Monday, 28 April 2014

Padawan Problem: Hard Brushes?

I think the idea of this "Padawan Problem" segment is to detail how I overcame these problems, what I found out and what I learnt along the way. I think it might also be great for you, beautiful readers, wherever you may be, to laugh at/with me! Trust me, I do. A lot.

Being a Beauty Padawan, it's inevitable that I would come up against hurdles which would seem like something of a no-brainer to other people. One of these was when I bought some brushes from Mecca Cosmetica a little while ago and discovered upon opening that the bristles were rock hard! I am not even kidding, they looked as though they'd been coated in some kind of lacquer -- that's what I feel like I want to say, anyway. I didn't take any pictures of these brushes, but I did later get a couple more brushes from Mecca as a gift and I took pictures of them.

The same kind of brush. One is rock-hard, the other super-soft. What is this voodoo?
I want to blend with this thing, not stab my eye.
Understandably, I freaked out because I could've sworn that the brushes they had on display were soft, so what did I do? Of course, I went straight to Danielle (I know I talk about her pretty much all the time, but... she's my Yoda) and asked her for help.

Q: I bought three brushes today from Mecca: an eyeliner brush (the kind that looks like a shader brush?), an eye contour brush and a nice big fluffy powder brush. The powder brush is fine, but the other two are hard as rock. I swear to the heavens that the "sample" brushes I touched were soft. Who do I do? Am I supposed to wash them to make them soft? Are they supposed to be hard?
A: The eyeliner brush might be hard because it's supposed to be hard, cuz you don't want a flimsy brush for liner. But no, they shouldn't be hard like that! If you want to keep them, you can try using a hair conditioner on them and it might help. That's what I did with my mom's brushes that hadn't been cleaned in literally years so they were like tumbleweeds. 
You can learn two things from this: the first being that when I'm not sure about what I'm doing, I panic and ask a hundred questions and use embarrassing phrases like "swear to the heavens". (Why, Sarah? Why do you do that to yourself?) The second is that Danielle is full of everyday wisdom!

There are about fifty bottles of conditioner in my bathroom (because who finishes conditioner the same time as shampoo? No one.) and everyone's always talking about you shouldn't use certain shampoos and conditioners because of the ingredients in them. I didn't know which one would be best or worst, so I decided that I wouldn't take the gamble. What I ended up doing was spritzing a little of Mecca's Brush With Success Cosmetic Brush Cleaner on the brushes, because... I just can't see why it wouldn't be safe to use.

And it did the trick! I left them overnight and they'd softened right up. The liner brush is still stiff, as it should be, but it's no longer so hard that I could use it to cut a sandwich. I'm very pleased with the brushes (which you can find here | here | also here), especially the ones for contouring (although I'm still learning how to use them!). I've only used the blending brush once or twice, and the liner brush I broke out for the first time for the John Mayer concert that I went to last week!

In fact, here's a funny story: I bought the liner brush thinking it was a short shader brush. Yup. Sarah, you idiot.

You can't get mad at me if I post a picture of my kitten, right?
Did you have run into any hurdles when you first started out with makeup?

Sarah xo

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Broccoli Cannelloni

Raise your hands if you love broccoli! What's that? I'm alone here? Alright, never mind then. Still, you can't deny that broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables out there, so when I saw this recipe for broccoli cannelloni, I figured that I ought to give it a go.

Although this dish got a lot of positive feedback from my family, I probably won't make it again. This is mostly to do with fact that I'd need to play around with the recipe and, quite honestly, I know I won't ever feel like it. Even if I followed the original recipe, there are many things I did that I would do differently, purely for the sake of convenience.

Here's the main warning: I tried to double the quantity of this dish, as it originally serves 4. It didn't really work. I didn't use all that I bought and there was a lot of waste. If you are part of a family that requires more than four serves, or part of one that eats a lot, you might want to stick to a recipe designed for the amount of food that you need.

Despite this and other alterations that I made, this recipe was pretty easy. I think it's great because it doesn't take a huge amount of time (compared to the last couple of weeks, anyway) and there things you can do to shorten that time again. The cannelloni is made out of fresh lasagne sheets, and although that may seem a little weird, it is much easier than working with tubes.

My camera cracked it so once again you're going to get the incredible superior photo quality of... you guessed it, my phone!

