"Which phone apps should I have?"

When you're a content writer, you soon discover that managing multiple streams of information is really important. But you also must be able to access that snippet that you need, quickly and easily. 
This blog post also happened because many people ask me - they seem to have the idea that I know lots about technology. I promise I don't. I only know what works for me! 
  1. Evernote - build your own reference library of interesting things. Evernote is by far the most customisable app I've ever found. This is where you can save anything and everything. Create your own categories, and tag them with the words that are instantly meaningful to you. I use the paid version and it is worth every cent. The two parts of that I use the most are the ability to search inside documents, and for how it links documents to the piece you're working on. If you have an eclectic way of managing information (wasn't that diplomatic?!) this will suit you down to the ground. Ditto if you are chronically disorganised, or if you are an utter control freak. A completely customisable library, tailored to your interests and needs - how much better than that does it get?
  2. Heyday - this is a really personal way to create a journal of your life. It doesn't upload anywhere, so it's just for you. It collates your photos and arranges them into aesthetically pleasing montages, without you having to do a thing. It will notify you of the last time you were at different places, and create time capsules for you. Every now and then it will invite you to enter a few thoughts. I find it really interesting to look back and see where I was on any given date! 
  3. Shazam - this is for when you go somewhere and hear an amazing song that you really want to get hold of - but you don't know its name, or who created it. Just activate the app and make sure the sound isn't obscured by background noise, and Shazam will tell you the name and who it's by. It has various methods of linking you to the song on other platforms, and in most cases will give you the lyrics and band information as well. You can leave it running in the background, and it will capture all the music around you for later browsing. 
  4. Camera+ is editing software for your photos. It includes Lightbox, which is insanely easy and quick to use. You can purchase various addons for this one, but even by itself it's well worth it. It makes your photos look amazing. 
  5. Face Cam is a quick, basic and easy way to tidy up pics of (you guessed it) faces. There are more sophisticated apps around for doing this, but Face Cam is an easy one for when you don't want to be messing around. 

MAC Lustre Drops Pink Rebel - Review

MAC's Lustre Drops are fantastic, but you might have to experiment a little! I'll tell you what I've discovered. I have the colour 'Pink Rebel' which in theory should not work with my skin tone, but ... 

Lustre Drops come in a tiny plastic (brr) bottle with a screw lid. I do not treat this as a 'bronzer', and I don't know why anyone would (I've seen that description on the net several times). This is a highlighter, and it does a sterling job. 

You'll only need a drop of this. Get a small tight rounded brush, put the Lustre Drops on the back of your hand, and stipple it over the very highest point of your cheekbone. Keep close attention on where you're putting it; keep it fairly exact. Keep checking in your mirror, and try to apply in similar light to where you'll be going until you get the hang of it. You can also apply it on your brow bone (I tend to use YSL's Touche Eclat for that); on the point of your chin, and down the upper half of your nose (keep this very exact as well, you don't want that spreading all over the place!)

Lustre Drops do have a faint pink shimmer, that's why you must be careful of where you're applying it. Check it from all angles, as it really will 'highlight'. 

I have mixed it with my foundation but I didn't like the effect. It makes foundation more sheer, and did I imagine that it made it harder to blend as well-? I like a glow, not a shimmer, and Lustre Drops are really shimmery. However applied exactingly, this gives a great highlight to my cheekbones and a hint of shimmer that's great for evening. Especially in photographs if you are out there being snapped by the paparazzi, lol

You can also use a tiny makeup sponge to apply - just pat it in, and make sure you blend the edges without spreading it too far :) 


Castille de Fleur: Home Essence Mist ~ Clove Blood Orange Review

What a beautiful Christmas gift; how lucky am I?

I have a real soft spot for a gorgeous scent, whether it's on someone's throat or in their home or in piles of freshly laundered towels. This one is definitely on my 'mmmm' list!

Castille de Fleur is based in Canterbury here in Melbourne, Australia. Their 'Clove Blood Orange' home essence mist is presented in a glass bottle (I like glass) with a sturdy pump action spray. The label is very colourful without being gaudy, so you can happily leave it around in plain sight without it spoiling your decor. It was inspired by 17th century botanical drawings.

The scent itself is created from botanical alcohol, purified water and pure plant essences. It contains no artificial chemicals, which I really like.

