Sunday 30 November 2014

Product Review: MAC's Heirloom Mix Lipsticks

The MAC Heirloom Mix lipsticks were an exciting release for me -- after all, pretty packaging? Pretty colours! Consider me sold like a One Direction fangirl. Like the MAC junkie I've become, I wanted every shade except Rebel -- because I have it already -- and Tribalist -- because Temptalia said it was rubbish, and so I had every intention of going to my local MAC counter to swatch in-store and make sure I wanted to spend so much money make the investment.

As it happened, I totally did.

MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick
MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick
Unfortunately, it sold out really quickly in-store and online (the only exception being the troubled Tribalist -- and now even that's sold out). I despaired over the loss like Romeo despaired over Juliet, but I got over it in a far less extreme manner -- until the makeup goddesses smiled upon me and my friend Jo-Anna when we went to Myer for a VIP shopping night. The MAC counter had received their shipment late, only two days before -- and so huzzah, they had the whole line in stock!

I heard cherubs singing.

MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick
MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick - packaging

I think the big selling point with these lipsticks is the packaging itself. It's got a kind of shimmery silver glitter over the top of the regular MAC packaging -- I don't think it's quite as smooth as a regular MAC lipstick, but there's no real gritty texture either. I think that this glittery perfection was manufactured as an additional coating over the regular tube, as I've found the lipsticks just a touch difficult to take out of the box. Gentle shaking didn't do much good, and I wasn't able to grip enough of it to pull it out, so I ended up having to open the bottom of the box and push it forward. Through repeated use, it gets easier -- now a gentle shake usually allows enough of the tube to fall out so that you can grab it.

MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick - No Faux Pas, Salon Rouge, Sparks of Romance
MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick (l to r): No Faux Pas, Salon Rouge, Sparks of Romance

If you missed out on these lipsticks, don't fear! They are most definitely dupable, and you may already have something similar if you picked anything up from the Novel Romance line.

MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick swatches - No Faux Pas, Salon Rouge, Sparks of Romance

No Faux Pas -- this is bright, cool-toned hot pink with a matte finish. I feel like it looks pinker in person than in the photo. It feels relatively creamy when you apply it, but it dries down to a matte after a little while. I like the staying power on this, I feel that it stays relatively well with minor eating and drinking. I don't think it's totally necessary to exfoliate your lips before hand, unless your lips are as dry as the Gobi Desert -- in which case, get scrubbing! No Faux Pas is very, very similar to Good Kisser from the Novel Romance collection, as well as Girl About Town, which is part of the permanent line. You can check out Temptalia's dupe list for more suggestions.

Wearing MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick in No Faux Pas
Salon Rouge -- this is a dark, kind of berry-ish red that I think looks well on a girl no matter what season you're living in! I did find that it sometimes didn't apply quite as well as No Faux Pas or Sparks of Romance, in that sometimes it didn't seem to take -- if I put it on after brushing my teeth, for example, it would sometimes just seem to skip over patches, as though I hadn't touched the product to my lip at all. I don't know if that means I had some weird invisible toothpaste residue, but it was unexpected. I would recommend exfoliating your lips as a precaution before applying this, because although it feels creamy when you apply it, it's the kind of matte that highlights dry patches the longer you wear it. Of course, Temptalia has a great dupe list!

Wearing MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick in Salon Rouge
Sparks of Romance -- I had no idea until I wore it to test it out a few days ago, but this is my absolute favourite of the three. It's a kind of clean red with a very faint golden shimmer -- you can just see it, but you can't feel it. It goes on creamy, and it kind of stays creamy for a little while before it dries down; you may find that you want to reapply after light eating and drinking, but I found that the situation wasn't bad enough to make it necessary. This lip colour is the winner for me, and, amazingly, it didn't feather or bleed at all! It reminds me a tad of MAC Viva Glam Rihanna 1, but Temptalia has a decent dupe list that's worth checking out.

Wearing MAC Heirloom Mix Lipstick in Sparks of Romance
Overall, these lipsticks are great but colour-wise, they're not anything ground-breaking. If you're a lip junkie who somehow missed out, it's very possible that you already own something very similar.

Padawan Product Rating: A

Did you buy anything from the Heirloom Mix collection? Let me know!

Sarah xo

Saturday 29 November 2014

Product Review: Klara Eyeshadows

Klara Cosmetics is an Australian brand of makeup that I hadn't heard of before September -- and indeed if I happen to mention them, most people go, "Huh?" Although they've recently become available at Coles in the last couple of months, the in-store range is limited, and you're best buying online or at any beauty salons that stock their products. What stood out to me was the eye shadow, and I was able to get my paws on them at the Beautiful You convention.

Klara boasts an impressive collection of individual shadows (plus one six-pan neutral palette) with a variety of different finishes: matte, shimmer, rose gold shimmer and diamond. Prices range between $18 and $22 per shadow, depending on the finish -- I was able to buy a build-your-own 6-pan palette for a flat price of $90 at the convention, so I immediately scored a decent saving!

From the incredible range of 28 matte shadows, 30 shimmer shadows, 4 rose gold shimmer shadows and 6 diamond shimmer shadows, I picked six from the shimmer range: #7 "Gold Rush", #10 "Sparkling Acid Green", #15 "Metallic Azure", #16 "Ultra Violet", #17 "Flaming Crimson", and #30 "Blue Lagoon".

First off, let's just look at these shadows in-pan:

Klara Cosmetics - "Gold Rush", "Sparkling Acid Green", "Metallic Azure", "Ultra Violet", "Flaming Crimson", "Blue Lagoon"

Eat your heart out, Urban Decay! Don't they look amazing? These promise colour the same way a kitten promises fuzzy feelings.