I've mentioned before that my family aren't keen on tomatoes, so I used passata instead. I let it simmer gently for the entire time that I was cooking, because I used water to make up for any extra volume. I think that I could've gotten away with letting it simmer on a higher heat, because there turned out to be a lot of sauce.
Steaming the broccoli was peculiar. I've never steamed anything before, and we haven't had a double boiler for a very long time, so I decided to improvise by boiling some water in a pot and sitting my metal colander over the top. I took the broccoli off when I saw it turn a vivid green.
Can't lie, I forgot to take a picture of the cannelloni filling until I'd used most of it. You'll see that there are great lumps of broccoli in it -- the instructions aren't very clear as to how processed the broccoli needs to be, and I was worried about mincing it to a smush. I also used the stem of the broccoli too, because I eat that -- apparently not many people do -- although that appears to have been something of a mistake too. My suggestion: don't be afraid to blitz the broccoli into a smush!
Looks delicious, no?
The recipe said to cut the lasagne sheets in half -- so that's what I did -- but I think it may have referred to those lasagne sheets you get that are crazy long (standard unit of measurement) and the ones I used weren't. Either way, as long as you roll it up into delicious tubes of pasta and filling, I don't think that it really matters how long they are.
And this is what you'll get, pre-oven! I added the herbs to the sauce after I poured it on -- I think it was thyme and rosemary -- because I didn't have much in there while it was simmering. There ended up being a lot of sauce at the top, but whether this is because I possibly didn't ladle enough on the bottom or because I tried to double the recipe and failed, I'm not sure.
However, in the end, no matter how much it looks like you've messed up, the most important thing is the taste -- and given that I got thumbs up from the family, it looks like I hit that nail on the head!
This recipe came from the July 2012 issue of Australian Good Taste magazine. The online recipe is here, but of course I'll include it below. I didn't follow it strictly, so here are a couple of alterations and suggestions:
  • Red onion is listed as an ingredient, so of course I left it out.
  • In place of diced tomatoes, I used passata. You could use a 700g jar and make the rest of the volume by swishing a bit of water in it to get the sauce that doesn't pout out, or you might like to use tomato soup instead.
  • Instead of fresh basil, I used basil paste.
  • I used a whole punnet of chives for the recipe (about 10g), and that to me looked like about two tablespoons when chopped up.
  • I left out the pine nuts, simply because I forgot to buy them.
  • If you're worried about waste or using the stalk of the broccoli, try buying a bag of frozen florets and cooking them as per the packet before you smush it up. I think this might be a quicker and/or easier alternative to using fresh broccoli.
  • The recipe calls for 4 sheets of lasagne -- just use as many as it takes.
And onto the recipe itself!

Broccoli Cannelloni

Serves 4.


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped and clearly optional
  • 2 x 420g canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbs shredded fresh basil
  • 350g broccoli, cut into florets
  • 20g (1/4 cup) pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 450g fresh low-fat ricotta
  • 4 fresh lasagne sheets, halved crossways


  1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the onion for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in garlic for 1 minute. Stir in tomato. Cook for 10 minutes or until thick. Stir in basil.
  2. Meanwhile, steam the broccoli over a saucepan of simmering water for 3 - 5 minutes until tender crisp. Refresh under cold water. Drain.
  3. Process broccoli in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in parmesan, chives, lemon rind, pine nuts, chilli flakes and 365g (1 1/2 cups) ricotta. Season with pepper.
  4. Spoon 1/4 cup of filling along centre of each lasagne sheet. Roll to enclose. Spread 160ml (2/3 cup) sauce in a greased 1.5L (six cup) capacity baking dish. Add cannelloni. Top with remaining sauce. Season with pepper. Top with remaining ricotta. Bake for 25 minutes or until tender.
Let me know if you try this one out, I'd love to see how you go!
Sarah xo

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Face(s) of the Day: John Mayer Concert 2014

I feel a little weird calling this post a FOTD -- I quite obviously used tutorials for the makeup, they weren't looks I came up with on my own. However, I didn't own anything used in either tutorial and it was just so much fun to get back into all the stuff that I have and try to work out what to use that I thought, "Well, maybe it counts!"

If the title of this post wasn't already a giveaway, last night my best friend and I went to John Mayer's concert! I was able to get good seats on the upper stands, but it was only a couple of days before that we started to put outfits together and think about makeup.

Amy and I pooled together our makeup stashes -- how much of it is hers and how much is mine?

Amy's Look

Amy told me that she was going to wear a floral jacket over a black top and pants, so I thought that a green eye look might go nicely. I'm not going to lie, unfortunately I didn't come up with this idea off the bat -- I was scrolling through a few beauty blogs, hoping that something would jump out. As it happened, one did and it's the Emerald Decadence step-by-step tutorial by Dulce Candy. I liked this because although there's no video, she has a picture to go with each step, so I can get an idea as to what I'm supposed to be doing.

Amy's "Before" shot!
Originally, Amy wanted to try it out herself, but I think she has less experience with glamorous eye makeup than I do, and she quickly let me take over. Amy's eye shape is different to the pictures and it was my first time applying makeup on another person, so it didn't turn out exactly the same but I still think it looked pretty good.