You can clearly smell the cloves and the tang of the blood orange. I am really impressed at the depth of this scent. If you close your eyes, you will imagine a pomander (do you remember those?) and the image of those vivid blood oranges will rise up in front of you. If you are not imaginative like me, you will nevertheless take a big breath in to make the most of the beautiful authentic scent. It's definitely aromatherapy!

In fact I could just about wear this one for a perfume. I'm open minded like that :)

It's not heavy or cloying, but really fresh and authentic.

I'm dying to go to Canterbury to visit the shop now! Nicole Thomas is an artist, no doubt about that :)


GHD Eclipse Rose Gold: Review

The GHD Eclipse straighteners; are they really worth the money? 

In 2007 I bought my first GHD straighteners and they changed my life. I have really thick and very curly hair, and my straighteners gave me about a squillion more options for changing my look, putting my hair up, and leaving it down without a gust of wind or dash of rain ruining it. I really loved these straighteners and they have been very hardy - I've taken them overseas to multiple destinations, created all kinds of awesome hair styles, and also lent them to my daughter. They have performed really well, but over time I noticed that it was taking longer to do my hair. It was a very gradual decline, and so I wasn't really thinking about replacing them ... 

until someone lovely bought me a new set for Christmas. They are the GHD Eclipse Rose Gold Limited Edition set, and holy cow they are so luxurious and beautiful, just the thing for the 'princess inclined' amongst us!

Packaging for the Eclipse Rose Gold set is beautiful, like every other GHD product. The first thing you will notice as you take them out of the box is that there have been several refinements on the travel case. There is now a heat resistant mat which clips onto the case itself with rose gold press studs. This means that you can put them down while you are straightening your hair, without causing damage to any surface.  Inside the case itself you will find a double compartment so the cord and the straighteners can be separate. In a flash of brilliance, there is also a heat resistant cap which fits over the plates, so when you have finished using them you can put them back inside the bag without fear of setting fire to anything. I think this is completely brilliant, as often I am travelling and do not have time to sit around waiting for them to cool down before packing them away. 

You can check out all the specs on GHD's homepage so I won't bore you, but really the question is, how did they perform for a real person in real time? 

I had purposefully done my hair to play up its curl, so I wasn't expecting miracles. My hair really does have a very strong inclination to 'ringlet', and it had no product at all in it. It had not been tied up or brushed, or anything like that. 

It took me about 15 minutes to straighten. It is waist length and very thick, with only a few very long layers towards the ends. So this was quite an achievement! The straighteners feel lighter than my previous ones, and some especially stubborn sections took (at the most) three passes to get super straight. But most pieces, when sectioned out properly and not going too fast - took one. 

This is amazing, seriously. My arms were not tired - and if you have ever straightened your hair, you'll know how you can get really hot and sick of the entire process-? not with these. 

The changes made from my previous straighteners are very positive. The on/off switch has been moved to the outside (as compared to the inner, by the plates) - this means there is no risk of you burning your fingers when you switch off. They heat up very quickly, and will also switch themselves off if you happen to forget to do it yourself. No more stressing on the train to work wondering if you turned them off or not. It has universal voltage (two pins in the plug) so wherever you travel, you'll be sweet. 

They are not a cheap option - they cost a touch under $300AUD.

But if you have seriously curly (and sometimes annoying) hair, and really want to give yourself a LOT of options, these are the straighteners to get. 


Christmas wishes!

Christmas is always a bit strange in another country. You think you get stressed and annoyed with the shopping, the cooking, the guests descending on your place, the piles of wrapping paper and the general pressure of it all ....? imagine if all that was taken away. It's still the Big Day, but it's suddenly morphed into something completely unfamiliar. 

I am going to be spending tomorrow with a great group of people, it'll be so different but still fantastic, just in another way!

Here are some highlights from Christmases past - do any of them sound familiar? :) 

  • various inexpertly created and sweet ornaments on the tree; carried home in hot little grubby hands from kindy
  • making 'reindeer' hoofprints outside on the lawn in the middle of the night
  • leaving a bucket of water and carrots on the verandah for the reindeer
  • leaving a beer and some biscuits for Santa!
  • chewing up carrots outside at 0-dark-hundred ..... and eating biscuits
  • last minute present wrapping! 
  • being woken up at what seemed to be the dead of night by excited little squirmers jumping on me :)
  • lots of driving
  • next to no traffic on the roads
  • little ones practising on wobbly bikes
  • little ones proudly wearing new clothes
  • the looks on their faces as they gazed up at the tree

I promise you, Christmas can still be magic, we just have to be able to put the unimportant things aside to see it :)