Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget

This week I saw some interesting survey results showing that over 30% of those who took this survey will budget for up to $1,000 on Christmas, but over 20% of these same people expect to overspend! If you have a budget in mind, why are you expecting to over spend?

The survey was done by Fair Go Finance and had 3,940 people take it. Some of the other facts that stood out to me were the fact that 36.25% expect to spend more on Christmas than they did last year, 28.23% of people don't even keep track of their spending and 20% plan on going into debt or using a bonus to pay for Christmas. This is crazy! The people involved were pretty evenly split around Australia, between the ages of 18 and 60, mostly on incomes under $75,000 and only slightly more females than males.

This survey shows to me that despite the fact we all know Christmas comes at the same time every year, many of us do not budget or plan for it appropriately. I'm a single mum and I know how hard it can be to give your kids everything you want to give them but the most important thing for kids is fun, memories, knowing they are loved and not a bunch of 'stuff'.

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget
1.) Create traditions
Growing up we had traditions like the Christmas tree went up on the first Monday of December, on Christmas Eve all the kids slept in one room, we had an advent calendar my mum made that had pockets and in each pocket we placed a lolly for each family member plus something to do each day eg sing a Christmas carol, do something nice for someone else, bake cookies together etc. All these things made Christmas special.
2.) Plan ahead
I plan for Christmas by putting aside money every pay, working out who I need to give presents to, what they might like, what gifts I could make and working out my budget which I stick to. Then I start getting what I need throughout the year, in sales and listening to those around me to see what they want as well.
3.) Go potluck
Instead of one person catering for everything, get everyone involved to bring their favourite dish and share the load.
4.) Reduce the amount of gifts
I am one of 9 kids, most are married and there are quite a few nieces and nephews now. You can imagine how crazy and expensive Christmas would be if we all bought for each other. Instead, we pull names out of the hat and buy for a few nieces/nephews each, don't buy for adults (except our parents/grandparents) and have reduced the amount of gifts while increasing the quality of gifts everyone gets.
5.) Go local
Check out local Christmas light displays, get involved in local Christmas events and find out what fun free things there are to do where you live to entertain the kids.
6.) Make your own wrapping paper
Buy a long roll of butchers paper and let the kids go nuts decorating it. It's cheaper than Christmas paper and is a great annual tradition for the kids too.
7.) Book ahead when travelling
If you know where you need to go or what you will be doing over the Christmas period, do some research to find out the cheapest and most practical way to travel, then book ahead of time to get the best deals.

What do you do to save money at Christmas? How much do you budget for and do you mange to stick to your budget?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Win one of 5 Pantene haircare packs

We've joined with The Thrifty Issue to giveaway 5 haircare packs! Each pack contains:

- Pantene Ultimate 10 Shampoo & Conditioner RRP $7.99 each
- Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Creme for Hair RRP $10.99
- Pantene Volume Booster Dry Shampoo RRP $9.99
- Pantene Nature Fusion Dry Shampoo RRP $9.99
- Pantene 7 Day Smooth &Manageable Kit RRP $10.99

Everything you need for gorgeous hair! After 10 years of research and listening to thousands of Australian women, P&G has recently introduced a breakthrough formulation in hair care; new and changed Pantene.

New Pantene is designed to meet the needs of Australian women by addressing their number one hair care concern; damage.

How does it work? Well, the optimal blend of Pro-V in new Pantene nourishes and protects your hair to deliver up to 100% damage protection with a lightweight feel.

The new Pantene formulation also contains a revolutionary technology called Keratin Damage Blockers, which helps to defend hair against irreversible oxidative damage.

As part of this new change, Pantene has also recently announced Australian Supermodel, Robyn Lawley, as its newest brand ambassador.

You can read more and enter here or fill in the widget below.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making our home a home

We moved house again last month. Our last move was meant to be the final one until we bought our own home, but circumstances changed and we had to move again. Fortunately our new home will be our home as long as we want. I know the owners are not going to be selling, especially now we are here. My daughters adore it and best yet, we can do anything we want to it.

I moved 2 nights before I flew out for an overseas conference, then it was school holidays so I am only just catching my breath now to sort out the house properly. I am pretty excited to say the least about implementing some tiny things that make a huge difference to organization within the home.

We started with the garden this week. The weeds are taller than me in some sections.

We will be planting a vegetable garden. There is already an established orange tree and I noticed our back neighbours have chickens, which is something we want too.

It is such a relief to be living somewhere I know we can be for years and that I can treat as my own home. In my last property I couldn't even have fish according to my lease.

The plan is to stay here for sometime while I invest my money elsewhere. I want to make this our home, but as frugally as possible.

What ways have you renovated, improved a home or garden on a budget?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Choc Ripple Cake

This is a firm family favourite. Here's the way my mum always made it.

