Outfit of the Day.

One of my work outfits from the other day, which I’m only getting a chance to post now.

I’m wearing: Country Road silk shirt with the sleeves rolled up, Cotton On leopard flippy skirt, Sportsgirl embellished necklace, Alexander Wang Emile tote, Chanel flats.

January went in the blink of an eye for me, as I’m sure it did for most of you. February alreadyyyyyy?!

Injidup.

Seafolly twist bandeau, Lover Violet shorts, Lack of Colour fedora in Carribean Crush.

Me at Injidup Beach on Saturday afternoon.

Look out for my Margaret River travel/photo diary up on the blog, soon 🙂

USA holiday makeup haul.

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My beauty haul from my recent USA holiday encompassed both tried-and-true Holy Grails, and new & experimental purchases.

Most were purchased from Sephora, whilst the rest were sourced from department stores (Bloomies and Nordstrom), stand alone boutiques (like Fresh Sugar on Bleecker St and Diptyque in San Fran) and fantastic drug/convenience stores (Walgreens and Duane Reade).

Here’s a full listing of my loot:

Lips: Fresh Sugar tinted lip treatment in Coral and Passion. NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square, Dragon Girl, and Dolce Vita. NARS lipstick in Schiap, and Dolce Vita. Wet ‘n’ Wild lipstick in Stoplight Red.

Face: Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Foundation in 5.5. MAC blush in Melba. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer in SC2 and Loose Setting Powder. Clarisonic Delicate Brushes.

Eyes: Clinique Even Better Eyes Dark Circles Treatment and Bottom Lash Mascara. Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer. Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Liner Pencil. Shu Eyelash Curler. Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner.

Hair & Other: Bumble & Bumble Shine On and Spray de Mode Hairspray. Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo Powder. Essie & OPI nail polishes. Diptyque Olene EDT.

And here’s what I’d repurchase:

Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Eyeliner Pencil: I’ve used this almost every single day since purchasing it in Sephora, Vancouver. It glides on smoothly, stays put all day and night long and is easy to use. It also comes with its own sharpener. I only bought one colour – Mahogany – which is a rich, dark brown versatile for day. I only wish I had purchased more of these Liners!

Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Liner: I’d be very surprised if this isn’t the best, cheapest liquid liner currently on the market. Does not budge, colour pay-off is fantastic and, most notably, I think this was only $5?!

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment: Worth every (expensive) penny. Super moisturising with the intensity of a very pigmented lipstick, with the added benefit of SPF15. I wear this mostly to the office and on lazy weekends.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Red Square: This has quickly become my HG lip product and remains as possibly my most favourite holiday makeup purchase. I love that it can do double duty as a liner and a lippie, and that it’s just so gloriously, blindingly bright!

MAC Blush in Melba: I am going to admit right now that the only reason I purchased this was because right before I left for the airport, I sneaked into my sister’s bedroom and used her Melba as I felt I needed a bit of colour on the apples of my cheeks. I fell in love with the colour as soon as I applied it so I decided to track it down during my holiday. It’s the most perfect, everyday colour. I used to reach for my NARS Orgasm on days I want a natural flush but I’ve been instead favouring Melba every day since I purchased it.

Next time I plan to fill my Sephora basket with…

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal and Moonstone

Clinique Chubby Sticks

Stila Long Wear Lip Colors

I hope to do a similar post on beauty purchases from French pharmacies after my Europe trip later this year, so if you’re interested, keep a look out for it.

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Housekeeping.

Zara mariniere striped top, Lover skirt, Chanel purse, Alexander Wang Kori oxfords, Prada sunglasses.

My husband and I did a spot of shopping and housekeeping in the city on Saturday  afternoon. After being appalled at the slim pickings of dustbusters in Myer (what’s with that?!) we dropped off some shoes at our cobbler. I kind of regret taking my studded Chloe boots and leather Chanel flats travelling with me because they were completely trashed by the end of the trip. Holiday packing lesson #208910255 – broken SoHo cobblestoned streets and unforgiving San Francisco inclines are better left traversed with sneakers.

It was 33C yesterday and obviously the wrong kind of weather to wear my oxfords. I just don’t do sandals, though (I think they’re just too ‘girly’ for me) even at the height of summer.

Geometric.

Country Road silk button-down, Zara pants, Witchery tan trilby, Balenciaga bag, and Valentino kitten-heels.

Just posting tonight’s outfit, then going straight to bed. I’m so tired! I’ve been working overtime every day this week and dying a painfully slow death at the helm of my keyboard.

After work today, my husb and I made quick pitstop at the shopping mall to buy a birthday present, then headed off to my in-laws for our Thursday night dinner.

