“All the pretty things!”

This weekend just past, I had the delightful chance to experience a new market event as somewhat of a guest of honour.

Err. Well, no, not really. Hehe. More of a serial pest than a guest of honour.

But Nuffnang and Piccadilly Market had come together to allow 10 bloggers (including yours truly) to check out what is a new-to-the-area artisan market now being held in Williamstown. Being a local yokel, I said yes to the invitation (twice, I was so chuffed) and scampered across to Williamstown to see what it was all about. And I was so glad I braved the bright but chilly weather. The morning included a lovely, yummy breakfast and then a fun scavenger hunt which took us all around the market to look at all the pretty things!

Check out the video to get an idea of what it’s like:

A lovely lady by the name of Janina Lear has been running the market out of Deakin Uni in Geelong for the past four years and this was the first time the market had been held in Melbourne – and I’d have to say it was a crazy success from what I could tell.

There was around 60 stall-holders for this market, all beautifully arranged in the ballroom and function room of the Williamstown Town Hall. There is a clear focus on quality and original hand-made artisan clothes, jewellery, toys, decor and homeware, food and more. If trash ‘n treasure markets aren’t really your cup of tea, this little gem might be just the ticket.

As I said in the beginning, we were supposed to be doing a scavenger hunt, but to be honest, I got so completely distracted with all the pretty things that I forgot to go in search of what was on the list (even though I stumbled across a few by accident).  And sadly, my reluctance to enter the modern age and get a smartphone so I can play with Instagram truly bit me in the bum this day – there were prizes up for grabs for the best Instagram picture of the morning and I couldn’t complete! WAH!

To top the morning off, the folks at the market had very kindly  contributed to the biggest goodie bags I think I have ever seen for us all. Everything from fudge by The Fudgeman, pompom garlands from Dear Mabel, gorgeous steampunk necklaces from Run Wild Horses, bags from Saquito, lip balms from Bellalu, earrings from Gabby,  soy candles from Love & Light and so much more.

You can find all of the stall holders links, including many more not mentioned right here.

Thank you, Janina and Nuffnang for arranging our gathering.  Even though I am a small-fry, non-professional blogger, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to get down to Geelong to see the Piccadilly there too.

Piccadilly Market is on again in Geelong on August 3rd and in Williamstown on November 9th!

Here’s a MASSIVE photobomb of some of my favourite bits from the market.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Piccadilly is held in the gorgeous ballroom of the Williamstown Town Hall

Williamstown Town Hall is a beautiful building and I confess in the 17 years that I have lived in the area, I’ve never gone inside!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Breakfast! (Omnomnom!) And our little scavenger hunt sheets.

Quiche, yoghurt, fruit and chocolate. That’s my kinda breakfast!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

The beautiful scented soy candles from Love & Light.

Things that make you go “Mmmmm…”

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Seagals gorgeous little stand was filled with crafty, colourful odds and ends such as Scrabble tile bookmarks and hand-made gift tags.

Too much colourful fun. Loved the Seagals stand.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Fell head over heels for these TEEEEEEEEENY-tiny little street lamps from My Fairy World. Perfect for a wee fairy garden.

Actually, I fell in love with EVERYTHING at My Fairy World.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

My favourite print from Copenhagen Delights – this was a gorgeous little smock dress/top for a little girl.

The clothes from Copenhagen Delights almost made me want to have kids to wear them. I’ll have to borrow my friends’ children, I think.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Can you believe this is dog food? I was like “YES! COOKIES!” and then “Awww, maaaan!”

Fabulous doggy treats from Pooches on Pakington.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of the printed gift tags from Dear Mabel.

Dear Mabel had a gorgeous array of handmade decorations.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Apple Pie soap, anyone? (Oh, HELLS yes.)

Yummy soaps from Tubtime Treats.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Little Puddles had the most adorable stand that was filled with a plethora of goodies in cotton-candy colours

Little Puddles was definitely one of my favourite stalls – so colourful and sweet!

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Possibly some of the best smelling lip balms I’ve ever tried.

Everyone needs Bellalu lip balm in their lives.  We scored a jar of the watermelon one in our goodie bags and… well, I died.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

A handful of my favourites from Gabby – Handmade Resin Jewellery.

Beautiful pendants from gabby.