Gold Rush is a metallic yellow gold. It is soft to the touch and applies easily. It blends well with other shadows, and lasted on me for about six hours before it started to fade. The colour was still visible as it did so, but it was more muted.

Sparkling Acid Green is a metallic light green, and it reminds me strongly of Dragon from the Urban Decay Vice 3 palette -- not that I actually own the Vice 3 palette, but I've seen it used enough that I think there's a strong similarity. It lasted seven hours on me before fading, and creased around the ten or twelve hour mark.

Metallic Azure is a shimmery light royal blue. When applied, it looks just like it does in the pan, and it blends particularly well with Ultra Violet and Blue Lagoon. It lasted eight hours before starting to fade, and started creasing a little after ten or eleven hours.

Ultra Violet is a deep purple. Its colour is a little sheerer when blended out but otherwise it's true to pan. When mixed with Metallic Azure, it produces an absolutely beautiful, slightly iridescent mixed shade. This lasts for about seven or eight hours before starting to fade.

Flaming Crimson is a metallic, slightly pinkish red. It's actually been one of the more difficult colours to work with! I've used this on my lid as well as along my lower lashline (in separate looks, of course). It lasted for six hours before fading, and creased after about nine hours.

Blue Lagoon is a metallic, almost icy blue -- a true Tahitian lagoon colour. This was the first colour I swatched when I was at the stand and I fell in love. It seems a little more green in the pan -- to me anyway -- but I always think I see an icy blue when I put it on my lid. I personally love this for my inner corner. It lasted for eight hours on me before fading, and ten to twelve hours before creasing.

Wanna see some swatches? Of course you do!

As you can see, the colours swatches are absolutely gorgeous -- and they were all just one swipe, without primer underneath! (Because let's be real, it never occurs to me to actually use it.) Of course, it'll take a little more packing with a brush, but you can easily see that Klara's promise of 100% pigmentation is definitely kept. Here are a few pictures of me wearing the shadows, although I honestly think the lighting doesn't do it justice.

Gold Rush on my lid, with a medium-dark matte brown shade on my outer corner and crease.
Blue Lagoon on my inner corner, Metallic Azure on the rest of my lid, and Ultra Violet mixed with the Metallic Azure on the outer corner of my eye and on its own in my crease.
It's a favourite look of mine.
I can't say how well the matte or diamond shimmer shadows swatch, as I kind of hovered around and stuck with the lovely large display of regular shimmers. In my mind, they are on the expensive side but are well worth the money spent -- plus they'll last you a really long time. By comparison, MAC single shadows are $33 each, so buying from this brand is something to consider! I've popped into a couple of Coles stores to see the available range and they only seem to stock dark neutral colours, so if you're after a bit of colour then you're best either ordering online or seeing if there's a beauty salon or stockist in your area that sells them.

Klara offers free shipping within Australia for orders over $75, as well as for Klara VIP members -- it starts at around $17 for New Zealand (which I don't think is too bad) and nearly the $40 mark for shipping to the US. However, if you sign up for their newsletter you can get a 15% off coupon for your first online order, so it's possible to make your money back.

Padawan Product Rating: A+

What do you think of these shadows? Which of these shades is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Sarah xo

Friday 28 November 2014

Myer/High End Haul #6

A little while ago, I got an invitation from Myer to attend a special VIP Christmas Shopping Evening -- this wasn't a particular event where I was singled out, I was sent the invite because I've spent an obscene amount of money on makeup I have a Silver membership. I was able to bring along two friends with me to enjoy a number of discounts (such as 10% off cosmetics!), so I took my friend Jo-Anna from Jodash Vanity and her sister Janina.

This naturally meant that we wanted to spend a small fortune on makeup, and naturally we did! I myself had a shopping list in mind but I didn't get everything on it (mostly because I forgot, not gonna lie). Take a look and see what I did get!

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon -- This is the 7th book in the Outlander series. It is an absolutely monstrous piece of literature, and I'm actually nowhere near it in the series; I've only read the first four! However, with 40% off books, I couldn't resist picking it up.

Written in my own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon -- The 8th and most recent of the Outlander books, it was released a couple of months ago. I'm really excited to see what happens with Claire and Jamie at this point -- so much time has passed between the first four books, I have to wonder how old they're going to be!

Benefit Watt's Up -- I've been after this highlighter for a while, having seen it on several times on YouTube videos recently. As a Beauty Padawan, I'd normally stay away from cream blushes and highlighters because I'm not confident that I can apply it right, but I've used this once or twice so far and I think it works well!

MAC Heirloom Mix Lipsticks in "No Faux Pas", "Salon Rouge", and "Sparks of Romance" -- I had lost all hope of getting these! These sold out online and in store very, very quickly -- in fact the only one you can get is "Tribalist" (and I'm not surprised because the quality is supposed to be atrocious). I honestly didn't think the Myer I went to would have it, but imagine my excitement when I wandered over to the MAC counter and realised that none of the testers had 'Sold Out' on them! It turns out that they'd gotten their shipment later than everyone else, and that it had arrived the day before. I quickly snapped up the lipsticks!

MAC Keepsakes Red Lip Bag -- I umm'd and ahh'd over this for a while, because although I was after the cult classic "Ruby Woo", I was a little apprehensive about the price. It wasn't bad value, however, and it was certainly cheaper than buying the pieces individually, so I decided that I couldn't go wrong. This lip bag is now sold out online, and the only one you can get is the online-exclusive coral bag.

MAC Keepsakes Red Lip Bag
A better look at the MAC Keepsakes Red Lip Bag.
That's it for this small-but-meaningful haul! Do you have any of these items in your collection? Let me know your thoughts!

