Little make up sponge – big results

GOODBYE, make up brushes – I’ve found a replacement!
As I don’t wear foundation every day (BB cream usually provides enough coverage), there is nothing I hate more than getting to the weekend, going to put on my make up before a night out and finding my brushes really need a wash.
The result ends up as a streaky mess!
I don’t have that problem any more though!

Chi Chi makeup blending sponge | Extraordinary Days

This little sponge gives great results.

I spotted this Chi Chi Make Up Sponge while killing time browsing in the beauty aisle and as it was only about $6, I decided to take the chance and buy it.
I won’t lie, using it for the first time was a bit daunting so I read the instructions carefully and watched a few YouTube videos before I tried to apply my make up with it.
When using it you first fully submerge it in water so the sponge can expand to its full size.
You then squeeze out as much of the water as you can (using a towel helps) and start using it to apply your make up.
I pump my liquid foundation (MAC Studio Fix Fluid) on to the back of my hand and use the wide, round end of the sponge to pat it onto my face in a stippling motion.
The pointed end is for around your nose and eyes – harder to reach places.
It feels a bit weird at first but the effect is seriously amazing.
These types of sponges were designed to give an airbrushed look and that’s exactly what it does.
I’ve also started applying my powder (MAC Mineralize Skinfinish) with the sponge and my blush and highlighter too.
I’d read not to drag the sponge through pressed powder as it picks up too much product and I’ve found this to be true – it’s especially noticeable when you end up with a cheek full of blush!
After using it I wash it with warm water and goat’s milk soap because I’ve used it on my face before and I know my skin can handle it.
The packaging says not to use anything too harsh to clean it because it could irritate your skin.
One thing to keep in mind is it seems to take ages to dry properly, even when wrung out properly and left in the open. I’ve previously washed it before going to bed and it was still slightly damp in the morning.
The original version of this product is the Beauty Blender but it’s $27 for a single sponge and I found the Chi Chi version works perfectly well without the price tag.
In the long run the Chi Chi version probably won’t last as long but the price is something to keep in mind, especially if you don’t know whether you will like putting on your make up on this way.
I have heard from people who still prefer using brushes.
All in all I really love this sponge though and definitely won’t be going back to brushes any time soon!
Bonus points – they don’t test on animals!
Get more info here.

Have you used a make up sponge? What did you think?

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water review

THIS is a product that I’ve been wanting to try for a while now but I honestly didn’t know if it would live up to the hype.
According to the creators it “removes makeup, cleanses and soothes” and is for use on your face, eyes and lips.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | Extraordinary Days

Way more than just water!

It also promised “no vigorous rubbing or rinsing required”.
Those are big claims in my eyes!
But I thought ‘how is it going to clean my skin if it’s just water?’
How wrong I was!
Apparently the key is the active cleansing ingredient, the micells, which “act as a magnet to capture impurities makeup and sebum”.
This has really changed my cleansing process.
Up until now I’ve just been using goat’s milk soap to cleanse and remove makeup because for a long time, that was all my sensitive, eczema-prone skin could handle.
Now I’ve got my skin under control, though (more on that here) I could reassess what I use.
I wanted to use something gentle, that wouldn’t clog up my pores and that I wouldn’t have to roughly scrub my skin with just to get my makeup off.
To put it simply, this cleansing water just works.

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water | Extraordinary Days

This has changed my cleansing routine.

To use it you put a bit on a cotton pad and wipe your face with it.
Foundation, lipstick, eyeliner and long-wear concealer have been no match for this product.
It usually takes about four cotton pads to remove a full face of makeup, including all of my mascara and liquid eyeliner.
The impressive part is there’s no residue left behind.
My skin feels cool and refreshed after I use it and not tight and dry like it does with a lot of soaps or other cleansers.
And, true to their word, I didn’t have to scrub heaps to get my makeup off.
I first spotted this in a chemist and really liked the look of the packaging (this happened with another Garnier product I reviewed here) – so their marketing people are doing a good job.
To sum up, this product is awesome, perfect for sensitive skin and I will definitely buy this again.

What’s in your makeup removing routine? Would you try a cleansing water?

Ten things to make your trip to Paris unforgettable

I’VE been thinking a lot about Paris lately so I wanted to share some of the amazing things to do there, some photos and some tips!
It doesn’t matter if you’re only staying a few days or a few weeks – this list will help you check off the best things to do in this city.
In no particular order, here are my top things to do in the city of love.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Paris.