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Another sweet stand filled with quirky shelf toys, prints and jewellery.

Bird & Blossom

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I wasn’t the only blogger drooling over these bags from Sophie Taylor. Fell in love with that pale mint one!

Sophie Taylor

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Gorgeous knitted clothes and hand-made jewellery from Lauren & Angie.

Lauren & Angie

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Got one of these beautiful vinyl bags from Saquito in our gift bags – SCORE!

Saquito

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I need that sausage dog cushion in my life. Lilly Pilly Designs

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

Some of my favourite designs from Miss Moi Jewellery.

Miss Moi

Renlish.com - Piccadilly Market, Williamstown

I FOUND STEAMPUNK!

I get super-excited when I see anything assemblage like the jewellery from Run Wild Horses.

Rose Garden Nails – Mini-not-quite-a-tutorial Tutorial

So the last time I went to my local plaza, I happened to stroll past one of those make-up clearance pop-up shops that line the corridors. Instantly drawn to the nail polish (because 200+ bottles of polish is never enough), I was rather pleased to see a “3 for $10″ over the Revlon basket and instantly dived in to see if I could find any colours that I liked.

Unfortunately my mother was with me (is that a terrible thing to say?) and she banned me from buying my usual “disgusting, murky colours!” and went digging around too to help me look. In the end, I got a lovely handful of polishes that weren’t too “murky” for Mum’s liking, including a green which she had picked up. I wasn’t sold on it  when looking at the bottle but considering how cheap it was, I didn’t mind grabbing it.

As it turned out, Revlon Colorstay nail polish in “Bonsai” (#230) is an extremely understated and very pretty green! It’s a yellow-based green which is helped along and given a lot of depth by a lovely gold shimmer. The formula is thin but workable and opaque in two thin coats.

As much as I loved the green on my nails, I wanted to do something a little different and decided to take the leap into nail art. My mother always says she wants my nails to be more colourful…

Whadya reckon? Did she get her wish?

Renlish.com - Rose Garden Nails (Mini tutorial)

How did I do this?

Stuff you need:

  • Base and top coat polish of your choice. I used (and highly recommend) Revlon Quick Dry base coat and Out The Door top coat.
  • Base nail polish colour. I used Revlon Colorstay in “Bonsai”.
  • Some acrylic paints in green and three tones of whatever colour you want your roses to be. I used dark green and a light and dark pink which I also mixed to make a mid-tone pink.
  • Some thin nail art brushes, nail polish pens or super fine detail paint brushes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Ensure nails are clean of moisture and oils by running a cotton pad soaked in polish remover over them.
  2. Apply one coat of fast-drying base coat to your nails.
  3. Once the base coat is dry, apply the background nail polish. Let dry for 10 minutes and then apply your top coat and let dry completely.
  4. Grab your acrylic paints and brushes (or in my case, the manbeast’s model-painting paints and brushes – teehee) and set up a little drop of each on a bit of foil or a plastic plate. You may or may not need to thin the paint a little bit if it’s gloopy and not runny.
  5. Take your darkest flower colour and paint some roundy blob shapes over your nail. Depending on the size of your nail and the size of the flowers, I’d aim for at least two or three. Let those dry.
  6. Grab your lightest flower colour and draw in little “C” shapes that gradually radiate outwards to the outer edges of the rose.
  7. Repeat with a couple strokes of your mid-tone colour just to add a little more depth and detail to the roses. This step is optional, though.
  8. Grab your green paint and dab in some leaf shapes leading out from the roses.
  9. Once your roses and leaves are completely dry, go over with a fast-drying top coat to seal in the design and protect it.

Tips:

  • If you’re having trouble painting your roses, watch this very simple tutorial on Youtube.
  • You can use nail polish for the flowers if you like, however acrylic paints (just your normal craft paint stuff) comes off with water so if you make a mistake you can just wipe off with a wet cotton bud and try the flowers again rather than pull out the polish remover and start from scratch.
  • Don’t load your brush when painting in the details for the roses. You only need a touch of paint.
  • Practice doing some roses with your non-dominant hand on paper first before attempting on your nails, it will make the process easier.

Sunday Review – Blushie Bath and Body

And welcome to a new Sunday Review.

Those who know me also know that since I started losing weight I have taken a keen interest in not only making myself healthy on the inside but pretty on the outside as well. Which of course means MAKEUP!

