Thursday, 20 November 2014

Getting There

So I have put on 4kg since I stopped exercising in early September due to my surgery.

I went back to the gym three weeks ago but caused myself some issues with my incisions so had to rest up again. I was back there twice this week and so far, so good. Just light exercise that involves no upper-body movement.

Obviously, the last thing I wanted pre-Summer is to gain weight after working so hard to get down to 75kg this year and maintaining it longer than I ever have. But, I guess I just have to be patient and do what I can.

So, outfit posts might be a little light over the coming couple of months. My clothes are fitting, but not flattering in many cases! I will do what I can. x

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Country Road's New Jewellery Line

Launched online a couple of weeks ago, the new Country Road jewellery collection finally arrived in my local store on Saturday. And it's lovely. A well-balanced mix of chunky and fine, silver and gold, enamel and leather, this is a well-thought-out modern and minimalist collection. I added this ring (one pinky size and one larger), this bangle, this ring and this necklace to my growing collection of gold jewellery. Well done, CR.

T Bar Bracelet

Leather Bangle

Metal Cuff

Solid Disc Necklace

Knuckle Ring

Hoop Earrings

Geometric Bangle Set

Beaded Ball Necklace

Rope Enamel Necklace

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

New Gym Gear

I am already discovering how much more flexibility a smaller bust brings. A couple of weeks back I spent some time in my local Nike store with the aim of kitting myself out in all new gym gear. My old gear has served me well for a couple of years so I thought I'd start from scratch.

And what a positive experience it was.

I'm carrying some extra weight thanks to not being allowed to exercise for two months. I've gained about 3kg (all around the middle it seems), and I still have water retention issues post-surgery. So I'm not feeling that sexy. Despite this, it was a joy to be able to purchase a normal sports bra for only $50 and finally... finally... a tank top! With a larger bust, I was self-conscious in tight-fitting tanks. So I would just wear loose tshirts which get in the way (and also get caught up in some equipment from time to time!).

The staff at Nike in Newmarket were really helpful, especially when I told them about my recent surgery and the unchartered waters of normal sports bras! They were knowledgeable and supportive (excuse the pun). Here is what I bought:

Nike Pro Bra $50.00 | Nike Zoom Fit Agiility Trainer $180 | Nike Stretch 3/4 Leggings $60.00 

Nike Dri-Fit Knitted Tank $80.00

Monday, 3 November 2014

More Beauty Experiments

So I decided to try another hair treatment. This time, an avocado/banana/honey/coconut oil mask. Easy to prepare, but oh so messy to apply. I washed my hair, slathered it on then wandered around with it on my hair for about half an hour hoping a swarm of flies wouldn't follow me. I then rinsed it out in the shower. Problem: it didn't rinse out entirely and my hair felt heavy and 'big'. So unfortunately, I had to re-wash it and apply some conditioner as it was by then a tangled, matted mess! So much for avoiding commercial shampoo and conditioner...

I air-dried my hair as blow-drying adds to the frizz. It actually dried really nicely, not too frizzy. Styling was about the same effort as usual. My GHD straighteners working about the same as normal.

I'll admit that my hair does feel softer and looks shinier and sleeker today. So maybe this treatment is one that might be worth using once in a while.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How to Shop the Shopbop Sale

A dear reader told me that she is overwhelmed by the Shopbop site and so missed out on the recent site-wide 25% off sale. I can understand: it's a huge site offering thousands of products. On the plus side, Shopbop offers a huge range of brands we simply can't get here. And free shipping over US $100 is a great incentive. They also have a great returns system where the courier will collect your goods for a flat fee of NZ $35 and courier them back to Shopbop in the U.S.

In this post, I want to share my secrets to a successful Shopbop sale (or just general shopping from the site).

Rule 1: Create an account
This will make it easier to check out when the site is busy (especially if you store credit card and address details). An account entitles you to site services such as wish list, favourites and notification emails. Shopbop also emails out a look book several times a week which is great for style inspiration.

Rule 2: Know what you want
The sale is never scheduled, it lasts only three days and things sell out fast. If you have unlimited time to trawl through all items in all categories on a deadline then fine, have fun! But there are THOUSANDS of items on this site, so forget that malarkey! Well before the sale, narrow down what you want and search the relevant categories. For example:

- A pair of black skinny jeans (Clothing > Jeans)
- A set of gold midi rings (Accessories > Jewelry)
- A tan cross-body bag (Bags > Cross Body Bags)

When the sale email comes through, you can purchase straight from your favourites list (see more about favourites below).

Rule 3: Make use of the filters
The filters are vital for narrowing down items that you can afford and that will actually fit you. There are three:

- Designers
- Sizes
- Colours

In addition, you can also sort items to suit. For example, prices low to high will force the cheapest items to the top of the page. Filters and sorts are KEY time savers. For example, I'm a size 32 in jeans. By filtering out all other sizes I drastically reduce the items to browse through.

