Five songs I’m loving right now

LAST year was a great one for new music so I wanted to share a few of my favourite songs at the moment.

Oh yeah, DJ Roomba! Source: http://tinyurl.com/nhlpax6

Oh yeah, DJ Roomba! Source: http://tinyurl.com/nhlpax6

Odd Mob – Is It a Banger?
This is definitely my summer party track.
Sampling audio from Aziz Ansari’s character Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation, the tune goes through how to pick whether or not a song is a banger.
“Are any acoustic instruments used? If so, not a banger.”

Vance Joy – Georgia
Vance Joy has proved he’s not just a one-hit wonder.
By the time his debut song Riptide topped the Triple J Hottest 100 this January, we were all sick to death of hearing it because it had been overplayed so much.
This relaxed song is just nice to listen to and hasn’t been too badly flogged by commercial radio (unlike his other track Mess is Mine).

Deadmau5 – Avaritia
This dreamy techno track makes me think ‘damn this song is good’ every time I hear it.
It’s up-beat, it’s catchy and it makes me want to party.

Kimbra – Carolina
I’ve really  been enjoying Kimbra’s latest album, The Golden Echo.
It feels like each song is a winner but this one is extra catchy.

Purity Ring – Push Pull
This dreamy song is just so easy to listen to on repeat and I blast it every time it comes on the radio.
Looking forward to checking out the rest of this band’s stuff.

What songs are you loving at the moment? Put any links into the comments below – I’m always searching for new stuff to listen to!

My goals for 2015

I DON’T believe in New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you need the calendar to flip over to make changes in your life. That said, there’s no harm in choosing things to focus on in the future.
It took me a while to narrow down the list of things I want to do this year but here it is.

2015 New Year's resolutions

It’s going to be a great year!

Take time for myself:
Taking care of myself is the first thing to fall by the wayside as soon as life gets crazy – and with a busy job and a long daily commute (about two and a half hours per day!) this was a struggle for me in 2014.
I found I could always schedule time in for errands, friends and other activities but never put aside enough time to just relax.
Last year taught me that taking time out to rest, get enough sleep and mentally recuperate is incredibly important.
I didn’t realise how tightly wound I was until I went to Europe in June and could actually relax for weeks on end.
Whether I achieve this by going to bed earlier, reading a magazine or having a lazy Sunday morning in bed, I really want to take time out when I can this year – before I burn out.

Get moving:
Exercise is something that I too easily put on the backburner.
Again, with my long commute it’s often quite late by the time I get home but I’ve been lucky enough to house-sit near my work for the past month and having that extra time as well as minding a large dog that needs lots of walking has made all the difference to my exercise schedule.
So for almost four weeks now I’ve walked the dog for between 30 minutes and a hour each day and at the end of last month I started using an incredible yoga app for daily practice as well.
(Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a post on my progress with this app!)
I feel incredible!! My stress levels have gone down drastically, even during the silly season.
Ideally I’d like to take at least half an hour each day for cardio (even if it’s just a brisk walk) and either 15 minutes or half an hour for yoga, with longer sessions of both on the weekend.
I’ve got a Fitbit Flex and it’s helping me keep track of the steps I do each day. Meeting my goals is extremely satisfying.
While the tough part will be keeping this routine when I start finish house-sitting and start commuting again, I’m going to give it my best shot.

Read more:
I’m a big bookworm but I don’t usually have time to read!
Before bed each night I ususally spend a bit of time reading a book on my iPod Touch but it’s just not the same as flipping physical pages.
This year I want to make more time to pick up a book and escape into another world.

Get in control of my finances:
Saving money is not exactly my strongest area and it’s something I really am going to get on top on this year.
I started by unsubscribing from a lot of store emails – I do not need to know when they have a sale on!
Saving for a house deposit is my main priority and keeping that in mind will hopefully help me keep my spending in check.

Keep up with blogging:
I’m sure most bloggers have the same goal for this year.
I’ve got so many ideas in my little notebook that I can’t wait to get on to but keeping organised and planning ahead will be key.

What are your goals for 2015? Share them in the comments!

Fujifilm Instax Mini camera review

THESE adorable instant cameras are making a comeback!
I have the Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S which is the slightly older version to what’s on the market now.

Fujifilm Instax Mini review | Extraordinary Days

Some of my favourite shots!

The best part about these camera is being able to print out your photos straight away and they’re yours forever! You don’t have to worry about leaving them on a USB forever and forgetting to print them.
As I mentioned in my post about beating post-holiday blues, having an instant camera in addition my my iPhone was absolutely invaluable — I was able to capture so many beautiful places in the cute little white frames.
The photos have a soft, vintage feel to them which I love.

Fujifilm Instax Mini review | Extraordinary Days

My Europe trip was incredible!

The only major downside is the film can be expensive.
It comes in packs of 10 sheets, usually for about $1.50-$2 per frame but you can get them for about $1 per frame if you buy in bulk from places like eBay.
There are four settings, indoor/dark, cloudy/shady, fine and clear for different light situations.
There’s also a window at the back that shows you how many shots you have left.