And smelling nice, but mostly makeup.

So when I discovered long time friend and US correspondent, Megan, was not only selling her beautiful hand-crafted soaps but also tinted mineral lip glosses, I was ALL OVER THAT SHIT.

While not vegan, the lip balms are made with natural ingredients and smell lovely. The mica shimmers add a wonderful depth to the gloss and stand out on the lips.

I bought a handful of the sample size glosses because I had no idea which colour would suit me best. I need not have worried, they all look awesome. The glosses are very, very sheer with the first swipe leaving just a hint of colour and shimmer. They are build-able to a small extent but I found that more than about three swipes and the gloss tended to look streaky and uneven on my lips. I would suggest layering these over a matte lipstick or lip pencil that matches the the colour of the gloss if you want properly coloured lips.

The thing I really love about the lip glosses are that they really feel just like a lip balm. I’ve come to really dislike the “sticky” feeling of lip gloss and avoid it in preference of tinted lip balms or my trusty Lucas Paw-Paw ointment instead.

You can buy Megan’s Blushie products – including hand-made soaps, soy candles, lip glosses and balms and perfume oils – from her online shop, Blushie or Etsy. She’s also got a Facebook page.

The glosses currently run for about $8.50 each after the current exchange rates to AUD from USD. They’re still a bargain so go buy!

Anyway, here are some pictures of the colours that I bought from Megan:

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Size comparison, left to right: Sample, Lip Balm and Mineral Lip Gloss

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

The lip gloss in Berry Wine is my favourite. It’s cool red-purple berry colour suits my skin perfectly. I wear this one when I go out a lot. This one is probably the one that gives the most coverage on it’s own. So pretty!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Golden Harvest is a beautiful orangey-coral, very warm-toned gloss. The colour payoff is great and the gold mica shimmers. This is probably just a little too warm for me but I love it anyway!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

First Blush is a neutral shade for me. It actually matches the natural colour of my lips. It’s got a cool, white shimmer that is NOT frosty but adds a sparkle to the lips. Instalove.

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Winter Rose is a slightly deeper than First Blush, but still very neutral on me. It’s a cool mauve colour with pinky-tan highlights and blue shimmer, which means it suits my colouring perfectly again. It’s another that I wear a lot and will be buying in full size!

Renlish.com - Sunday Review - Blushie

Just as an aside, I also bought the French Vanilla lip balm. Yeah – as a vanilla freak, I will happily admit that this stuff makes me want to eat my own face. I’m too scared to buy the balm in Gingerbread because I may actually do myself some damage if it smells as good as the vanilla.

All images property of Megan O’Keefe, Blushie Bath and Body.

Using Wacoms… or any graphics tablet for that matter.

 

As a photographer and digital creative, I’ve grown to love using a tablet and stylus to help with my workflow. Everything from drawing and inking in Illustrator to shading and retouching in Photoshop is made easier with the use of a system that mimics pen and paper. As much as we’ve become used to using ye olde mouse and clickity-click actions, going “old school” method is often better and easier, particularly with the wide range of options for drawing tablets we have now.

There are a few varieties of drawing tablets. The most common and probably least expensive are the sorts that plug into your computer and come with a separate pen stylus (well, they pretty much all come with a stylus). But then you also have ones which are similar to that of an iPad and can display images on the actual tablet themselves so that you can draw directly on the image, thus making the experience of drawing far more akin to drawing as you would on real paper. Then you have the big gun, where the tablet is the computer and you are drawing straight into it. These mofos are huge and hugely expensive and usually only the best in the graphics biz can afford them.

Project 365 - 6

 

I personally have owned a few tablet/stylus set-ups. Currently I have an Intuos4 that I won courtesy of my old favourite photography podcast of the time, Shutters Inc, in a retouching competition. You can see my winning entry and my method here on the Shutters Inc blog. The podcast isn’t posted as frequently as it used to be but it’s still very cool to listen to when you need some inspiration… but I digress.

When speaking to people who are not used to using graphics tablets, I always hear the same thing “I couldn’t get used to it” or “I couldn’t make it work for me”. I sort of understand that it’s a huge learning curve, but after a few scribbles it just came naturally to me. So here’s my tips on using a graphics tablet.