The palette I used is a super ancient one that I've had since the dawn of time -- the lettering on the top has worn off almost completely but I'm 98% sure that it's supposed to be a "Fever Collection" by Models Prefer. Unfortunately, this is so old that I can't seem to find any trace of it at all on the Internet. I used three of the colours I used were a kind of aquamarine green, a slate grey and a black. All of the colours in the palette are shimmery and (I think) quite pigmented. However, they crumble easily and cause a lot of fallout -- I think that this is likely because it's so old. I also used the Maybelline Eye Studio Hyper Diamonds eye shadow palette in "Charcoal Diamonds" (but I forgot to take a picture of it!).

Colours circled in red are the ones I used on Amy. The green-circled colour I used on me later on.
First, I took the green colour and put it all over the lid with a flat brush, and made sure that the colour really showed. Very gently, I swiped what was left on the brush along Amy's lower lashline, hoping that it would help the kind of smokey look on Dulce Candy. I'm not sure that I got it to work, but it didn't look clownish, so that was a plus. Then I took the slate grey and the lightest grey from the Maybelline palette and blended it on the outer v and into her crease. I really tried to blend this in nicely, and sometimes I took my contour brush and put a little bit more into the outer edge of the crease to define it a little bit more. (Hopefully it worked!)

Then I took the black middle colour from the Models Prefer palette and put it into Amy's outer v with the same contour brush, then blended it into the grey. I was very light-handed, as I didn't want to put too much of the black on at once -- nope, I built it up to a depth (if that's the right word) that I liked! Then I took the white shade from the Maybelline palette and put it into her inner corners and along her brow bone.

Next, I lined Amy's upper lashline with her Rimmel Scandaleyes Thick & Thin Eyeliner, and then got her to line her waterlines with her Rimmel Scandaleyes Shadow Stick in "Blackmail". We were going to use her Scandaleyes Rockin' Curves Mascara but Amy's not a huge fan of it, and after looking at the brush for that thing, I can understand why. I think it's ridiculously big and not at all helpful to Padawans, so we went with the CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Blasting Mascara.

I think that my favourite part was convincing Amy to put on false lashes! She was understandably apprehensive about wearing them, but I convinced her to give them a go, so I got her the Eylure Pre-Glued Lashes in "117". I think that they're slightly denser than natural-looking lashes, but not too over the top. With that done, I cleaned up the excess fallout with a makeup wipe, Amy applied her foundation and blush, and... voila!

Amy's "After" photo!

My Look

I don't think that Danielle had it specifically in mind when I asked her for suggestions, but her Taylor Swift's Grammy's Look was what I went with! Even though I looked at other tutorials for potential, this was the first one I saw and I kept coming back to it, so in the end I decided that it was obviously "the one"! Interestingly, although Danielle uses all drugstore products, I don't have any of what she used, so once again I had to play around with other bits and pieces.
My own derpy "Before" shot. Yes, that's a Disney Princess tee.
For this, I used the blue colour (circled with green) in the above-mentioned Models Prefer palette, as well as an old Elizabeth Arden mini palette. I'm not sure how old this is either, but none of the shades are listed on the Elizabeth Arden website.

Top row: Sterling, Sugar Cube; Bottom row: Black Tie, Graphite
I first packed "Sugar Cube" all over my lids with a flat shader brush, then went over it with "Sterling", sometimes mixing in a little more of "Sugar Cube" to give it a little bit more light. With my blending brush, I blended in "Graphite" on my outer corner and along my crease. When I was happy with how it looked and how defined the edge was, I took my contour brush and very, very lightly put some of "Black Tie" into the crease. Danielle had advised against using a lot of black, so I wanted to keep my look as silvery as I could. After that, I blended "Graphite" into it, then patted "Sugar Cube" into my inner corner and along my brow bone.

Then came the exciting part -- the coloured liner! I bought an eyeliner brush a few weeks ago and realised that I didn't really have much use for it (I have a post in the works relating to that brush), so I was thrilled to find that it was perfect for what I needed. I thought that the blue in the Models Prefer eye shadow palette (circled in green in the earlier picture) was the closest to what Danielle used, so I decided to use that for my winged liner. I found that I needed to be very careful, because the shadow broke into chunks very easily (does that even make sense?) and I didn't want to get shadow all over the wrong part of the brush. I did a thin blue wing, used my CoverGirl mascara, then applied Napoleon Perdis Eyelashes in "Petunia". It looks like you can't get them anymore, but I would say that they perhaps have the thickness of "Poinsettia" and the straight edging of "Gardenia".

As far as the face goes, I used the Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer, then applied Benefit's Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW Foundation in "Champagne". I gave it a little time to set -- something I've been doing to try and see if it helps it last longer! -- concealed my numerous face demons with Benefit's Conceal Palette, then used my delightfully fluffy fluffy brush (saying that out loud sounds fine, but when you write it...) to set it with Stila's Illuminating Powder Foundation in "30 Watt". I had a little bit of experimentation with bronzer and the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in "Radiant Magenta" -- and then I was done!

