This is Zoe’s Blog

10
Jun

Go on. Be obnoxious on your anniversary.

When my friendly overlords at Expedia asked me to write about anniversaries and travel, I was ready. I bloody love an anniversary. And if it involves travel, even better.

But I’m not necessarily the norm. Well not after a few years of marriage, anyway. Of course, when you first start seeing someone Really Great you celebrate being together for a month. Six months gets heavy fanfare. A whole year warrants a weeklong celebration and fifty cute selfies.

But for some reason, maybe it’s familiarity, or the introduction of children, or just the general energy-sucking cycle of daily life, the celebrations go from 100 watts to about 20 watts by the time you are actually married, and have earned a legitimate, legal anniversary.

Case in point: I recently texted a mate to wish her and her husbo a happy anniversary. She text back saying: We both forgot.

I found this so dismaying that I immediately sent over a Celine Dion impersonator to serenade the two.

Marriage isn’t always cupcakes and Jesus juice, but it’s important to show each other your marriage is a priority, and that you still love them. An anniversary is a reminder as to why you love and married this person.

My husband and I will take any excuse to kick up a fuss, especially if it involves a weekend away, or a new restaurant or drinking strong, well-mixed alcohol in elegant glasses.

We don’t give a bee’s burp about the gifts you’re ‘meant’ to give each year, like paper, silver, or leather, or insect wings, but we do think you should give each other a ‘memory’ – commemorate each other, and what you have achieved in another year of marriage by doing something, whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, or something you used to do but never do anymore, or just doing nothing.

And yes, the longer you’ve been married, the more extravagant and obnoxious those things are allowed to be. (I plan on buying a diamond-encrusted pergola for our 20th.)

In case you’re struggling, here are some ways to give your anniversary a figurative tequila shot this year….

Read the list here.

But not here.

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Responses to this drivel: 5 Comments
02
May

I finally found my ‘mum’ style.

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend, but if you’re a mum you already know that cos you’re busy putting in your specific pancake order (maple syrup, butter and whipped cream) for Sunday morning, to be delivered no earlier than TEN AM.

One (of the four billion) thing(s) they don’t tell you about being a mum is how much your personal style can (and will) change post-baby: you may end up with an entirely new fashion identity. It could even be guy called Merl, who favours bark-brown slacks and sensible sandals. Who knows.

I thought I was sartorially prepared for being a mum. I figured being a stay at home writer (‘dressing for comfort but courageously foregoing fleece for denim’) meant I’d be a gun at it.

And I was TOTALLY right!! Man am I the friggen best. The end.

Just kidding, I have way more bragging to do first.

But seriously, I was astonishingly wrong. The Newborn Days were the first fashion slap in the face. Huge, messy boobs jammed into daggy bras, tracksuit pants, Air Max, a hoody and a pair of bleary, shell-shocked eyes was my go-to look, and I gave zero toots about it. I’d stuffed all my maternity slops into a cupboard when I first got home from the hospital, then dejectedly got half of them back out again because, um, they fit, and were comfortable, and I didn’t care if I spilled meatballs on them. (Just so you know what brand of optimistic you’re dealing with here, I packed my old jeans in my hospital bag. I did not wear them home.)

At around 10 weeks, (of my son’s life/of eating cake twice a day/no exercise or even walking because of a fractured pubis) some work events forced me out of the fog. I’d squeeze and Spanx myself into a bright, fun dress that seemed right, like something I would wear, then tear straight back into my soft clothes to express milk and watch Survivor. When my Son was five months old, I did a series of national pop-up events for my skin care company, Go-To and realised that the problem was not the nine outfits I tried on for each one, but that I had no idea how to dress this new busty, materbity-bra-ed, wide-hipped frame I’d been given. All my old stuff (preppy, fitted shirts, high-waisted skirts and novelty sweaters) didn’t fit, and the cute, colourful young woman I used to dress as seemed wrong now, somehow. I was having a clothing identity crisis as a symptom of my new role in life, and was alarmingly judgey of all my old clothes. (Too tight! Too short! Too busty! Too non-motherly!)

Sonny was about a year old before I started to understand The New Me. I was acutely aware that couldn’t rely on the old me, or my old clothes, because not only did none of them ‘spark joy’ anymore, or fit well, I wanted to start fresh, with a zingy new look that made me feel happy, and like ‘me’, whoever that was now. I’ve always been a firm believer that if you look like shit, you will feel like shit, and after the dark newborn days, (dark sartorially and sleep-wise; thrillingly happy heart/family/pastry wise), and the not-fit-not-feel-or-look-right days, I decided to start over, and dress for how I wanted to feel: happy, polished and colourful.