2 packets Choc Ripple Biscuits
600ml cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 Flake or grated chocolate (optional)

Whip the cream, then add the icing sugar.

In a dish place a layer of biscuits followed by a layer of cream. Repeat this until everything is used up.

Leave in the fridge over night to set.

Before serving crumble the flake or sprinkle the grated chocolate over that. Serve.

To make it like a log I layered the biscuits and cream in an ice cream conatainer.
The next day I scooped spoonfuls out onto a tray and shaped it into a log. I put cream over it and sprinkled it with chocolate.

Some people soak the biscuits in liquer first, but I don't drink alcohol and I don't use it in my cooking, nor did my mum.

I've also sliced banana over the top before serving because I didn't have enough cream for the top layer and it went slightly brownish, so I used the banana to cover it up and everyone loved it. So if you'd like it to be slightly different, banana's or strawberries taste good with it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

9 ways to make yourself feel sexy

To be clear, this is not about feeling sexy for someone else or to the opposite sex (although that can be a side benefit). This is about feeling sexy for yourself, feeling good about yourself. That is the most important thing.

After having kids my body was messed around a little. I got stretch marks, my tummy is not as flat as it once was and I just felt less sexy all over. It doesn't have to be that way though. I have dropped a lot of weight since giving birth and while it shouldn't, my 'feeling sexy' goes hand in hand with my weight. But whatever my size is, that is not really what makes me sexy. Sexy is a state of mind and there is a lot you can do to make yourself feel sexy.

1.) Dress for your body shape
This was a huge learning curve for me. My sister is a personal stylist and once she showed me what suited my body I had a lot more confidence and love my wardrobe now.

2.) Take care of your body - not just the weight
Aside from getting to whatever your ideal weight is (which, by the way, probably isn't what you want, you want to be healthy), take care of it in other ways:
- Dry body brushing helps get rid of dry skin, stimulate circulation and reduce cellulite
- Moisturise your body, but massage it in instead of just rubbing it on. Try a light tanning lotion too.
- Nails: do a manicure and pedicure. Even if it is just using a pumice stone or file on your heels and putting on some polish.

3.) DIY Makeover
Check YouTube, Pinterest and blogs for different make up looks, hair styles and beauty tricks. Try different ones, take photos, compare and have fun.

4.) Tell yourself you're sexy
Look at yourself in the mirror and look at the good points, tell yourself you are sexy over and over with conviction. Do it every day. Don't criticise your body and hate yourself. Love yourself and it will show.

5.) Lingerie!
I am obsessed with lingerie. I feel so good in it and honestly spend more on it than anything else in my wardrobe. Good underwear can do wonders for your whole outfit and self confidence. Add in some nice stockings and heels, then BOOM!

6.) Role play or fake it til you make it
By this I mean ACT confident. Project confidence with your body language, walk straight and tall, don't stand with your legs crossed and own the space you are in. You might not feel confident at first, but the more you project confidence, the more you feel it and confidence is sexy.

7.) Work out
Getting fit and healthy does wonders for you self esteem. The better shape your body is in the better you feel about it. You need to love your body so focus on healthy when you work out, not a particular body size.

8.) Compare photos
Take a photo of yourself right now and compare it to a picture when you were bigger. Look how far you've come! For me, how I look in photos is often very different to how I think I look. I view myself much larger than I actually am.

9.) Take time for yourself
You need time just for you. We do so much for everyone else, it can leave you feeling frazzled. Take some time to switch off, take care of yourself, do some things you enjoy and you will definitely feel better about yourself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Natural Remedies by Mim Beim - Book review

In the past year we have barely been to the doctor. I like using natural remedies, especially for viruses, colds, coughs and similar. I have a collection of resources I use as needed and various ingredients I ensure are always on hand. Last week I was fortunate to receive a copy of Natural Remedies by Mim Beim, one of Australia's most respected naturopaths.

It covers over 200 ailments with natural remedies to help. Each ailment is clearly described, what causes it, dietary advice, remedies and other advice. It is very easy to read and being an A-Z reference it is the sort of book you can keep on hand as needed, flicking through when you feel something coming on to get the remedy instead of having to read the whole thing cover to cover.

That said, it is great to read about the different remedies and how similar remedies can fix different ailments. It is very easy to read, understand and follow the practical tips and remedies Mim offers. 

I don't often get sick and am fortunate that the few times I have it has not been too bad, however, I have discovered there are natural remedies that work much faster for me than many prescribed medications and without side effects I have suffered before. 

There was one particular issue that had I not used a natural remedy for it, I would have required surgery. Instead, it took 2 days to clear with no side effects, not time off for anything and I was able to do it at home, quickly and easily. 