Sarah xo

Thursday 27 November 2014

Product Review: Eye of Horus Eyeliner

I've really been getting into coloured liners lately, especially along my lower lashline -- it's easy to do when you're short on time, and it gets fun when you've got a bright colour that lasts all day! With this in mind, I picked up three eyeliners from Eye of Horus when I went to Beautiful You in September. I hadn't heard of the brand before, but something about the name drew me in -- perhaps just the name itself?

Eye of Horus is an Australian-owned company that focuses on cruelty-free eye makeup: mascara, a liquid liner and a myriad of pencil liners. They've also got synthetic brushes, sharpeners and sunglasses. They may not have any shadows, but that's where the pencil liners come in -- colours so bold and long-lasting that you can use them as a shadow as well, which becomes waterproof and smudge-proof after thirty seconds.

How could I resist?

Eye of Horus Eyeliners - "Emerald Tabula", "Nubian Brown", "Teal Malachite"

These pencils normally retail for $30 each, which is on the pricier end of a liner -- it's more expensive than some of those put out there by Too Faced, Stila and Smashbox, but cheaper than NARS, Bobbi Brown, Chantecaille and By Terry. There was a special at the Beautiful You expo that allowed me to purchase three liners for $50 -- bargain!

I did think about getting the Charcoal Obsidian (aka black) pencil, but then I thought about how 90% of my eye liners are black and how I really didn't need another black eye liner.

Colour it was.

I opted for Nubian Brown (a really cool, matte light brown), Teal Malachite (a vivid metallic blue), and Emerald Tabula (a dark matte green). All of the eyeliners run really nicely along the skin (does that even make sense?) and it reminds me somewhat of the Too Faced bulletproof eyeliner. Thing that I prefer about these, however, is that they won't be used up too quickly. I've noticed that the Too Faced eyeliner is so creamy and soft that it will blunt and be used up in next to no time at all -- this doesn't happen as much with the Eye of Horus liners, but you still get amazing pigmentation.

Eye of Horus Eyeliners - "Emerald Tabula", "Nubian Brown", "Teal Malachite"

The product is dual-ended, with the pencil-shaped crayon liner on one end and a smudging tool on the other. I find that the tool works rather well, although it does sheer out the colour just a touch -- but honestly, I'd expect that. You may have to work relatively quickly, as the product is supposed to set within thirty seconds, but it is doable if you're confident -- even for Beauty Padawans.

Is the product waterproof? To a degree. We've had some wicked rainfall in the last week and, thankfully, it's stayed in place! (The only thing worse than running mascara is running teal eyeliner -- no thanks, I'll skip on that). That being said, it's not stubborn to remove, and I find that plain old reliable Micellar Water gets it off just fine.

It is smudgeproof? I'm going to go with yes, for the most part. Let's get real here: if you rub your eye like you're kneading dough, it's not going to stay on like permanent tattoo ink, but the smudging is very minor. Considering I have eyelids greasier than a BP oil slick, anything that doesn't budge gets the thumbs up from me!

Can you use this as an all-over lid colour? Absolutely, but you might get through the pencil relatively quickly if you keep doing so. The life of the product will be extended if you use the smudging tool, obviously, as you'll use less, but if you want that little extra kick of vibrancy, you may not want to. I won't rule out using it as a shadow in the future, but I'll mostly stick to using it as a liner.

How well does it last? Oh Nellie, it keeps on going like a brand new car with a full tank of petrol. While the liner does mute just the slightest in colour over time, it is by no means faded -- I like to wear these along my lower lashline and they can keep going for over twelve hours without a problem.

In my opinion, these liners from Eye of Horus are a collection with which you cannot go wrong. If you want really beautiful colours and a decent wear time, this is a line worth trying. Of course, $30 may be a little bit more than you might be willing to pay, but Eye of Horus currently has a Christmas Goddess Gift Box available that contains a mascara, gold metallic tattoos, your choice of two eyeliners, a sharpener and a golden ankh necklace for $79! It's great value, especially when you consider that the two eye pencils plus the mascara would cost you $95.

Padawan Product Rating: A

Have you tried any of the liners from Eye of Horus?

Sarah xo

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Makeup Revolution Haul!

About 65 million years ago, I started eyeballing the Makeup Revolution site the same way Sméagol eyeballed the Ring -- this is 100% the fault of Jess from Pretty Chit Chat, whose amazing looks with their products caught everyone's eyes. Roughly 20 million years later, my mother said to me, "Hey, I'll buy you some stuff! Here's a budget, see what you can get!" Of course, when I'd mentioned to her that I had my eye on one or two eye shadow palettes, there was no way she could've known that I meant the majority of them. I restrained myself, however, kept myself within the budget -- and my incredibly exciting glut of eye shadow arrived in due time!

Even though I got these about a month ago, it's never too late to do a haul post... right? I'll eventually have individual reviews and swatches for these palettes up as well, so stay tuned for those!

Makeup Revolution Eyes Like Angels Palette; Makeup Revolution Matte Brights Palette

Eyes Like Angels Palette -- $14.47 || This palette has 32 gorgeously colourful shades, ranging from blues to pinks, creams to a magnificent orange. The packaging is made of a sturdy, hard black plastic with an amazing huge mirror and is housed in a shiny silver box. Both the box and the palette were a little difficult to open -- the box isn't necessarily a problem if you don't care for keeping it, but you have to get your fingers underneath the palette clasp if you want to open it: fingernails won't cut it -- in fact, the palette will probably cut your fingernails! For the most part, these eye shadows are metallic and frosty, velvety to the touch. The only downside for me were some of the more matte shades, which could be a touch powdery and didn't swatch quite as well.