I started investing in beautiful clothing again, shaking off the ‘Don’t spend good cash on clothes that won’t fit in a few months’ mantra that plagues all women in their baby-making years, to create a wardrobe that was simple, meaningful; a practical blend of casual and stylish, designer and chain store.

After all, I wasn’t only a mum. Or a stay at home writer pig. I was a godamn proper grown up career lady woman with a successful skin care business! An author with a new book about to come out! Associate producer on the TV show being created from my novel! A mid-level chainsaw juggler! A terrific lipstick-applier! It was time I started dressing like it.

My KEY wardrobe rules are:

  • To spend cash on beautiful flats cos I will wear them 500x more than heels
  • Collars always dress things up
  • Layers indicate a level of thoughtfulness and effort even if it’s entirely faked (eg: shirt under jumper/blouse under trench)
  • A few good jackets will do a LOT of heavy lifting (specifically: a leather biker jacket, a lightweight trench, a classic blazer)
  • Colour and patterns makes everything better, my mood especially
  • Flashy, fun earrings and necklaces are Holy Outfit Transformers
  • If you buy it, it has to spark joy, as per Marie Kondo’s now ubiquitous don’t-accrue-so-much-shit philosophy

As an ambassador for Westfield’s new #ownyourstory campaign, I was asked to show my personal (mum/business lady/work-from-home-r) style using some of the shiny new AW16 clothes and accessories in-store. It was FUN.

My story? I’m a woman who is just as likely to be tearing around a park after a toddler and schlepping around Coles buying milk and salt and vinegar chips (my secret shame) or sitting at her laptop for six hours straight in her home office… as she is to be popping onto the set of TV production set of The Wrong Girl, or attending an interstate meeting for the day, or heading in to see her publisher to discuss her idea for a book about a sexy, angry teen vampire who attended a wizard school called Fogwarts and had a secret billionaire lover who was into S&M. I need something casual, but with some zing. Easily transformable, and with a punch of polish.

The Getting Sh*t Done Look

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The light grey coat is stylish, warm and practical, the tote is tan and oxblood, two uber-neutrals, and fits a laptop and a nappy roll easily, the sunglasses are big and make me feel more fabulous than I have any right to, and the orangey lipstick brightens up my face and my mood immensely.

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A jumper over a collared shirt or dress always looks fun, fresh and a bit dressy/efforty. I love adding at least one pattern into block colours.

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Look at this happy woman! She got ready in 15 minutes! 

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Boxfresh trainers are beautiful, magical things that mean you can wear nice dresses, or fancy slacks but still be comfortable.

Shop and steal the look RIGHT HERE, you cute time-poor monsters: Ravishing Rampling Coat from Jac + Jack at David Jones, cute, playful gingham dress from Country Road, blindingly white sneakers from Witchery, bigass sunglasses from Karen Walker, handy tote from Country Road, jumper my own, from Country Road.

Anyway. So that’s my everyday look. But when I need to be a little bit fancy, well, then I go to the…

Little Bit Fancy Look

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This look takes me from a day time meeting (with brogues) to evening (with heels) should my husband and I decide to steal off to a show or dinner. I friggen love a good day-to-nighter; and each element of this outfit can be worn with a million other things. This pleases me.

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A glitzy earring quickly dresses things up, and makes a boring hairstyle irrelevant.

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 I love a shirt or blouse all done up. Big fan. Add a blazer with pushed up sleeves if you remember, (some skin is important with all that chest covered up) and you’re cooked.

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High-waisted pants have always flattered me more than low-waisties.
(It definitely took shedding some baby weight before 
I felt good in them again. Oh, high-waisted anything can be so cruel.)

Steal and shop the look right here: Fancy spotty pants from CUE, silky, slinky blouse from CUE, tuxedo jacket my own, from Country Road, earrings from CUE, clutch bag from Olga Berg at David Jones, heels my own, ivy from Simon my neighbor.

Head to Westfield to find out more about #ownyourstory and shop the HECK out of some very nicely edited looks and stories, actually.

And hey. If you’re a new mum, and you’re feeling like you’ve lost your fasho mojo and identity, IT WILL RETURN. It will! And likely in a whole new form, like mine did. An exciting new form that is more streamline, practical and confident. It just takes time, like a good roast, or getting to anywhere from Australia.

For now, just pop on a swipe of bright lipstick, and your favourite black jacket and off you trot, you beautiful bastard. Happy Mother’s Day!

Zo xx

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Responses to this drivel: 34 Comments
04
Apr

Can you take a toddler to the Maldives?