1 – Make sure that your drivers are all up to date. Ensuring you have the right and most up to date drivers means that your tablet will continue to run smoothly though things like upgrades and software changes. Do this right away so you don’t have to worry about it again for a while.

2 – Customise your settings. If you’ve just plugged in your tablet, you may find it jerky or ultra sensitive. This happened to me once and a simple adjustment fixed it in no time. Usually the average factory settings are an ok starting point but you will find that as you grow more accustomed to using the tablet, you’ll figure out individual ways of doing things. The way you draw, the amount of pressure you use on the pen, the active space in which you draw – all of these can be customised which makes the whole “second nature” thing happen much more quickly.

3 – Position your tablet correctly. This actually causes the most amount of stress for most tablet newbies. Like customising your settings, there is no one right way of positioning your tablet. Do what works best for you and if that means leaning back in your chair, with your feet up on your desk, your keyboard perched on one thigh and your tablet on the other then more power to ya!

For the rest of us mere mortals, usually a tablet on the desk works the best.

My biggest tip in this area is do not put the tablet right in front of you to begin with. Position the tablet where you are used to setting your hand for the mouse and then try drawing a little bit. Because of good old muscle memory and brain trickery, you will be able to master manipulating the stylus quicker. I know it seems counter intuitive to how you think you would use a graphics tablet, but trust me, it works. You can trick yourself into thinking it’s just a differently shaped mouse. Once you are used to the different ways of moving the stylus, pressure sensitivity, etc, you can slowly start to move the tablet over towards a more natural drawing position if you like.

Or you could do what I do and just keep the tablet off to the side and use it that way too.

4 – Make sure you’ve got a tablet that suits your purposes! Nothing causes more frustration than having to find work-arounds for everything, that includes graphics. If you’re an artist and bought a small tablet, you may find that you cannot draw properly in the active space that a small tablet allows for. Similarly, if you bought a tablet to just create digital signatures, then you don’t need a huge artist tablet.

Generally for things like retouching photographs, unless you’re way up the food chain in the industry, a basic 6×4″ or 10×8″ tablet will do nicely.

5 – PRACTICE! Don’t give up. It’s different and feels freaky but it makes workflow so much better, particularly when you start getting used to hotkeys and function keys. Learn a few of your most commonly used tools in your graphics program and add those into the function keys on your tablet. Make it as easy for yourself as possible and you’ll find it becomes a fast and effective way of working and you’ll wonder why in hell you didn’t buy one years ago.

Boots that fit?! True!

When I was much bigger, I despaired at ever being able to find a pair of boots that fit my tree-stump legs.

My legs, particularly my calves, are larger than that of most average people. Even before I got really big, my legs were always chunky.

I’d first heard about Bennetts Boots when a colleague at work pranced into the office wearing a stunning pair of boots.

“Go!” She cried. “They come in wide fittings for bigger feet and calves!”

While she wasn’t as big as me, she too had a larger footprint so she totally understood what a fucking joy it is to find something that fits and fits well.

I wasn’t entirely convinced, though. My size 10-11 clodhoppers and 60cm circumference calves would never fit in any of the boots there. I’d been on this wild goose chase before. I’d found “wide calf” boots online and was bitterly disappointed when I had the product in hand.

But I went to see what the fuss was about. At this point I’d lost about 15kg and thought I’d done pretty well. I’d managed to knock a few centimeters off my legs and thought I might get lucky.

Well, I was – and I wasn’t.

Unfortunately my legs were STILL just too big to fit the WWW – yes, that’s TRIPLE WIDE at 54cm around the calf.

In an effort to get me into something that fit, the lovely lady in the shop suggested a bigger foot size as that also meant an increase in the calf circumference.

It worked! I got the boots done up! Sadly the shoe part was just too big so I couldn’t really take that route, but I vowed to return when I’d lost more weight. I was going to own a pair of boots if it killed me.

Well, obviously I’ve lost more weight but even better, I am now the proud owner of two pairs of boots from Bennetts. The glorious cherry-red Chains and more recently the very sexy Raphael.

I’ve never known a more comfortable pair of shoes – ever. They are exquisitely made, fully lined and extremely comfortable to wear.

