Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Maternity Wear: Old OOTDs & Baby Bump Progression

These are a bunch of super old OOTD shots from 2 years back when I was preggo (I'm not sure of exact dates till the last few shots sorry).

8 weeks roughly (almost 2 months)
Warehouse merino sweater, Jeans West jeans, Witchery necklace

13 weeks roughly (3 months, end of first trimester)
Country Road top, Cotton On belt, cheapo jeans from Korea, Michael Kors watch, Belle Noel bangle

19 weeks
Wish dress, Glassons cardigan, Cotton On belt, Belle Noel bangle

21 weeks (4.5 months-ish)
Kmart tank top, Jeans West jeans, Witchery jacket, Alexander McQueen scarf, MK watch, Belle Noel bangle

22 weeks roughly
Witchery silk shirt, Jeans West jeans, MK watch, Belle Noel bangle

24 weeks roughly (5 months-ish)
Country Road colour-block dress

30 weeks (6.5 months-ish, in the last trimester) - deceptive angle btw
Just Jeans sequin top, Cotton On (men's) chambray, Pumpkin Patch jeans

34 weeks
Temt top (XL), Esprit shorts

37 weeks (8 months-ish)
ASOS dress, plaited trim from Lincraft worn as belt lol

38 weeks
Supre tank top, Pumpkin Patch skirt, Witchery silk tank

39 weeks
Supre tank top, Zara tank layered on top, Pumpkin Patch skirt

40 weeks (9 months)
Mango cowl neck top, Pumpkin Patch

Hehe. My OOTDs weren't that inspiring back then (especially towards the end where it was the peak of summer and I could only bear to wear a skirt and some tank tops) but that aside, Memory Lane's sure a funny thing. It's funny thinking that the toddler that runs around right now, demanding my attention and squawking and doing all sorts of adorable things, was just a lil bun back then. Just a squishy lil nugget, growing in my belly.

Anyway. I remember when I got pregnant I was super excited about all the maternity clothes I could wear, but actually, most of the time, I just wore my normal clothes. My belly didn't grow as fast or as large as I expected it would... every woman is different, but I noticed as a whole, most first time mummies don't get a noticeable baby bump until at least 20 weeks. I remember trying to justify myself to people, "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant, I swear!!" Kind of annoying when it's not a 'proper' bump and just extra squishy-ness.

That top I'm wearing in that last shot, that's no maternity top; just an ordinary cowl neck top I got in Nice the year before. In fact, almost all the tops I'm wearing in the above photos are ordinary tops - bar the first photo with the black sweater and the white tank top where I'm 21 weeks (the navy striped Temt top was just a super large ruched t-shirt that looks like maternity wear). I just happen to own a lot of flowy, roomy, stretchy tops apparently. 

I like Kmart and The Warehouse for plain-coloured ruched maternity tank tops. Pumpkin Patch Maternity sometimes has some decent bottoms like jeans and skirts and tights - they also have frequent sales. Also, ASOS has a fantastic range of maternity wear. I particularly like the items from the brand New Look; chic and great price point.

No doubt, one day, when I'm preggo again, I'll be writing about new finds that are a tad more fashionable and chic. (NOT YET!)


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Beauty: The Custom Palette

I have this weird fascination with tryna downsize, minimalise, organise... despite my penchant for buying one useless thing after another and then subsequently hoarding like a greedy little squirrel. I'm up to my eyes in novelty socks. By the way... why do they always seem to mismatch?? I have so many but... they never match... sad face...

Anyway. Nothing really quenches that thirst to be efficient, quite like a custom palette. Now, I've seen a fair share on Youtube and on beauty blogs... but what's always held me back is a) the price, b) NZ's remoteness and c) the packaging.

And then, on a routine trip to Farmers, I chanced upon Art Deco make up. It's a German-made brand that's been around for 29 years apparently, and what I like most about them is their price point and their 'magnetic boxes' of various sizes.

Yay for poor lighting...

