Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Trip To Strasbourg, France: 20 Things I Learnt

1. Customs... what's customs? (I could've brought in a prickly pear, fire ants, a wooden sculpture from Thailand and a Brahman with mad-cow and they would've been none the wiser).

2. Not putting on weight whilst in France is IMPOSSIBLE. (3kg gained in two weeks, I kid you not).

3. Scurvy is imminent. (Apparently framboise macarons don't help ward it off either... who knew?)

4. They don't do tap water (bottled flat or sparkling are your options).

5. Don't step out on a crossing expecting cars to stop for you. (They won't, and you'll be as flat as a Nutella crepe before you can say 'Merde!')

6. French girls seem to have two modes of make up (super natural 'Emmanuelle Alt style' or 90's-disco-glittery-eye-shadow-liquid-eyeliner-pink-lipgloss-combo.)

7. The French pay a lot of tax.

8. Australians don't pay a lot of tax.

9. If you're stuck for conversation with a French person, mention tax. (If you're heading to France, I consider this the most precious of all knowledge I could bestow upon you. This one little fact will provide you with at least an hour's worth of conversation. At least. If the convo wanes, throw in Gerard Depardieu moving to Russia, and you're good for another 20 minutes. You're welcome.)

10. Don't mention that you eat cheddar cheese to a French person. (I made this mistake and apart from being told in no uncertain terms that 'vie do not eat zis awful cheese', I got the distinct impression they wanted to sprinkle me with holy water and make me eat a wheel of brie.) 

11. Whilst we're on the topic of cheese, don't order anything with munster cheese on it whilst in a restaurant, unless you have a gas mask in your handbag. (To say it is pungent is an understatement.) 

12. You will never have to use the phrase 'where can I find a florist/bakery?'

13. One of my French friend's houses is as old as Adelaide.

14. My favourite French shop to pronounce is 'Naf Naf'. Closely followed by 'Princesse Tam Tam' (Btw, Princess Tam Tam is where it's at for gorgeous lingerie).

15. Don't leave France without a bottle of Bioderma.

16. When in Alsace, do as the Alsatians do; drink reisling and cremant, and eat tarte flambee

17. Notre Dame ain't got nothin' on the Strasbourg Cathedral.

18. The French love foie gras, and love to serve it for their special guests.

19. I was a special guest.

20. I hate foie gras.

A very Frenchie Christmas to you all!
Alsace has such an interesting mix of German and French architecture.
Getting a tour of the Strasbourg Christmas Markets with a glass of Gluhwein (mulled wine) in hand.
Heading to a church Christmas concert.

My nemesis!

Au Revoir! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sisterly Beauty and Fashion Advice For High Schoolers

 - So, it's Grade 8, and you're thinking to yourself 'Hey, I'm in High School, I'm pretty mature now, I think it's time for me to dip my toe in the vast sea of makeup products! Let me grab this black kohl eyeliner pencil and smear it around my eyes!' Don't tell me you weren't thinking that, because you totally were. This is what every Grade 8 girl thinks, so don't even try lying to me girlfriend! As someone who has not only dipped her toe into the vast sea of make up, but immersed at least two whole feet, I will tell you this - kohl eyeliner pencils are a bitch. They smudge, they smear, and in my opinion, are only good for achieving a smokey eye (which you shouldn't be wearing if you're in Year 8, missy!). Here is a list of make up that is acceptable for young lasses such as yourself 1. Clear mascara. 2. Concealer. 3. Tinted moisturiser 4. Lipgloss. 5. Cream blush.  You will notice I have NOT included eyeshadow, as I can guarantee you don't own a blending brush, and therefore will apply it badly. I have also NOT included foundation, as you're probably going to buy it from Big W with your friends, choose the wrong shade, and put too much on, resulting in what I like to call 'cake face'. You do not want to have 'cake face', boys do not want you to have 'cake face', teachers do not want you to have 'cake face' and your mother certainly doesn't. So stay away from foundation until you can go to a department store and get it professionally matched to your skin, okay? Okay.