Yep. And you can do it very cheaply if they fit into your suitcase and are good at being quiet.

I jest! I jest. Luggage restrictions are so tight these days that it would actually cost more to pop your kid into your Samsonite than pay for his or her seat. (Also, where will all of your vacation Crocs go?)

It’s a valid question.

Last year we went to the Maldives – a destination typically thought of as being a Honeymoon destination, a lover’s paradise, a rekindle-the-flame getaway, and the perfect place to renew your vows or propose.

In short: couples, not multiples.

But while the bulk of resorts in the Maldives are perfectly and expertly crafted to exclusively accommodate couples, featuring the kind of luxurious over-water bures that would give any parent a heart attack, extremely sophisticated fine dining, and not a single Pixar offering on the in-house movie menu, what you may not know is that many resorts and islands in the Maldives, (an increasing number, in fact) understand that some families actually like each other enough to want to holiday together, and it can be terrifically bonding and the genesis of life-long memories.

And it’s no longer just the super swanky 5-star resorts, either: from nannies, to kids clubs, kids-only pools, and healthy, fresh menus for children, if you do your research, you’ll discover you can take the family to the Maldives, and if you’re clever, still thieve a respectable amount of couple time, too. (Bandos and Kurumba are among the better-priced resorts with kids clubs.)

Read the full article here.

But not here.

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Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments
14
Mar

I made a new book.

It’s called, ‘How To Write Intriguing, Interesting and Punchy Book Titles That Will Make People Immediately Want To Pick Up Your Book and Read It.’

Ha ha ha! As if. I would never use the word intrigiung because I can’t actually spell it. (See?)

But seriously, I am releasing a new book in June!

It’s called Amazinger Face, because, well, it is. In that it is the much-needed update to my beauty book, Amazing Facewhich I wrote back in 2010, and which is still glorious, but needed a makeover.

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The cover. Still a total babe.

img_13731321 year-old me signing it back during the book tour.
And that’s Molly, from memory…

There are a few reasons I believe Amazing Face needed an update. (And yes, so does Textbook Romance probably, but guys, I’m so busy with my turnip farm and pet ferrets that there is just no time right now.)

1. My position on sun protection has changed. A lot.

I went for a facial last year and at the conclusion, the funny and extremely well-informed facialist presented her copy of Amazing Face with 400 post-it notes jammed in it regarding things she wanted to discuss or contest. Mostly regarding the stuff in there on skin care and sun protection, which I thoroughly agreed with her needed updating, because it was too brief for one, but mostly because since writing the book, I have made an evangelical, noisy switch from chemical sunscreens to physical, and I hated there being a book out there with my name on it that didn’t reflect my passion and education on and for properly applied sunscreen, and also, of course, physical sun protection.

 2. The beauty landscape has changed.

When I wrote Amazing Face, us beauty editors were the only ones really communicating trends, reviews, tips and technology to you, the beautiful public. Now there are countless vloggers, bloggers, makeup artists, derms and hair stylists with a shiny Youtube channel, a fat sack of Instagram followers and a pretty great technique with a foundation brush, actually.

Also, since the proliferation of online shopping, social media, and retailers like Sephora landing in Australia, we have access to around six billion more products and brands than when this book first went to print, and I wanted to include and honour these new kids on the block.

3. Products come and go.

Nothing like going to your favourite, best-ever beauty reference book (too much?) to see which nude nail polish you should buy, only to find the one recommended has been brutally yanked from shelves. War and famine aside, there might not be anything worse.

So, I went through every single product I mention in the book, and I checked if it was still:

A) Available

B) Relevant

C) The best I had tried in that category

D) Tasty on crumpets.

And look, some were still around, and some were still the best on offer, but many were not, or had been surpassed by a sexy new offering from another brand. You cannot believe how many new products I have jammed into Amazinger Face you guys. It’s friggen filthy with them.

4. I have written a lot of beauty content since then.

(And had a baby, so I know heaps more about stretch marks and pigmentation now. Lucky me.) It seemed silly to waste five years of pretty helpful beauty advice, and not fatten up and update a book that I adore and am so proud of, especially when cuteheads pop photos of it next to candles and other pretty tone-parallel books on their Instagram feed.

5. I made some of my own beauty products.

Since releasing Amazing Face I have launched a simple, effective, irritant-free skin care line, Go-To, because I felt there were gaps in the skin care industry that I knew how to fill, because yes, I really am that arrogant.

I wanted to include my products in my beauty book, because I believe in them, and of course I think they are the best in the category or why the frigdog would I bother making them. Don’t worry though, it’s subtle. I’m not that gross. Or AM I.