The above is their largest, the Beauty Box Magnum, that I purchased for $25 (comes empty). I purchased the concealer, blush, eyebrow shadow and other eyeshadows individually to fill this baby up with my essentials. The small eyebrow brush was supposed to be given for free with any Beauty Box purchase, but Farmers forgot and I didn't see the sign till much later. The spoolie brush is from a different eyebrow shadow kit that's almost empty.

More poor lighting (sorry these were all taken on my phone)

Colour payoff is pretty good (concealer is great), though some of the shades I tested were quite chalky and others looked completely different compared to how it looked in the pan - be sure to test before buying. Everyone goes on about how affordable this all is and really it isn't all that bad when you compare it to other custom palettes, but it does add up... $9 per eyeshadow, the blush is $20 and I think the concealer's around the same price. The eyebrow brush on it's own is $4... you do the math (I'm in denial, so I refuse to). 

Also, the pans are TINY. As in size-of-the-top-third-of-your-middle-finger tiny. 

Here's what's in my Beauty Box (left to right, top to bottom):

  • Camouflage Cream (Shade 8)
  • Blusher (Shade 7 'Salmon Blush')
  • Eye Brow Powder (Shade 5 'Medium')
  • Eyeshadow (Shade 206 'Brazilian Coffee')
  • Eyeshadow (Shade 21 'Pearly Deep Copper')
  • Eyeshadow (Shade 38 'Pearly Golden Peach')
  • Eyeshadow (Shade 28 'Pearly Porcelain')

All the eyeshadow shades I have are shimmery. Ideally, I also want to purchase matte versions of the dark brown and mid-tone brown, but the selection at Farmers is limited. Multiple trips there over the space of a month didn't seem to make a difference; there's just less and less stock. And when I asked if certain shades would be restocked (of which there were testers for), they said they just sold what was sent to them. Puh. 

Sliding around on the magnetic box - this is my 'oops' shade (when a toddler is screaming at you, you choose fast)

The compact itself is pretty much the exact same size as my Samsung Galaxy S3, but just a smidge deeper and I'm concerned about the button/catch opening (these have a tendency to snap off), but overall, I think it's a fantastic idea. It's not often you see a custom palette with the ability to add concealer and brow shadow. If they could just add bronzer to the mix I'd be a very happy chappy!

They come with a sliding clear top (remove to use in the palettes) and magnetic strip on the bottom

To make explaining the Beauty Box sizes available, let's say 1 eyeshadow = 1 block, 1 concealer = 2 blocks wide, 1 blush = 3 blocks wide

  • Magnum - fits 12 blocks
  • Quadrat - fits 8 blocks
  • Quattro - fits 4 blocks
  • Trio - fits 3 blocks
  • Duo - fits 2 blocks

I couldn't decide which Box to get at first, but eventually decided to go for the largest and work my way down if the need was there. So far, I've been using it daily for my usual 'everyday' look and I've been enjoying the simplicity of needing just the one palette. 

I think it's hard-working (minus that useless 'oops' shade that's too close to my other golden highlighter shade - I was supposed to have bought a pearly peach shade but I panicked dangnamit) and I eagerly look forward to maybe getting another smaller palette for use when I'm on a long-haul flight. Can you imagine how nifty that'd be? I think I'd pack just the concealer, an imaginary matte taupe shade and the golden highlighter I actually own (I'd use a dark brown eye pencil to fill in brows and line eyes; a rose pink lippie on my lips and cheeks). That would call for a Quattro I believe... 

Oh I forgot to add, I think sometimes Farmers put on a special offer for Art Deco products? When I purchased some of the above goodies they had an offer where if you spent over $40 on Art Deco you received a free $15 eyeshadow base. Sure, they forgot that (as well as the eyeshadow brush) and I had to go back to claim it (wasn't aware of the free brush offer at the time), but hey! A freebie is a freebie!! (Just make sure you get all that you're entitled to - check, and check again). 