What natural remedies have you tried or are your go to methods?

Disclaimer: this is simply my opinion and even though I prefer natural remedies, you should seek your own professional advice for your ailments and issues, making your own decision about natural remedies.
Check out for this and more great books!

Monday, August 18, 2014

What would you do if you knew your children's friends were homeless? #Laceitup

Did you know that over 47,000 people in Australia, under the age of 25 are homeless? That is nearly half our homeless population.

Did you know that couch surfing, staying with friends, sleeping in the car, any form on unstable or temporary accommodation is classed as homeless.

One of the big issues with homelessness is it is so hidden. I have spoken with people who know 50% of their children's friends do not have stable accommodation.

There have been times in my life where I didn't have stable accommodation. I was living in a garage, sleeping on friends lounges, I have slept in the car once and another time I had to move interstate. Most of those experiences happened when I was under 25. The worst was only last year, when I was 27 and 28, but I know of so many people under 25 how don't have much hope for their future because of how they are living.

What would you do if you knew your children's friends were homeless? Would you offer somewhere to stay? Would you try to get them some help, direct them to services that give assistance or would you stay out of it?

One way you can help youth homelessness is with Youth Off The Streets. Buying a $5 pair of laces helps raise funds to go towards helping homeless youth, plus wearing them helps raise awareness and start conversations. I have been amazed by how many people here in Canberra are oblivious to our high rate of homelessness. We have the second highest rate in the country, yet it is so hidden.

I believe that by helping the youth we can help break the cycle of homelessness, give them hope and help them start their lives again. Check out more from Youth Off The Streets and take pics of your laces when you get them, tagging them with #laceitup

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Frugal Family Fun

When I divorced I created a couple of traditions in my family to strengthen the relationships between my daughters and I, as well as between themselves. I started a weekly family night and regular hang outs where each of them get to spend time one on one with me.

Being a single mum there isn't always a lot of money to go around so for family night we started playing more games. I loved board games as a child and want my children to experience them as well. Recently I was sent Fibber and Googly Eyes to review.

My kids adored Googly Eyes. It's a simple game covering all the aspects kids love such as drawing, a timer, a humorous way to do it all and the competitiveness of teams. We've played with friends of theirs too and it is perfect for their age grup of 4 - 7 year olds. It's funny to see how people think they are drawing and the guesses other make about the picture. There are 3 levels of difficulty for the googly glasses to make it harder for older ones.

 Fibber was much loved too except my kids are not so great at lying, which is fine by me. They giggle hysterically when they have 'fibbed' so I did a lot of pretending in this game. They loved the concept of their noses growing from fibbing, much like Pinocchio. These two games I will get a lot of use in our house I suspect.

Have you tried them? What are some favourite games in your household?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Picture changed to whiteboard

We have wanted a whiteboard for a while. I'm stingy though and kept planning on turning a picture into one. This weekend I finally did it and it was so easy!

Here is the before picture:

I got this picture from my sister in law about 4 years ago and loved it. Frangipanis have been my fav flower for ages, but I am changing things up in my house. 

It was really easy to turn the picture and fram into a whiteboard of sorts.

I took out the glass and picture so I could easily paint the frame

Next I gave it a good clean so there was no dirt, dust or grime on it then laid it on a sheet outside so I could spray paint it. Realistically I should have sanded it beforehand, as my husband kept telling me, but I am so impatient and decided I wanted it done now.

Once the paint was dry I picked 2 sheets of scrapbooking paper I had (I would have chosen pink ones, but since the board is not just mine I went for 2 more gender neutral colours) and laid them on the glas and put the glass back into the frame.

It was a super easy project. As you can see from the paint cans we are in the process of painting too, so my new whiteboard has not yet made it to the wall but I already love it.

One side is for things that are coming up/stuff we need to remember. The other side will be for things (excluding groceries) we feel we need or want. This way we can decide after 30 days if they are still a need/want and look out for them on special.

I already had whiteboard markers which work great on glass. So I finally got my whiteboard for free.

(I had left over paint from another project, the scrapbook paper was from my mother in law when she was doing a clean out ages ago and the picture was giving to me 4 years ago).

It is so easy to repurpose items you already have into something you will use. I have kept the frangipani picture in the frame behind the scrapbook paper if I want to use it as intended in the future.

Originally published May 2012

Monday, June 16, 2014

7 Tips for choosing a new car

I've been in two car accidents this year, neither were my fault, but it made me look at our car, car safety and the possibility of buying a new one in the near future. Unfortunately, neither accident was enough to write my car off, but thankfully no one was seriously injured or anything either.

The car I own is one I wanted for a long time because it is safe and reliable, two very important things when it comes to a car. So how do you decide what car is right for you?

