Beauty Kit.

Diptyque Olène eau de toilette, Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat, NARS lipstick in Dolce Vita, and my every day jewellery.

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Violet Storm.

I spent a small part of today lapping up the last of the weekend sun replenishing my wardrobe with a few items – this leopard print sleeve sweat from Witchery being one of them. Leopard print never gets old, especially when it’s a rambunctious shade of purple.

Glyde Street.

Acne silk dress with navy button detail, Chloe Susanna studded boots, Alexander Wang Emile small tote, H&M fedora, Prada Baroque sunglasses.

The Perth weather put on its Saturday best so J and I decided to make a day of it, criss-crossing our way through some of our favourite parts of our city.

Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach were the very first things on our agenda, followed by breakfast at Il Lido across the road. It was probably one of the last times I’ll see Perth beaches at its inimitable finest with the weather cooling right down for the rest of the month. I’ll miss the sun, but I’m ready to rug up in oversized cashmere with a giant mug of tea and a good book.

On the way to the Empire carpark sale yesterday, we passed through a beautiful stretch of Mosman Park; precisely the spot where J and I had our wedding day photographed almost two years ago. It’s one of my favourite streets in all of Perth and I was glad to know it hadn’t changed one bit since the last time we were there, in all my French lace and tulle dress glory.

Off the beaten track.

J and I stayed up last night mapping out a few more destinations for our planned Europe trip in their late autumn.

We’ve adopted a sort of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey type strategy for this trip; getting out a map of Europe and blindly googling any town or city that we never knew existed or very few have visited. Last night we discovered Zug, Lake Garda, Trento, Zurich, and San Marino; places that remind me why I miss Europe every single day.

And if it’s one thing we’ve learnt through our travels, it’s the simple fact that places off the beaten track are often the ones worth visiting the most.

Closet Rack.

The coat rack my husband and I picked up at the Empire carpark sale today immediately took pride of place in our bedroom as soon as we got home.

I plan to use it primarily for clothes that are currently high on rotation as well as items that I have been ticking off my winter wishlist. For now, though, my Lover lace dresses and some of my other prized possessions are happily holding down the fort.

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Noodles.

Waiting outside Nao for our ramen tonight. The line, as usual, was out the door and sprawled out onto the street, but the noodles are, as always, worth waiting for.

As for my outfit, it was a black and white kind of night 🙂

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Susanna.

My current, and forever, love of my life.

Second to my husband of course.

French Food & Pizza.

Karen Walker silk dress, Lover infinity tuxedo blazer, Acne Pistol boots.

In between being completely snowed under at work this week and tirelessly finding a spare moment to eat/sleep, I also managed to attend the opening night of the Alliance Francais French Film Festival on Tuesday. My brother received free VIP tickets as his company is a major sponsor, so he invited me along for the night. We saw a screening of Haute Cuisine and whilst I really enjoyed it, I made the mistake of watching it on an empty stomach – if you ever get the chance to see this film, you’ll find out why 😉

It was a really fantastic evening though (we also attended the after-party at The Bakery which was catered by Jean Pierre Sancho – yum!) and it ended with a pizza and ginger beer nightcap at The Moon later on in the night.

Needless to say, I’m setting my alarm for a 6am boxing class tomorrow 🙂

Grapevine.

Country Road silk shirt, Zara print shorts & gold wedge sandals, Balenciaga City.

My outfit from Saturday night.

We went over to mum and dad’s for dinner (mum made the most perfect Phở bò – Vietnamese beef noodle soup). I spent the rest of the night drinking tea and gorging on aforementioned homemade Portuguese tarts, all the while discovering my new favourite blog, The Elevens.

My husband and I also managed to find an overgrown grapevine next door, so after we took these pictures, we sneaked off with a couple of bunches using a pair of pliers my husband found in my dad’s workshop. They were delicious! Sadly, though, they were not seedless.

A weekend well spent, nonetheless.