I'm quite excited to see how this performs on holiday... will I have a last-minute panic and pack some other palettes anyway, or will I stay strong and stay minimal?? I haven't used it yet on a night out or anything fancy, so we'll see what happens when I'm away for a wedding next week. I'm pretty confident I'll have no probs making up a glam face with just this palette. I just gotta believe in the palette... trust the palette... gotta have faith...


(I'm sorry, it's late in the evening)


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Mid-week Photo Dump and OOTDs

It's taking me too long to do the sort of posts that I've been doing so far... as satisfying as they are for me, they're a LONG read, most people don't want to read a novel on a blog post, and sometimes, it's better to just bang out some short sharp posts. It helps break up the long-warbling anyhow. 

Without further ado, mini Photo Dump:
The Master's newest jacket for winter (from Pumpkin Patch)
Stormy cold days calls for snuggly knit sweaters - this one's from Country Road (size M). ASOS jeans and Mi Piaci over-the-knee leather boots
Sudden fine days with lots of sun, calls for a maxi dress of autumn-appropriate colours - Country Road again - and a light grey cardi (Just Jeans)
Purchases from the Diva closing-down sale - both necklaces used to be $30. The one on the left I consider a splurge but bargain-buy for the one on the right!! It looks much more expensive than what I paid for it. (Tip: if possible, try avoid purchasing lower-end necklaces that have a lot of metal detail that sits on the back of the neck - it's likely to tarnish verrrry quickly. If unavoidable, spray with clear spray paint to protect the finish or avoid wearing on super hot days when you're more likely to perspire.) 
Same statement necklace as above - Kmart tshirt (size 16 for a slouchy fit) worn back to front, ASOS skinnies and Shoedazzle leopard print flats
Country Road metallic foil knit sweater, same necklace as before, Country Road printed pants, Matiko studded loafers
ASOS order arrived: some winter essentials... lol I tried fixing this photo up so the mittens didn't look so much like fish...
ASOS studded bustier
Amplified Tshirt (large size) - I love this T; it's very well-constructed and has laundered well so far
Jorge button up vest - love the detailing on this
Fun embroidered detail
ASOS sequin ovoid dress (sorry about the lighting)
Shimmery mermaid-y goodness


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Favourite Things: Baby Stuff

The weather's been miserable these past few days... weeks? And apparently it's gonna stay this way for another two weeks. (Though as I'm publishing this post it's sure lurvely out there!) Ugh. Being trapped indoors with a toddler? Not ideal. 

Whilst I've been stuck indoors it got me looking back on old photos of the Master and reminiscing over the infancy stage that I seriously struggled through. It was a combination of things that made that stage thoroughly difficult: the refusal to nurse, the silent reflux, the tough feeds, the refusal to cuddle, the refusal to sleep in the car or stroller, the screaming in the car or stroller... heck, the constant screaming whenever he was up! 

Somehow, we survived it though. And since 11 months, he has been the most joyful, loving wee boy that actually smiles and giggles and runs into your arms for hugs. It's hard to believe that turbulent infancy stage actually happened. But it did. And though my overall number one tip for survival is to just remember, "this too, shall pass," (useless tip when you're in that place though, I know) there were a couple of tangible things that helped us along the way...

Infancy-Stage Survival Kit

1. Angelcare - Digital Video, Movement & Sound Monitor


Ahh yes, the Angelcare monitor. You've probably seen this on quite a few baby-shopping lists. This is the first thing that springs to mind when I think of what baby items were most useful. Having a super neurotic (but lovely) hubs, I knew that this would alleviate a lot of the stresses around the threat of SIDS. This monitor senses when the baby is breathing in the bassinet/crib and will sound an alarm if it detects that the baby has stopped breathing for more than 20 seconds. As you may know, sleep is precious during that infancy stage and we didn't want to waste any of it hovering over the Masters crib, wondering if he was breathing ok. 