Now, they’re not cheap – nothing in this silly country of ours ever is – and I do think that they are slightly overpriced but they are great quality and Bennetts have a great range of boots in various styles that makes it worth squeezing a little extra out of the bank account. And if you sign up with their newsletter, you are privy to some really awesome monthly deals as well. I got my Raphaels at half price. Not bad for a boot that’s normally just shy of $400 off the shelf, eh?

Bennetts Boots come in three different calf widths and many, many sizes. All the shoes are C-fitting which means that they will comfortably fit a wider foot and they can even fit orthotics in there if you need them.

For the record, Bennetts aren’t paying me for this review. I am a genuine customer and bought these boots with my own cash. I am just that happy with them that I signed up as an affiliate. So if you want a pair of boots, click on the link in my sidebar and go shopping!

Baby’s Got Blue Eyes

When I saw the absolutely gorgeous “Arctic Eyes” tutorial on Pixiwoo’s blog, I knew I would have to give it a go.

Normally I shy away from bright colours and, in particular, blue, as I found that it can make the shadows under my eyes even darker. Apparently not so with the icier blue colours, as demonstrated by Sam…

Like I said, wow.

Had to try this one out and I searched around in my piles of makeup and found my Coastal Scents/B&H 88 Colour Shimmer palette which had some terribly awesome blues that sorta-kinda-not-really matched what Sam used.

So, brushes and colours in hand, I got to. First I tried a foundation which I have had for a year but never really used… but that was way too pink for my complexion. I am definitely a yellow-toned person. Then I grabbed NYX’s jumbo pencil in Milk to lay down a base because because I’ve found that the 88 palette is quite sheer without something for it to adhere too and I wanted the colour to pop.

(Note to self; Whilst this looked awesome, it would probably be better not to use Milk as a base if wearing this as a daytime look. Just a touch too intense with it.)

Like Sam did, I put down a light blue all over my lid, followed with a darker blue across the lash line, then a darker teal-blue under my eyes and a bright icey colour in the corners of my eyes and blended it all. To tame it down a little, I did sweep some Palladio rice powder in Natural over my browbones because I’d taken the blue up just a touch too far and I was sporting a Christina Aguilera drag queen-esque look which really wasn’t for me. Stoopid hooded eyes.

Then I grabbed another NYX eyeliner,this time one of their retractable varieties in Gypsy Blue which is a fantastic teal colour which leans more towards the green than the blue. Surprise of my life – this shit STAYS ON. Never in my life have I used an eyeliner on my waterline that did not budge. Will be buying more of these.

Then I finished the look off with some random black mascara.. Rimmel waterproof… and some lipstick (Milan by NYX) and some goldish lip gloss (also by NYX).

All in all, I like! Seems I can get away with the bright blues and not look like a corpse. Yay!

Renlish.com - Arctic Eye Tutorial

Oops… Self-portrait misfire!

Renlish.com - Arctic Eye Tutorial

DAGNAMMIT! Missed again! Camera looks good, though…

Renlish.com - Arctic Eye Tutorial

Nearly… you can see how it looks on my unevenly hooded eyes. (Stoopid genetics.)

Renlish.com - Arctic Eye Tutorial

Cheese… the colour looks impossibly blue here. I gave up. But you get the idea.

bellabox – September 2012

A few weeks back I got the September bellabox.

Initally I was REALLY impressed with the haul in this box. Lots of stuff to try, decent sample sizes (or in some cases full sizes) and all useful products. I was a little sad I didn’t get any of the cosmetic products, it is mostly skincare but it’s all good.

I don’t have any photos for this one as I haven’t had time to do that, but there’s links all over the place. But here’s a product picture from the bellabox website:

bellabox - September 2012

Ok…

The first product I was happy to receive was the Bioderma Sebium AKN. This creme is lovely but there really wasn’t enough in the sample for me to make any statements as to whether it improves the condition of my skin – you really need to use it over a couple weeks at least. I did notice this made my skin very soft and I was happy that it didn’t cause any burning like a lot of moisturizers do. I’ve heard lots of good stuff about Bioderma and I am tempted to buy this one but it’s a little costly for the amount you get. The full size is $24.95 for 30ml.

Still with the Bioderma range, I also got the Sebium Foaming Gel. As cleansers goes, this stuff is also pretty nice. Again, it’s a very small sample so I can’t really say whether it would improve my skin over time but it’s pretty good at cleaning the skin and getting rid of makeup residue too. It’s $24.95 for 200ml, which makes it a real temptation to buy.