Hope all my readers had a wonderful weekend! Shame it’s Monday again.

Checking in.

Workout Diary

4 x boxing classes (Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri) and a 8km run today (Sun). My next goal will be to push my boxing workouts to 5 classes a week once I feel physically prepared for it. I’m almost there, I think.

This week I saw my endurance improving (I can run for longer now), and a bit more ab definition despite all the crap I ate on the weekend. I calculated my Body Fat % for the first time – currently I’m sitting at 18.5-19% depending on what method I use.

Food Diary

’ll be sharing a few recipes I had used during the week.  This is what my shopping list looked like at the start of the week, taking into account what I already had in my fridge:

Sweet potatoes

Brussel sprouts
Basil
Spring onions
Onion
Mushrooms
Tomatoes
Avocados
Grapefruit
Baby Spinach
Greek Yoghurt
Salmon
Minced chicken
Eggs

Breakfast

I’m currently alternating between:

  • Greek yoghurt with chia seeds, honey, toasted oats and blueberries
  • Oats with skim milk (warmed up in the microwave for 2 minutes on high) topped with a dash of honey and sprinkled with cinnamon

Lunch

  • Roast veggie frittata – I usually come up with my own recipe depending on what’s in the fridge but I find this sort of thing provides a good starting point. I’m going to add a cup of quinoa the next time I make this.
  • Avocado, tomato and Ryvita stack (with cracked black pepper)
  • Tuna, avocado, baby spinach and tomato in a whole wheat wrap

Snacks/Pre-workout

  • Low-fat ricotta & honey on Ryvita crispbread
  • Blueberries or seedless grapes
  • Clean Egg Muffins (I use the yolks though as I don’t like wasting them). I made these in advance on the weekend and popped a few into my lunchbox every day to snack on at work.

Snacks are essential as part of my day. My snack times are usually 11am and 2:30pm, timing it in between my main meals. I’m going to try and incorporate protein into my pre/post-workout snacks, like a hard boiled egg with a little bit of cracked black pepper. My body can’t handle a big snack before a workout – I almost threw up my Ryvita crackers the other day during an intense workout. Eeep. The day before it was a banana. A banana! 

Dinner

  • Chicken Shepherds Pie (so yummy! will definitely make this again this week)
  • Scrambled Egg Pizza (again, I use the yolks). Traditionally a breakfast dish, I find it also works really well for dinner. Thanks again to Jess for posting this, it’s become a meal staple in our household!
  • Grilled skinless salmon with quinoa, roasted sweet potato and baby spinach (a no-brainer, so no recipe was used)
  • Baby spinach, minted pea and fetta salad (another staple dish in our house – we have this with everything)

We eat really plain and Sandra-simple in our household. It’s hard to come up with inventive dishes when the both of us work long hours in a demanding and stressful job, so we like meals that don’t take too long to prepare.

This week, my aim will be to incorporate more meat protein into my lunches, to eat out less (we ate out 2-3 times last week) and to pull back on the sweets and cakes I caved into over the weekend. On that note, I will leave you with my mum’s homemade egg tarts that will become the death of me. I had to stop at two yesterday, argh:

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Saffiano.

The handbag that will forever remind me of my honeymoon.

I purchased my Prada tote in Paris the day before we were scheduled to cycle around southern France for a week. My timing was evidently shocking, as I remember my tote schlepping it with me as we biked it through Barbentane, Tarascon, Arles, St Remy and scaled the heights of Les Baux. Thankfully, it didn’t look as worse for wear as I did, after eight days of cycling.

I love that it has travelled through Europe with me, seeing parts of the world I previously thought only dreams were made of.

My next trip is now a mere six months away and I’m beginning to wonder what souvenir will accompany me through Europe this time?

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Shoe Rut.

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a shoe rut lately and eventually figured out that I have a severe lack of sandals which needed to be remedied stat.

First stop: eBay for these Zara black suede and gold wedges, from a previous season. They look kind of impossible to walk in but I was surprised to find that they are actually pretty comfortable.