6. I have a phenomenal designer.

Allison Colpoys, her name is, though I refer to as Queen Magical Designypants. Al kind of created a whole new book design when Amazing Face came out; her work was (and always is) somewhere in the future, superfresh and unlike anything else out there. I’m SO LUCKY TO HAVE HER. When Amazing Face was finished neither of us could imagine a better, more delightful design.

But zoom in your spacemobile to 2016 and we have both grown up, and changed our style, and are inspired by new things, and so, in the same way I wanted to refresh all the copy and products within the book, Al wanted to overhaul the entire visual feast. Which she did. And it’s absolutely lush. Godammit she’s talented. (Buy her stationary range here! Her tear-inducing children’s book here!)

7. I get bored and need new projects.

And believe me when I say/write that even though it’s just an ‘update’, it has been quite the project.

 

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Proofing is terrific fun! Ask any author!

Anyway! All done now. Almost ready for you to get your mitts on. Here’s the new cover. Here’s the new look. Here’s my pretty, papery sweetypie.


Amazinger Face, Zoe Foster Blake

Amazinger Face is officially on sale June 27, but if you’re smart and cute and smart, you’ll pre-order now, here (and get almost 20% off.) That’s what a smart and cute and smart person would do.

And hey. Thank you to all of you for buying and reading Amazing Face. The feedback you have given me over the years on that book has brought me much joy, satisfaction, and many happy tears, not to mention acting as the catalyst for me to start Go-To.

I’m positive you will love her sophisticated younger sister just as much, even if she does borrow your leather jacket without telling you sometimes.

Fondest,

ZFB

Responses to this drivel: 25 Comments
02
Feb

Hey, man, we went to Hayman!

I know, what a brilliant blog title. No wonder I won the 2015 Blogger of the Year*.

But look, I know you’ve been wondering if you should check out the One & Only Hayman Island, it’s all you ever talk about with your friends, so I wanted to share with you my review of it, the latest “job” in my role as Expedia’s Cutest and Most Adorable King of Travel. (Self-titled.)

I went there with my husband (ooooooh, Zoe’s got a huzzzz-band) in December because as fun as it is to travel with a toddler, sometimes it’s fun to drink cocktails at noon, and read books and sleep on a holiday.

With these ludicrous fantasies in mind, my husband and I left our small human with his grandyhuman and nicked off.

We flew into Hamilton Island, then onto a brand new luxury launch to Hayman. We (“I”) arrived famished so went straight to the poolside restaurant, Aquazura, trying not to notice the 4000 small children splashing around the pool as we were seated. (Partly cos we already missed our own little guy, but also because: romantic getaway).

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Crisp chardonnay, a kilo of fries (and some fish, I suppose) and some creamy fig and honey gelato revitalized our weary bodies, and woozy and happy, we headed to our room for a nap. A NAP. In the afternoon! With no alarm or small baby to wake us! Goodness! Such living dangerously! Much craziness!

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Said room was completely fantastic with a side of amazing. We were in a stunning all-new villa, complete with an inside-outside atrium in the middle, which boasted a sexy pool and a little bar, and also the trees and the sky. I got a real kick walking from the bathroom (enormous bathroom, dream bathroom) outside past the pool, and back inside to the fully beachfront bedroom and sitting area. This might be because it reminded me we were in warm, tropical far north Queensland, where you can have indoor-outside living, (as opposed to Melbourne, where winter spans between 8 and 15 months a year) and it actually works, but it also might be because I’m six years old.

Read the rest of my review here.

Read how to care for your frogs, here.

 

*Criteria: worst puns and laziest posting schedule.

Responses to this drivel: 1 Comment
18
Nov

I love my kid’s bedroom.

He does too.

And he’d bloody want to, I put a lot of work into it!!

And by ‘I’ I mean, ‘Nicole Rosenberg from Little Liberty‘.

Nicole contacted me asking if I needed a hand setting up Sonny’s room in our new house, and I of course said yes. I’m no dumdum!  She is good at this stuff. A proper professional person. I would procrastinate over paint swatches for two years if left to my own devices.

We had some good bones to start with: lovely new carpet, a great size room, my beloved Ubabub pod cot and booksees and a few bits and pieces, but Nicole quickly took my very rudimentary vision (animals, blues and greys with pops of bright, modern, simple, something that can grow with him and that isn’t too baby-ish, no giant holes in the floor he can fall into) and started throwing ideas at me.