Get lost in the Louvre:
Although this is on most people’s list for Paris but it is possible to get away from the crowds in this massive complex.
When my boyfriend and I visited last June we ended up finding a beautiful quiet wing, which was infinitely better than pushing and shoving our way to see the Mona Lisa with the rest of the world.
This was mostly because we wandered in the wrong direction but it made for a perfect afternoon.
Make sure to book your tickets in advance though, especially during the height of the tourist season or you’ll be in for a long wait in the sun.

The Louvre | Extraordinary Days

Beautiful.

The Lourve | Extraordinary Days

The Louvre.

Walk as much as you can:
One of the best ways to see a city is to walk through it and Paris is no different.
Make sure to take a stroll along the Seine and look at the tiny book stalls that line the banks.
There’s something magical about walking along the river in the heart of Paris, especially in the evening.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

So many little streets to explore!

Pick a random place to eat:
I’ll say this for most of Europe – rather than agonising about where to eat, just pick the first decent place you see.
In my experience (especially in Paris), the food will be great and it’s more of an adventure.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

A beautiful place to be at night, too.

Go on a river cruise:
One of the best ways to see this beautiful city is from the water.
Many hour-long cruises leave from the port opposite the Eiffel Tower (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the city’s biggest attraction!) and have audio guides available in a range of languages.
This is a great way to learn more about the city’s rich history, it’s many bridges and some of its most important buildings and areas.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Seine!

Walk along the Champs Élysées:
This beautiful tree-lined streets gets about 50,000 visitors every day and it’s easy to see why.
All of the world’s biggest fashion brands have a spot there and there are plenty of more minor stores too.
With the Place de la Concorde at one end, you can great a great view of the Arc de Triomphe as you walk along this world-famous avenue.

Champs-Élysées Paris | Extraordinary Days

The Champs-Élysées is a busy street!

Climb the steps at Sacré-Cœur:
This one is not for the faint of heart!
Situated in Montmartre at the city’s highest point, this basilica makes for an amazing panoramic view across the whole of Paris.
Climbing the 270 steps up to it is not for everyone, so there is a funicular car for those who don’t feel up to the challenge.
Once at the top the interior of the basilica is open to the public, include the dome at the very top. (I’ve never been inside but it’s on my list!)

Sacré-Cœur, Paris | Extraordinary Days

Sacré-Cœur.

Go to Shakespeare and Company bookstore:
This tiny bookstore is almost hidden in a small street near the Notre Dame cathedral but it’s well worth seeking out.
Booklovers need to go here!
The shelves are packed full of a wide range of books and upstairs there is a reading area, perfect to while away some time in.
On the day I went with Michael there was a man playing something beautiful on a piano as a breeze came in through the open window – I actually thought I was in heaven.
If you’re buying a book don’t forget to ask for the attendant to stamp it with the Shakespeare and Company stamp before you leave.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Book lover heaven!

Go to the Pont des Arts (love lock bridge):
It’s a well-known tradition for people to visit this famous bridge, attach a lock and throw their key into the river (ensuring good luck and that their love will last).
However, in recent years the Parisian government has tried to make people aware that this tradition is also slowly destroying the bridge, as it cannot cope with the weight of thousands upon thousands of metal padlocks.
Just before I visited last June a section of the fencing along the bridge collapsed and fell into the river below because of the weight.
While that did mean there was a nice empty panel for Michael and I to put a lock on to when we arrived, I would think twice about this if I visited again because at the end of the day, I don’t want the city to take stronger measures to protect part of its history and take all of the locks away because the bridge is on the verge of collapse.
(As it was, when Mike and I were leaving the area we saw council workers with a ute tray FULL of locks pull up, ready to cut away bicycle chains full of locks that had been fastened to the bridge.)

Paris | Extraordinary Days

This section was quickly filled!

Take a day trip to the Palace of Versailles:
This is for those on a longer stay in this city and it was well worth a visit.
While our tour tickets cost about $100 Australian each, we got to travel from Paris in an airconditioned coach and have a guided tour throughout the palace and grounds.
A guided tour is something I’d definitely recommend as the guides know exactly what to point out in each room and the most important and entertaining information to give you.
I can only imagine what it would have been like in its prime!
As it was peak tourist season it was packed with people so anyone who is claustrophobic may want to give this a miss, or come at a quieter time of year.

Paris | Extraordinary Days

Gates at Versailles

And last but not least, visit the Eiffel Tower.
This was a given and I’d be surprised to see a list of things to do in Paris that didn’t feature it.
This monument is truly worth a visit and if you don’t want to wait in line to climb up into it, spending time around the base is just as lovely.

2015/01/img_0168.jpg

Take me back!

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this list — I enjoyed writing it!
I can’t wait to book another trip back to this amazing city one day.

Do you have any things on your Parisian bucket list? Or something I haven’t mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!

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!