We still use this today as it also monitors the temperature (you can set an alarm to go off on the parent unit if it goes above/below your set optimum temperatures) and has a video so I can watch the Master like a hawk - we almost bought this sans-video model because it was slightly more affordable but I insisted the video function would come in handy seeing as I spend most of my time downstairs, the nursery's upstairs and it's a long way to go to check in on him if my spidey senses start tingling about any suspicious toddler activity. Fellow mothers know what I mean.

At night I just turn off the sound (I can hear any loud crying without the monitor - and I want to sleep through any whines or whimpers - because our bedroom is directly opposite the nursery), sometimes I turn off the video feed but I always leave the temperature and movement sensor on. I've read many reviews on this monitor and it seems it's literally been a life-saver before on a few occasions. For me, personally, it's just given our family much-needed peace of mind. 

There's also singular function Angelcare monitors available (just the movement sensor, for example) or different combinations of all of the above things I mentioned, all at a range of prices - check out the Angelcare website for more details. 

2. Aden+Anais Swaddles (pron. 'Ay-den and A-nay')

Twinkle Grey 4-pack muslin wraps
The Sleep Store

Again, you've probably seen every Tom, Dick and Harry harp on about these swaddles. All the celebrities use 'em for their celebabies and I think even the Duchess uses them for Prince George. And yes, they are that good.  

I've used others and I'll tell you why these are better: easily laundered, adequate size, silky softness, ultra lightweight/breathable and adorable designs. I know some mothers use the swaddles as scarves too (just make sure you get a more grown-up design if that's what you wanna use 'em for as well). 

I think I personally own about 11 of them - 3 are the bamboo kind, the rest are the ordinary kind - and in those early days we seemed to really need that many! They are multi-purpose so if you're using them as a nursing shield, burp cloth, floor blanket, stroller or carseat cover, scarf etc.etc., you'll find you'll need more than one standard pack of 4. (If you're unsure and want to test one out without splurging, some baby stores or boutique gift shops sell these individually for around $16-22 each). 

The bamboo ones are too slippery for swaddling, but they're fantastic for every other use. We still use all our Aden+Anais swaddles today and I give the Master one every nap and bed time as he loves to rub these over his eyes as he's falling asleep. Even during the day if he spies one of his 11 swaddles somewhere, he'll run to it and snuggle it. He doesn't have a lovie or blankie or anything (I tried, believe me) but he does love these swaddles and that works for me - 'cause if one gets dirty, I throw it in the washing machine, give him another one and they're all the same to him!

3. Maxi-Cosi Pebble Carseat and FamilyFix Base

Maxi-Cosi Pebble - Baby Car Seat

Baby City

The hubs chose this capsule and base for its 4/5 star safety rating and ease of use - it has side-impact protection and it can be used on its own or with the FamilyFix base. Just be sure to check its compatibility with your car if you're wanting the base (if your car has isofix points then I think it's all good to go?). I'm not entirely sure of his reasoning for this one over other similar capsule+base combo's, but I trust his research and judgment! All I know is that Maxi-Cosi seem to be a very reputable and popular brand. 

Personally, I found this thing a huge time-saver. Sure, the hubs had to spend a tiny bit of time initially, figuring out how to get the (RIDICULOUSLYHEAVY) base in, but once he did, it was freakin' awesomesauce. On the rare occasion that we went out, I snapped the wee man into the capsule in the warmth of our living room, carried the capsule to the car, then just clicked him in. The base lights up and chimes a happy perfect cadence to signal that everything's secure and good to go. Sure, once we got going in the car it was a screamfest cos he HATED the car, but at least I didn't have to wrestle with him in the garage or outside a friend's house or in a parking lot. 

The capsule comes with a newborn insert and headrest, the entire soft cover is easily removable and machine-washable and there's a sunshade that's hidden around the top rim of the capsule. This can be used from birth up to 12 months (or 13 kg). The other awesome feature about this capsule+base combo is that you can adjust the recline of the capsule with a simple push/pull of the wide grey handle on the base - we found that the Master screamed a lot less when he was upright. This feature also allows you to have your baby rear-facing for longer as when they get taller, you just pull them up and give their feet room. Fabulous!