I contributed some references of stuff I liked and found on Tumblr/Pinterest, but it was very much Nicole who did the heavy lifting, sourcing my whims or bringing in her own ideas. I loved her references and suggestions, she has an incredible brain full of kids brands and products, and she set to work finding obscure paper mache animal heads from the UK, and hand knitted light pendants, and breathtaking wallpaper from France. Because really, if your one year-old doesn’t have wallpaper from France THEN WHO ARE YOU, YOU GODAMN SCUM BAG.

It’s very similar to my room as a young child, except for the two other siblings, bunk bed, bubble gum stuck on the bedheads, several headless Barbies, and a wall full of Bros and Bon Jovi posters care of my big sister.

Here, take a look for yourself, you big perve!

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Pod cot from Ubabub, Hedgehog, Knitted yellow stool from Anthropologie, Crocodile and Squirrel wool soft toys by Sara Carr Digital Cow Hide rug from Amigos De Hoy.

 

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Animal wallpaper mural by Bien Fait, wooden toy store from Oeuf, chest of drawers from Troll, Follow Me Lamp by Marset at Designstuff (I love these for outside at night – they are USB charged touch lamps with brass and wood).

 

ikpgVZouz9lxeXMnC4vs-Je_yUC1VyKm3PEoxUJuh2kHand knitted pendants (custom size and colours) from Stephanie Ng Design.

 

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Australia shelf from One Two Tree, wooden animals from Leave It To Leslietree branch hooks from This Is Extraordinary, custom felt garland from Hello Henley.

 

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Bambi stool (eeep! ready-made heirloom) by Takeshi Sawada for Elements Optimal Denmark at Top3 by Design, leopard cot quilt set from And The Rest, framed tomato and pear prints from Norsu Interiors,
Lucky Boy Sunday soft toy (in cot) from Talo Interiors.

 

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Cute boy, by Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake.

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Booksee shelves from Ubabub, paper mache heads (made to order) from Abigail Brown Art, books from everywhere. Fun fact: the clever sausage who designs all my books and also did Go-To, Allison Colpoys, illustrated that lovely book in there centre there, The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, by Davina Bell, which I love, and which made my cry.

 

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All photos by Jeremy Blode, and with thanks to Little Liberty, and bye for now.

Responses to this drivel: 6 Comments
12
Nov

How to pack for a beach holiday with a baby.

It’s easier than packing for a beach holiday with a pet tiger, I suppose, but there’re still some challenges. And by challenges, I mean: suitcase space. Once I’d packed all of his stuff, I just squeezed in one sandal and a swimsuit for me.

It’s different depending on the baby’s age, obviously. This time last year we went to Europe for a month and all we really needed to pack was some clothes, a few colourful, rattly toys and my boobs.

This time he was 13 months old, eating normal food and wanes of toys in 20 seconds. And so, here’s how we chilly Melbourne cats packed for our magic trip to the Maldives with our teeny, non-verbal little buddy:

What I packed for baby

Swim pants (I prefer these over swim nappies, although I packed a few swim nappies too) plus a full body UV 50 rashie/swimsuit because sunscreening a baby is about as easy as pushing toothpaste back into the tube. (I like the Babes in the Shade ones as they’re cute and don’t feature angry animated sharks.) Sandals and walking shoes, a wide brim UV 50 hat with chin cord, and a cap. Assorted shorts and t-shirts and onesies… enough for one outfit a day and a few spares. (Special nod to Pure Baby’s little summer onesies.) I packed several Bonds Wondersuits because we adults had the air con at night, so these PJs ensured he’d stay warm.

Read the rest of this piece on Expedia, whom I wrote it for because I’ve tricked them into thinking I know heaps about travel, here.

Read about when to use the word ‘whom’ and when to use ‘who’ here.

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Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments
17
Aug

Gained a baby, lost my curls.

I’ve Googed it, and it’s a thing: you can lose your curls when you have a baby.

For a while I was in denial. I couldn’t believe that my curly hair had just racked off for ever. No more waves. No more bounce. No more texture. Just hair that was foreign to me: straight (but not the good straight – limp straight), thin, lank and completely unresponsive to the products and styling that used to boss it around so perfectly. Every morning it felt like I had used a super heavy conditioning treatment the night before.

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My pre-baby hair.

Baffled, I began to idiotically point fingers at the Bhave keratin smoothing treatment I had just before I had Sonny, in May 2014.  I emailed the lovely crew at Bhave in December, frustrated with the weird wig on my head.

Keep in mind that Bhave, like all keratin treatments, is temporary, and washes out in about three months, so I was really going out on a limp little limb of feasibility here:

“Ummm guys, the keratin seems to really love my hair… it is hanging about and making my hair flat and lank and heavy? I’m confused and wondering what you might advise? I keep cutting my hair shorter in the hope it will grow out…”

Also keep in mind I am a dingus and had no idea what was really going on and they were very polite despite the fact that what I was suggesting was impossible.