Matte Brights Palette -- $7.24 || This palette is a collection of 12 bright matte colours, ranging from white to green. Compared to some of the other matte shadows I've swatched, these were quite nice. As usual, the colours are really bright, which is what tempted me to purchase this palette to begin with. The orange and the yellow in particular were amazing, but the grey and the last green could've been much better. This palette didn't come in any packaging, but the clasp was the easiest to open of the lot.

Makeup Revolution Salvation Palette: Welcome to the Pleasuredome; Makeup Revolution Salvation Palette: Colour Chaos; Makeup Revolution Salvation Palette: Girls on Film; Makeup Revolution Salvation Palette: Give Them Nightmares

Salvation Palette: Welcome to the Pleasuredome -- $10.86 || It was the blues and greens in this palette that drew me in -- in a crowd of neutrals, they really stand out. The six mattes aren't too bad, they weren't as chalky as some others. The box and the palette itself were very difficult to open, however, and at first I had to commission my brother to do the honours until I worked out the little trick with the fingers.

Salvation Palette: Colour Chaos -- $10.86 || I bought this because, in my mind, it kinda resembled the Urban Decay Electric Palette, but without the roughly $90 price tag that the Electric Palette brings. Now, if you wanted to buy one palette with bright colours, this would be the one to get. The metallic are bold and beautiful, and even the mattes, though not up to par with the metallic formula, amazing to swatch. I, honest to goodness, cannot wait to test-run these shadows.

Salvation Palette: Girls on Film -- $10.86 || This palette is full of absolutely gorgeous neutrals -- with Frenzy All Down Your Spine being my favourite of the lot. The mattes were the best I'd seen in all of the palettes; their formula felt a bit more like that of the metallic. I think you could easily do both day and night looks with this palette, and go from one to the other with ease.

Salvation Palette: Give Them Nightmares -- $10.86 || So this palette... It was this palette that prompted me along to really check out Makeup Revolution in the first place! This super-pigmented palette has some really awesome shades, including hands-down what is the best black shadow I have ever come across. Friday the 13th is supposed to be a shimmer shade, but I can barely detect any shimmer whatsoever -- it's better than the actual matte black shade, Darkness. Although the shades are all really dark, I'd be really interested in trying to come up with an easy, light daytime look.

I Heart Makeup #Selfie Palette; I Heart Makeup I Heart Chocolate Palette; I Heart Makeup Makeup Geek Palette

I ♡ Makeup #Selfie Palette -- $9.03 || How could I resist a palette with hashtag selfie written all over it? After enjoying a TV show with the same name, it was inevitable that this would be in my shopping cart. This palette is smaller than my phone -- perhaps about the size of an iPod Touch -- but it contains ten really pigmented shades. From looking at it, it actually reminds me of the Urban Decay Naked palettes, although as I own approximately none of them, I couldn't tell you which one -- perhaps the original one. This palette came with a free mini eye primer, which I think will be exciting to use.

I ♡ Makeup I Heart Chocolate Palette -- $14.46 || This is supposed to be something of a dupe for the Too Faced Chocolate Bar for a fraction of the cost. Just looking at it, I can see all the markers for that: the chocolate bar design, the layout of the palette, even some of the colours. The clasp isn't anywhere near as tough as the other palettes, to the point where I would not be comfortable with keeping it outside of the box. I'll be very interested to do a comparative review with the Chocolate Bar palette later on down the line.

I ♡ Makeup Makeup Geek Palette -- $14.46 || This was a palette that I was very excited to buy and try, but unfortunately it came a little smashed up! Three of the 36 shades were crumbled and broken, and although Makeup Revolution linked me to a customer service page to fix it up when I contacted them, I've heard that you can fix it with rubbing alcohol, so I'll give that a try. There aren't any shade names for this palette, which is quite a shame -- I could understand it for a smaller palette, but it will be hard to keep track of colours for this particular palette.

That's it for my Makeup Revolution haul! As you can see, I got more eye shadow than I will likely ever use up in five lifetimes, but I am going to have a crazy amount of fun playing with all of it! (I may also bribe some cousins of mine to practice on them, too!) Even if I don't use it all up, will I buy from Makeup Revolution in the future? You can bet your bottom dollar I will. The whole process was effortless and painless, and because I spent over a certain amount, I was able to get my inexpensive shipping upgraded to tracked shipping for free! I was able to see where my parcel was at all times -- and that journey is sometimes half the fun of ordering from overseas!

Do you have any of these palettes? How do you like them? What do you think of Makeup Revolution on the whole? Let me know your thoughts!

Sarah xo

Monday 24 November 2014

12 Day Blogger Challenge - A Few Dos and Don'ts of Family History

The final day of the 12 Day Blogger Challenge -- huzzah! The final challenge was to freestyle, so I thought about all the types of posts that I could do. Beauty reviews, some kind of Tutorial-ish... I wasn't sure. Then I decided I ought to do something rather different, something a bit more lifestyle and about something that I know a bit about.

Family history.

I have always said that if I do anything for a career, it would be professional genealogy. I will always say it, it's the true love of my hobbies. I'm not a member of any societies, I'm not up to professional scratch -- but I've been doing it for almost ten years so I've learned a thing or two.

So, if you were interested in starting research into your family tree -- or even in just keeping an online record while Great Aunt Flossie still remembers it all -- here are a few of...

If you're new to the family history business, here are a few things to keep in mind...

This seems like the most obvious step, but it's important to enter your information as soon as you get and there are a lot of choices out there. My favourite, and the favourite of many, is that of Ancestry. Although, like with most services, you need to pay to view records, you can sign up and create a tree for free -- and unlike other tree-building services, there is no limit to the amount of people you can add. From there, you can download the app on your phone, and, if you like, purchase software for your PC or laptop.