Ta-daaah! The "After" shot.
If you think it looks pretty here, try it on yourself -- it looks greater "in person"!
Amy happens to be particularly handy when it comes to hair, so she curled ours with her gigantic and scary curling thing. I did have a go at it myself, but I only managed to successfully generate a curl that looked more like an octopus tentacle.

Of course, I can't do a FOTD post without going a little more into the event itself! The concert was great fun -- the opening act, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals, were absolutely amazing, I'm going to buy some of their stuff on iTunes -- and John Mayer, of course, gave a great performance and was rather funny. I'd managed to get us good seats in the upper sections, and our view wasn't hampered. We bought t-shirts (of course), I had a cheeky frozen daiquiri (woo!) and we ended the night with a sleepover and a midnight Maccas run.
It tasted not dissimilar to Panadol BUT THE GLASS LIT UP.
When making a spur-of-the-moment mattress, couch cushions with a sleeping bag are the classy and stylish way to go.
What's a post without the token dodgy phone camera photo?
This post probably has enough written for a novella by now, so I'll finish it off by revealing how much makeup crap stuff owned to Amy!
Have you seen John Mayer live in concert?
Sarah xo

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Spanish Cottage Pie

Remember how last week I made the suggestion that risotto perhaps wasn't the thing to cook if you were running short on time? As it turns out, cottage pie definitely isn't either. Although I might make it again in the future, it probably won't be for a long time -- it took me nearly four hours to do! Granted, this lengthy extension in time was almost entirely my fault: I was the idiot who forgot to take the meat out last night!

The great thing about this recipe is that, like the last couple that I've done, it uses ingredients that you'll probably already have -- the only thing you may need to pick up is the red wine. Despite including some not-favourites of mine (onion, celery, tomatoes -- I'm looking at you), this week I more-or-less followed the recipe perfectly. I did make one or two alterations based on personal preference, but I don't think they would have otherwise impacted the flavour of the pie.

Here are some of the ingredients you'll need. If you look at the actual ingredient list, you'll see that a couple items aren't included: the meats, the chicken stock and the milk. There's no real reason for this except that I forgot about them! Another good thing about this recipe is that you'll use most of these ingredients at the one time, so you don't need to worry too much about method.

I must remember not to call this 'kransky'.
Frying chorizo is one of the easiest bits, but you want to make sure that you do it well. I took this photo early on, so it had only just begun to sizzle, but you basically want to cook the chorizo until it has sort of concaved on one side. The meat may crisp up a bit, but it shouldn't burn.
In case you're interested, I'm cooking this in my electric frypan (or, technically, wok). It is the Breville Avance Gourmet Wok, which I think may have been re-branded as the Hot Wok - 6 Litre Family Size. I was chatting to my good friend Danielle (the one, of course, from the amazing Confessions of a Beauty School Dropout) about it the other day and, honestly, I cannot recommend it enough -- it is my favourite cooking appliance to use! If something calls for a frypan, I tend to reach for this instead, as I've got this amazing ability to burn absolutely anything with ease. The non-stick is still perfect after years of use, and I've never had to soak it or scrub it. Being electric, it plugs straight into the wall socket, so I also don't need to worry about immediately cleaning any spills I make on the stovetop. It is simply amazing!

Great work, Sarah.
This is what mess me up the most: cooking the meat. This wasn't because of any culinary techniques, it wasn't to do with the meat itself -- it was because I was an idiot and forgot to take the meat out of the freezer until about 1pm. You can still cook with the meat if it's frozen, it just takes much, much longer -- and you often have to cook with one gigantic lump, as seen above. In my case, I had to work with two.

Once you chuck everything into the frypan, you let it simmer for an hour! The thing about this electric frypan is that doesn't keep food at a constant simmer, but rather, it reaches the desired temperature and switches off. This isn't a mechanical fault -- it keeps your food hot and switches back on to reheat once it's sensed the heat drop below what you want it be. I found that the saucey mix still reduced, but because it doesn't simmer (or I haven't figured out how to make it simmer), it is possible that it needed a little longer.


What do you get when you boil some potatoes, mush it all up, plop it on top and stick it in the oven? A delicious cottage pie! I find that, if you make the mashed potato with real potatoes, it's best to use an appliance to get out all the lumps. I used the Kenwood Triblade Hand Blender HB724, using the mashing/pureeing attachment. It just makes everything much, much quicker than using one of those old school hand mashers, and you can get the delicious smooth consistency of instant mash!

