not just my skin feeling sore and uncomfortable 24/7 can become frustrating.

The only thing that controls my skin is bursts of prednisone/hyrdrocortisone and other things that are great but not really beneficial or healthy for my skin/body in the long term. I should warn you that I have done zero research for this post because my goal isn’t to create a new Wikipedia page or act like I know what I am talking about,  I just want to describe how it seems to me personally. I’m not a dermatologist and all I know is that my skin feels like it is slowly getting worse in the long term not better. It reacts to more things more easily and is just generally less controllable. Hydrocortisone creams and short bursts of prednisone are great (and usually necessary) when my skin flies out of control but they really just treat the symptom at the surface and don’t do anything in the long term at making my skin and overall health better, in fact it is more likely doing damage over time and overuse.

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One thing I have learnt is that we are responsible for our emotions  so for me it was a decision to stop wallowing in these kinds of thoughts and try and actually deal with it. So after a slightly negative and rambly intro (sorry) here is my project for the foreseeable future.

The plan is to choose different trials/experiments and run them for two weeks whilst keeping a diary to monitor as best as I can how certain changes I make affect my skin as well as my general health. Types of trials include diet related ones like no dairy products as well as more lifestyle focused changes like going to the gym more often or focusing on improving my mental state. Obviously there are so many factors involved it can be close to impossible to know what factors are causing what outcomes but there is no harm trying. This is a way I can try and proactively find a better solution that medication and take some control of my skin. If two weeks of a certain change has an effect than a longer trial may help confirm the effects. I have just finished my first fortnight trial of going gluten free and will be posting about how I found it as well as some restaurant/cafe/meal tips that I found but I thought an introduction may be in order first. I also thought that in this series I could talk about some skin care options that have worked well for me (though they are few and far between).

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I know a lot of people won’t be interested in this but I started a blog to focus on things that are important to me and trying to improve my skin is definitely something I think about a lot. If anyone reading has any tips for sensitive skin/eczema or something similar than please share. Likewise if you have any tips for changes to my lifestyle/diet that I should try let me know.

Hope you guys are having a great week 🙂 See you soon with a going gluten free post!

Xx

Inside My Mind #4

  • I don’t think I have mentioned on the blog yet that I saw Wicked. Well I did and it was kind of mind blowing. The story I already knew was great from reading the book but the show did an amazing job of adapting the rather complex plot and combining it with stunning sets and a generally incredible production. The two leads were nothing less than perfection, I wanted to go back and watch it again the next day. Unfortunately due to my lack of endless funds for seeing the same musical over and over again I have had to settle for reading the book (settle may be the wrong word, it’s a great book!) and simultaneously singing myself the songs. It isn’t the same. Definitely the best show I have been to and the songs have not stopped running through my head (I’m looking at you Defying Gravity…).

  • Speaking of songs I have only just cottoned on to the popularity of Haim and although I think they sound a bit 90s I kind of love their upbeat songs, perfect for doing dishes or singing along in the car. I may be the last person to finally listen to them, not that this is unusual.
  • It is only Tuesday but it feels like Friday. This week has been full on so far! But also kind of productive which is always good. Although 90% of the time I feel like I am still just doing this:

  • Tonight I made another chickpea salad (I think it may be time to admit I have a problem/obsession) to go with homemade meatballs. I am enjoying trying new meals so much and love experimenting with new ingredients! Unless I fail, then I wish I had just stuck to the standard pasta bake we all know and love.
  • I am super excited for Christmas (to the slight amusement/annoyance of most of my work colleagues) and have been going a little overboard on creating paper based Christmas decorations for the office (sorry trees!). If you are looking for some ideas for Christmas decorating go check out this amazing post by Maddy (I definitely benefited from her help!).
  • I am nearly out of my Lush Dream Dream and cannot live without it for more than a few hours so may have to buy a big tub. This stuff is the only cream my skin just seems to drink up quite happily without turning angry and vengeful.
  • I am reading like 4 books at once at the moment and not finishing any which isn’t working so well. Listening to Inferno by Dan Brown on audiobook is a lot of fun, I love the focus on Florence and art history (good to know my Arts degree would be useful for something even if it is just so I can feel proud when I understand references).
  • I desperate to make some Strawberries and Cream cupcakes using the beautiful new season strawberries available at the moment but I can never find the time 😦
  • Speaking of baking and delicious things in general I am heading along to High Tea with Dragon’s cooking class focusing on Christmas gifts (edible ones of course) and I am very excited.
  • I never know how to end these so here is a fox gif. I spend a lot of time looking at these….totally not weird.