Alternative websites include Family Echo, Genes Reunited, and MyHeritage.

You'd be amazed to find out what people know, especially when together in a group. In addition to your parents and any living grandparents, have some one-on-one chats with aunts, uncles and cousins. If you're in touch with extended family members, all the better! If you're like me and have some family members who are terrible at remembering names, ask their spouse or partner -- they might be the memory bank you need! With a pen and notepad in front of you (or a napkin, if like me you're seized with inspiration at a café), jot down notes to simple questions that you ask, such as:

"What were your uncles' and aunts' names?"
"Were they related by you on through your mum or your dad?"
"Did they have any kids? Do you remember when they were born?"
"Were they older or younger than you?"
"Did they have any nicknames?"

Make sure beforehand that relatives are okay with answering these questions. Not everyone is as gossipy as Cousin Margot or as open as Uncle Paul -- sometimes people go through painful periods in their life that they just cannot bring themselves to talk about. If you're not good with note-taking on the spot, you can always record what they're saying -- but make sure you ask them first!

The truth is that you don't always need a pain subscription to start you off with your family history research. If you know where to look and are capable of putting the clues together, you can often piece a certain amount of info together for free -- it's all about having multiple tabs open and a notepad at the ready!

The amount of information that you'll find will vary from state to state. New South Wales, for example, is my favourite in terms of searching. You can do quick and easy searches, get basic info (e.g. parents or spouse, the year the event took place) and then pay a fee if you want them to mail you a copy of the certificate. Victoria, on the other hand... I don't know what it is with the government -- I think it's legislation, although I haven't taken the time to figure it out -- but you have to pay to do so much as view search results, which I think is outrageous. (There is, however, a way around it, which I will get to a bit later.) But whether or not you live there, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, or Tasmania -- or even outside Australia -- there is always information ready to be discovered in government records.

If the library in your area is any good, it should have a section dedicated to family history. This is a particular bonus if your family have lived in the same area for a few generations, as you'll be able to glimpse into what your town looked like when your ancestors lived there. The library should also be able to provide you access to a number of family history services -- such as Ancestry Library Edition, which does allow you to search for family history records in Victoria.

This seems like a strange one, but sometimes I've picked up a few ideas about where to find information. It's always interesting to watch these if you particularly like the celebrity focused on in the episode, but it's an extra bonus if they happen to be from the same state as you. Seeing them utilise record collections that you weren't aware of can give you a new place to look; seeing techniques employed by the professionals can change the way you approach your research. Who Do You Think You Are? also likes to provide historical context, which is important if you want to really get a feel for what life was like for your ancestors.

Of course, it's inevitable that there will be bumps along the way, so...

You might find yourself so enthusiastic about your family history that you feel like it might actually be worth your money to pay for a subscription -- it's important however, to know what your money is giving you. The majority of subscriptions give you a clear overview of what you're able to access based on how much you're willing to pay, but it can be tempting to get carried away. If you know that your family's lived in one country for hundreds of years, do you need worldwide access? Sure, a 12-month subscription will give you the best value, but are you going to research your tree constantly for a whole year? It might be better for you to pay for a month at a time, or even select a "Pay As You Go" credit option, where you pay a small amount to view a select number of records.

Remember what I said earlier about probing family members for information? Don't dismiss anything your cousins or second cousins might have to say just because you don't have the exact same genetic line. One of them may hold the clue to an elusive great-great-grandparent that's been brick-walling you!

Nicknames are cool to discover amongst your ancestors -- they were often a common occurrence, especially when there were multiple people in the family with the same name. So, say you had a great-grandfather named Edward Metallica (this was a name conjured completely from my imagination and had nothing to do with the Metallica CD next to me). He may have been called Edward. He may also have been called Ed, Ned, Ted or Woody -- such nicknames were definitely around. If you're looking for an elusive marriage certificate or searching for him in census records and coming up blank, it may be worth doing a search with his nickname instead -- it could be the breakthrough you needed.

If you're digging around on your family tree, it is every bit likely that your seventh cousin four times removed -- who you never knew existed but definitely does -- is doing the same thing, along with many other distant relatives all connected to you thanks to one person. If you're using a system such as Ancestry, which allows you to sync information from other public trees into yours, it can become very tempting to sync first and ask questions later. The problem with this, however, is that there may be inconsistences or incorrect information that is passed along because it is believed to be true -- simply because some stranger said so. This doesn't mean that people are intentionally putting out incorrect information, but they may have looked at A and B and pulled out E instead of C.

It's good that the family trees are available, and they're definitely worth a look at, but don't make them your primary source. Check the dates, see if they line up. If they record extra siblings that you weren't aware existed, look for records that prove it.

Family history magazines are amazing, but sometimes they're not relevant to your searches. I've been tempted many times to purchase an issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine or Discover Your Ancestors Magazine because it has a freebie or because it's announced some exciting new collection. -- But why should I if I'm not actually getting anything out of it? Check the covers for information on the areas and time periods you want to register, whether it's wartime Australia or Victorian London or a particular area in general, such as Gloucester. Then, have a flick through to the page to make sure the content is relevant. If it feels like you've hit a jackpot, that's awesome! If you haven't, or you're not sure, you can save yourself a bit of money by not buying it -- and, if you want, you can check your local library, because it's possible that they might have the magazine for you to borrow and read.

I hope that some of these tips prove useful to you if you feel like digging into your family history! Have you built your own family tree? How far back have you gone?

