Saturday, August 1, 2015

Get Your Nail Jam On: Jamberry Product Review

Take your nails from drab to fab!

My childhood friend Danielle and I recently reconnected on Facebook (I love finding ways FB can be used for the greater good!) and I noticed she started selling this rad-looking nail product called Jamberry.

When I asked her about it she offered to send me samples to try during my visit to the USA. Naturally I was stoked because I love nail stuff (but have little time for it these days.)

A little purple package arrived with the nail wraps and polish colors I selected (there are like a bazillion patterns and colors- good luck chosing!) I couldn't wait to try them but I kept waiting for the perfect opportunity- I think I expected the whole process to take a lot longer than it did. I was able to do my nails and toes during my daughter's afternoon nap. Lesson learned ladies and gents- don't wait to treat yourself!

Even got the chance to do my tootsies!

I painted my toenails with the lovely paint, nice and thick so you can actually get away with doing one coat. Score- timesaver! While they were drying I managed to read the simple nail wrap instructions and slap those onto my fingernails as well- bam.

The application process was straightforward but my execution needs work. I know this is one of those things where practice makes perfect- at least in this case the practicing results in some really fun looking fingertips!

A little bit of quick Mommy pampering
I thought it would be helpful to ask Danielle what her top application tips were for next time. And this is what she told me:

  1. Make sure the wraps are sized correctly. I noticed this myself during the application. You don't want to stick the wrap anywhere onto your skin or it will lift off and annoy you (so make sure it's not too big.) Trim a little off around your cuticles.
  2. Use purple cuticle pusher to smooth wrinkles while the nail wraps are still warm. Or try this step after the wrap application is complete- simply warm up each individual nail beforehand.
  3. Nail prep is key! Push those cuticles back, including this little hidden cuticle we all have. It's a chalky film that you can scrape off the nail near the cuticle bed. Make sure you get rid of that and wipe nails with alcohol to remove any oils.
  4. General Nail Health. Drink plenty of water and use cuticle oil often after you apply your wraps. Jamberry supplies cuticle oil in your application kit.
  5. Remove with Care. Don't rip or pull wraps off your nails or you could damage them. Allow nailpolish remover to soak underneath the wrap so it can dissolve the glue which hold the wrap to your nail.

For my Aussie readers there is exciting news- Jamberry is coming to the Australian market this October! If you are interested in buying or selling you can check out Danielle's website, facebook page or email her: daniellejams@wintertons.us



Thursday, July 23, 2015

I Went On A Trip Without My Daughter And Didn't Miss Her

Well…that’s not entirely true. I missed her a teeny, tiny, bit but only at the beginning.

I went on a girls trip to Nashville with one of my best friends, for three nights, the longest I have ever been away from my almost-two-year-old tot.

My trip to Hobart early this year was the previous record holder- two nights away. 

This time I flew the full five hour itinerary alone which was something I looked forward to. In transit...just like the old days when I traveled so much airports calmed me, like home.

Dressed, hair did, makeup on, I felt good about myself that day. When I walked downstairs my Mother said to me, “Wow, you don’t look like a Mom today,” which I took as a huge compliment.

I didn’t 'feel' like a Mom even though I chatted about my daughter with the coffee lady at the airport.

The first leg to Baltimore was too short, I barely had time to finish my iced latte and a few chapters of the new David Sedaris novel. Hot tip: If you want strangers to talk to you, dye your hair purple.

On that next flight from Baltimore to Nashville I turned on some relaxing music and closed my eyes. I pictured taking a bath while Lavinia roamed the bathroom. She got bored and wanted to climb in with me so I let her. She was affectionate, hugging me with her perfect little body and little pink arms. It was almost as if she knew I would be leaving in a few hours.
She stayed in the water patiently while I finished getting ready- which is unheard of. I sang to her to ensure she remained distracted.

Speeding though the clouds those images played in my mind I felt a physical pang in my heart. I missed her voice, smile and determined (bossy) attitude. Usually it takes about 24 hours before I'm craving time with her and I wondered if I would miss her during the whole trip.
I missed her again when my Mom called us on Facetime the next morning, other than that, I wish I could have easily added a fourth night to my stay. Me time!!!