At least I think it is a fox. Whatever it is I want one

My Big Little City: French Farmer’s Markets

Hi All!

Thank goodness it is the weekend! This week felt exhausting (not that I actually worked any harder) and Friday night (plus a cold beer) couldn’t come any sooner. The end of the week also meant it was the end of my gluten free trial fortnight (which I will be blogging about very soon). What better way to celebrate being able to eat bread than by spending most of Saturday at the local French Farmer’s Market hosted by La Cigale? Being only ten or so minutes drive away and very popular I am not sure how Edd and I have gone so long without cutting our Saturday sleep ins short to eat French food and spend money but nevertheless now that we have gone along I see it becoming a regular occurrence (especially as the weather gets more and more stunning, sorry sleep ins).

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Held in the back area of Parnell I was a little bit (okay, a lot) worried about parking, especially because the thought of parallel parking sends me into a minor panic. Luckily there was a large, non-parallel, parking area where despite being busy and at peak time we found a park in a matter of minutes. The market itself is rather huge with a variety of stalls. There is a big area devoted to fresh produce and the fruit and vegetables looked both affordable and appealing). As well as all the outdoor stalls the La Cigale restaurant area that is open during the week is also thriving with a lot of delicious pastries, a cafe and enough delicious food to make brunch a pretty tough decision.

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For us we ended up going with the roast pork roll from the inside carvery recommended by a friend which looked amazing! The deliciously moist pork came in a beautiful fresh toasted bun with aioli, dijon mustard, plenty of watercress and some tomato along with a fruity chutney that rounded the whole thing off. Perhaps the best part about this meal was the piece of crackling that was nothing less than perfection (okay, so I kind of am obsessed with perfect crackling). For $10 this was a generous meal that we both agreed was pretty amazing.

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I salivate all over my keyboard just looking at this

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As well as actually paying for food perhaps my favourite part of markets is all of the samples….and there are plenty! I don’t think I have seen so many different hummus/aioli flavour combinations in one place at once. Amonst the plethora of different stalls to visit there were take home deserts, Mediterranean dried fruits and nuts, chorizo and salami stalls, a whole store full of french wine, fresh fruit tarts, french cheese, well made coffee (albeit there was a bit of a  wait) and of course plenty of heavenly gluten filled bread (oh and there was even a tea stall!).

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After lunch we were tossing up whether to have the fresh crepes or the fresh fruit ice creams for desert and although I was keen to pretend I was french for the morning the gorgeous weather insisted a freshly made ice cream was in order, and who am I to disagree? I had boysenberry and Edd and strawberry and they were huge and divine. We also ended up taking home some treats to have a nice easy dinner tonight. After much deliberation whilst sampling every food possible we finally decided on some delicious chorizo sausages, a feta and pesto style dip as well as some fresh bread and a strawberry tart for dessert. Yum.

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Could not resist bringing one of these home with us…

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So if you find yourself with nothing to do on a Saturday or a Sunday or if you have a dinner party and want some food inspiration then take a drive to La Cigale where the market is held. It is held between 8am-1.30pm Saturday or 9am-1.30pm Sunday at 69 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell, Auckland. I can’t see myself staying away for long….