Sarah xo

Sunday 23 November 2014

Beauty Swap with Confessions of a Beauty School Dropout

Ages ago (so, probably really not that long ago), Danielle of Confessions of a Beauty School Dropout told me about a new line of matte lipsticks that Maybelline had brought out, and, because they were so cheap, she offered to send me some. I jumped at the chance because, naturally, even drugstore products here can be three times the price. (It is a travesty and we have despaired accordingly.)

I offered to send her some brands that she wasn't able to get in the US and before we knew it, we'd somehow inadvertently organised a beauty swap! I packed some stuff up in a box and shipped it to her -- you can read about it here! I got my package a couple of weeks ago (just at the right time, too, with all of my uni shenanigans) and I was so excited, I completely forgot that I'd answered the door at 11 in the morning still in my nightie with cats on it.

Cat nighties are cool.

This was my pretty much my face when I got the parcel.

I feel like Gushica from Bachie 2014.
I got changed and put on makeup first.

Danielle had promised me one or two American snacks, and yet I got all this!

Hello fat life!
I haven't been able to try all of the snacks at this time -- I'm trying to stagger them out for full enjoyment -- but I'll totally give my short thoughts on what I have tried so far!

1) Pop-Tarts || Oh. My. GLOB. I know that Pop-Tarts are an American staple, but here they are a delicacy. They were available for a short time when I was wee kid but they disappeared quickly. They've been available at an extortionist's price at international food stores for years, but they've recently reappeared on supermarket shelves, albeit not with the wide variety of flavours the US are used to -- but either way, hallelujah! I don't know what flavour Danielle has sent me -- I want to guess either chocolate or strawberry -- but I am so, so excited for a quiet morning to stick these bad boys in my toaster. Probably tomorrow.

2) Cupcakes || "Hey Danielle," I typed one day whilst balancing this delicious little thing on my head, "what are those little chocolate cakes you sent me?" "They're called Cupcakes!" she replied, most likely amused. These I have eaten. And they are delicious. First off: the icing is awesome. It's better than some of the abominations I've made in the past. Second of all: cream! The cake has mock cream in the middle! This is something I've actually done with my own cupcakes, but I've never seen them in anything you can buy!

3) Twinkies || Do these even need an introduction? They sure do, if you mistakenly thought, like me, that Twinkies were some kind of chocolate bar. (Maybe it's because I heard Americans deep fry them and here, if you're very lucky, your local fish and chip shop might deep fry Mars bars -- so, y'know, ipso facto chocolate bar). As it turns out, they're not. They're a sweet kind of sponge cake with... wait for it... mock cream inside. Isn't America a wonderful place? These are yum, but not an everyday snack for me.

4) Wonka Rainbow Nerds || Holy mackerel. I know you used to be able to get giant packs of nerds at the supermarket, but I haven't seen them at my local Woolies for a long time. Nerds were a thing of my childhood, and I've been reliving my childhood by chowing down on them!

5) Wonka Mini Chewy Sweet Tarts || Not gonna lie, I have no idea what these are. They remind me of these kinds of lollies that you can get from one of those lollie "vending" machines by inserting 20 cents, but given that these are chewy... I haven't tried these yet, but they are definitely the item that made me the most curious.

6) 3 Musketeers || So, the thing about this chocolate bar: it's almost, but not quite, a large Milky Way. The nougat isn't quite as light and fluffy -- its density does kind of fit that more of a Mars bar (look at me, talking like I know what I'm talking about). It was quite a tasty snack, and totally helped me get through one of my many late nights in the last couple of weeks.

7) Air Heads || I can't lie, I have no idea what these are either. I haven't tried them yet, but they seem to be some kind of fruit-flavoured lolly. The name is familiar, so it is very possible that the supermarket sells these and I've somehow ignored them for the last twenty-odd years.

8) Milky Way || Okay, so I haven't eaten this -- yet -- but let me tell you: this is basically a Mars bar. The wrapper description lists nougat and caramel, and that's pretty much a Mars bar! If it's as good as a Mars bar, it is going to be delicious.

9) Rice Krispies Treats || In Australia, Rice Krispies are called Rice Bubbles. We also have these Rice Krispie Treats in Australia, but a) they're not as big, and b) they're called LCMs (nobody in Australia actually knows why). I actually think that these are more delicious than the ones we have here; I think the recipe for LCMs here may have changed over the years, because the Treats that Danielle sent me reminded me of the ones I used to eat as a kid when they first came out.

10) Twix || We have Twix bars in Australia, but they definitely do not come in a four pack. Twix bars were my absolute favourite sweet when I was a little kid and I haven't had one in a long time, so it was good to relive that bit of my childhood again.

11) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups || The thing that made Americans famous in Australia. You cannot buy Hershey's anything at your regular supermarket here. You can get them for the price of a small Caribbean island at an international sweet shop, but that's about it. I have paid the price for several Caribbean islands over the years for these bad boys. Yes, I have devoured these, and yes, they were delicious.

12) Butterfinger || Okay. So. The thing about the Butterfinger. This is, singlehandedly, the best frickin' thing to come out of the US. Period. I don't know what I expecting as I bit into it -- soft peanut butter mix, I guess, something like a peanut butter Snickers or the peanut butter Kit Kat Chunky bars we used to have (but no longer can get because whenever Australia gets anything fun, we get rid of it). Butterfingers are infinitely better. It's crunchy -- and not like crunchy peanut butter, but like... Peppermint Crisp crunchy. Like Crunchie crunchy. It was incredible! I think my brain short-circuited for a moment in pure unadulterated happiness. I am definitely going to hunt these down from the international sweet shops.

In addition to all of the snacks that Danielle sent me, she also included all of these makeup goodies!