The next thing I pulled out of the box was a full size Australis Lashtastic mascara! Yay! I’d been after a new mascara to try so I was happy. The particular one I received was the TLC Conditioning Mascara. I’m not usually precious about stuff like packaging but I did love the pink chrome. (Please excuse the girly moment.) Now, generally I like Australis. They do a few good things and the mascara was pretty good but I had problems with the brush. I prefer brushes that are full and thick so I can avoid clumpage. This brush was way too thin and sparse so I got clumpage to the extreme. I had to comb through my lashes to even things out.  You can get Australis in pretty much any pharmacy/drug store or department store.  They usually sell for around the $10 mark (sometimes more or less depending on where you go).

Right… onto the truly sucky item in the box, because there had to be at least one. True Solutions All Day Moisture SPF 30+ Tinted Cream. OH MY GOD THIS SUCKED. I am blonde. I am fair. I burn just looking out of the window on a brightly overcast day. Anything with a little sun protection is great but this stuff was awful.

Let me list the awfulness;

  1. It had the same texture and smell as sunblock. And not very good sunblock.
  2. SPF 30? MY BUTT. If there is actual sunscreen ingredients in this product, there isn’t enough. I put it on and went out for a couple of hours on a sunny, 25 degree (celcius) day. I was in the actual sun for probably an hour at most. I. Got. Sunburned. Not terrible sunburn but I was definitely sun-kissed.
  3. The colour darkened on my skin. It was a pretty good match as it came out of the bottle but within 20 minutes it had either naturally oxidized with the air or reacted to my skin and got darker. I had that lovely foundation mask thing going. Not impressed.
  4. I’d like to know where the “all day moisture” part comes in. My skin was so dry from using this that I had to slather my face in rose hip oil to make it feel better.

 

I could put all this down to my super-sensitive skin but the ingredients are all in things I’ve owned and used without problems before.

This costs $60. Don’t bother. There are better and cheaper products out there.

The next product I got in my lovely bellabox was the Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk.  My friend Tam put me onto the wonders of dry shampoo as I hate washing my hair on a daily basis. Naturally oily hair shouldn’t be washed daily! It just encourages more oil!  This stuff worked rather well, smelled ok (they sometimes smell a bit obnoxious) and was easy to use though I would never use dry shampoo on really dirty hair.

Last but definitely not least was what I think was the surprise for everyone who got the September box.  You Me & Everybody Sumptuous Skin Mousse.  It’s a body lotion/moisturiser that’s a mousse!  The novelty was fun. The product was actually REALLY good.  It wasn’t sticky and absorbed pretty well into the skin.  We got the full-size product for this one, and $14.99 for a can isn’t too bad as far as moisturizers go.

So yep, that’s everything that was in this month’s box. Overall, I was pretty pleased. I was also pretty darn jealous of the folks who managed to score the cosmetic products.  There was Guerlain L’Or Radiance Concentrate with Pure Gold and Savoir Faire Concealer which I would have kicked kittens for. KITTENS.

Anyway, September was another fun edition from bellabox. Totally worth the $15.

bellabox – August box review

Seems I’m doing lots of reviews lately, and I know that I am. I just like talking about stuff that I like and occasionally I get asked to check something out.

Don’t worry, I’ve got some good ol’ fashioned bloggy posts coming up soon, plus some more images of Melbourne which I’ve been dying to share.

But today I’m finally putting up a review of the August bellabox.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, bellabox is an Aussie version of the UK “Glossy Box” and the American “Birchbox” and “Glam Box”… and I am sure there are oooooodles of others. bellabox seemed to be a good price for some pretty nifty samples. At $15 a month (that includes postage, fyi), you get at least five samples of some pretty exclusive products. From my observation of the first box I’ve received and comments from others, it’s pretty worthwhile as they throw in the occasional full-size samples, the value of which can totally make up for the cost of the box.

Anyhoo… This is what the box looks like:

bellabox, August - Renlish.com

Innit cute??!

I must admit, the packaging is rock-solid. No flimsy wrapping at all. The Bella Box comes in another postage box so it’s a solid little parcel that arrives.