1.) What do you need your car for?
A car being used for a family car is very different to a car for a tradie or travelling around Australia. Ask yourself what you will be doing with the car, what needs to fit in it, how many kids do you plan on having in the near future, how big does it need to be and so on

2.) What is your budget?
How much money can you afford and do you want to spend on a car? Just because a bank will lend you $50,000 for a new car, doesn't mean you can easily afford that, or that it is a good idea. If you don't have cash, look at ways to make some money quickly to decrease the amount you will be borrowing. When looking at the weekly loan repayments, use an online calculator to see how much an interest rate rise would increase the payments to ensure your budget wouldn't be strained with an increase.

3.) Which models fit your budget?
Now you can look at models that fit both your budget and needs. If you aren't familiar with cars ask friends and family, look online and take note when you are driving of models you think would suit your needs.

4.) How safe is the car?
Check each model you are interested in and their safety ratings. Does the car reach high safety standards? Cars with 5 star ratings such as the Volkswagon Jetta are ideal. There have been a few cars I have loved and even test drove, only to discover they're safety standards were lower than similar models. To me, safety is the most important aspect of any car I drive.

5.) Read reviews and check for faults
By now you should have narrowed your options down to a few models, knowing they are safe, fit your budget and suit your needs, but are they reliable? Are there any common faults or issues? How expensive are they to repair?

Get online and search for information on the car you want to buy. Using the Jetta as an example, search for things like "2014 Volkswagon Jetta reviews", "2014 Volkswagon Jetta common problems", "2014 Volkswagon Jetta faults". Anything that will give you an idea of what issues the car might have is good to search. Read reviews, forums, search social media and don't rely on whatever the company is writing about the car. Search for real reviews.

6.) Test drive your options
The above steps will help narrow down what type of car, but you still need to drive it to know if it suits you. While cars may be similar there are little things that make each car unique, some are easier to drive than others, your body shape and height is different so blind spots and comfort will vary for you.

Don't just drive the car around the block. Take it for a proper test drive at various speeds. If you have friends or family with the model car you are looking at, ask if you can drive theirs.

7.) Pay cash
Paying cash gives you more negotiating power, reduces the overall cost of the car and hurts more. Ok, maybe the last one is just me, but I find handing over my own money, seeing my own bank account go down, is a lot harder than using money from a loan.

Saving as much cash as you can for the car purchase is the best way to buy. Cars depreciate in value, so only buy what you can afford.

Do you have a method you use to determine which car is best for you?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

How to get a good night sleep

Do you sleep well? Can you remember the last time you had a good night sleep?

For much of my adult life I have slept on pretty poor surfaces such as a futon, a thin foam mattress, a lounge. I had a queen bed for a while and then my parents gave me something amazing - a chiropractic bed. Oh my gosh! I had no idea how good it felt to sleep on a mattress specifically designed to support your back. I have a bad back and never should have slept the way I did but when you are in less than perfect circumstances you make do.

I love my bed and everyone who's ever slept on it comments how good it is. To be clear, I give up my bed for guests, since we have a spare bed and if it's a couple I think my bed is more suitable. A good bed with a good mattress is crucial to a good night sleep.

But what if it's your children getting up a million times a night that is keeping you up?

My 6 year old has been a great sleeper since she was a few weeks old. Just sleeping through, has never wet her bed. We forgot to put a nappy on one night when she was two, she was dry in the morning and never wore a nappy again. She is a dream when it comes to sleep.

My 5 year old is not the same. She has never wet the bed either, but she has nightmares and often gets up. I recently discovered part of her sleep issue is her mattress. It's not that old, but she didn't select it and she doesn't like it. She didn't tell me, I found out by swapping mattresses around. With 3 single beds it was easy enough to find the mattress that she prefers.

If your children aren't sleeping well and keep waking you up have you checked their mattress? It might be time for a new one.

Back when I got my amazing bed I did some research. I had never thought too much about mattresses other than wondering what the difference really is between the ones for a few hundred compared to the ones for a few thousand. Now I know. I had a mattress that cost $500 when I moved out of home. It was ok. I liked it, but it wasn't great. It lasted a few years, but really, I would not buy a $500 mattress again. After being given a mattress worth a few thousand I know the difference. My mattress has lasted longer, supports me better and is definitely worth the money.

Considering we spend so much time in bed, why do so few of us spend more money and get a good mattress?

Do you find it overwhelming trying to select the right one? Do you not have the budget? 
If you find it overwhelming places like Sleepmaker have programs to help you select it. If it's the budget, think of it this way - if you sleep better, you make better decisions and save money. If you are tired you are more likely to make bad decisions, buy take away or make silly mistakes. A good mattress can save you money.