- Don't spend a lot of money on your formal dress. Questions such as 'why?', 'how did Mum let me go out of the house like that?' and 'I payed how much?!' will enter your mind upon viewing your formal photos a year or two on. I chose I lovely fuschia raw silk dress, that was fine, except for the fact that it had a drop waist accentuating my short legs and I had never worn heels or that much make up before and felt insanely uncomfortable the whole night. The night is overrated, you'll never wear your dress again, and it's a whole lot of hoopla over nothing! Every single one of my friends regrets spending so much money on their formal dress. Learn from us who went before you, and parted with too much hard-earned cash (well, Dad's hard-earned cash).

- Impulse is not perfume! Neither is anything that a celebrity has made. This is especially true if made by Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian or Katy Perry. No, just...no.

- Stop complaining about having to wear your uniform. TRUST ME, you do not want to have to go through the ordeal of picking out an outfit every day before school. Uniforms are the great equaliser; they make everyone look equally as crap. So stop fretting about how you look frumpy in it, or how it's a disgusting colour, you have better things to worry about, such as hmmm, school work perhaps?

- Cleanse, tone, moisturise. This is non-negotiable. It will help fight pimples and save you many tears! If you don't know what sort of skincare to use, head to the internet! There are so many blogs and vlogs out there to help you, so take advantage of them!

- Preppy pony tails and buns are totally cute hairstyles for school!

- You WILL get teased if you have a unibrow or hairy lip - kids are mean like that. Tweezers and wax strips, my friend!

- Boys razors and shaving cream work better than that pink, berry-scented stuff they market to us girls (it's cheaper too!)

Voila! Sisterly advice imparted.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I'm lucky enough to be on holidays at the moment. Cold weather = slow business at work, and the perfect time for me to take a few days off and head home. A lot of people complain about the cold and throughout winter 'Bring on Summer' statuses litter my Facebook feed, but this couldn't be further from my feelings about the season.

It's especially nice being home, snuggled up by the heater, with a cup of hot tea and devouring book after book. I opened 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' at 5pm yesterday, and at approximately 2am this morning, read it's last page.

Tonight I'm scouring Mum's bookshelf for my next read. I'm tossing up between 'A Short History of Tractors in the Ukrainian' and 'The Time Traveller's Wife'. Mum has been trying to persuade me to read 'The Horse Boy'... "It's good, Camilla, really!", hmmm I'm not convinced.

Today was a nice lazy day. I slept in until 10:30am (had to recoup from my late night/early morning reading), and then leisurely got ready before heading down the street with Mum. We strolled around town, looking at art galleries, book shops (unfortunately sold out of 'A Discovery of Witches', dang it) and had a coffee.

We then buzzed around town, checking out new houses and passing judgement on them (a favourite family past time). Mum was especially pleased that we were in my car, "people don't recognise us in your car, Camilla! We're incognito!".  Indeed we were, and snoop we did.

The rest of the afternoon we hibernated. Mum doing a puzzle and I re-read my favourite parts of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". The book was unfortunately Mary Anne Shaffer's first and last. She died soon after writing it, which is sad as I would've loved to have read more of her work!

Anyway, I'm off to hum and ha in front of the bookshelf again. Decisions must be made so I can hop into bed and start tonight's reading session. I can assure you however, that whatever book I choose, it will not be 'The World of Amish Quilts'. I kid you not, this a book on Mum's shelf. The things she spends her money on, honestly... However, I just spied a book called 'You Can Teach Your Child Intelligence', and obviously her purchase of this book has had wildly successful results :-D, so maybe I shouldn't judge her too harshly.

Nighty night!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

City Adventures

It's been so long since I've been in the city to shop, and I got a nice little surprise when I discovered that the Winter Garden in the Queen St Mall had reopened! The renovations look fantastic, and the caliber of shops has certainly been stepped up. It felt sort of like a rabbit warren of high-end stores; going down little alleys and turning corners to find Sambag, Dinosaur Designs and Bessie Head among others.