Nashville was “excessive fun and madness” to quote our Jamacian-born Uber driver. My girlfriend and I spent an entire day cowboy-boot shopping, experienced the legendary Grand Ole Opry, saw tons of live music, and ‘Honkey Tonked’ our way down Broadway.
Me and my purple hair and new tattoos fit right in. Nashville is full of musicians, producers and artists trying to make it. Even though I could not carry a tune if it had a handle on it, I felt at ease surrounded by the buzz of creativity, inspiration and ambition.
I guess it's all about finding a tribe as I circle back to my first passions in life, painting and story-telling. I'm incredibly lucky to have found a supportive community of bloggers who share advice, experience and ideas with one another.

Not only does it feel good to share knowledge with these talented people but I think it comes back around, adding to the collective creative community. 

Conclusion: If you are away from your kids and you don't miss them, it does not make you a bad Mom, in fact it makes you a good one (if you do miss them you're also a good one.) It's important to make time for your non-mama self and carve out a little place in your identity that belongs to only you...At the very least it's something your children can look up to.

Here is a tiny sample of some of the wonderful blogs I follow by women I am honored to call friends. Rock on.



Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Skinny Cauliflower Carbonara


I'm always looking for creative ways to get more veggies in my life. Generally I'm not a fan of white sauces or even soups because I don't like the feeling heaviness of cream in my guts (that and I'm lactose intolerant.) This dish is not only healthy and naughty-tasting, it won't leave you with that uncomfortably-stuffed feeling.

Cauliflower is so versatile---Have you tried cauliflower crust pizza yet?  Deeeeeelicioso.

I haven't done much cooking while stateside and made this dish before I left Australia. It's worth sharing now because it's one of those trans-seasonal meals that can work in just about any weather (it's winter there and summer here.) Light but comforting, healthy yet satisfying. Easy too! I'm making myself hungry....

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Cauliflower
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
  • 4 Ham Slices
  • 1 Egg
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • Handful Fresh Basil (For Garnish)
  • Few Shakes White Pepper (or Red if you're braver)
  • Giant Pinch Parmasean Cheese
  • Drizzle Olive oil

Cooking Directions

  1. Boil cauliflower head and garlic in a pot until tender. Drain and save the stock in case you need to thin the sauce.
  2. Add coconut milk and blend using an immersion blender or regular blender.
  3. Heat oil in a pan and add diced ham until desired crispness.
  4. Add cauliflower/ garlic mixture to the pan to keep warm and turn down heat.
  5. Before serving add raw egg and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour over pasta and top with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Devour, guilt-free!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Taking Stock


I’m more than halfway through my visit here in Buffalo and I’m starting to worry that it won’t be enough time.  Not sure it ever will be.

My trip to Nashville last week was incredible and draining and now I’m hibernating and resting up- which seems odd to do in the Summer weather. I'm in a strange, flat, post-party headspace even though it sort of feels like I'm still on vacation. Because this is technically a visit. I think.

I thought I would do a little Stock Take below to get my brain waves flowing. If you want to 'Take Stock' too- just copy the list at the bottom of this post and share your link in the comments here.

Making : Paintings.
Cooking : Not much while I’m a guest at my Mom’s house. A nice change.
Drinking : Emergen-C today and water. Need to rehydrate.
Reading: Just finished 'The Opposite of Loneliness' and I highly recommend it.
Wanting: To feel more rested.
Looking: Like a new person with purple hair and new tattoos!
Playing: Horsey with Lavinia. She thinks it’s hilarious.
Deciding: If I should extend my USA trip a tad bit longer….
Wishing: I could squeeze my hubby.
Enjoying: Having help so I can go out and do things that make me fee like, well, me.
Waiting: For inspiration (or just energy.)
Liking: My new playlist of the country songs I discovered in Nashville.
Wondering: Should I stay, should I go?
Loving: The sun and summer weather
Pondering: If the best is yet to come.
Considering: Making business cards- I’ve handed out a few scrawly scraps of paper recently.
Buying: All the things before I leave The States.
Watching: ABC’s Nashville, Season 1.
Hoping: To get an art business going.
Marveling: At how much Lavinia has changed in the last few weeks.
Cringing: At how much money I’ve spent so far on my trip.
Needing: More veggies in my life.
Questioning: If I will ever have 'enough' time.
Smelling: Piles of laundry.
Wearing: A new soft V-neck Tee and comfy shorts.
Following: Austin Kleon on Twitter.
Noticing: That my life will always be about balancing extremes.    
Knowing: Little buggy will be awake soon so I better wrap this up!
Thinking: About shipping my (material) life over to Australia now that I will finally have space.
Admiring: The talent of my diverse group of friends.
Sorting: Rather, dreading sorting, through my stuff in the basement.
Getting: New Glasses from Warby Parker- 95 dollars for frames, lenses and delivery!
Bookmarking: Quotes about creativity.
Coveting: My new cowboy boots (2 pairs!)
Disliking: How little exercise I’ve had lately.
Opening: Files with blog post ideas.
Giggling: I’ve become a Country music fan, my younger self would be horrified.
Feeling: Worn out.
Snacking: On naughty American snacks. Pretzels, Mac N Cheese, bagels, toooo many carbs.
Helping: Clean up the messes my tot makes in my Moms house.
Hearing: “Kiss You in the Morning” by cutie Michael Ray. Check him out!


 Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :
Reading:
Wanting:
Looking:
Playing:
Deciding:
Wishing:
Enjoying:
Waiting:
Liking:
Wondering:
Loving:
Pondering:
Considering:
Buying:
Watching:
Hoping:
Marvelling:
Cringing:
Needing:
Questioning:
Smelling:
Wearing:
Following:
Noticing:
Knowing:
Thinking:
Admiring:
Sorting:
Getting:
Bookmarking:
Coveting:
Disliking:
Opening:
Giggling:
Feeling:
Snacking:
Helping:
Hearing:

Thursday, July 2, 2015

So Little Time

I want to do all the things while I'm home. Buffalo, New York has had a makeover, well at least the waterfront has, and I needed to check it out.
Monday I got to see some of the changes first hand and I felt like I had been transported to a different city entirely. It's common knowledge Buffalo always turns on the charm for Summer. (I always say, you will never find a population of folks who appreciate the sun as much as they do.) But this new Buffalo actually feels like a real destination, not just something locals can appreciate.
There were bars, restaurants, public artworks, green grass, lawn chairs, cobbled streets, historic monuments, a stage for live music, kayak rentals, boat tours, mini sailboats, a giant sandbox and more. Um hi, am I in Charleston or something? Nope. Buffalo. I want to come here a million more times before I fly back to Australia.
It’s been a whirlwind three weeks (I cannot believe I’ve been here that long already.) We have had out of town guests, parties, concerts, dinners- all fun, fun, fun, but it's taken a toll. I felt physically drained before heading to the waterfront and to be completely honest I was in a rotten, run-down mood. Somehow though, being there in the sunshine, experiencing the progress of my beloved home city, it just perked-up my soul.
It’s so hard for me to find that balance between self care and letting loose on a normal day but it's near impossible when I know there is a time limit like there is on our visit. Usually I run around like a lunatic but since becoming a parent, I don't have the energy to keep up the way I used to and I need to remember to take a step back and rest, for the sake of my daughter and myself.
I'm glad we went to the water and had a little fun because the next day was an intensely emotional one. We buried my dog's ashes in the backyard then drove my brother to the airport. I didn't know when I would see him again. On the way home I wished out loud that he could stay longer, just a little more time, now that things are quieting down.

I went to dinner with my Dad afterward and while we were eating and he got a phone call from my brother. Turns out his flight was cancelled and he got to spend one more night at home. Maybe the universe heard my pleas. A few more hours with my brosef- I'll take it. I'm one grateful sister.

Friday, June 26, 2015

One + Four = Life: Homeward


I’ve been in my hometown for two weeks now and have settled in while trying to balance the overwhelming urge to see everyone and do everything possible while resting enough to stay upright.

It’s hard fighting the panic that shouts “this is the last time you will see so-and-so for another year,” and makes me buy all the American things because they are so much cheaper than in Australia. “Of course you need seven mascaras! They are a third of the cost!”

Every once in a while I have to remind myself to stop, if my body doesn’t remind me first by getting sick or falling asleep at 8:00PM. One of the main things that makes me focus are seeing people who are important to me, like my brother.

My bro and I have not lived in the same city in over a decade but I always miss him. We tortured one another growing up but he’s been along for the ride with me longer than anyone.

For the first time in years we are both at home, without our respective spouses so naturally we decided to do something a little whimsical.