Even though it ended up taking all afternoon to make, I was very pleased with the end result. It was tasty, flavoursome and the mashed potato cut through some of the richness. The consistency, while not soupy per se, did not hold on its own -- you definitely need to eat this in a bowl! -- but, as this was my first attempt, I figured that I'd be pretty pleased with a pie that had a filling of that consistency.

This recipe came from the same magazine that I've worked from over the last few weeks, but unfortunately it's disappeared in the disaster zone I call my bedroom, so I went online to get it. If you can't be bothered checking out an external website, I've included it below. Here are a few things to consider when making it:
  • Although I left in the onion, I opted to leave the celery out.
  • Instead of 2 crushed garlic cloves, I used to teaspoons of minced garlic. I find that this is just a quicker way to cook.
  • My mum and I aren't fans of tomatoes (although, we eat tomato sauce, which is weird) so, instead of a can of crushed tomatoes, I decided to use a 415g can of condensed tomato soup. This may have been the cottage pie a little more liquidy, but I don't think it compromised the taste.
  • The recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste -- as you can see, I've got a 170g can in my picture. I decided to use the whole lot, because I'd rarely have any use for the little bit that would be left over.
  • The recipe does call for smoked paprika, but I just used the regular ground paprika. I don't think that this made any huge difference to the flavour.
  • You only need one chorizo, and you're supposed to chop it up into little bits. However, I couldn't be bothered, so I just sliced. I think I preferred it this way, as I've decided that I'm not chorizo's biggest fan, and I might have been slightly put off my tiny bits of chorizo in my dinner.
  • I ended up using about a kilo of pork/veal mince instead of 750g -- this is because packaged mince comes in roughly 500g lots. I actually think that the recipe turned out better because of it; it otherwise may have been too soupy.
  • Make sure you take your meat out of the freezer the night before!

Spanish Cottage Pie

Serves 6


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 chorizo, coarsely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 750g pork and veal mince
  • 400g can crushed tomatoes
  • 250ml (1 cup) of red wine
  • 250ml (1 cup) of chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 400g can lentils, rinsed, drained
  • 1.2kg of Golden Delight potatoes, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) milk, warmed
  • 60g butter, coarsely chopped


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo. Stir for 5 minutes or until crisp. Transfer to a plate. Heat remaining oil in pan over low heat. Add onion, carrot and celery. Stir for 5 - 7 minutes or until softened. Stir in garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add mince. Cook for 5 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Stir in chorizo, tomato, wine, stock, tomato paste, thyme, paprika and bay leaves. Bring to the boul. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until sauce is thick. Stir in the lentils and season. Spoon the mince mixture into a 3L (12 cup) ovenproof dish.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4. Cook potato in a saucepan of boiling water for 13 - 15 minutes or until tender. Drain. Cool for 2 - 3 minutes. Return to the pan. Add the milk and 40g of the butter. Mash until smooth. Season.
  4. Spread potato mash over the mince mixture. Dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.
And there you have it -- a recipe for a very delicious cottage pie. Although it takes awhile, you can actually make it ahead of time and freeze it!

Have you made cottage pie before? Do you have any recipes I should try out? Let me know!

Sarah xo

Monday, 14 April 2014

Face and Outfit of the Day(s) -- Supanova 2014!

I've never done one of these before, but from what I can tell, these posts are short, sharp and sweet, so I'll do my best!

For a quick context overview: Supanova is one of three major conventions in Australia, kind of like Comic-Con. If you don't know what Comic-Con is, I describe it to basically be a gigangic nerd-fest. People usually get my drift at that point.

It runs over two days and I usually get my photos done on the first -- so I like to wear something really pretty and cute!


Photo day! I wore this white lace dress by Lee Cooper, which you can get at Big W. It was a very, very risky choice for me, but I was careful and pulled it off! I was originally going to wear them with black heels that I wear every year, but I couldn't find them (it was a sign!) so I paired it with a pair of white lace flats from H&M. They're not listed on the website for some reason, but you can see me wearing the whole thing below, where I'm standing next to Thor.

It's not all his natural hair. I asked.
Or maybe you'd prefer to see me wearing it to next to Freema Agyeman.

More proof of my misguided trust in my phone camera.
Or... I don't know... Alexander Ludwig or James Callis or Tom Lenk or Crystal Reed. I might have fangirled just a tiny bit. ;)

The camera does not do him justice.

So. Charming.

Phone cameras do not take away from his hilarity.

She was much taller than I expected. So sweet, too!
As for makeup, I decided that a natural look was best. I've been wearing this one a lot, although for some reason that day I decided to test out my new funny-looking eye brush.