Tick.

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Cheat night.

I’ve decided that tonight is Cheat Night, and I’ve timed it perfectly with a hearty dinner at an Italian restaurant with my girlfriends after work. Given winter has seemingly come early in Perth today, I can’t wait to indulge in some comfort food.

This week has been particularly challenging with managing my junk food cravings. Burgers, fried crumbed chicken, chorizo, hot chips, green tea Pocky (!). The list goes horribly on and on, but I’m feeling a little triumphant that three sticks of Pocky were the extent of fulfilling those sugar cravings. Up until now, I’ve been able to easily resist the junk but it’s funny how cravings can hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it.

Make-up in sticky weather.

My Bali makeup post last year was surprisingly popular with a few of you so I thought I’d do the same during my mini-holiday in Singapore last weekend.

If I had thought what I packed in my cosmetic case for Bali was the ‘barest essentials’, it seems I miraculously did one better with my Singapore makeup kit.

To set the scene, my husband and I didn’t purchase check-in luggage for our Singapore trip, given that we were only going away for four days.  I also love how I can get off the plane and head straight to the taxi stand or MRT, instead of jostling amongst my fellow travellers at the luggage carousel.

Anyway, packing for a humid and sticky holiday was also going to prove to be a challenge. I eventually settled for the above items, save for an eyeshadow and a pressed powder compact.

I’m still amazed that this is really all I wore on my face (the eyeliner was only worn during the evening, too). I almost always find it more comfortable hiding behind a sheath of makeup and always go quite heavy at night.

For my base (both day and night), I used a pea-sized amount of Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Moonstone all over (this stuff is liquid gold). I then concealed (under the eyes, on the chin and around my nose) with Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage in SC-3.

On my cheeks I wore Melba by MAC and then applied Lunasol waterproof mascara to my lashes before curling them with my Shu. I forgot to include my eyebrow product in this picture but, for reference, I used a taupe brow pencil by Giorgio Armani. I use light brown brow products because I find black coloured pencils too harsh and jarring on me. I’m also so used to using pencils that I can do my brows quite quickly and easily. I’m a real klutz with brow gels, powders and waxes etc.

This is the “finished” look:

I’m surprised but will happily admit that my makeup did not budge the entire day. Not bad for a place with 96% humidity.

I can’t remember what I’m wearing on my lips. It may have been Lady Danger worn as a barely-there stain, except it looks really pink here (?!).

To set my makeup, I used a little bit of MAC Blot Pressed Powder, which I normally carry with me every day anyway.

Oh, and the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream is really just my every day lip balm, which I purchased on a whim at Shanghai International Airport (who else loves buying shit they don’t need at DFS?). It’s great, though. It reminds me of Lucas Paw Paw Ointment but in fancier packaging.

Wedding Hair & Makeup.

Here are two photos I can’t bear to delete from my camera roll, and two I’ve never thought to share with anyone else until now.

These were such random photos taken a few days before I was getting married. A hair trial (with veil) at my hairdresser and then a makeup trial the next day (curls miraculously still in place!), with the final briefing with my florist that day, too. The anticipation in the days leading up to the wedding was electric. I’ll never forget that feeling.

The wedding was fun, but it’s true when they say life starts the day after the wedding. And it gets better with every day; every year, that passes.

It’s coming up to our second wedding anniversary next month. I feel like such a different person now, to who I was back then. An older – but better – version, I think.

Grocery Day.

Sunday is grocery day for me.

I’ve half a weeks’ worth of food in here; mostly fruit, vegies and eggs. I tend to buy most of my protein fresh (like salmon) so that it doesn’t sit in the fridge for days on end. The minced free-range chicken – which you can see in my basket – is for a clean eating shepherds pie I’m making tonight (with sweet potato). Sweet potatoes feature a lot in my cooking, whether it be roasted (with cumin), mashed or made into chips. They’re such good value too; only $3.29/kg at my local IGA today. The grapefruit is mostly for my husband but I like to eat them too whenever he’s kind enough to peel and cut them up for me (I find cutting up fruit such a tedious process). Red Grapefruit are packed with lots of good stuff so we make a point of eating it every day.