One: Brother Sister Matching Tattoos

My brother and I grew up watching The Goonies. Putting on a VHS flick was one guaranteed way we would get along for at least 90 minutes. So in the spirit of pirates and One-Eyed-Willy we have gotten matching SailorJerry clipper ships. And taking from the classic SJ flash the word 'Homeward' in the banner underneath. To Eric and I, it represents our relationship because even though we are separated, we will always make our way home to one another, even if only figuratively.


Two: The Kooks Are Out

I started listening to The Kooks when I lived in Amsterdam, my favorite city, their album Inside In The Inside Out will always remind me of one of the best times in my life. It’s poetic that I took along Michelle who was my colleague, flat mate and best friend in Amster. I had tickets to see the band twice before to no avail. The first time, I was pregnant and mixed up the dates (damn baby brain!) the second time we had an overnight wedding and had to sell our tickets (the wedding was wonderful and worth it!) When I FINALLY saw The Kooks at The Rapids Theater in Niagara Falls, USA I stood two rows away from the stage and rock out like I was one of the other 18 year olds in the venue. Totally worth the wait.


Three: Backyard Beauty

I didn’t grow up in the house my Mother and Stepfather share but it reminds me of my childhood home, especially how the backyard buttresses the woods behind it. Watching my daughter run around in the golden light of the summer evenings fills my heart with a mixture of joy and melancholy. We have escaped the middle of a Melbourne Winter but also left behind my husband, her Dad. And then I start thinking about how she won’t ever have the same memories growing up as I did. Perhaps I should brush up on my memory and my storytelling.


Four: A Caffeine-Fueled Painting Afternoon

I’m incredibly lucky that my mother is an interior designer and she wants to populate some of her projects with my artwork. Whoa!! All of the sudden I’m a commissioned artist!!?! I worried that I’m not “professional” enough to sell my work. My husband said to me “What makes any artist a professional? You studied art, you make art, and people want to pay you for it.” He has a point.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Be Sweet To Your Feet: Scholl's Product Review

{My mates at Scholl's Australia sent me some products to review- opinions are my own}


My best friend made up the game ‘whose feet hurt the most?’ when we were sitting curbside at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. From our vantage point all we could see were girls hobbling and tottering around on heels, stilettos and all kinds of uncomfortable footwear.

We laughed and laughed while we sipped champagne and called out; “Hers do! No definitely hers! No way- her feet hurt the most!"

We weren’t making fun of their outfits or criticizing their body shapes but it did have a tinge of wrongness attached to it. It felt as if like we were witnessing everything that is wrong with equality. There were no men limping around in their shoes.

And look, I get it. It’s expensive to dress for the races from head to toe and something’s gotta give, we can’t all afford Jimmy Choos. But what if there was an inexpensive measure you could take to ease the pain and prevent blisters at the same time? 

I’m not speaking for the girls who walk around and look like they are going to break an ankle (that's a lifestyle choice) but for those of us who try and look fashionable and sensible but still have to bear breaking-in our pumps (and may have to deal with icky cracked heels, and dry skin on feet.)


Scholls Australia have a few products that can ease our suffering because it’s not as if we are about to toss away our investments in uncomfortable footwear.

They have a line of products appropriately called ‘Party Feet.’ My feet don’t party often these days now that I have a daughter but when I do- I want to be as comfortable as possible. Maybe that sounds old and cranky but it’s better than walking around like Frankenstein. Hashtag- old enough to know better!

Here are a few they sent me to test out:


Gel Inserts- I asked for these specifically.  I’m an active person (most of the time) and when I’m out, I am the opposite of a wall flower. I can’t wait to try these bad boys out because they look and feel like velvet on the top side (so would be lovely to wear with or without tights) and have sturdy gel goodness on the bottom- extra cushioning on the pads of the feet and heels where fellow champagne-infused dancers need it.


Heel Shields- I’m hoping these heel shields will allow me to wear shoes that rub me the wrong way (tee hee I love puns.)  These are going to be a staple in my purse because you never know when you might need them- blisters be gone!


Fresh Step- I’m assuming you can spray this deodorizer/ sanitizer in your party shoes before you go out but I have a feeling this product will be the perfect thing to spray into my UGG’s which I will don immediately upon returning home from any event. I already tried this product out on my furry little buddies and though it smells a bit like a lemony cleaning product (What can you expect? It’s for sweaty feet) it got the job done.


I can’t wait to get invited to something fancy again so I can rock out with comfy tootsies. Babysitting anyone? Anyone?