You can probably tell, I'm rubbish with this eye brush.
I used my Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette, starting by patting "Salted Caramel" onto my lid up to the crease. I then took a little of "Salted Caramel" mixed with "Milk Chocolate" and blended that with my blending brush on the outer corner and into the crease. I believe that the idea of this is to use it as a transition colour. Then I used a little of "Milk Chocolate" with "Triple Fudge" and tried to blend that in, using my blending brush to smooth out any harsh lines. I made sure I didn't take it out as far as I did with "Salted Caramel/Milk Chocolate". I then took a little bit more "Salted Caramel" and blended it into the darker colours on the crease, going from the inner corner outwards. I lined my lashline with the Napoleon Perdis China Gel Eyeliner in "Equinox" (apparently this has been discontinued), then Covergirl's LashBlast Volume Mascara in "Very Black". I used "White Chocolate" from the Chocolate Bar palette to highlight under my brow.

I almost never use a new brush for the first time when I have to go out, but for some reason I just went with it that day. Being a Padawan, it didn't really turn out too great but you can judge for yourself with the photo below.

Gosh, Sarah, why do you look like someone kicked your cat?
For the face, I used the Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Skin Primer, Benefit's Hello Flawless Oxygen WOW Foundation in "Champagne" and I set it using Stila's Illuminating Powder Foundation (holy crap, these names!) in "30 Watt" with my gorgeously fluffy powder brush. (You seriously don't know how much I love this brush. I'm like "OOOOHHH SO FLUFFY" every time I use it). I used my limited edition Napoleon Perdis blush in "Terrarose" on my cheeks; on my lips, I used Rimmel's Vinyl Gloss -- unfortunately, I don't know what shade it is, but I think of it as a kind of peachy-red... Basically, it's the second gloss in the picture, but it might be a discontinued colour.

I attacked my hair with straighteners, then twist braided the front two sections -- a newly acquired skill that I'm very proud of! -- and did my best (see also: poorly) to secure it with a couple of bobby pins. For a bit of fun, I stuck in a few giant things with jewels on the top. I'm not sure about what they're actually called, but they're basically those huge useless bobby pins that hairdressers use when you get your hair done. I got mine from when I did my deb!


On the second day of any con, I like to go for something more casual. Heels get chucked into the back of the wardrobe, banished for another few months, and I break out my handy flats again. I wore a black patterned drape-y top from H&M, which I like because it kinda smooths out my lumps and bumps -- just with a pair of jeans and simple black flats. I had a light grey cardigan from Cotton On which I wore in the early morning.

There were many Elsas, but she was the best.

I simply had to add this -- Sailor Moon = my childhood!

I want to say that my makeup was different to what I had on the day before, but really it was very similar.

I used one of the looks from the little booklet with my Chocolate Bar palette -- unfortunately, I can't remember what it's called! I used "Milk Chocolate" all over the lid, blended "Gilded Ganache" in the outer corner and into the crease, swept "White Chocolate" under my brow" and then created a cat eye with "Triple Fudge". My rest of my makeup was exactly the same as the day before, except that I chose (also: forgot) to not wear anything on my lips.

I'd planned to attack my hair with the straighteners once more, but I liked how it fell when I woke up, so I just brushed it and left it alone. However, you'll notice that it's tied up in my photos with Elsa and the Sailor Moon girls -- this is because I hate having my hair down and in my face for more than thirty seconds, and I'd tied it up by the time I'd gotten to Supanova.

And that's it! Have you ever gone to something like Supanova? What kind of makeup did you wear?

Sarah xo

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Wednesday Weekly: Lemon, Basil & Ricotta Risotto

I know that I'm a day late with this post, being Thursday (in my part of the world, anyway) but I was so busy and tired last night that... blagh. I didn't get around to doing anything.

This recipe, like probably everything I decide to cook, isn't very hard but it's probably not something you're going to make if you're in a hurry. It's supposed to take about forty minutes to an hour, but I'm always very slow when I'm working with unfamiliar items, so it took me considerably longer. I believe that the end result was alright -- I raced out the door to Zumba five minutes after I finished cooking, so I only got to taste test a little, but I didn't hear any complaints from the family which is good.

It's also vegetarian-friendly, if you're the type that's happy to eat cheese and butter. If you're not, it's obviously not going to be for you.

Here are all the delicious things you need. I ended up not using everything, but this was partly because I forgot. The good thing about these ingredients is that they're very general products. You won't need anything that comes only from a specialty store!

Why can't you just have "white wine" written somewhere?
Ah, wine. My cooking nemesis. It took me ten minutes to locate this thing in my pantry, and another five to make sure that it actually was white wine. Unfortunately, I also had the misfortune to see that the website I called listed it as "sparkling wine". That means fizzy, right? I didn't know that wine came in fizzy forms -- but then again, I didn't know that chardonnay was wine at all. You should've seen the fun I had opening this thing.

It wouldn't be a Wednesday Weekly without my making a mess of something.