As for the eggs; I always always always buy free-range, even if it means paying that little bit extra. And I opt for those farmed locally, in favour of the bigger conglomerates.

Winter Wishlist.

My winter wishlist has started to gain some momentum over the past few weeks, spurred on by the fact that the sun’s starting to set earlier, the days are becoming shorter, and the simple truth that I’m so over the heat and the humidity. We’re also a week into autumn, so now’s a good time as any to show you what the next few months will see me wearing.

1. White jeans in winter. I was lucky enough to pick up an ankle-grazing, cropped, skinny pair from Country Road on sale recently. In my size and really flattering – if that is at all possible when it comes to light coloured denim. I’ll be pairing my white jeans with layers upon layers up top; oversized knitted sweaters, navy peacoats, leopard coats, and blush-coloured capes to brighten up dreary winter days.

2. Personalised clear perspex clutches from the adorable MNOlogie. The fashion train’s full steam ahead on these clutches and I totally jumped onto it the other day. I ordered the clear clutch (gold clasp engraved with my first name) with the gold leopard pouch, as well as a simple white one with a gold zipper.

3. Lip prints. I don’t know what it is about this endearing print that makes me feel all warm and giddy inside? I love Erin Fetherston’s Spring/Summer ‘13 take on it, but for something closer to home, I’ll be looking to ASOS, Zara and Camilla and Marc.

4. A leopard print coat. I feel as if I’ve been searching for years for this. For me, it’s all about the cut (no toggle buttons, please) and the print itself (not too garishly yellow in colour and the spots can’t be too small or too overwhelming). I managed to find The One over at ASOS last month, which ticks all of these boxes. It’s cut in an IM Bator-inspired silhouette and reminds me of the one Emmanuelle Alt often wears.

5. An oversized khaki parka. I found mine at Cotton On, of all places. Ridiculously flattering and the perfect shade of khaki; not too green and not overly washed-out to a muted grey. The Cotton On is great because the sleeve cuffs are elasticised (so you can comfortably push them up without cutting off your circulation). I also sized up in this parka to give it more of an oversized, lived-in look about it. I’ve forgotten the style name but they should still be in stores as I only purchased it recently.

6. Chanel Peridot nail polish. I was swatching this the other day at Changi Airport and instantly fell in love with it. The bottle looks frighteningly garish but once applied, the colour becomes this amazingly perfect shade of gold.

7. Maison Martin Margiela x H&M Perspex Leather Boots. I’m finding myself drawn more and more to ankle boots for winter. These particular booties have been haunting me for months; it’s funny because it wasn’t love at first sight at all but my new-found obsession with perspex and Andyheart has gently persuaded me my winter will not be complete without these boots in my life.

Food diary.

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It has been about four weeks now since I drastically changed my diet.

My eating habits used to be really, really, terrible. Sometimes I wonder how I functioned. I don’t smoke or drink (often, if at all) but I’d skip breakfast every day and wouldn’t eat my first meal of the day until lunchtime. Sometimes I’d have lunch as late as half past 2 in the afternoon. Else, some days I’d cave into half a pie at work for breakfast (if you didn’t already know, I work at a pie company and the staff kitchen looks like this every single day – lots and lots of free pies!):

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On the odd occasion, when I was either too stressed or too busy at work, I wouldn’t eat all day. Dinner would be my first meal of the day. It never made me feel good (and I’ll say right now that I definitely wasn’t trying to lose weight) so I attribute my poor eating habits to laziness, disorganisation, being time-poor and no comprehension or concern as to what I was doing to myself.

Then I woke up one day last month and decided I wasn’t going to do this to myself anymore.

