denim duty

H&M top, Zara skirt and chambray shirt, Colorado backpack, Wandering Souls 'George' Sandals (similar here)

I know I've said it a million times over, but the moodiness of Sydney's weather never ceases to amaze me. Even though today was the last day of summer the sun in these photos seems like a lifetime away, and it's such a bittersweet feeling! While I look forward to dragging out my beloved coats for the cooler months, I just know I'll miss the longer days and pretty lighting that's taken for granted in the summertime. See my problem here?

Anyway, here are some full-blown pictures of an outfit I wore to the shops - a cream top and black skirt, how original of me. Lately I've been grappling more and more with the idea of buying less pieces, but ones I'm guaranteed to wear. Obviously this isn't a new thing, but being a student on a crippling budget doesn't really lend itself to having trendy things all the time! While this skirt and shoes are items I've worn more than I care to admit, there really shouldn't be anything wrong with getting the best cost-per-wear out of your clothes. In this case I'd love a daily uniform to make life easier, or maybe that just says more about me being lazy. Even as a kid I'd get jealous of cartoon characters that repeated outfits all the time without judgement, so hopefully I wasn't the only one!
Posted by : Mani

the fairytale tag

A little throwback to the happiest place on earth, circa 2010! Mei from Ice Pandora kindly tagged me to do the fairytale tag, so here I am answering it over a week later (sorry about that). Even though I've been blogging for close to five years now I rarely make an effort to talk about myself, so here's a chance for you guys to get to know me a little better! Even though I adore fairytales I've barely heard of half the ones mentioned here, but it was still a fun exercise nonetheless. Be warned though, things got unintentionally deep here pretty fast... Anyway, without further adieu here are the questions:

Snow White - Do you consider yourself beautiful?
Well, I wouldn't exactly consider myself hideous! Like most people I have my on and off days, but sure. I do like to think everyone's beautiful in a unique snowflake kinda way, whether that's outwardly visible or not.

Sleeping Beauty - How many hours do you sleep at night?
On a regular night I get six hours, which definitely isn't enough for my liking! However if we're talking weekends and holidays, I usually get up to ten hours max. I’ve never been a person that can sleep in until the p.m...

Cinderella - Do you have a curfew?
In my eighteen years of existence, my parents have never mentioned a curfew. Midnight's probably pushing it though, especially since I'm not a big fan of late nights anyway.

Rapunzel - Do you love being outside?
I'm a serial hibernator, so only when the weather is behaving itself! Basically if it’s rainy or horribly windy outside, you can forget about asking me to leave the house voluntarily.

Red Riding Hood - Do you trust strangers easily?
Depends on the stranger! If someone has a nice disposition then sure, I'm inclined to trust them (within reason, obviously).

The Wolf and The Seven Young Kids - Are you easy to fool?
Yes, way more than I’d like to admit! I guess this relates to the previous question, since I can be a little too trusting of people at times. I really wish I could help it...

Beauty and the Beast - What makes someone beautiful in your eyes?
Genuineness. I despise liars and two-faced people, so honesty is something that always stands out to me in a person.

The Little Mermaid - What would you sacrifice for love?
This is a hard one, considering I've never been in a situation where I've had to think about it! I guess the little sacrifices like time and effort are what strengthen a relationship, so that'd be my answer.

The Frog King - What do you find disgusting?
Racism, sexism... any form of discrimination is an instant turnoff, really. But not so seriously, fruit salad disgusts me! It sounds ridiculous but I can't stand it when the fruit juices start mixing with one another, and avoid it at all costs.

Jack and the Beanstalk - What plants do you have?
None, unless you count the roses I occasionally display in my room! My mum owns the green thumb in my family, so if that counts she grows tons of cherry tomatoes, roses, frangipanis, succulents... you name it.

Puss in Boots - Do you have pets? If not, do you want them?
No and no. I can barely keep up with my own needs, so I hardly think it’d be fair of me to inflict that on a pet!

Bluebeard - What is your weak point?
Self control. I have none, and when something needs doing I usually procrastinate the heck out of it until the last minute. It's kind of ironic, considering that another weak point of mine is that I can be too hard on myself.

Pinocchio - What is your biggest wish?
In all honesty, it'd be to know what my biggest wish or ultimate goal is. It’d make life decisions a lot easier!

Peter Pan - What is your mental age?
I'm guessing seventeen. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’m an adult, and rapidly approaching my twenties...

The Star Money - What is your most valuable possession?
This will sound totally superficial, but either my Macbook or the hard drive with all my files on it. The photos I've accumulated over the years are irreplaceable, so the thought of losing those memories terrifies me.