I'm curious, how did you select your mattress? Do you find a good mattress makes a difference to your sleep?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Selecting winter shoes

I have a slight shoe obsession. At last count I have 28 pairs of shoes, most of which I did not pay for! I love them and always get compliments on them. I am partial to heels, but they aren’t always comfortable for a lot of people.

I decided for this winter there were a couple of shoes I needed. Most of my shoes are peep toes and since I live in Canberra, my toes will freeze. I need to get more practical.

Boots are top of my list. I want brown knee high boots like these ones from Ziera

As well as these boots which don't have a high heel like my other boots

Why these two particular boots? I want boots I can wear with jeans or dresses, that can be dressed up or down, that don't have high heels so they can be worn all day plus these are comfortable yet stylish. Don't believe me? Check out the video

This is a sponsored post but opinions are my own.

What shoes are on your must have list?

Friday, May 16, 2014

My top 5 winter must haves

Winter is my favourite season. I love boots, coats, scarves and winter fashion in general. It’s more modest and I’m not sweating up a storm like I do in summer.

I was reviewing my shoe collection last week and noticed the boots I have worn for the past 2 winters are looking worse for wear. I love them, but really want leather boots this year. Thinking of new boots lead me to reviewing my entire wardrobe. For someone who loves winter, my wardrobe apparently loves summer!

Being a single mum, I need to be smart about my spending. I looked at my wardrobe and decided on 5 items I need to extend my current wardrobe without breaking the bank.
1.) Boots 
My preference is leather, knee-high boots. They can be worn with knit dresses, skirts or over jeans - versatile, warm and if you pick the right style, pretty timeless.

2.) Skinny jeans
Currently, I own no jeans and the last pair I had were skinny jeans. They can be paired up with boots, heels or flats depending on where you are going and what look you are going for.

3.) Leather jacket 
I love a black leather jacket. Teamed with skinny jeans it looks great. I wouldn’t be wearing my boots and jacket at the same time, but I am partial to leather.

4.) Stockings 
I have stockings I am still wearing from last year, but need a few new pairs. Thick ones are great for wearing with shorts and boots, patterned ones can add a bit of difference to an otherwise plain outfit and stockings have the added bonus of making your legs look nicer with no effort.

5.) Long sleeve white tee 
I have a black one and a classic white shirt but what I really need is a white long sleeve tee. It can be worn on it’s own, under dresses, with jeans for a casual look, with skirts or under a shirt for an extra layer of warmth.

Since clothing is not a top priority in my budget right now, I decided to sit down and see where I might be able to put the squeeze on my budget. Groceries I had already shaved right down, but I hadn’t checked my insurance for a while.

Australia Post Car Insurance is offering a 20% discount for anyone who buys comprehensive insurance (online only) before June 30. This time of year is the best for bargains because you will find an EOFYS (End Of Financial Year Sale) pretty much anywhere. I jumped online to compare Australia Post Car Insurance with my current provider and to my shock I will save $200! It took less than 5 minutes and when comparing coverage there is the option to go with market value or agreed value and they placed the value of my car in the same vicinity as I had found online. I’ve had other insurance companies place the value of my car lower than market rate, so it’s good to know they value it properly.

 With careful planning, watching sales and knowing where to shop, I should b able to get my 5 items for the amount I have saved switching to Australia Post Car Insurance! How cool is that?

What are your fashion must haves? What would you do with a spare $200?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Opening night at #FashFest

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to have a VIP experience at FashFest. Unfortunately, my sister and I were late, but it was still a great experience. We went backstage and learnt about hair and make up and all that goes on backstage. We got to walk the catwalk, see how the show was put on with video, lighting and sound, then mix in the bar area with the designers.

I am not hugely into fashion, but it was a fun night. I loved the dresses from Rockstars and Royalty, along with the Darling Sisters who had a real retro vibe, a look I love. Unfortunately, my phone has decided not to co-operate and I can't download the beautiful pictures I have! We were front row and the models from Rockstars and Royalty stopped and turned right in front of us. It was perfect!

So here are the 3 pictures I posted on Instagram on the night

Jac Lambert and I doing selfies

Jac's amazing mohawk. It was a little flat in this pic, and you can't see the colours but EVERYONE was taking pictures of her all night.

One of the beautiful designs, not my favourite one but still stunning. Vicky, the designer of Rockstars and Royalty is lovely and talented.

Have you ever been to a fashion show? Do you have favourite designers?

Friday, April 25, 2014

If you let it go, you will be provided for

Are you struggling to hold things together? Are you emotionally, spiritually and financially spent? Instead of worrying over it, just let it go.

I am very spiritual and I still have strong spiritual beliefs, despite not affiliating myself with any particular religion anymore. The past 2 years have been rather trying and much of the time, all I could do was let it go and trust I would be taken care of. That was hard.