The lifestyle change that boxing classes have instigated during the past two months has inspired me to really care about what I’m putting into my body; to see food as fuel (and not as a reward) and to have respect for the many hours of exercise I’m chalking up every week. I began to see that there was no point in spending x amount of dollars on boxing classes or even turning up if I wasn’t going to improve my diet. I’m not overweight but, let’s be honest here, I’m not totally immune from diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer or other preventable diseases.

So out with the pies, alcohol, soft drinks, chocolate, chips, fast food, cakes, fried chicken and erratic meal times; and in with whole foods, leafy, colourful vegetables and fruit, complex carbs, lean protein, wholegrains, and eating six times a day – including brekky. I’m noticing now that my body craves breakfast and that I’m actually getting hungry more often. It’s such a good feeling.

I saw the effects almost immediately. For weeks now, I have felt significantly less bloated, gross, fat, thirsty, sick and ashamed. For the first time in my life, I’m feeling great about what I’m eating and I’m finding more and more ways to be creative about turning whole, raw food into tasty meals.

I have also started to shop differently; reading labels and ingredient listings and, most importantly, spending most of my grocery time in the fruit and veg section. I couldn’t believe how much easier and less stressful it is by not venturing down aisle after aisle looking for pre-packaged sauces or chocolate biscuits. I have to shop more though – because I’m buying mostly fresh – and although I’m still time-poor, it has taught me to be organised and resourceful. This is how my trolley looked after a recent trip to the supermarket:

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This is what my lunch (which I pack at home and bring to work) typically looks like each day (a veggie frittata with sweet potato, quinoa, and a baby spinach, cherry tomato and fetta salad):

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I’m so chuffed about my new lunch bag! My sister’s boyfriend gave it to me:)

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Last week I discovered a great little store in my neighbourhood. I stocked up on oats (for breakfast) and quinoa:

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Towards the end of last month, I decided to write down every single thing I was eating each day for a whole week, if only to keep me inspired and accountable. It became really motivating for me to eat healthily and served as a reminder as to how far I’ve come.

To refresh, this is what a typical day used to be like for me:

Breakfast: none. 

Snack: half a meat pie

Lunch: a steak & cheese burger and chips

Snack: chocolate

Dinner: a creamy fettuccine boscaiola with chorizo and a soft drink

…You can imagine how revolting I felt having to work this all off at my boxing class later that evening.

But out with the old and in with the new. This is now a typical week for me:

Wednesday 20th

Breakfast: cup of tea (white, no sugar) and whole banana in a whole wheat wrap

Mid-morning snack: handful of grapes and meat pie pastry tops (taste-tasting)

Lunch: turkey, tomato and avocado whole wheat wrap, with handful of grapes.

Mid-afternoon snack: sliced raw mushrooms with homemade hommus

Dinner: scrambled egg pizza (thanks, J for the recipe!) with cherry tomato, avocado and spinach salad.

After-dinner: celery, carrot, apple and ginger juice

Thursday 21st

Breakfast: cup of tea and an apple

Mid-morning snack: bowl of gluten-free granola with skim milk

Lunch: a banana and cup of tea

Afternoon snack: 6 pieces sushi

Dinner: Hainanese Chicken Rice and lots of salad.

After dinner: Nectarines and a small corn chocolate bar.

Friday 22nd

Breakfast: coffee

Mid-morning snack: bowl of gluten-free granola with skim milk and a piece of kiwi fruit.

Lunch: Turkey and tomato wrap with salt and pepper

Snack: handful of grapes and one whole wheat wrap with homemade hommus dip.

Dinner: Husband was out with his friends, so I had leftovers from Thursday night.

Saturday 23rd

Breakfast: coffee

Lunch: Bun Bo Hue noodle soup, dumplings

Dinner (went out): Duck liver parfait, sauce Cumberland & brioche (shared); Ricotta gnocchi, cavolo nero, green tomato chutney, king oyster mushrooms. Ginger beer.