Golden Mary & Pitch Mary - Are you a hard worker or a lazy one?
It varies! When I’m motivated I can be a hard worker, but if I don’t see the point in doing something I'll be really slow about it.

The Snow Queen - Who is your best friend and what would you do for him/her?
Probably my mum! She's one of the few people that truly understands me and everything I've been through (well, duh). This is getting corny again, but I'd truly do anything for her if it means I can repay a tiny bit of what she's done for me.

The Princess and the Pea - Are you sensitive?
Yes. It's actually pretty embarrassing, and I've been known to cry at really inconvenient moments.

Godfather Death - What qualities make a good parent?
Balance! I really appreciate my parents for not doting on my siblings and I, and disciplining us when it was absolutely necessary. Despite this we've had our fair share of silly moments, and I think we've grown up to be better people because of it.

The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes - Do you like parties?
If it involves a few close friends and I don't feel like I'm suffocating, then yes. However 90% of the time that's not the case, so I wouldn't say that I enjoy conventional parties!

The Emperor's New Clothes - Do you care a lot about your clothing?
Yes! Here I am sounding superficial again, but I get really precious about certain pieces in my wardrobe. Plus what I'm wearing often dictates how I feel for the rest of the day, so I do put considerable thought into it.

The Brave Little Tailor - Do you consider yourself brave?
No way. I'm the opposite of a risk taker, but I'm working on it! Life's too short to stay in one place for too long.

If you feel like doing this tag, let me know so that I can read it! On another note, I'm finally going back to uni tomorrow and am definitely not looking forward to getting back into the daily grind. I may or may not be able to maintain the frequency of blog posts I've been keeping up lately, but we'll see... Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Posted by : Mani

mad spuds cafe

It may sound strange, but potatoes hold a special place in my heart. Hear me out first, though! I went to an agricultural school and in between being forced to learn about windbreaks and the digestive system of a cow (yes, really), one of my fonder memories involved getting to grow our own spuds and take them home. Eating them occasionally reminds me of throwing dirt and mucking around during those lessons, and of course it doesn't hurt that they're delicious too!

Anyway, when I first heard about Mad Spuds I was understandably intrigued. Potatoes? In almost every dish? HELL YES. Regrettably I didn't even get snaps of the cute signage or Mr. Potato Heads around the place, but just looking through the menu made the theme pretty obvious. There are a lot of vegan and gluten-free options too, if you're so inclined!

I had some mango and peach juice from the brand Parker's, while my friend was a bit more adventurous and went for the freshly squeezed juice with carrot, apple, celery and orange. You can actually customise whatever goes in it, so that's pretty cool! It's a shame that I'm picky about juices even when they come out of a bottle, but I loved this particular concoction and really want to try more juices from Parker's now. It reminded me of the one from Charlie's that I love so much, which is mango and orange flavoured.

Now, for some actual spud action! I ordered the Little Piggy, which involved baked potatoes topped with crispy bacon strips, feta, mozzarella, cheddar, and sour cream all with a side of coleslaw. It was piping hot when it arrived, so much so that steam appeared when I dug into the potato! Although it was quite decadent I'm all for anything with bacon and lots of cheese, so my stomach was a pretty happy camper afterwards. Having never tried baked potatoes before I'm not exactly an expert, but I loved the fluffy insides and chewy exterior of it. Definitely something I need to try out at home!

My friend's potato nachos, which consisted of crispy spud skins topped with beef, smashed avocado, sour cream and extra cheese. Although it looks relatively small on the plate, she said it was unsuspectingly filling (much like everything else we ordered)! Too bad it was such a muggy day, since I think potatoes would be the perfect comfort food when it's cold and rainy outside. Nevertheless, we had a pleasant experience with the friendly workers there and homey feel to the place. I definitely need to come back soon, especially with those breakfast items calling my name...
Mad Spuds Cafe on Urbanspoon
Posted by : Mani

skincare saviours

If anything describes my approach to skincare, it's that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Luckily I've never really had problematic skin apart from it being sensitive and oily at times, but the saying still holds true! While the masses of beauty blogs and cult skincare items out there can be tempting, this article from Refinery29 really changed my perspective on using too many fancy products early on in life. Anyway, I've never shared the stuff I use on my face here because I really don't think it's anything special, but I do happen to love reading these kinds of posts. So, here are some of my daily skincare essentials!

1. Sukin Sensitive Facial Moisturiser - After using baby lotion on my face for the longest time (gasp) I finally gave this a try and haven't looked back since. It's cheap, cheerful, contains natural ingredients and doesn't feel heavy on the skin, so what more could you want? It also has a mild scent that I can't put my finger on, but nothing too overpowering!