They sent me their prep shampoo which would strip the keratin out… but by then I had:

A)  Waltzed into Edwards and Co and had a big snip because I thought that would definitely stop the problem, and,

B) Been educated on said trip to Edwards and Co about what pregnancy hormones do to hair texture.

In short: they really fuck with them.

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The Big Snip. God it felt good. Like a re-birth after being in the baby fog for six months. Highly recommend it.

Oh yes, we all know about gaining hair as we grow the baby, and losing it once we stop breastfeeding it, but what of the texture change? WHAT OF THE TEXTURE CHANGE?

I’m not the first mum to notice a complete change of hair, nor are big hormonal hair changes a new phenomenon: I had a friend at school who had straight hair until 13 and then it went bonkers corkscrew curly. It was fantastic. She was impossibly beautiful. It all just worked. Ditto the boy who had the opposite: wild curls until high school and then just, nothing. Simple, straight, normal hair. I think he was relieved.

I understand now that hormones mess with the shape of the follicle, (shape determines curly or straight hair), and babies are completely worth it, but it is annoying. It’s as though I am starting again after decades of knowing and understanding my texture and unique hair idiosyncrasies. I am supposed to be an expert in beauty and hair and shit, but now have the styling skills of a salmon, and hair that is way too much work.

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My post-baby straight, floppy hair. And the cute little culprit. (Maybe all my curls went into his mega curl.)

I have bought a new curling tong, and cleared out my entire styling kit, (especially all the curl boosting stuff, the heavy creams, the frizz fighting stuff, the oils, and the straightening balms), now relying on volume boosting mousse and texture sprays and volume powder to try and mimic the old natural texture and grip (oh man is grip something I took for granted: now nothing holds in my stupid slippery hair: not curls, not waves, not styles, not bobby pins, not nothing. I may as well have hair that is made of washing up detergent.) I don’t use conditioner, it’s way too heavy, (I use R+Co One Prep Spray instead which protects against heat styling and gives some grip and texture) and I have an unhealthy reliance on my poor hair stylist Lauren to product some texture, any texture, with highlights and crafty cutting. I am several postcodes from wash and go, in fact I am in the next country.

Perhaps it’s karma for complaining about my curls since I was a zygote.

For having it permanently straightened.

For using ghds daily for two years straight when I was 24.

Some say the curls will come back, that it can take up to 18 months. Some say my next pregnancy might swing me back the other way. And some* say curls are for dumdums anyway.

I say Sonny owes me some godamn curls and he’s not getting any pocket money til they’re back.

 

Here are some links on this topic: here’s an NPR one, an anecdotal one, and a forum one.
Here are some links not on this topic: frog spirit animals, a very funny film clip, and delicious peanut butter mug cake.

*No one.

 

Responses to this drivel: 48 Comments
21
Jul

My fave picks from Clinique, Revlon, L’Oreal…

So many brand.

So many product.

Sometimes you just want to know which is The Golden One.

CLINIQUE

I am a BIG, LOUD, CAPS LOCKY champion of Clinique makeup. I think they do a fantastic job of colour, and are completely underrated because everyone focuses on their skin care, (yknow, chubbies aside). My pick of their current range is Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer, which I saw getting amazing press and had to try because I am a sucker for hype just like you. It’s full coverage, quite thick in fact, (you need only a wee bit; try mixing in some BB if you need more spread. I tend not to use the wand applicator, but apply onto fingers then face) but radiant (something you usually only get in sheer formulas.) And it lasts.

It covers pigmentation beautifully AND acts as a formidable undereye concealer, which is one of its selling points, yes, but generally speaking foundation-and-concealer in one is a terrible idea because the skin is so different (in texture and tone) on the eye area compared to the rest of the face. However, in this case, it’s an unterrible idea, because the eye area is beautifully concealed, and not at all crepey or dry. I care less about my smile lines these days (more comfortable in my skin as I age? Nah. Just less time to worry about shit like that.)

Please note: The shades are darker than you think. Test before buy.

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REVLON

Revlon make some outstanding foundations and lip/eye products (such as my favourite orange lip product: Colorstay Lip Balm Stain in Rendezvous) but it’s the Revlon Brow Fantasy I am back in love with at the moment: a simple, old school brow pencil and gel in one. Even though I have dark hair, I use the dark blonde as it lacks the red undertones you often get in brunette/brown shades. I also love the Revlon Colorstay Brow Liner, which is waxy and high pigment, but far from foolproof, unfortunately.