The highlight for me was hands down Mecca Maxima - a massive Mecca Cosmetica store! My jaw was on the floor as soon as I walked through the doors. Finally, a make up store in Brisbane with a decent range of make up, and a good set up! Mecca Maxima has definitely taken inspiration from Sephora, I just wish the prices were similar to those at Sephora! 

I also loved the displays they had set up for the opening of the Winter Garden; shoes hanging from the ceiling and mannequins with bouquets of flowers instead of heads! I think they're very whimsical and beautiful. I saw some Japanese girls taking photos of the displays, so I decided to get in on it too and be a bit of a tourist in my own city (although I definitely did get some odd looks from people).

Whilst I didn't buy anything from the Winter Garden, I did end up buying some beautifully cut Alannah Hill pants and picked up a birthday present for the boy! On a side note, I always receive the BEST service at the Alannah Hill store in Queens Plaza. The girls are always really friendly (like, genuinely friendly), and go out of their way to help you out - thoroughly recommend.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Healthy Mexican Mince

This is by no means a recipe for a gourmet meal - but it's simple, quick, easy and healthy. The boy and I eat pretty healthily on the whole, but lately we've been trying to step it up a bit, and improve things we usually cook.

To make it I brown 250g of  lean organic mince, and then add a whole heap of chopped and grated vegetables. Tonight I added a large onion, diced, a clove of garlic, crushed, and a grated carrot and zuchinni (sometimes I add quite a few). The veges make the mince go further and of course, are good for you! To flavour the mince I add a can of organic crushed tomatoes and a tablespoon of home made taco seasoning that contains only spices and no salt or preservatives.

Then what to do with the mince is up to you! You can serve it wrapped in whole wheat tortillas, top it with mashed avocado and eat it with corn chips as nachos or do what I did tonight, and eat it straight from the bowl with a little low-fat melted cheese on top.


I like this mince because it's low in fat, has no salt added to it and contains lots of veges - try it and see what you think!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An Eventful Afternoon!

I've been wanting to get rid of our dining room chairs for SO long. They were one of my old flatmate's grandmother's chairs, and we weren't too fond of the look of them to begin with, but we were poor uni students and any (free) furniture was welcome! Upon moving out they ended up with me, and although they've served us well, they just don't suit the style of our apartment at all.

I kind of wanted to get some lucite chairs to go with our table, however it can get quite expensive when you have to buy four of them, and I'm not sure I want to spend a lot of money on a trend that has been around for a while and might go out of fashion soon!

So last night I was scouring Gumtree for some bargains, and I came across these wooden chairs and asked if they were still available. Lucky for me they were and this afternoon after work, I picked them up! 

I had to include a picture of my car - my beloved little Honda Jazz (aka Jazzy Fay) fitted 6 chairs in the back of it!  The guy I got the chairs from luckily helped me tetris pack them! Why would I ever want another car?! Jazzy is a city runabout and ute in one. 

Jazzy Fay with 6 chairs in the back!
Then I had to unpack them at home and lug them up the stairs, and take the old chairs down - it took me about half an hour and I was pretty dead by the end!

The chairs aren't my favourite shape but I think they should look quite nice once I've sanded them back and painted them in glossy white to match the table. And if I end up hating them, or finding something better, they were only $13 a chair, so it's not too big of a deal lol.

I gave them a thorough wipe over with a damp cloth and some disinfectant. 
I'll post a picture of them when they're painted and looking significantly better!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

France For Christmas!

You can see the Christmas markets in this photo and of course, the Strasbourg Cathedral (I've climbed the stairs to the top of the Cathedral btw, in tight jeans and a blazer no less - no easy feat!).
2012 will hopefully be the year I experience my first WHITE CHRISTMAS! The flights are booked and the boy and I are set to head back to France for the festive season. He's so excited to go back to Strasbourg to have Christmas with family and friends. I can't wait to walk around the Strasbourg Christmas markets, go to a Christmas church service at the Strasbourg Cathedral and hopefully wake up to snow on Christmas morning! I'm determined to try some mulled wine and authentic Bouche De Noel whilst I'm there too. Let's hope the rest of the year passes by quickly - I can't wait!