No time to change out of my work clothes completely except for my accessories.

Numb.

I go out of my way to ensure my tumblr is frivolous, at times superficial, but most importantly, far removed from the part of my life that I don’t share with anyone, aside from perhaps my husband on occasion. Bad stuff happens to all of us, we all know that. For me, not talking about the things that go wrong in my life is not about convincing everyone I am invincible and have this perfect life. I’ve just never felt it was appropriate or productive to write about it on a blog where I also lament about not being able to decide on a Le Pliage colour.

So I’m sorry if what I’m about to externalise seems out of place, too profound or thought-provoking for a Monday, or just… random.

I found out today that someone I personally knew passed away over the weekend. Her sister, whom I work with, ran into the office next to mine this morning and started sobbing uncontrollably. I felt so numb. I immediately knew what had happened without anyone telling me. And suddenly replying to someone about how a dress fits, or booking airfares for our next holiday – things I had to cross off on my to do list this morning before I received the news – just doesn’t matter any more.

Yes, she was unbearably ill and is truly is in a better place now, but repeating that to myself doesn’t seem to repair that gaping hole in my heart. We all knew she didn’t have much longer to live, but it’s as if we honestly just didn’t believe it. My husband knew her, too. In fact, he’s known her for much longer than I have because she has been his patient (and friend almost) ever since he started his career.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember that my husband and I made a trip to the hospital on Christmas morning to visit someone who was sadly dying from cancer. We were told we were his only visitors that day. It was my husband’s patient and friend of 8 years, and no one had thought he’d live past Christmas. Well, cancer finally beat him last week, and even though I don’t know him as well as J does, my heart still broke in a million little pieces when I found out he had passed. 

My husband is a Pharmacist and he sees sick (sometimes tragically dying) people every minute of every working day. Some patients he’s known as long as he’s been a Pharmacist; some as little as five minutes. Some of these patients have never had the privilege of travelling outside of their own suburb because they either can’t afford to or just too sick to travel. It’s the only reminder my husband (and I) need to be grateful for what we have and to value and respect our health.

My husband and I don’t fight. Ever. At all. In fact, since we’ve been dating, we’ve never argued, we’ve never slung a swear word or thrown things at each other. I mean, this is probably why I married him. The only Achilles heel in our relationship, however, is the fact that I probably don’t take care of myself as much as he wants me to. He spends shit loads of his hard earned money on multi-vitamins, calcium supplements and fish oil for me but I always pretend to forget to take them. I also just hate taking pills. He continually reminds me that I don’t know the consequences of my actions when it comes to my health. Yes, I do exercise until my arms and legs are about to drop off and I probably do more exercise than most people. I don’t drink a lot, I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, and I don’t (and never have) experimented with drugs. But I know – and he knows – that I could do more. I can do better. I just don’t know why I don’t and, understandably, it pisses him off. It’s not the wasting-money part that irritates him; it’s the fact that by taking them, my body will be better equipped to fight preventable diseases as I get older.

But the wake up call for me was last week. It was this morning. My husband receives one every day. Two people who were so dear to us are no longer with us, in a matter of a week. And it saddens me to know that I ‘need’ these sorts of ‘reminders’ to justify why I need to take those supplements every single day. Or to simply feel grateful that I have my health and hopefully a long and fulfilling life ahead of me.

My Guide to NYC.

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I’m convinced it’s impossible to ever run out of things to see and do in New York City, even if you are lucky enough to live there.

Our 10 day NYC itinerary was loosely based around devoting roughly a day – or half a day – to properly explore each borough/area of New York.

  • Chelsea & Meatpacking District
  • Greenwich Village & West Village
  • Soho
  • Brooklyn & Dumbo
  • Central Park & UES
  • Chinatown & NoLita & Tribeca
  • Williamsburg
  • Midtown Manhattan & Times Square
  • Staten Island/Wall St

Sightseeing:

  • Times Square
  • Central Park (hire a bike and a row boat!)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art (free entry every Friday 4-8pm)
  • Alamo Cube
  • Wall Street
  • World Trade Centre Memorial
  • St Paul’s Chapel
  • Battery Park/Statue of Liberty
  • Empire State Building (go early in the morning)
  • Top of the Rock (visit at dusk/sunset)
  • Highline Park, Chelsea
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • Walk the Brooklyn Bridge & BB Park (breathtaking views of the BK Bridge)
  • Stroll through Dumbo
  • Must-do: Brooklyn Flea at Fort Greene and Williamsburg Markets
  • See a Broadway show
  • Take a day trip out to Long Island
  • Window shopping in SoHo and West Village
  • Bryant Park