Rule 4: Build up a favourites list
The little heart icon on product pages lets you easily add items to you favourites list. Shopbop holds a lot of stock and re-stocks regularly. Even if an item sells out, keep it on your list. Chances are it'll be back in stock at some stage.

The point of the favourites list is to speed up transfer-to-cart. Traditionally, when the sale is just announced, the site slows down and it's hard to use. With items already saved, you just need to add them to the cart and purchase.

Rule 5: Know which brands are stocked
Shopbop is different to Net-a-Porter which specialises in high-end designer fashion. Shopbop does stock high-end designer goods, but it also stocks those designers' affordable lines. For example:

- Marc by Marc Jacobs
- T by Alexander Wang
- RED Valentino
- 3.1 Phillip Lim
- MICHAEL Michael Kors

Shopbop also stocks many mid-range designer brands such as:

- Acne Studios
- Karen Walker Eyewear
- A.P.C
- Ash
- Camilla and Marc
- Tory Burch
- Rebecca Taylor
- Dion Lee
- Equipment

Many great lower-price brands are available too, such as Gorjana, Blank Denim and Steve Madden. There's also a huge range of denim on offer.

Rule 6: Get familiar with sizing
Read the size charts and measurements. Check the model's vital statistics (and height). See what size she is wearing and also check her body shape. Hey, they are all a NZ size 6 or 8 but does she have a long torso or long legs? Is she a skinny pear? Are your ankles as fine as hers and will that strap go around YOUR ankles?

The general rule is that American designers size larger and European designers size smaller.

Also, read the customer reviews and get an idea if an item runs smaller or larger. I have found reviews really helpful as women tend to share their body measurements which is great.

Rule 7: Use the sale for smart shopping
If you have been coveting a $400 pair of jeans for months, use a generous discount like this to buy them at a reduced price. Or, stock up on something you've bought before elsewhere and love (and you know your size).

Of the three items I bought in the last sale, I kept two (the jeans and the cashmere) and returned the stripey top. It was a perfect fit but just not a very flattering cut.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hair Update

And... rye flour shampoo is a fail I'm afraid.

By the end of today my hair felt like straw and with today's rain and humidity here in Auckland, it was starting to look really special. So, I washed it with my regular shampoo and smeared conditioner through it.

Now, I have some rye bread baking to do!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Beauty Experiment

Today I washed my hair with rye flour and rinsed it with apple cider vinegar.

For some time, I have wanted to eliminate some toxins from my life so I started this weekend with my locks. The 'shampoo' is made of finely-milled rye flour whisked or shaken with water. I used two tablespoons of flour and about a metric cup of warm water. Use less if you want a thicker paste. I wet my hair, massaged it in, rinsed very well then repeated. For a 'conditioner', I mixed 1tsp ACV with about two cups of warm water. I poured it over my hair, left it on for about 15 seconds then rinsed it out.

My natural hair is extremely porous, dry and frizzy. It's like a loose afro in its natural state. I noticed as it was drying (I always air-dry my hair), that it had a little more body than usual. Otherwise it seemed to follow the same pattern as when I use my regular shampoo. The ACV smell was strong at the start but completely disappeared once my hair dried.

My normal routine is to run a tiny amount of my lovely hair treatment oil through my hair before I straighten it. I still did this as it's quite a natural botanical product and doubles as a heat protector. I then used my GHDs to straighten my hair as I always do. I'll admit that the straightening took slightly longer than normal as the hair was a little rougher in texture, but the result is lovely, shiny soft hair with perhaps a little more volume than normal.

Why rye flour? Well, it's loaded with minerals and vitamins and is also the same PH as your own scalp. It cleanses without stripping natural oils (unlike shampoo, which forces your scalp to produce more sebum to compensate, and so results in lank hair). The ACV is there to restore shine, tone and volume to the hair. Plus, it's a natural antiseptic and disinfectant which is handy if you have athlete's foot, cuts or scratches and/or a stinky shower drain hole!

I use Liz Earle products for all of my skincare, makeup and hair care needs. For the most part, I've been really happy with them. Whilst I couldn't do without my hair treatment oil, from this experiment I'm beginning to see that I can live without their shampoo and conditioner. My hair wasn't extremely dirty when I washed it today so I'll wait until Thursday after a couple of gym sessions (yep I am back there in a low-impact non-bouncy way) and allow some more hair product build-up.

In terms of cost, I bought a 500g bag of rye flour from Clevedon Farmers' Market today for a fiver so that's a lot of hair washes considering I only wash my hair twice a week and I only used a couple of tablespoons of flour. The ACV costs about $7 for a litre.

Other products I want to make myself are:

- Soap
- Laundry power
- Face exfoliant
- Body butter (next on my list)

I'll see how clean my hair remains over the next few days and keep you posted. Right now it feels squeaky clean!