Fujifilm Instax Mini review

Mine’s a bit beat up after taking it with me on my travels.

Tips to get the most out of your Instax Mini:
– Think about the light source. Too much light will leave black spots on the film so if you want to capture something like a sunset, point the lens slightly away from the sun or get the sun just out of the shot. Too little light (like a time I took photos a the beach after the sun went down) can make the film underdeveloped and dark. Don’t overestimate how much light there is – even in you think there’s enough it’s usually a good idea to turn the camera onto a lower setting so you don’t end up with a dark photo.

– Remember the lens is not directly above the viewfinder. Look slightly to the left of your subject when taking a photo to get it the centre.

Fujifilm Instax Mini review | Extraordinary Days

Remember the lens is slightly to the left of the viewfinder.

– Don’t get too close to your subject. This is the thing I struggle with the most! With my iPhone and DSLR I’m used to not having to worry about how close I stand but with the Instax, the flash will wash out your photo if you’re too close. This is especially true for indoors, where you’ll end up with an out of focus, mostly white photos if you’re too close.

– Take care of your film. Store it in a cool place in hot weather and don’t leave it in the car — heat damage can make the film white and washed out. In Perth our winters are pretty mild but I’ve read cold damage can make the film turn black and make it not develop properly.

– Don’t put it in your luggage when travelling – the heavy-duty X-rays can ruin it.
Always take your Instax and extra film in your hand luggage. The X-ray machines within the airport are not as strong. I took my film on eight flights in five weeks in my hand luggage on my Europe trip and it was fine.

Fujifilm Instax Mini review

So many adventures to be had!

– And most of all, have fun! Don’t worry about taking a “bad” photo or wasting a frame – some of my favourite photos were from spur-of-the-moment shots.
Pick up your own Instax Mini here.

Do you have or want an Instax Mini camera? What do you think of it?

Three ways to make your outfit sparkle on NYE

NEW Year’s Eve is almost upon us!
Aside from freaking out about where the year has gone, I’m starting to plan my outfit for the big night.
I’m a huge fan of sequins, glitter any anything else that shines but it can be daunting to put these into an outfit without looking like a walking disco ball, especially for more casual events.
Here are three easy ways to throw in a bit of shine into your look, to get 2015 off to a great start!

blue maxi dress ootd NYE

We’re set for a warm NYE! I’ll be by the pool.

A sequinned belt:
I paired this gold belt with a floaty maxi dress and sandals for a low-key bit of sparkle.
NYE is usually hot even after the sun goes down in Australia so this would be great for a barbecue or a few relaxed drinks with friends.
It’s not too over-the-top but is still fun.
I threw in a plain white clutch so the belt would be the feature and my gold Juicy Couture charm bracelet – a gift from my lovely sister on a recent trip to Hong Kong. (There’s a close-up photo of these jewellery pieces at the bottom of this post.)

blue maxi dress ootd

This outfit is perfect for a more casual shindig.

blue maxi dress ootd NYE

Gold accessories bring the whole thing together.

The showstopper:
This gold sequinned top is definitely in my top ten favourite items in my wardrobe.
You’re not going to be missed in this thing!
This shirt has a black faux-leather (pleather) back and sleeves so it’s not full-on sequins the whole way around.
I paired it with a plain black skirt and minimal accessories – this top does all the talking.

gold sequin top ootd NYE

The faux-leather backing makes this shirt a bit warm, though.

Shiny accessories:
If you’re searching for something minimal to add to your outfit, simple, shiny accessories are always a good option.
This cat ear headband is a bit silly and fun but definitely cute!
Make-up wise I’m going to be keeping things pretty simple – just pink lips and liquid eyeliner.
For this look I used MAC’s Magenta lip liner and Max Factor’s Flipstick Colour Effect in Boreal Mauve 15.

cat ears headband ootd NYE

I love this headband!

Let’s take another look at the accessories I used for these outfits.
The big silver necklace from my dolphin skirt OOTD post would also be a winner, especially if paired with a little black dress.
You can pick up a Juicy Couture charm bracelet just like mine here.

So many shiny things in one image.

So many shiny things in one image.

This bracelet just gets me.

This bracelet just gets me.


What are you wearing on New Year’s Eve? Let me know in the comments!

Hope for dry skin: Nutrimetics Moisturising System review

I THINK I’ve found a game-changer.
My dry, sensitive skin drives me crazy every day and I feel like I’ve been searching for something to help me for years.
I heard about this product at a Nutrimetics party and was at first confused – this product isn’t a moisturiser but it helps your skin lock in the moisture.

Nutrimetics ultra care moisturising system

The double lids stumped me at first – the dropper is hidden away.