2. Indeed Laboratories Hydraluron - I've raved about this before, but only because it really does hydrate the skin like it promises to. Although I think the effect becomes less noticeable after prolonged use, it really is useful on days when I could use a little more hydration before I apply makeup.

3. La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Melt-In Cream - This sunscreen is another product I keep banging on about, but not without good reason. My skin is pretty photosensitive since I have lupus, so after searching high and low for this I can attest to the fact that it protects better than any other sunscreen I've used! Whilst this particular cream isn't available in Priceline yet, I'm sure the entire range would just as effective.

4. L'Oreal Paris Dermo-Expertise Gentle Makeup Remover - I was recommended this to remove my waterproof the Falsies mascara, and it's worked wonders so far! The composition of it leaves behind an oily film and takes some getting used to, but it does get the job done easily (so long as you follow up with an actual cleanser).

5. Sukin Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil - If you haven't heard about the wonders of rose hip oil, get yourself some now! It has seriously made a world of difference in fading the dark marks on my face. Any oil requires diligence in its application, but with daily use you can definitely see the effects within a few months. Plus, it works as an instant fix for any pesky dry patches.

6. HadaLabo GOKUJYUN Super Hyaluronic Acid Foaming Wash - Foam cleansers get a bad rap for being too harsh, but ever since getting this one in Hong Kong I haven't looked back! It's actually quite gentle, and the hyaluronic acid leaves the skin feeling moisturised rather than stripped of its natural oils. The only downside is that HadaLabo is non-existent in Australia, so I'll be lost when this eventually runs out.

So, that's about it for my skincare lineup until I feel the need to change things up a bit. I realise there's a gaping hole in my collection where an exfoliator should be, but with my sensitive skin I really don't want to take any chances! Any recommendations?
Posted by : Mani

french madeleines

If you know me, it's no secret that I want to visit France. Half my family have lived there at one point, and with all the sights to see and desserts to eat? I think I'd feel right at home! Anyway, although a trip seems unlikely in the near future these madeleines do well to fill the Paris-shaped hole in my heart. Whilst there are tons of variations flavoured with things from dipping chocolate to matcha green tea, I love this one in it's purest form. The browned butter really sets it apart from your average butter cake, and I'm sure the shell shape has something to do with it too!

To make these, you need (and I stress the need) madeleine pans. Sure, you could make them in normal muffin tins and I'm sure they'd taste fine, but they definitely wouldn't be madeleines per se! I know silicon ones exist and those should work, but I doubt you'll get edges that are as crispy. Nevertheless, work with whatever shell-shaped moulds you can get your hands on.

Ingredients (makes about 30):
180g butter
180g plain flour
4 eggs
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp milk
Cooking spray
Icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C fan forced).
2. Place 2 eggs and sugar in a bowl, then mix well.
3. Sift flour and baking powder into the mixture. Add the remaining eggs and stir until smooth.
4. Heat butter in a saucepan until brown. Pour into the egg mixture.
5. Stir, add milk and continue stirring until combined.
6. Lightly spray madeleine pans with oil and spoon in the mixture. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until golden.
7. Let madeleines cool on a rack, then use a sieve to dust with icing sugar.

If a hump forms on the back of your madeleine, you know you've gotten it right! Anyway, on a typical day you don't even need to store these in a container because they're so addictive. In my house, you'd be lucky if they even last an hour once they're out of the oven... Do tell me if you try out this recipe, and happy baking!
Posted by : Mani

in full bloom

Miss Shop floppy hat, Dotti dress, Sportsgirl necklace

For someone that owns a sizeable collection of dresses, I really don't wear them out often enough. I think it's because I have this complex of 'saving' nice clothes for when the occasion arises, but obviously that's a ridiculous thing to do since I hardly go out anyway! I should take my own advice and just wear clothes whenever the hell I feel like it. Anyway, I wore this to a picnic on the weekend and as it turns out felt hats are a terrible idea in the hot weather. Nevertheless I still love the polished look this one adds and wear it as much as I can, which is saying a lot since I'm not typically a hat wearer!

So, how was everyone's weekend? After that short stint in Melbourne everything seems a little dull back at home, and I'm really starting to feel those post-travel blues. Then again, I’m sure I’ll be eating my words when I’m back at uni by the end of this month. Even in the summertime I love to hibernate, so I better savour it before the year really starts... Anyway, I hope you have a great week ahead of you!
Posted by : Mani