1) Wet 'n' Wild Color Icon Blusher - "Mellow Wine" || Huzzah, Wet 'n' Wild! Here, it's not a cosmetic brand, it's a famous waterpark. This blush is a kind of deep dusty rose pink. You definitely need to use it with a very light hand, because the payoff is easy and you can definitely overdo it if you're not careful.

2) Wet 'n' Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Collection - "Comfort Zone" || This is a really neat little palette with an apparent multitude of uses! It has shadows which are embossed with the area that they're to be used - crease, browbone, etc. The shadows are velvety to touch, have good payoff and are easy to blend. Winning!

3) Maybelline Color Sensational Creamy Mattes - "Divine Wine" and "Craving Coral" || These lipsticks are the prize winners for me. I cannot wait for them to come to Australia at an insanely ridiculous price so that I can find them on sale and buy the lot. "Divine Wine" goes on like a dream and looks absolutely beautiful. "Craving Coral" is a bit uneven and can take a little more work, but the end result is just as good. They both do look matte whilst feeling very creamy on the lips. Plus how cute is the packaging?!

Maybelline Creamy Matte Lipsticks
Swatchy swatch
 Wearing "Divine Wine" (left) and "Craving Coral" (right - somebody call Vogue).

 Back to the stash!

4) Wet 'n' Wild H2O Proof Liquid Liner || Danielle told me that this liner was seriously waterproof, and that she uses olive oil to get it off. My eyelids are naturally oilier than a BP slick, so I was curious to test it out. The applicator isn't a brush or a pen, so I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, but it does the job well. The colour is good, and it tends to last all day. One thing I have noticed, however, is that sometimes it transfer onto my lid! I can safely say that I've never had a liner do that before.

5) Maybelline The Elixir - "Fuchsia Flourish" || I have this in "Signature Scarlet" and although it is super glossy, it does tend to feather and bleed on me after a bit. I haven't tried out this colour yet, but I'm hoping it won't be the same -- it probably won't be, as the softer the colour, the less it feathers. (I don't know why that is.) These in Australia approach the $20 and we have a mere 12 shades -- by comparison, in the US they're half the price and have an incredible 20 shade options. ("Don't be jelly, Linda.")

6) Wet 'n' Wild Color Icon Eyeshadow Palette - "Smoke and Melrose" || This, like the larger palette, is a really gorgeous, velvety palette with embossed pans. I think the browbone colour might be a bit dark for me, but until I wear it, I won't know for sure. I think this will make a really beautiful look which I, for one, am super excited to try.

7) NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil - "Milk" || I think I shrieked when I saw this. NYX is available in Australia from Target, but there's only one store in my area and it's NYX collection is... abysmal at best -- plus it's more than twice the price. A lot of the blogs or YouTubers that I regularly read/watch have this eye pencil and I always wished I had one of my own. Now I do and I'm as happy as a dancing flamingo!

The stuff that Danielle sent me is absolutely amazing and now that uni is over for another year, I'm going to have so much fun playing with everything! I've been so lucky to get all of these items from her, as well as to have her as such incredible friend.

Don't forget to head over to Confessions of a Beauty School Dropout to see what I sent over to her!

Sarah xo

Saturday 22 November 2014

12 Day Blogger Challenge - 3 Things That I Have Been Loving Lately

While taking a small hiatus from blogging to try and finish off the rest of my university assignments, there have been a few things that I've needed to help me get through the last couple of weeks.

Whether it's been music or the occasional episode of TV, everybody needs some kind of stress relief during their busiest time of the year, and these have been my Top 3 favourites!

Ugly Heart - G.R.L.

It takes me a long time to jump onto the bandwagon as far as music is concerned, but since I found this song, I haven't been able to stop listening! I played it when I needed an energy pick-me-up, when I had steam to let off and when I just felt like dancing! It's such a catchy song, I've been playing it a lot over the last few weeks.

Selfie (TV show)

Remember my favourite quote from Day 3 of this challenge? It all links back to Selfie, a comedy starring Karen Gillan and John Cho. Gillan plays Eliza, a social-media-obsessed narcissist with poor real-life social skills. Cho plays Henry, a marketing strategist who has no clue about social media but has the tools to better Eliza's image. It's been cancelled, which is a damn shame because it's kept getting better and better as the show progressed. Over 25,000 people have signed a petition to save the show and while it probably won't get change anything, every signature makes the petition one signature better.

Death in Paradise (TV show)

You know I love crime shows, right? The more complex the murder, the darker it is, the happier I am. I've occasionally played this in the background whilst studying because, for whatever reason, I like to think that it might sharpen up my thinking skills. The show is about a grumpy Englishman who gets shipped off to the fictitious tropical island Saint-Marie in the Caribbean to solve the murder of the police chief -- and then gets stuck there. He hates the hot weather, he hates the sand, he's constantly in a full suit, but he always gets the bad guy. I can't lie, I've usually gotten the bad guy too. It's fun trying to guess who the killer is! Of course, now there's a new lead on the show -- another Englishmen who is absolutely loving the Caribbean life but is completely clumsy.

What three things have you been loving lately?

Sarah xo

Friday 21 November 2014

12 Day Blogger Challenge - A Day in the Life

The challenge set by Amy of Style Storms for Day 10 of the 12 Day Blogger Challenge has been a difficult one -- "a day in the life". I wasn't completely sure what that meant, so when I went out yesterday I decided to take a couple of photos as I went along. Of course, lugging a camera around when all you really need to do is pay a few library fines (oops!) is cumbersome, but luckily I had my phone sent in for repairs earlier this week and now my beloved camera works again!

Be prepared for some dodgy camera quality fun.


So my day kind of technically started at 2am, by ending the day before! It had been a warm night, just warm enough to make sleep uncomfortable -- so I decided to watch some TV in bed instead. I caught up on some Bones -- does anyone else like how it's been throwing back to the early seasons? -- and by the time I'd finished a few episodes, I had somehow cooled enough to sleep.