Here’s how everything’s wrapped:

bellabox, August - Renlish.com

Petite “bb” sticker… awww….

Before you even open the tissue paper, you get to read the card which gives you the theme of the box as well as a breakdown of what’s inside. Kinda cool.

And this is everything inside the box!

bellabox, August - Renlish.com

The gory innards!

Ok, onto the good stuff…

Click the linkydink to read more – there’s lots of pictures and writing!

Continue reading

Review: Golden Circle Healthy Life – Probiotic Juicy Goodness!

A short while ago I was chosen to review Golden Circle’s new Healthy Life range of probiotic juices.  Nuffnang (see the linkidink in “Featuring” over there on the right) were kind enough to send me not only means to obtain the juice but I also got an awesome cooler bag which will be perfect for when I return to work.  Yay for cool, healthy lunches!

 

Golden Circle Healthy Life™ Fruit Juice with Probiotic Cultures

Golden Circle Healthy Life™ Fruit Juice with Probiotic Cultures

{Product Talk by Nuffnang!}

Let’s just say that any fruit juice in Casa del Ren is pretty much adored by both myself and the manbeast so I was as pleased as… a very happy thing… as was the manbeast, to have the opportunity to take some new juices for a test run.  It took me a little while to find them as it seems that they are already pretty popular (and rightly so) as I had to go to two different supermarkets to find them! (Thanks Woollies in Wyndham Vale!)

Here’s the blurb from Golden Circle:

“Introducing Golden Circle Healthy Life™ Fruit Juice with Probiotic Cultures – your dairy-free daily serve of probiotic goodness. The first of their kind in Australia, our delicious chilled juices with probiotic cultures have no added sugar and no artificial colours or flavours. The goodness of fruit juice and the unique combination of probiotics, clinically shown to support your body’s natural immune defences.”

There’s two juices in the range; the Breakfast Juice which is made from orange, apple, pineapple, passion fruit and banana… (Good lord, can we say “NOM!” yet??!) and my personal favourite, Apple Mango which is… apple and mango - I kid you not. Yum! The manbeast has also tried the juices and really liked them. I can already tell that there’s going to be none of the Breakfast Juice left by tomorrow morning.

The great thing about these is that unlike many bottled juices, it doesn’t have that slightly bitter reconstituted after-taste. You know the one – particularly if you’re a fan of bottled orange juice. It just doesn’t taste right and it feels like you’ve been chewing on old orange peel. Fortunately with these juices there’s none of that, so that was a plus for me. Secondly, they are quite sweet so my inner sugar fiend is satisfied but I’m not bouncing off the walls. You don’t get that cloying sticky mouth or feel like you need to have a glass of water afterwards to kill the sweetness. That’s because there’s no added sugar. It’s all juice!

For those amongst us who are unable to eat dairy, this may be a great alternative way to get those probiotic goodnesses in ya tum without making yourself sick.

For those of us doing Weight Watchers, a 200ml serve of Apple Mango is a mere 3 ProPoints and the Breakfast Juice is just 2 ProPoints for the same serve size! EEEE!!!!  Not bad odds at all!  As someone who has undergone a major lifestyle change, maintaining and getting the balance right between the things that are good for me and the things that I actually like is very important. Juice is usually fairly high when it comes to our ProPoints budgets so having something we could easily work into our day for minimal points is a good thing! Maybe the coffee drinkers amongst us can swap a caffeine hit for a juice hit instead? (It’s better for you anyway… *wheedle*)

Anyway, Golden Circle Healthy Life™ Fruit Juice with Probiotic Cultures is available in Coles, Safeway/Woolworths and IGA stores across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and is available in both 1 Litre and 300ml bottles. You can find out more about these juices on the Golden Circle Healthy Life website.

(Postscript – as great as these juices are, sadly they have not cured my raging tooth decay and I still need to go have my wisdom teeth surgically removed on Monday afternoon next week. BOO-HISS!)

Review: Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Palettes

Disclaimer: These palettes were not sent to me. I purchased them myself with my own money. I am just a fan of Sleek wanting to review their schtuff!

Matte eyeshadows. Dontcha just love ‘em? I do. As someone who is… sigh… getting older and… siiiiigh… already developing wrinkles and hooded eyes (I have deep-set eyes anyway), mattes really are the go-to eyeshadows for me because I can create great definition without highlighting the fact that my skin isn’t as firm and lush as it used to be.