Must-eats

  • Ed’s Lobster Bar – best lobster rolls we’ve ever had, even trumping famed Neptune’s Oyster in Boston
  • Levain bakery
  • Momofuku Milk Bar (Crack Pie is the bomb!)
  • Momofuku Ssam Bar
  • Laughing Man (coffee place started up by Hugh Jackman and the only place in NYC that have Flat Whites on the menu)
  • Shake Shack
  • Yao’s Dragon Beard Candy
  • Isola Trattoria/Crudo Bar
  • Katz Deli
  • Congee Village
  • Balthazar
  • Crumbs Bake Shop
  • Do the Greenwich Village Food Tour
  • Ground Support – the only decent coffee I had in the USA!
  • Jane
  • Russ & Daughter’s
  • Lula’s sweet apothecary
  • Cupping Room
  • Laduree
  • Spotted Pig
  • Chelsea Markets
  • Eataly
  • Ma Peche (you must order the Pork Buns)
  • Luke’s Lobster Bar
  • Dean & Deluca – for food on-the-go
  • Grimaldi’s
  • Mary’s Fish Camp
  • Cafe Cluny
  • Oyster Bar
  • Rice to Riches
  • Pinkberry (I miss this so much!)
  • Cafe Gitane
  • Mercer Kitchen (the Mercer burger lives up to its hype)
  • Little Cupcake Bakeshop
  • Best Pizza
  • Williamsburg Flea Markets
  • Magnolia Bakery
  • Daniel
  • Buddakhan
  • Woorijip Korean (all you can eat Korean!)
  • Japadog
  • Hide-Chan Ramen (BEST ramen my husband’s had outside of Japan, and Michelin-recommended too. Momofuku has nothing on the ramen at Hide-Chan).
  • Fancy-pants? Try Per Se or Eleven Madison Park
  • And for the best Vietnamese, you must go to Tu Do on Bowery in Chinatown. OK, I might be biased as this restaurant belongs to my family, but the Vietnamese here is really that good.

Shopping!

My personal favourites include Bleecker St, West Village and SoHo (don’t just stick to Broadway – the best shops are tucked away along side streets). My favourite streets in SoHo include Broome, Wooster, Mercer and Grand Streets.

Other shopping spots that are worth hitting up: Fifth Ave, Madison Ave, visit Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomies, Henri Blendel, Saks, and Macy’s at Herald Square.

For outlet shopping, book a day trip to Woodbury Common if time allows or for an intense shopping experience, head to Century 21 (you have been warned).

Subscribe to Racked NY and check this site before you go and every day you’re there for info on sample sales in NYC (and live updates to see if they’re worth checking out).

Tips and Tricks

NYC Subway:
  • Buy a metrocard if you intend on using the subway every day (if you want the ‘real’ NYC experience, I recommend that you do). It’s $10 to start with ($9.xx will be the balance after purchasing the card and then you can top it up thereafter).
  • If you have a smartphone, download the NYC Subway app – best travel app I downloaded for my trip! Don’t think for a second that there will be signs/maps at your disposal all the time.
  • Your hotel should be able to provide you with a physical map of the NYC subway. I would recommend studying this before you even attempt to ride the trains, otherwise you’ll end up in Brooklyn instead of SoHo (like me).
  • Apparently the best (i.e. cleanest) restrooms are at the Times Square station.
  • Try to plan your day so that you avoid taking the train during peak hour. Train traffic jams are no fun!
  • If you want to be really prepared, google ‘How to survive the NYC Subway’. Locals take subway etiquette very, very seriously.

Getting to and from JFK Airport:

Don’t bother with the subway unless you want to ruin your day; it’s a flat $60 to take you from JFK to Manhattan and vice versa, via taxi. To give you an idea of how long the cab ride might take, it took us over hour to get from JFK to SoHo during peak hour (4-5pm).
 
  • Tipping:

We doubled the tax – easy as that. We also tipped housekeeping $2-$3 a day but I know that a lot of people don’t.