Masquerading my zombie face with makeup.
By this stage, I had woken and dressed (o sleep! How thou dost avoid me!), and was on my way to the train station. With my mother having to attend a conference in the city, I was going to uni the long way 'round -- but oddly the train didn't get too packed. It's very unusual for that to happen in the morning rush hour, so I'm not sure if our carriage was lucky or if everyone was having a lie-in.

What was I wearing? My trusty jeans, a short grey dress with a wide belt, and a long grey cardigan -- because I didn't care if the weather was supposed to be 28, I wasn't risking being exposed to a sudden cold front. It's also worth noting that on my lips I'd applied Rimmel Provocalips in "Play With Fire". You'll later see why.


A sushi bar and a juice bar?! WHAT IS LIFE?
By this stage I was buying some chicken fingers for breakfast (what is clean eating?) at the Woolies in the train station -- and do you know how fancy this shiz is? They have sushi and juice and a café plus all of these super awesome lunch deals that I passed over in favour of the Food of Gods (chicken fingers, yo!) -- it is SO swish. Of course, even your most basic stuff is sometimes more expensive than a regular Safeway because of location, but when you need food, you need food!

From there I trammed it all the way to uni. It's a long journey, but I had a book and a couple of TV shows on my tablet to keep me company.


In front of my favourite section!
Fines paid for -- all $10 of it -- I thought it might be a good idea to wander around the library for the last time. If I weren't supposed to graduate this year, I probably would've borrowed half a dozen books or so to read over the holidays! My university has an excellent history selection, and I had to visit my favourite section one final time, 100% for old times sake and not because I was wondering if I might be able to just buy the books from the library.

"So which period of history is worth bankrupting yourself for?" I hear you ask.

Lady Jane Grey
Queen Mary I
Queen Elizabeth I
Ta-dah! Tudor history! With Lady Jane in particular being my spirit animal, I've often come to these shelves to be at one with the universe whenever I've needed new reading material. Maybe it's a book-lover's thing.

Except where this lot are concerned. Whilst roaming around, hoping for a glimpse of The Mysteries of Udolpho, I stumbled across my old nemesis, My Brother Jack. I was supposed to study this book in high school and I hated it -- so much so that when I found out, two chapters in, that we weren't actually going to be assessed on it at the end of the year, I threw out my copy and point blank refused to do any more work related to it.


Oh, y'know, just some wild cockatoos.
Time to leave... forever! (Cue the sad violins.) I walked past the cockatoos without really seeing them, just thinking in my own ridiculous way that they were somehow just part of the grass. That was, until one of them moved and scared the bejeezus out of me. Seriously. The shriek that came from me was probably half-human at best.
I'd also made up my mind on an important point. Remember the Provocalips I mentioned earlier? I wanted it off. I didn't feel like wearing it anymore. -- But of course, trying to take the stuff off is almost impossible, so after a disastrous session in the loo with some wet paper towels, I simply reapplied it and made up my mind to buy some makeup wipes from Woolies.
And so I did. And I headed to the restroom.
It took me a good five minutes to rub that stuff off -- and the wipes I use can take off waterproof mascara with relative ease. Luckily I had a lip treatment in my handbag that I could apply. Never leave home without a lip treatment!


Sugar Station aka Heaven
I left the restroom and immediately spotted... nirvana! Sugar Station is a chain with stores dotted all over the city -- it's one of those ones where you can get mostly international sweets, as well as pay-by-weight scoop stations (you know what I mean, right?). This one is probably the second-smallest I've walked into, but it was full of so much amazing stuff. Just for instance: I saw a jar of Reese's actual Peanut Butter.
Who knew that was even a thing?!
I was almost tempted to buy some, buuut I bought a Wonka Nerdalicious instead.
It was delicious.


When taking a selfie for the purposes of IG at a tram stop, try to make as un-selfie a face as possible.
I decided it would be an awesome idea to meet my mum and stepdad for lunch, but the first of the two wasn't breaking until 1 and it was kinda too warm for hanging around -- so that naturally meant that I should go for a milkshake at the churro place.


San Churro!
This place is amazing. It's not cheap, especially if you decide that you want multiple items from the menu, but it is the perfect place for a treat if you're going with friends -- or just yourself, for that matter.
A treat like this.
Walking on a slightly too warm day when you're a person who's not overly keen on weather that's too warm makes you... very warm. Warm enough to not only order the Cookie Cha Cha milkshake you had every intention of buying, but also a San Churro Sundae.
It's definitely a bit much if you weren't all that hungry to begin with.
It was so good, though.


Brother/sister selfie - a common occurrence.
My mother's meeting was running late, and I had kind of fatigued myself by eating so much (lazy life!), so I thought I'd better head home. My brother Daniel came and picked me up from the train station, and from there the rest of my day was relatively mundane.
I watched several episodes of a new TV show I've been meaning to try -- and it's alright. It's not a bad show, by any means, but I haven't taken a particular shine like I have with most others.
I took my makeup off and applied it fresh for work. I went to work. It dragged a little. I went home. I knitted a little bit, worked on some blog posts... the typical Thursday night stuff


Coolest PJs ever.
And that brings me to the end of the night! Dressed in, quite honestly, the best PJ-related investment anyone in the world could make, it was time for me to do a final bit of late-night reading before getting some shut eye!
That's it for my "day in the life" post -- it's without a doubt probably the strangest, most difficult post I've ever had to write. I can't lie, I'm kind of glad it's over -- there really isn't very much to my life! So, instead, tell m a bit about yours: how was your day today?
Sarah xo