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Also, if any one is wondering how it compares to the other popular farmer’s market out at Clevedon which I blogged about here then here are some of my thoughts:

  • The French market is bigger with a lot more produce and stalls as well as a wine shop, proper cafe and a couple other stores. Clevedon markets by contrast had only 1 dip stall (versus like 3 at La Cigales) so there isn’t quite so much variety. I also like the fact that the French market is held on both days of the weekend whilst Clevedon is a Sunday event only.
  • Obviously the French market being in Parnell is a lot more central and despite my reservations still is fine to find parking at. By contrast the Clevedon market is a bit of a drive (albeit a beautiful drive) but being held outside of Auckland in Clevedon it makes for a rather nice escape from the bustle of the city.
  • For kids I would recommend the Clevedon markets just because it is a little less crowded and there is the famous pony ride. At the french market there aren’t any kid related activities (other than keeping them occupied with samples and with patting the variety of friendly dogs that seem to come along). On a side note the live music at the Clevedon market made for an amazing atmosphere that was a little lacking at the French market.
  • Lunch wise both have delicious options but the Cafe at La Cigale is a good option for a proper sit down, big breakfast type of feed. Both were reasonably priced with slightly more seating available at the French market with the large indoor tables versus the couple of hay bales at Clevedon that were always occupied :(.

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Overall I would visit both again but due to its proximity and the larger amount of food and produce present I see the French Farmer’s market becoming a regular addition to a weekend whilst Clevedon may remain a bit more of a special trip out every once in a while.

Any other markets I should be making part of my weekend?

Xx

p.s A very special thanks to my husband for taking most of the amazing photos!

4 Simple Goals… before 2014

Happy Monday!

Today I may have become slightly preoccupied with the idea of Christmas…I realize it is only early November but I decided its time to start preparing Christmas decorations for my workplace (anything to make it slightly less grey and office like). With some Christmas themed paper and a pair of scissors my Christmas bunting got underway! Regardless of my slightly premature Christmas excitement, today I wanted to post on a task that A Beautiful Mess has done the last couple years and I keep meaning to take part (4 Simple Goals before 2014).

The idea is to come up with 4 simple goals to try and focus on before 2014 comes along (in case that wasn’t grasped via the rather self-explanatory title). To be honest I am pretty terrible at goal setting (I dread this part of New Years almost as much as I dread waking up after New Year’s Eve) but maybe this slightly less intimidating task will fare better. With the focus on keeping the goals easy to achieve and on small lifestyle changes/trying out new things, I tried to stick to little changes that weren’t negative or too goal orientated. Despite being a little late to the party I enjoyed choosing 4 little areas of focus and I hope to bring little updates in the lead up to 2014 on how it all goes.

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Pretty self explanatory but I will  elaborate on each goal more in a specific update later on. These are small things that I would like to introduce into my life and I look forward to seeing how I can bring them to life.

Also check out a lovely blogger Tegania and her 4 Simple Goals (and enjoy her beautiful blog while you are at it).

Short post today but more on these later 🙂 Hope you are all having a great start to the week (if not try introducing a little bit of bunting…it’s very therapeutic!)

P.s I just have to mention that I am going to the Wicked stage show tomorrow night and I am VERY excited. I have had these tickets for a couple of months now and waiting has been excruciating.

P.p.s CHRISTMAS IS 43 DAYS AWAY !!

Brunch Club Part 1: Mozaik

Hi All,

Happy Weekend! So this week was a bit of a challenge with work stress and trying to resist gluten as well as being a bit exhausted however the work week ended on a high with a work get together last night that was a lot of fun! Then the weekend rolled around, bringing with it my first brunch with two beautiful and lovely blogging friends, Laura from The Dizain Collective and Maddy from Madicatt (both awesome blogs, grab some tea and take a look!).We had so many options in Auckland for great brunch spots but decided to go with something tried and tested, Mozaik in Mt Eden (I have never tried a Mozaik but everyone else had always had positive experiences). My main concern was that being in the middle of my gluten free trial I might not be able to find something delicious to eat but luckily Mozaik was a great choice with the option of gluten free bread instead of the normal (delicious) stuff.