(Similar item here and here - by Phil & Teds)

4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Baby Bag

Marc by Marc Jacobs Pretty Nylon Print Eliz-A-Baby Bag

The above is the exact bag I have (sold out) and I adore it. I've also received many compliments on it which surprises me because I thought maybe the pink leopard print was too 'out-there' for most (but perfect for me!). I bought this a good year before I even got pregnant - yup, you read that right - I knew I was going to be eventually and I had our big Europe trip coming up and figured this would serve as a good all-round tote as well. So this went through France and Italy with me too. It fit a tonne of non-baby things then and once the baby did arrive, it was just as handy. It's well-constructed and sturdy despite it's floppy nature. It's got two large pockets on one side, one small zippered pocket on the opposite side, and a skinny bottle-sized pocket on both 'end' bits within the bag. Then on the outside you have the two bottle-sized pockets on each end and then a large magnetised pocket on the front and back. There's ample space!

Also comes with a long adjustable and detachable shoulder strap, as well as an ultra cool matching nappy change pad (which I lost at some point last year ::athousandtinyviolins::). The inside is also the very cool black and white Marc Jacobs print that features on a lot of the lining of their products. 

It's hard to be polished or glamorous when you're a mother, but I found that even if the inside of my bag was awry with nappies and wet wipes and bottles, I felt just that much more put-together when it was all neatly concealed inside my bomb-ass baby bag. And a little bit of pep goes a long way during those trying times, believe you me!

ShopBop always carries the plain black or neutral version of this bag. Every now and again a patterned version will come up (and eventually go on sale - most I've seen it go on sale for is 30% off, which is what I bought my bag for). If you're after a more structured version, they also have this, which is slightly more expensive and without the graphic print lining. 

At the moment, ShopBop also have a Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade baby bag. If you're after a chic branded baby bag, check out that website and make use of their frequent sales! 

5. Safe T Sleep Sleepwrap

This is another peace-of-mind baby item that we used on the Master since day 1 and we're still using today. This item wraps around a bassinet/cot/single bed mattress, then in the middle has a little velcro wrap that fits around the baby's tummy. This stops them from rolling over onto their tummies/faces, or getting trapped between mattress and cot bars, or wriggling and getting stuck underneath blankets. Coupling this with the Angelcare monitor ensured that when the baby was asleep, we could sleep at complete ease without any niggling back-of-the-mind sort of doubts. 

We still use it today even though sometimes the wee Master undoes the velcro strap himself. Most of the time however, once I strap him in, he knows it's bed time and will wave bye-bye as I tuck him in, give him a swaddle, turn on the monitor and exit the door. I know there are a lot of people out there very ANTI! SLEEP! TOOLS!! As in, they believe in 'training' your baby to sleep on its own without the aid of a pacifier, blankie, lovie etc.etc. But in my personal opinion, sometimes you gotta make personal parenting choices; you have to do what works for you. For us, the Safe T Sleep still works; it isn't harming him, I like the routine and it's made sleeps on holidays a breeze. So I'll continue to use it until it stops working for us. 

He does wriggle out every now and again and ends up at the top of the crib, but he only started doing that once he was a lot bigger, robust and more mobile, so we weren't as worried about him. During those vulnerable infancy stages though (which is what this list is about, right? Refocus, team!), no troubles whatsoever. Lots of peace of mind. 

(On sale at the moment at Baby City for $89.99!)

In-Action Photos

Peace of mind
Pile of cuddly, silky softness
Stylish bottomless mummy bag
More peace of mind

And Honorary Mentions...