(Special nod to the Revlon PhotoReady Eye Primer + Brightener, which is meant to be a kind of Touché Éclat eye illuminator, but my preferred application is all over the eyelids to conceal all the veins and redness, and make the eye seem super bright and awake. It’s a good primer for shadows, but worn alone you get this super fresh, youthful natural look.)

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RIMMEL

I’m a crazed fool for BB and CC creams, so was happy to discover Rimmel’s BB Cream Radiance while in a bit of a BB-CC rut lately. It is the perfect lo-fi daily coverage for those who need a bit more than BB cream or a tinted moisturiser, but still want to look fresh. (This is not a matte finish. Matte is not for me. I will never write up anything matte cos I have dry, not oily, skin, and also matte once said I couldn’t dance and I will never forgive him.)

Rimmel BB Cream radiance

 

L’OREAL PARIS

Their BB cream is diamonds, but it’s their tinted brow gel I’m into right now, the Brow Artist Plumper. It’s far more natural/subtle a look than pencils/waxes/powder etc, and ideal for when your brows are already tinted, say, (or not too gappy) and you just want to groom them with a touch of tint. It’s way less pigmented and thick than Mac’s Brow Fix, (read: less room for error), and I use the xxx shade on its own for get-out-the-door face, or to finish expertly filled in brows when I have more time. I like how it allows me to have the brushed-up, Olsen-Twins bushy look, which is hard to get with pencils and spoolies. Oh and hey, wipe the brush off before you apply, mate, or risk globs and mess.

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FACE OF AUSTRALIA

A cheeky little brand that makes cracking products for about 1/400th of the price of So Many Others, I usually have at least one FOC product kicking around in my kit. (Did I just use the word ‘kit’? What, I think I’m a makeup artist now? What a dickhead.) I particularly like their powder blush in Primrose, which is ‘known’ in makeup and beauty blog circles. It looks a bit intense and shimmery in the compact, but is in fact wildly flattering (I have olive but relatively pale skin). It’s a rosy, ‘I’m blushing’ flush of pink, with a subtle sheen but very HIGHLY pigmented, so for the love of Liam Hemsworth, use a quality blush brush (I use the Bobbi Brown blush brush because of the dome top) and go easy.

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In this photo I did a bit of a mixy mixy thingo with most of the above products, and wore a cosy wool sweater because winter. I am wearing Rimmel Radiance BB cream all over, Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation and Concealer under the eyes and blended over pigment on cheeks and forehead, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Dark Brunette over brow shadow, and the Face Of Australia Powder Blush in Primrose. (On my eyes it’s just mascara and Revlon PhotoReady Eye Primer + Brightener. No shadow. That ‘liner’ you see on the lashline is a smudge of mascara. So profesh.)

 

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Responses to this drivel: 19 Comments
08
Jul

Your ultimate guide to Queenstown.

[This was originally posted on Expedia, cos I am their blogging Travel King, although weirdly they refuse to call me by my proper title or send me the crown I asked for. ]

Until a few years ago, I’d never been to New Zealand. No real desire to, either. I figured it would be like Australia, but, you know, colder. What a goose.

But in 2010 my husband filmed a feature film on the South Island, and I went along to write a novel without the distractions of friends/shopping/Sydney/reliable internet. It wasn’t long before we escaped the ‘bustling metropolis’ that is Invercargill, ahem, and headed to Queenstown. The attraction was instant and profound; this is a remarkable, astonishingly beautiful slice of the earth. Queenstown is now my favourite place in the world and we now head over there a few times a year.

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My spiel to Aussies who are yet to endure the grueling 2-3 hour flight over there goes something along the lines of: OH BUT YOU REALLY MUST. Queenstown and its surrounds has the most breathtaking scenery you can imagine: aquamarine lakes set against jagged, snowcapped mountains and rolling hills, plus outstanding dining, beautiful hikes, world-class wines, every ridiculous physical extreme activity you can imagine (read: good for kids or daredevils) and five-star snow fields.

My more specific spiel is as follows:

DINE, WINE, BUY

Queenstown sits in the Otago region, which produces arguably the best Pinot Noir in the world. While there are several billion excellent wineries to visit, I recommend Amisfield Winery (book in for lunch and pray for sun so you can sit outside and soak up the surrounds) and definitely buy some wine and have it shipped home before you leave, and also Gibbston Winery, who make award-winning Pinot Noir but also some of the very best chardonnay you can guzzle, and serve a fantastic lunch also.