After dinner (dessert): Berry-misu, lady finger biscuit, marscapone foam, fior di latte ice cream.

Sunday 24th

Breakfast: coffee

Lunch: grilled chicken and Caesar salad

Afternoon: freshly pressed grapefruit juice

Dinner: mum’s ‘Broken Rice’ (Cơm tấm)

Monday 25th

Breakfast: granola with skim milk and a kiwi fruit

Snack: an apple

Lunch: Tomato & avocado whole wheat wrap

Snack: homemade whole wheat tortillas with hommus dip

Dinner: Grilled (skinless) chicken with a baby spinach, minted pea and fetta salad

After dinner: one whole red grapefruit

Tuesday 26th

Breakfast: coffee and a banana

Snack: handful of grapes and half an Egg, Bacon & Cheese Breakfast Roll (taste testing at work).

Lunch: mum’s leftover Cơm tấm

Snack: small slice of homemade veggie frittata (sweet potato, zucchini, capsicum, mushroom, Spanish onion)

Dinner: quinoa with grilled chicken and a baby spinach, pea & fetta salad

After dinner: small serve of homemade strawberry frozen yoghurt and half a large red grapefruit.

Wednesday 27th

Breakfast: cup of tea and a banana

Snack: mini-sized Cherry Ripe

Lunch: chicken and quinoa salad with avocado, baby spinach, pea & fetta.

Snack: handful of grapes

Dinner: Homemade veggie frittata with a baby spinach, roasted sweet potato (seasoned with cumin and black pepper), grape tomato and fetta salad.

Notes to self:

– I haven’t eaten junk food in a month, I’ve reduced chocolate (a small piece!) to once a week, and I haven’t drank a single drop of alcohol for four weeks now. My water intake is currently 1-1.25L. I’ve always found it so difficult to get into the habit of guzzling enough water each day so I’m tackling this as the next thing to improve about my diet!

– Clearly, though, my “coffee only breakfast” needed some remedying. I’ve since added a bowl of oats, skim milk and cinnamon and honey to my everyday breakfast repertoire, so that I’m not just subsisting on caffeine in the morning.

– Because of my job (I taste test pies at least once or twice a week), it’s impossible for me to ‘clean eat’ or cut out processed foods completely out of my diet. I have accepted this and used it as further motivation to eat well every other day. It does make me feel ill when I’ve worked out in the morning and then come to work and have to eat a pie. Not the most fantastic feeling in the world, but something I have learnt to live with (save quitting my job).

– Eating out generally kills the idea of eating well – or whole. My husband and I have started to eat out much less than before. Great for the bank account as well as our health.

– I do have cheat meals (not days!). This usually pertains to when I’m catching up with friends for a meal or going over to mum and dad’s where there’s always an abundance of white rice, fried food or richly flavoured meals. I let myself off the hook during meals like these especially if someone else is kindly inviting me over for dinner!

– I’m finding weekends more difficult to stick to my routine. Because I work full-time (and have a really stressful job) I’ve always seen weekends as an opportunity to indulge. Need to work on eating better – and regularly – throughout the day.

– Because I’ve been eating much ‘plainer’, I have become really sodium and sugar-sensitive. Not entirely a bad thing, though.

– Doing one or two big cook-ups on the weekend sets my husband up for the rest of the week. The freezer is my friend 🙂 Having readily prepared meals (or meals that are easy to whip up) means there is less temptation to eat out or order takeaway.

– Substituting fruit as snacks for homemade dips with raw veggies like cucumber, carrots, celery and mushrooms, keeps things interesting and yummy too.

– Eating often (but less) has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself. I haven’t craved chocolate or sugary snacks at all during the past month and I attribute most of that to the fact that I’m keep the hungries at bay by eating six times a day. Best!

– I don’t fry anymore; instead I grill, microwave or boil my ingredients. It means I’m reaping more nutritional benefits from the food I’m eating and less washing up (yay!).

P.S. Sorry for the essay.