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To eat I ended up choosing the Field mushrooms with blue cheese sauce and bacon on gluten free toast (tip for bunch blogging, choose more attractive looking food to blog about). My dish arrived sans bacon which was very unfortunate (but handled pretty well by the friendly staff) but was still very delicious! I am a big fan of mushrooms and these were juicy and perfectly cooked with a subtle blue cheese flavoured creamy sauce. The pesto drizzle around the edge was also divine. The gluten free bread was plain but much nicer than I had envisioned. Maddy had a big breakfast which looked delicious and Laura chose the homemade hashbrown which will be my first pick once I am off my GF trial! To drink I had a feijoa smoothie (I can never resist the allure of feijoa) and then also had coffee to take home to Edd which was satisfying especially after a pretty big night.

 

All in all the food was delicious and with many yummy items on the menu I will definitely be back. More importantly than the food was the great opportunity to catch up with friends and share lots of information with each other. I think we sat there for about an hour after eating because there was so much to talk about. This brunch club might be the best thing ever! We plan to do it about once a month and so I will hopefully get to share some other great cafe’s with you. If anyone is interested in joining us just tweet me (@liz_lock).

Oh and I almost forgot, I set up a facebook page for myfoxycorner so please go check it out!

Chocolate and Red Wine Cake aka Comfort Cake

So on this slightly cold Tuesday I have been moping at home sick (but mostly just exhausted) and not able to drag myself into work. I hope that the massive sleep in this morning helps and keeps me going for the rest of the week! Yesterday also started my gluten free trial period (of two weeks approx) to see how my body feels and if changing up my diet helps things like my skin or overall well being. After this first week I shall bring you an update on how all that is going as well as a  gluten free recipe that makes this whole exercise worth it.

Today I bring you a recipe that is not gluten free but is one that I made a couple of weeks ago for my Dad’s birthday. The recipe comes from a favourite blog of mine, hungry and frozen, and I won’t bother rewriting it here as Laura does it best her self! Instead I will just give you a little food porn and explain how much I enjoyed making this. And here is the reliable yet delicious recipe!

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Let me begin by explaining a small fear (okay more like a slight phobia) I have of making cakes. I love cupcakes and make them all the time but cakes baffle me and usually just go terribly wrong. I think this might be the third ever cake I have made. Why do they frighten me in a slightly irrational way I hear you asking? Well mainly just because I can’t taste test the cake to make sure it tastes good and is cooked right.  With cupcakes I would always eat one (or two) before sharing to make sure I am not making a huge mistake and with a cake this is a bit harder. Undercooked, overcooked, too much baking soda, who knows until the big moment where everyone gets a slice. So yeah, making a cake is a big deal for me.

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I went to Laura’s book launch up here in Auckland (which was too much lovely to even begin to describe) and bought her cookbook and then spent the night reading each and every recipe before I could go to bed. The cookbook is great and full of a variety of unique and creative recipes (there is a whole section on toasted sandwiches..this is when I knew I had made the right choice). My first chance to use it was for my Dad’s birthday dinner when I was trying to find a desert for someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. I ended up going with this because he likes wine and I like chocolate. It just made sense.

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The recipe was simple and easy to follow, the ingredients all pretty standard and nothing to crazy. The addition of cinnamon and red wine to this slightly dense but not overly rich chocolate cake brought a warmth and complexity which was very enjoyable and makes it even more comforting than a standard chocolate cake would be. I think my oven was running a little too hot, as you can see from the photos the cake got  a little carried away in the cracking department, and next time I would take it out a smidgen earlier to maintain optimum moistness (ugh). I served this up with oranges and lots of whipped cream and was really rather spectacular.  I am now thinking about which cake recipe I can try next…. Definitely give this cake a go if you like chocolate and red wine, it was pretty fool proof (if I can make it anyone can) and with a large smothering of chocolate ganache it ends up looking pretty impressive too.

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Ready for a little bit of a photo overload?

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Chocolate ganache. So easy to make and equally easy to just eat straight out of the bowl. Try save some for the cake

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Sorry for all the photos! I couldn’t resist putting heaps of them in (and this is a rather small selection, trust me!). Also thanks to Edd for being my photographer 🙂 He does such an awesome job!

Have a great week!

Lizzy xx