I even made a mess of the onions.
Even the onions proved to be a difficulty. These made me cry, to my great surprise -- I didn't know red onions could. This is why you won't see me in any of these photos: I had to keep dabbing my eyes with a cloth and my eyeliner went all over the place. In the end, I was basically chopping these very carefully with my eyes closed. Don't do that yourself, kids.

A great example of me just grabbing whatever jug says "two cups" on it, and not using one of a more suitable size.

On the left is the pot that I was making the risotto in, and on the right is the pot I had the stock in. Take my advice: don't do it this way. It will take you longer to cook the risotto, and funnily enough, you'll be more prone to making mistakes.
The problem with having the stock in a big pot is that when you're scooping up 1/3 cup measurements to add to the rice, you'll quickly be scooping up such a small amount of stock that you'll naïvely think that there's only a small amount left.
And you'll decide to just dump the rest of it into the smaller pot.

"Come on, rice, ABSORB FASTER!"
See what I mean? This is probably a little more than 1/3 cup.

The end result: one delicious batch of risotto.
I did take a few shortcuts when making this recipe. My family eat a lot, so I always double any recipe that claims to serve 4. However, I was rushing a bit, so I left out things and only used half the amount I needed for other things -- sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. Here are the things to consider with this recipe, whether you're making the original one (which you can also find online here) or doubling it:
  • I only used one red onion. I'm not a fan of onion in general, although I don't mind cooking with red onion from time to time. For me, one was enough.
  • I left out the celery entirely.
  • The original recipe calls for the grated rind of one lemon, plus a tablespoon of lemon juice; I'd forgotten to double this, but I found when taste testing that it really was enough. Doubling the lemon may have overpowered the dish, so you might want to think about only using half for the original.
  • The recipe calls for dry white wine but, not being a drinker, I don't know what this means. The wine I used was sparkling, but I don't think it really had any impact on the dish overall.
  • Only parmesan cheese was used in this recipe, but use pecorino if you can afford it -- it's beautiful.
  • Two bunches of basil gave me roughly two cups.
  • Also, fresh basil is annoying to tear and big clumps of green leaves aren't the most appealing thing in the world. If you can get your hands on basil paste, I would suggest using that instead. You'll only need a tablespoon or two, and you'll get a much more pleasant texture through your food.
  • I accidentally forgot the ricotta!
As always, I've included the original recipe below. Please, if you can, don't be like me and leave out one of the titular ingredients. You feel silly serving up "Lemon, Basil & Ricotta Risotto" without the ricotta.

Lemon, Basil & Ricotta Risotto

Serves 4.


  • 1L (4 cups) salt-reduced vegetable stock
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped (optional to me)
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 250ml (1 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, rind finely grated
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 40g (1/2 cup) finely grated pecorino or parmesan
  • 50g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 100g fresh ricotta, crumbled
  • Finely grated pecorino or parmesan, to serve


  1. Bring the stock just to the boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to low and hold at a gentle simmer.
  2. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and celery. Stir for 10 minutes or until soft. Increase heat to medium. Add rice. Stir for 1 minute or until grains are slightly glassy. Add wine and stir until absorbed.
  3. Add 80ml (1/3 cup) of stock to rice mixture. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Add stock, 80ml (1/3 cup) at a time, stirring constantly and allowing liquid to be absorbed before adding more. Continue for 20 - 25 minutes or until the rice is tender yet firm and risotto is creamy.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon rind, juice, pecorino and butter. Season. Cover and set aside for 2 minutes to rest. Stir in the basil and divide among plates. Sprinkle with the ricotta and extra pecorino.
And there we have it. Have you accidentally left out the main ingredient for a recipe before? Have you cooked with white wine before? Let me know!

Sarah xo

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Getting My Hands on Some Urban Decay!

A little while ago, I made a discovery that was nothing short of amazing. My best friend Amy and I were talking about eye shadow one night on the way home from Zumba, and she happened to say, "Oh, I have an eye shadow palette that I bought ages ago when I went on a cruise. I think it's by Urban Decay?" Needless to say, my mouth hit the floor.

Any Australian can tell you that Urban Decay is not a readily available brand here. There are only a handful of websites that stock it and will ship to Australia -- and it's so expensive compared to buying it in US. Forget eBay too, the Naked palettes alone average for about $100 each there.

Anyway, being the amazing friend that she is, last week Amy let me borrow it for a few days to play around with it! It's Urban Decay's Book of Shadows Vol. III, which isn't available anymore -- and considering that it was released in 2010, I'm not surprised! It has sixteen shimmery/glittery shades, two eyeliners (one of which Amy had already used) and a little sample bottle of Urban Decay's Primer Potion.