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GO IN AUTUMN

To be fair, each season is as good as the next in Queenstown. Winter brings snow and sees this resort town heaving with funseekers from all over the world, Spring and Summer are picture perfect and ideal for hikers and bike heads, but Autumn is magic. Never have you seen such vivid colour (and such a spectrum of colour). Your best vantage point is in the beautiful little goldmining settlement of Arrowtown, around 20 minutes out of Queenstown, where you should take one million photos and keep an eye out for international car advertisements being shot on the winding, tree-lined streets.

SPEAKING OF ARROWTOWN…

It’s a secret foody go-to spot of ours. We love the breakfast and lunch at Chop Shop, and some early evening tapas at La Rumbla, and never miss a chance to pig on at the award-winning Saffron for lunch or dinner. (Get the curry or forever regret it.) A flick at Dorothy Brown afterwards with some wine and cheese is the perfect full stop.

JUST REGARDING PIGGING ON

Queenstown offers some exceptional dining options. It must! It spends most of the year catering to a well-heeled international crowd who demand good grub. My top pick for a fancy feast is Rata, which is owned by Michelin-starred chef Josh Emmet, and which is probably the most ‘fine dining’ option available. Next would be Botswana Butchery, which does the most succulent lamb shoulder for two on earth, and offers a warm, relaxed, dining-in-someones-house, feel. It’s perfect for a group dinner since they have private rooms, and it can’t be beat on a sunny day for a lunch outside overlooking Lake Wakatipu. (Start with Peking duck; finish with local cheeses.) Some other favourites are Madam Woo, which has a Sydney/Melbourne vibe, and offers hawker style Chinese/Malaysian food in a chic, modern restaurant (start with an Asian-style cocktail and prawn dumplings then definitely order the chicken roti hawker roll), and finally, there is VKnow, which is five minutes out of town and which does some of the most exceptional homemade Italian pizza and pasta you can imagine coupled with an outstanding wine list. The best breakfast in Queenstown is at Vudu, and it goes without staying (but not writing, apparently) that you must try a burger from the world-famous Fergburger. Queue too long? Grab a pie (and a Boston bun) from the Fergbaker next door instead. Deeeelicious.

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 OH, SNOW ON THEN

There are two main ski areas in Queenstown: Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, which are open mid-June to October-ish. Coronet Peak, (depending on weather conditions/icy roads) is a much gentler and more pleasant way to get your snow fix (and better for kids) than The Remarkables, which a bit more serious, and which can only be accessed by a hair-raising road brimming with hairy cliff drop offs.

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DO ALL THE ‘THINGS’

You know… the Bungy jumping, the skydiving, the helicopter rides, the parasailing, the paragliding, the gondola up to the luge, the mountain bike riding, the Shotover Jet… all the things. This is an adventure town, after all.

WALK!

Queenstown is home to numerous tramps and hikes. This is New Zealand, land of walking/biking/camping, after all! Try a three or four day hike like the Routeburn Track, which traverses the magnificent Southern Alps, or the Milford Track within the movie-set beauty of Milford Sound. For those who want a quick hit, try the fierce incline of Queenstown Hill (the views are worth it, and you will really earn your Fergburger), or the Moonlite Track, which is as long as you want it to be, and kicks off at Arthur’s Point, five minutes out of Queeny, or a stroll around Lake Hayes, which is scenic and gentle.

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RUB IT DOWN

Any ski town must offer decent massage options; all those poor snow battered bodies need desperate TLC. My pick is either Le Spa at Sofitel, (ask for RiRi if possible), who offer excellent deep tissue massages, and also a fantastic pregnancy massage should you happen to need one, or else make a trip to the spa at Millbrook and watch bunnies hop by a stream as you wait for your treatment to begin.

 HAVE A DRINK BY THE FIRE

Have five! You’ve earned it with all that walking and skiing and that, uh, massage. I love standing by the hearth at Bunker or Bardeaux (both in town) with an Old Fashioned or a Martinez to cap off a night.

A BED FOR THE NIGHT

From the superluxe Matakauri Bay (Prince Willy and Katie stayed here), or the cosy, luxurious comfort of Azure, (both ten minutes out of town), to the boutique feel of Eichardt’s Private Hotel or The Spire (perfectly positioned in town) to the English countryside elegance of Millbrook in Arrowtown, to the familiar names like The Sofitel or The Novotel, there are options for every budget, taste, or group size in Queenstown.

From backpackers to grimy teenage snowboarders to families and honeymooners and the superwealthy, private jet folk, Queenstown caters to everyone. It really is the best holiday you’ve never been on. GO.

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 Expedia’s blog has four zillion great travel articles. Read some, why don’t you?
Responses to this drivel: 2 Comments