 
  • Want the best view of NYC?
Avoid the Empire State Building (if you’re short on time) and head to Top of the Rock instead. It’s about $25 per person – do yourself a big favour and book your ticket online before you go otherwise it’s generally a two hour wait to be even let inside the elevator. Best time to go is an hour before sunset (with all the queues and waiting for elevators, the sun will almost be setting once you get up to the top and the light will be beautiful then).
  • Accommodation
We stayed at the Mondrian SoHo, paying around $230 (+ taxes) per night, during the month of November. The room was tiny, but the hotel was otherwise amazing and really charming.
We were otherwise going to stay at an apartment booked through Airbnb.
Next time I’d like to stay in West Village, it quickly became my most favourite part of New York City, aside from SoHo. Otherwise, I would recommend staying in SoHo. The cast iron architecture is just so beautiful and shopping (without the craziness of Midtown) is literally on your doorstep. My brother, his wife and their 18 month old stayed in a gorgeous apartment near Wall Street (Financial District) with 180 degree views of Staten Island. They booked it through Airbnb and had a flawless experience so if anyone is interested in staying here, please message me.
  • Things to get used to (which, to be fair, gives NYC its inimitable charm):
The pretty crappy, old, inefficient subway system (it’s over 100 years old and services over 450 stations so we learnt to cut it some slack), trash-lined streets every night (my husband hated how dirty New York is but I didn’t mind so much), long queues no matter what time of the day it is, being unable to walk two abreast, especially in Midtown/Times Square (don’t even think about it).

After dusk.

Up the steps and calling it a night after dinner at The Trustee.

It was a long walk back to the car so I changed into my fold-up ballet flats straight after this picture was taken 🙂

Boxing: a beginner’s verdict.

I don’t mean for this to be my version of War and Peace, so if exercise posts aren’t your cup of tea, I’d suggest you scroll down to the next post as this is going to be a long one!

I was telling a couple of friends of mine at a party on NYE that one of the first things I plan to do in 2013 was sign myself up for boxing classes. I then proceeded to smugly announce that I’ve been going to Body Combat for the past 8 years, which would more than adequately prepare me for a date (or two) with a punching bag, right? Right?

Well, having attended a boxing class before (and vowing to never return), they literally laughed in my face. And it wasn’t until Monday night when I discovered exactly why.

My first class felt like all my exercise nightmares had come at once. A fierce-looking ex-boxer was barking instructions at us through a thick Polish accent and with timer in hand: Six minutes of continuously jumping rope. You see, when I was eight, skipping was so fun. So easy. I could have skipped all day. Suddenly, being in an un-airconditioned torture chamber 20 years later made jumping rope almost impossible. And that was just the warm-up.

Our 55-minute class was interspersed with time with the punching bag and sit-ups, push-ups (with gloves on), bridges/planks (worst!), skipping and a quick run up and down the street. The way my instructor teaches is quite flippant; when he tells us to ‘punch’, we kind of have to decide ourselves if we cross, jab, hook or upper-cut. And when he tells us to stretch, he doesn’t really tell us what to stretch. So it’s good (because you can do whatever you want) and bad (because you can do whatever you want and that generally means you’ll do whatever’s the most lazy or easy).

Throughout the class, I felt pangs of throwing up/passing out/as if I had literally taken a shower in my own revolting sweat. As someone who barely sweats, I was dripping. I could barely eat dinner when I got home on Monday and I pretty much went to bed soon after because I felt like I had just run a marathon. I used to carry with me a 600ml bottle of water to every workout but to give you an idea of how intense boxing is, I’ve upgraded to a 1.5L bottle!

I really underestimated how physically demanding a boxing class could be. But I’ll be going again (tomorrow will be my third class this week) because I find it to be so incredibly empowering. No other form of exercise gives me as much of a confidence boost as boxing; and it’s as though a magical spell is cast over me as soon as I pull on these gloves. The self-defence elements also come in handy, and I also think boxing will provide me with a tremendous amount of stress-relief as my new job is starting to become really demanding.

Unlike wolfing down a Double Whopper or a giant piece of cheesecake, boxing makes you feel so completely shit at the time, but so light-on-your-feet and indescribably rewarding afterwards. Working out, for me, is all about pushing myself to my absolute limit – and then some – and constantly finding new ways to challenge myself. Much like everything else in life, really.

Bruschetta pasta.

My morning is obviously going at a snails’ pace today because I’m already thinking about what I’m having for lunch.

I made this ‘bruschetta’ pasta for dinner last night and made enough for lunch leftovers today. The recipe is embarrassingly Sandra-simple and I made do with what I had in my fridge/pantry: Linguine dressed in Olio Bello olive oil, topped with cherry tomatoes, Spanish onion, and tossed through with balsamic and freshly torn basil.

Ever since I started boxing classes, I’ve been eating nothing but light and refreshing meals that don’t undo those 55 minutes of hell that my Polish ex-boxer/instructor unleashes.

Out to sea.

Clocking up some beach time on Friday afternoon.

I’m wearing: Zara marinière top in navy/ecru stripe, Lover floral shorts, Prada sunglasses, Sportsgirl hat, Longchamp bag.