Look at it! Sooo pretty!
"You can tell I haven't ever really used it, the lights still work." --Amy

Inside the palette.
As you'll be able to see if you look at a larger version of the above picture, the sixteen eye shadow shades are:
  • Perversion -- I read that this is supposed to be a matte black, and so it seemed at first, but it actually had the tiniest bit of shimmer.
  • Uzi -- a super glittery white/silver
  • Loaded -- a very, very dark green. It swatches to almost black kind of colour.
  • Kush -- this is green. Very green. I consider it a 70s green.
  • Midnight Cowboy Rides Again -- a light rosy pink.
  • Last Call -- like a darkish violet purple, I think.
  • Rockstar -- definitely a dark purple.
  • Money -- I would consider this somewhere between blue-grey and green-grey.
  • Haight -- a nice glittery blue.
  • Maui Wowie -- this is a very sparkly neutral colour (I think that's how you'd describe it). It swatched as a pale gold.
  • Smog -- a brown/gold.
  • Bordello -- a light pinkish purple.
  • Radium -- a vibrant blue. (Funnily enough, this isn't the colour of actual radium).
  • Snatch -- a kind of neutral rosy pink.
  • Suspect -- a gold colour.
  • Psychedelic Sister -- a very bold lavender
I did swatches of all of the colours, even though, I guess, it seems rather pointless given how old this palette is. Still, I know that most of these colours are part of the permanent Urban Decay range, so... There's a possibility that you might get your hands on them in the future. The first five I did on primer, but the colour actually seemed to show up better without. You can check out a way less lame set of swatches at Temptalia.

Left to right: Perversion, Uzi, Loaded, Kush, Midnight Cowboy Rides Again

Left to right: Last Call, Rockstar, Money, Haight, Maui Wowie, Smog

Left to right: Bordello, Radium, Snatch, Suspect, Psychedelic Sister
I had enough play time with this palette to make three looks. I say "looks" but the term is realistically perhaps too broad. I blended the colours I used in the same way, going from a YouTube tutorial I watched. I think for me the big thing was making sure that the colours I used suited each other, and (I think) I got this more or less right. Maybe I didn't.
The first "look" was more of a challenge set by Amy: to use green! Both of us have green eyes and she felt that it might be unwearable -- I thought it could work, but that I might have to be careful to not overdo it. Unfortunately, I failed at this on the first try. For whatever crazy reason, I decided that it might be a good idea to start off with "Kush" all over my lid.
Eeeeek! There's a reason why I called it a 70s colour.
One makeup wipe later and I decided that "Money" was going to be a better colour to start with -- this time, I was right. I patted it on with my shader brush and then, veeery carefully, I blended "Kush" into at the outer corner and into the crease. Maybe it's a Padawan thing, but I felt like I was blending forever. I always feely like I'm blending forever. It's like I expect lovely results too soon! But anyway. After that, I took "Loaded" on the same brush and blended that in as well, making sure that I didn't blend it out as far as "Kush" and not as far into the crease. At first I didn't think it looked so good, but then I did a little black liner and a heap of mascara, and I think it turned out very well!
Who feels like a twat in the second picture? I doooo!

The second look was purple-based. I thought that this would look nice because I was going to the H&M opening and I'd decided to wear cream colours -- I thought that some colour like this would look cute! I started off with "Bordello", then blended "Last Call" at the outer corner and into the crease, and then did the same with "Rockstar". I used the same brushes and the same technique as with the green look. I kept the rest of the look relatively natural, with my limited edition Napoleon Perdis blush in "Terrarose" on my cheeks, and the limited edition Napoleon Perdis gloss in "Beyond Bronze" on my lips.


Unfortunately, the original photo that I took on my phone wouldn't upload so I've had to use the filtered version that I stuck up on Instagram.

Hooray for phone camera quality photos!
The third look was the one I was most looking forward to, and the one that let me down the most. I used "Maui Wowie" as a base, blended in "Suspect" and then "Smog". I don't think it looked very nice on me. Reflecting further on it, I think this comes down to two reasons: firstly, you can see that my hair is a very, very dark brown and my skin is (I think) classified as light-medium. I think that combination of colours will better suit someone with fairer skin and lighter hair than what I have. Secondly, I think it's possible that the techniques I used might not have been might not have suited the colours. It's one of the few that I can do without needing to watch a tutorial fifty times, that's why I went with it. Maybe if I hadn't had work that day, I'd have tried a different style of makeup, but at least I've gotten some kind of learning experience out of it.

I'm wearing my PJs, not my work uniform. I swear! 

If this were a new palette, I absolutely would've tried to find one for myself. I think that it's amazing for all kinds of looks -- glamorous or sweet, daytime or nighttime. I was so thrilled to use this and I really have to thank Amy for the opportunity!

Did you ever use this palette? What looks did you create?

Sarah xo