According to the makers, the serum “attracts and binds continuous hydration to the skin” — but if you look past the waffle, it keeps dry skin at bay.
I use about two drops of this morning and night after cleansing, lightly dotting it over my face until I feel I’ve covered it all.
Then after letting it soak in for a minute or two, I use my regular sorbolene moisturiser.
Even the first time I used it I noticed my skin didn’t get that pinched feeling it usually does in the few minutes before I moisturise.
After using this for about two weeks I’ve noticed my skin is not red and patchy in the morning, is less irritated and handles the freezing cold airconditioning in my office better.
I often get eczema on my cheeks and around my eyes and even when I get rid of it with a prescribed steroid cream it always comes back after a few days (especially when life is extra stressful).
But so far this month IT HAS NOT COME BACK. (Victory dance, anyone?)
It’s really exciting to get up in the morning and not worry about having to cover up a face full of redness… Because there isn’t any!
It makes sense – this product helps lock in moisture so skin that’s not as dry wouldn’t be as prone to being irritated.
My whole face feels soft and it’s nice to know this is helping take care of my skin.
This is definitely something I’ll keep in my daily routine.
(NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post, I am just ridiculously excited about something that’s worked for me.)

Are you battling dry skin? What do you use to for it?

Beating post holiday blues

When the good times are over it's hard not to be sad!

When the good times are over it’s hard not to be sad!

POST-HOLIDAY blues are rough.

You come back after this amazing time away and return to the same home, the same job and the same routine. (Not to mention any mess you left behind while you were frantically packing.)

I’ve just come back from a few days in Melbourne and I went on an incredible five-week trip to Europe earlier this year so I know this feeling all too well.

Seeing loads of amazing places can make the boring chores when you return even more dreary.

One moment you’re sailing across crystal clear water in Greece and the next you’re back in the morning traffic.

Heading into the supermarket to try and find something for dinner when you’ve eaten nothing but amazing meals since you left is a bit of an anti-climax.
And don’t even get me started on standing in line at the bank.

One of the worst things people can ask when you return is “are you glad to be home?” Because sometimes, the answer is no.

Getting deep into post-holiday blues can mean you get to the point where you’d push your own mother out of the way if it meant getting on a plane out of here. (Sorry mum.)

I knew I was sad but it took me a while to realise I was actually mourning my holiday.

I’d been planning my trip to Europe for years and I couldn’t believe it was over.

Months down the track I could hardly bear to look at my photos because it made my heart ache with sadness. (OK, I know that seems overdramatic but that’s just how it was.)

You start to second-guess everything you did.

Why didn’t I enjoy the planning stage more and savour every tiny moment of the months leading up to it?

I can’t say I didn’t soak it all up while I was there because I know I did but it’s still hard to think about all the times I was jet lagged so I went to bed early instead of enjoying the Parisian summer.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel though.

 

Here are my top tips for getting over feeling like you want to quit everything and buy a one-way ticket to a tropical island.

  • Unpack straight away. Getting rid of that suitcase and pile of dirty washing can be therapeutic – and chances are you’ll find some nice things you’ve purchased at the same time. This is also a good time to have a clean-out because, if you’re anything like me, there’s probably no room for all of those new clothes in your wardrobe anyway.
  • Learn from your mistakes. As you’re unpacking, check what you didn’t use to help you plan for next time, because no one likes excess baggage fees.
  • Sort out, print and display your photos. I’ll be honest, this one isn’t easy right away, but having a reminder that you really did go and it wasn’t just a dream can be comforting. Actually holding a photo in your hot little hands can make it easier to recall every detail of the scene. I took an Instax mini Polaroid camera with me and it was perfect!
    • In the past I’ve been guilty of taking loads of photos and storing them on my computer for years. What a waste! I recently placed an order through an app run by a Sydney couple called Origrami. It lets you print photos from your Instagram feed and phone photo roll and posts them to your house. Easy! See my review here.
  • Go nuts on Tripadvisor. Loved a place? Really wish you’d been warned there was a school full of screaming children near your hotel? (Yes, this happened in Paris. I can only imagine it was a sports carnival because the cheering went on ALL DAY.) This is a great way to tell everyone about it. Save them from making the same mistakes, or let them on a well-kept secret.
  • Read up on all of the unanswered questions from your trip. What is the winter like in Greece? Are you supposed to flush toilet paper in Rome? You’re going to find out! (Mild but wet and no.)
  • Look into being a tourist in your own state. The travel bug can be soothed with a bit of exploring that won’t damage your credit card any more than it already has been.
  • Think of all the people and things your home has that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. If you’ve got good friends to help you numb the pain with fast food and wine, that’s worth coming home to.
  • And lastly but most importantly, PLAN ANOTHER TRIP. Never stop exploring.

 

What are your tips for getting over post-holiday blues? Let me know in the comments!

IMG_8667

THIS is what I left behind! Spent an incredible day sailing on this off the coast of Paros, in the Greek Islands.

Oh, Paris! There's nothing quite like it.

Oh, Paris! There’s nothing quite like it.