I used to fret and worry over things, go over the budget again and again, stress about any unexpected expenses and just seemed to not be in a place of peace, but rather a self created hell. I had many good things in my life, but spent so much time worrying about things, I feel like I attracted more negative things into my life.

I knew about vision boards. I knew that what we focused on is what we attract, but it was so hard to let go of the need to control and to not try and fix every little thing.

"Everything happens for a reason" is something I have heard a lot, but I have really put it into practice. From a religious perspective, it was a matter of stepping back and trusting the Lord to take care of my family and my needs. From a different spiritual perspective, it is trusting the Universe or whoever would take care of your needs.

There are two aspects of this to remember though:
- God helps those who help themselves
- Opportunity is where luck meets preparation.

That is, let go and trust you will be taken care of, but don't just sit there and wait. This sounds like contradicting advice, but hear me out.

You can let go emotionally, trust spiritually that you will be take care of while still being aware and open to opportunities. The solution to your problem often does not lie where you think it should or it isn't solved the way you would have done it. But the longer you hold on to your way of fixing your problem, the longer you will have your problem.

I have a process now which helps me to let go of my problems, which still being open to solutions.
1.) Acknowledge the need for help
Being aware you need help and asking for it is hard. Admitting you cannot do it all is not admitting defeat. Rather, it shows strength of character to realise you need to accept the help that is out there and to let go.
2.) Pray, ask for help, then trust
Get on your knees and pray to God, meditate and ask the Universe or follow whatever method it is for your religion/spirituality. Express gratitude for all you do have, express you problems or desire for help, but don't express how it should be fixed. Just be grateful and honest, then trust it will be taken care of.
3.) Stop thinking about it and go about your business
Get on with things. Do what you need to do, all the things you usually do and don't be looking for signs everywhere. Stop thinking about how to fix your problem and you will often find the answer in the most unusual way.
4.) Express gratitude constantly.
I am always thanking God for the wonderful things in my life as well as the lessons I learn from negative experiences. It is not always immediately clear why things are happening, but trust and know that it will work out.
5.) Family and friends
I have a close support network whom I rely on and often just talking to them about my problems will see one of them come up with a great solution I never would have thought of.

How do you deal with problems too big for you?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Modern Icons 1970's look with Max Factor

I'm a fan of decades past, particularly the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. Despite being born in the 80's there isn't much in terms of fashion and beauty that really inspires me in recent years. Max Factor have been reinventing looks from the past and I was given some products to try and recreate the 1970's look which has been inspired by Farrah Fawcett, a true beauty of her time.

If I had done this last week I could have rocked the look with my blonde hair, with the flicks and all. But a spur of the moment change saw me looking more Kate Jackson with my hair.

To create the look I used:

Max Factor FaceFinity All Day Flawless 3 In 1 Foundation (it's a primer, concealer and foundation all in one, with SPF 20.) I used Beige.
Max Factor shadow post - Savage Rose, Auburn Envy and Burnt Bark
Max Factor Flawless Perfection Blush  in Chestnut
Max Factor Colour X-pert waterproof eyeliner in black
Max Factor Volume Express Mascara in Black (I am in love with this mascara!)
Mirenesse Lipgloss 
And as you can see, I don't have many makeup brushes at the moment, so had to make do with these.

To start with I looked like this:

The Max Factor foundation I used is a 3 in 1, so I just added a little more in areas I wanted more coverage such as under my eyes and a few red blemishes.

I have quite uneven skin so an easy to use foundation is great. I used to do corrective green, concealer, foundation and a powder. 

Sweep the whole lid, up to the eyebrows with Auburn Envy. 

Followed by dabbing Burnt Bark in the middle of the lid like below then blend through to the corner of your eye, away from your nose.

Next apply eyeliner. I am almost blind in one eye which makes it a lot harder. Use small feathery strokes instead of drawing with one continuous line.

Notice how the more makeup I apply the more obvious it is my eyes are 2 different shapes and sizes? It has frustrated many makeup artists. There are tips and tricks to make my eyes look the same, but I didn't do any of them in this post.

Next, apply mascara to your eyelashes. I have blonde lashes naturally, add mascara and BOOM!

Mascara is one of my favourite makeup items and one I  am virtually never without. I prefer not to use waterproof ones, but this particular one is waterproof. 

Next I used the blush at the top of my cheek bones to give some definition and 'glow'. Then applied the lip gloss to finish the look.

Makeup is mostly about playing around, seeing what you like or don't like, experimenting and getting comfortable with it. Each era has some definite looks which are worth learning. 