  • Munchkin Formula Mixer - I only bought this for the single serve formula dispenser, not the mixer - if you're going out for multiple feeds then you'll want the 3-serve kind
  • Munchkin Formula Dispenser - the 3-serve kind (the spout on this is better than the Avent one in my opinion). Great for night feeds also as it saves you having to concentrate on not losing count of scoops of formula whilst you're in bleary-eyed zombie-mode... "1... 2... 2... 2..." 
  • Mustache Pacifier - just a little novelty item for boys... good for a giggle
  • DIY Bandana Bib (Tutorial) or Silly Billyz Bandana Towelling Bib - the Master never spit up but BOY did he drool. And I'm talking 4-outfit-changes-a-day kinda drool. It's much easier to change up bibs. And for the Droolmaster500 I needed something thick, absorbent and not-so bib looking since it was a pretty permanent part of his outfit
  • the Dria Cover - for the breastfeeding mama's out there, here's a stylish nursing cover (that you can also use as a stroller/carseat cover). I don't think they ship to NZ but I ended up making my own for next to nothing (though I ended up not needing it). I'll post my 'tutorial' on it soon (it doesn't warrant a whole post but what the heck. Blog content.)
  • Lamaze toys - in particular, we loved the Space Symphony Motion GymOctotunesOctivity Time and their soft books 
  • Stokke Flexi Bath - our tub upstairs is too big for just one child SO to save on water and time, we got this bath and continue to use it in the floor of our shower. Pull out plug for easy water removal! (Newborn insert is sold separately)


Friday, 11 April 2014

Out and About: Christchurch ReStart

Today we took the LittleLife Toddler Daysack out for a test drive to the CBD's ReStart container mall. The BugaBoo was in the car juuust in case, but I had reinforcements in the form of 2 grandmothers and a great aunt, so I figured today was a good day to be adventurous...

Despite the light drizzling every now and again, the weather wasn't as cold as I thought it'd be thankfully. 

Trying to find a car park was a nightmare despite so many buildings being taken down and turned into parking sites. The only time I missed the BugaBoo was walking to the mall from the car! It wasn't far, but when you're carrying a 10+kg toddler even just walking 20 metres makes your biceps BURN. Instant tickets to the gun show. Pewpew.

I'd say maybe the wee guy is still a little too young for the harness - he kept falling over, flailing on the ground, losing his balance, pulling and then falling over... wow. We were quite the sight in the department store. We ended up just taking the harness off, letting him run free and carrying him if we needed to go somewhere. But I think by the time we go on our Singapore/Korea trip in September (which is what I bought the backpack for), when he's 20 months, he will be a bit more obedient ... and balanced. 

As for what's inside the tiny backpack, it's just a teeny tiny pack of wet wipes, piddly lil box of raisins and his snack cup with cheerios.

Anywho. Some photos? 

Here's the master:

Grandma and the little dino
Pumpkin Patch hoodie, jacket and beanie, Burberry T, Country Road pants, See Kai Run shoes,  LittleLife daysack
Mmm... oh sweet sweet woodfired pizza. We had the Sgt Peppers one and the Hawaiian with FRESH pineapples (the master enjoyed nomming on the crusts). Thanks again to the lovely staff member that wiped down the benches for us with a proper towel. You rock. 

And now for the mall itself:

Container shops
Lots of old landmarks are gone now... 

We also visited the Cardboard Cathedral (our transitional Cathedral/current replacement of our old landmark cathedral) near Latimer Square. Click here to watch a pretty cool 2 min time lapse video of the construction. This innovative building was designed by award-winning architect Shigeru Ban.  

86 cardboard tubes, each weighing almost 500kg (1,100 pounds) each
Look at allllll that cardboard (and stained glass)
Incredible Stations of the Cross exhibition by John Badcock to the left (gutted I didn't take better photos; I was too busy trying to shush a squawking toddler. RUDE.)
That cross is cardboard too
Lots and lots of cardboard
For the wee man one day

The hardest part of our outing was visiting the CTV site and art installation. I didn't edit these photos (except third one down 'cause lighting was too dark), I'll just leave them as is... no words for these.