So you can imagine my joy when I discovered Sleek came out with a couple of ultra matte eyeshadow palettes!

Sleek, if you are living under a rock like I used to be until recently, is a UK-based cosmetic brand that is generally great value.  Their eyeshadow palettes range in price from $10-$13USD and the rest of their products are similarly priced, making them extremely affordable!

I bought the new palettes immediately though I will say that I bought them through another online avenue as they’d sold out on their website at the time when I wanted them.

There are two ultra matte collections, the Brights (V1) and the Darks (V2). The Brights are what you’d expect; gorgeous neon KAPOW sorts of colours which rival that of Sugarpill. The Darks are a collection of heavenly muted shades of green, red, brown, blue and purple which would make for some pretty awesome smoky effects.

However…

These shadows aren’t that great.

I had come to expect a lot from Sleek as their original palettes are the bomb. Most of the colours have beautiful payoff without the need for any primer whatsoever and the texture of the produce itself is so smooth and velvety you would think they are cremes.

Not so with the new mattes. The texture is chalky and damned near dry. The payoff… well, you’ll see…

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Brights Palette - Renlish.com

The Ultra Matte Brights collection.

Top row (Left-Right): Chill, Pout, Sugarlite, Dragon Fly, Pucker and Bamm!
Bottom row: Cricket, Bolt, Strike, Floss, Crete, Pow!

They look fantastic in the pans but this is what they looked like on my skin:

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Palette - Brights - Renlish.com

Top row, swatched in the same order as listed above.

As the colours are matte is twas hard to take pictures of them as there was nothing really for the camera to focus on but you get the general idea.  The colour pay-off for these is extremely lackluster. These swatches were done on my arm with no primer.  Pout is probably the best of them from the top row with the most colour payoff.  Bamm! isn’t too bad either but it took a couple of swipes with the makeup sponge to get a decent shade from the rest. All of them were rather crumbly so application was not smooth at all.

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Palette - Brights - Renlish.com

Bottom row, swatched in the same order as described above.

What the hell happened here?!  You cannot even see Floss, Crete or Pow! on my skin unless you squint really, really hard.  I did attempt another go at these colours with primer but it made little difference.  Cricket was extremely chalky though Bolt went on the nicest.  I was hoping Strike would be a good replacement for Sugarpill’s Flamepoint but I can already see I need to buy up some Sugarpill palettes to sate my need for COLOURCOLOURCOLOUR!… ahem.

I’d say these colours would be best applied with a white or light creme base to make the best of the pigment in them and to make them go on a bit better but considering the tests I’d done with other Sleek stuff without the need for primer or a base, I’m a little bummed.

The dark palette was moderately better, though the same chalky consistency was still a problem.

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Palettes, Dark - Renlish.com

The Ultra Matte Darks Collection

Top row (Left-Right): Orbit, Ink, Highness, Noir, Dune, Pillow Talk
Bottom row: Thunder, Maple, Flesh, Paper Bag, Villan, Fern

And here’s what they looked like on my arm… Please note, there was some residual primer left on my arm.

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Darks - Renlis.com

Top row, swatched in order as described above.

 

I had moderately more luck with the lighter colours in this palette than the brights one.  Pillow Talk actually looks lovely but Dune is so close to my own skin colour that you almost can’t see it. Those two would be great blending and highlight colours. While Highness looks quite purple in the pan, it takes on a ruddy red tinge on the skin.  Sigh. Bugger.  Noir goes on dark enough but it’s not a very solid black. Orbit is a fantastic teal colour but again, the colour payoff just isn’t there.

Sleek Cosmetics, Ultra Matte Darks - Renlish.com

Bottom row, swatched in order as described above.

The bottom row in the darks palette was probably my favourite and had the best colour pay off out of all of the shadows.  I really like Maple, Paper Bag and Villan as they matched the coolness of my skin tone. Still chalky though.

On the whole, I do still like these palettes as I am sure with primer and a base they will lay down with some great colour and you can build up the intensity but I wouldn’t bother if you’re thinking about applying straight from the pans.

You can get your Sleek stuff on their website – they do ship internationally and have good shipping rates too.  Alternatively, you can find some of the sold out stuff on ebay for around the same price.