What era is your favourite for makeup?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

30 by 30 update

I turn 29 soon and just last night had a look at my "30 by 30" list which I wrote in April 2012. My life has changed drastically since then. I am now divorced and moved interstate. I have done 15 things on the list though which isn't too bad. I have just over 1 year to do the other 15! I am now a full time single mother, so the travel ones will be harder. My kids are only 5 and 6.

1.) Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef I really don't know if I will get this in the next 12 months.
2.) See Uluru another one I am not sure I will be able to do this year.
3.) Learn to surf -Got a voucher for free and did a 2 hour lesson at Manly. I now feel confident enough to hire a board and practice.
4.) Learn a form of dance fully - I have done 5 classes in one form, 3 classes in another and 2 in another. I need to pick one and complete at least 2 terms, or 20 twenty classes. I did 40 classes until I completely ruined my wrist, but I learnt 3 routines and feel very confident in the dance I chose.
5.) Climb Mt Kosiusko - this was booked in a couple of times, but Australia gets hazardous and I have had to cancel due to bushfire risk.
6.) Raise $10,000 for a charity - I am doing the CEO sleepout in June and the Community Sleepout in November. The money goes to help the homeless, something I am passionate about. I'd love to raise $10,000! My more realistic goals are $2,000 each.
7.) Shoot a gun - Did this in San Francisco in 2013. I am apparently a natural too, with good grouping and when we shot in the traps on my 4th shot I hit it. I now want to own my own gun and shoot more.
8.) Ride a horse 
9.) Take our kids to see a waterfall - Went to Somersby Falls in 2013.
10.) Complete a book for each of my daughters with recipes, hints and things from me - This is something I wish I had from my mum. I have some of her recipes, she taught me to sew etc but if she had made a book like this before she passed away I would have loved it.
11.) Do a 365 Day gratitude project - I actually bought a 365 Day diary from Kikki.k to do this. Starting today I am writing in it one thing I am grateful for each day. Completed in 2013.
12.) Get a family photo done - This has been on my list of things to do forever.
13.) Write the book I really want - (Written it, now to publish!) - I have self published a cook book which is now an eBook - 26 Ingredients, I published 365 Ways To Make Money with John Wiley Australia but neither of these are the books I really want to write. 26 ingredients was a book I wanted to do, 365 Ways To Make Money I was approached to write, but I have 2 other books I really want to publish that are different.
14.) Couch to 5km run  and I ran a 5km, The Color Run in February 2014.
15.) Learn sign language - At different times in my life I have had a fair bit to do with deaf people and yet I still have not learned sign language properly. I am sick of this and really want to know how to carry a conversation properly.
16.) Finish my dream bedspread set.  Done, then I got rid of it because my taste changed.
17.) Sell my current home and move to somewhere I WANT to live that ticks all the boxes. I got divorced, sold the home and moved back to Canberra.
18.) Sort out my will - This was done, but needs to be redone. And it needs to be redone again since moving and divorcing etc.
19.) Have a stylist session - I have had one with All Yours Styling and now know a lot more about what suits me etc. I want to spend a day shopping and having make-up/hair redone as well.
20.) Get my wisdom teeth removed - Dentist said not to.
21.) Do 101 random acts of kindness - I started this a little on my 101 things, but it sort of fell by the wayside. I am picking it up again. Too easy. I do acts all the time.
22.) Make a ginger bread house 
23.) Fly kites with my kids 
24.) Camping trip 
25.) Finish my 2 ebooks 
26.) Have a white Christmas - Christmas in Australia is in the middle of summer and I long for a white Christmas. Thanks to issues with the ex, I am not sure I will be able to take my daughters out of the country.
27.) See whales in the wild - This is doable twice a year where I live apparently. Ok, about 1 hour from where I live but I am determined to do it. I am now 3hours from it, and don't really care if I see them or not.
28.) Read The Bible - I have been 'trying' to do this for way to long. I need to complete it already! I no longer care. I am not Mormon anymore, I still believe in God, but don't feel the desire to read The Bible.
29.) Read the 30 books I have waiting to be read and apply what I learn 30/30
30.) Complete 1 more thing from my bucket list

Monday, February 17, 2014

Color Run in Canberra

Today I did the Color Run with my big sister. She was in a team with people from work who were walking it and I was running it on my own. It was cool, but I don't plan on doing it again.
My sister and I before the race

Pink handprints from security

My sister and I after the race, at home posing

More poses

One of my goals is to run a marathon. I love running, but I am not such a fan of crowds. There were 12,000 people at the Canberra Color Run. It was meant to be runners to the right, walkers to the left, but it really wasn't like that. There was congestion and bottlenecking on the course which frustrated me a little. I'm glad I wasn't trying to do a personal best, but just there to have fun.

My favourite colour section was blue. I got an awesome guy who squirted heaps and it went everywhere, including right down my top to my belly button! He was so into it and obviously having a great time.

We got rained on, which I liked. We have great weather like this in Canberra!

My daughters were waiting at the park with another sister for me to finish. They want to do it next year, purely because they love the colours. They whinge walking to school which is less than 1km from our house, so not sure how they would go doing the 5km.

Have you done the Color Run?

Thank you to my sisters niece, her husband and our other sister Jac Lambert for taking pics!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How to tint your own eyelashes

I have light eyelashes and I don't like waterproof mascara. I use to tint my lashes a lot, but haven't in years. Here are my natural lashes (in natural light)

Here are my lashes after tinting (this pic is in the bathroom, so not as natural light)

I have long lashes that curve up naturally. Those are also my natural eyebrows, as in no plucking or waxing.

Tinting your own lashes takes longer than doing it in a salon because to do it properly you can only do one eye at a time. Be aware this is risky, you need to test your skin to make sure you won't react, you need good eyesight and please be really careful. If any dye gets in your eye, rinse it immediately!

You will need
Eyelash tinting kit. One kit will do multiple applications
Bowl to mix in, a small one you don't mind getting stained

Follow the instructions on your kit carefully!

Step 1

Wipe vaseline under your eye and on your eyelid to prevent staining if the tint gets on your skin. Wet a tissue and either cut or bend the top to sit neatly with the curve of your eye then place it under your eye as shown.

Step 2

Mix the tint/dye as per the instructions in your kit. Mine is 10drops of peroxide to 1cm of colour squeezed from the tube. You don't need a lot of tint.

Mix until smooth, close your eye and apply the tint to your lashes. I do one eye at a time so I can see what I am doing.

Step 3

Fold the tissue over your eye. I do this as it darkens everything and I am less tempted to open my eyes. We always did it this way in the salon when I worked there too. It is more relaxing.

Leave your eye closed and wait for 5 - 10 minutes, depending on your tint and instructions.

Step 5
Grab the tissue and wipe it away from your eye without rubbing it into your eye. Wet more tissues and thoroughly rinse your eye with water to remove all the dye. DO NOT open your eye before all the dye is removed.

Repeat with your other eye.

If at any point your eyes sting, remove they dye and rinse your eyes immediately. 

An eyelash tint costs about $20 in my area. More than the cost of a kit which will do multiple applications.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

DIY Face Peel

This past few weeks I have been testing various beauty treatments for another blog of mine. One was a DIY face peel designed for blackheads and cleaning out your pores. I rarely get blackheads but at times feel my nose and chin need a deeper clean because my pores are more open there.

As you can see in the first 2 pictures my skin looks pretty bad. I have poly cystic ovaries and acne is a common issue. After the skin peel my skin was pretty raw, and it seemed to draw some of my pimples to the surface. At this point I freaked out a little.

But a week later and you can see my skin is much clearer. In fact, I rarely take a picture with skin like that unless make up is covering my imperfections.

It is a really easy peel to do. I first saw it here, but instead of using disposables I just used a clean cup and spoon to put it all on. And no, there are no pictures of me with the mask on because it has a clearish jelly like consistency which in photos is easily mistaken for something else. Once it sets on your face it's not as suspicious, but still not a photo I wanted to share.

1 Tablespoon gelatin
2 Tablespoons milk

- Clean your face. I tend to use make up wipes because it's easy, but this time used a proper cleanser.
- Mix gelatin and milk together in a bowl then heat in microwave for 10 - 15 seconds depending on the strength of your microwave. I only needed 10 seconds. Mix the milk and gelatin to make a smooth paste. Test the temperature before applying it to your face. You don't want to burn your skin.
- As with all masks, avoid the skin close to your eyes as it is more delicate and this mask is strong, it can remove some facial hair, so be careful.
- Leave it on your face for 15 minutes then peel off. Go gently as your skin might be sensitive in areas. You don't need to rip it off fast like a band aid.
- Clean your face again, then tone and moisturise.

I have been using a mud mask every fortnight, but I am going to switch to this instead as my skin was much softer and clearer after this than it ever has been with the mud mask.

Do you do skincare from your pantry?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learn new things

There are little things I have wondered how to do and have actively tried to learn these things. Recently, a friend was showing me their tie collection. They have more ties than I have clothes. I was playing around when I said I didn't know how to tie a tie, but always wanted to know. So he offered to teach me!

I have seen how to do it on pinterest but since I don't own a tie, I just never did it.

Check it out...

I tied this tie all by myself. Not bad for a first effort! Now I want to get a tie and learn all the different ways to do it.

It got me thinking, how often do we think we'd like to learn something small like this, but never actually do it? What is stopping you?

Are there any little things you would like to learn or are learning?