Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick Review

Glowy! Dewy! Shimmery! Goddess-y! All natural-y! These are the things we hope and dream of from adopting highlighter into our lives. The aim of the game is to look healthy and luminous.

Before we continue any further, however, I should preface with some shocking information; I have had the same highlighter since I was 15 years old (aka for 10 years). As in, not just using the same brand, the same exact product. Yup. You can tuck your eyeballs back into their sockets now. While that highlighter had been loved for this entire decade, I knew it was time for an upgrade as I had gone beyond hitting pan and the lid was no longer attached (oops). It just so happened that at this time, Hourglass’ new Vanish Flash Highlighting Sticks had JUST been released! Ready for a fresh start, I moved my little legs as fast as they could take me into the nearest Mecca, swiped this beauty on the back of my hand and in an instant I was sold.

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No flash. Au naturel (aka no filters or editing).

I brought ‘Champagne Flash’ home with me. This stick of gorgeousness gives such a natural luminosity it’s hard to put into words (check out pics below!). In terms of the packaging, the highlighter comes as a wind-up stick in shiny silver. It feels sturdy and looks gorgeous, but the only downside I’d point out is that it is sooo easy to smudge and can look dirty in an instant just from the natural oils in your fingertips.

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The formula is buttery and creamy, is chunk-free and blends into the face easily and seamlessly. Personally, I simply swipe my finger over the stick and dab where I need to dab – plus, the warmth of my finger really helps it to melt into my skin! Simply gorg.

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One layer is all I need for that natural luminous glow we all desire. Extra love for this product as a little bit goes a loooonggg way!

Have a look at this.

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And this!

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And this.

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Sometimes I question why I didn’t pursue a career in modelling (also please don’t judge my post-gym sweaty hair. Or my wonderful, tidy background. Am I the best at taking/styling blog photos, or what?). And no, this is not leftover sweat from my workout, this is alllll Hourglass Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick baby!

If you’re looking for a new highlighter, I highly recommend checking out this range. There’s a few colour choices depending on your skin tone and what you’re looking for! I am just in love with ‘Champagne Flash’. A Vanish Flash Highlighting Stick will set you back $61.00AUD.

Have you tried Hourglass’ new Vanish Flash Highlighting Sticks yet? If so, let us know what you think down in the comments!

Alix x

PEANUT BUTTER BAR

It didn’t take much persuasion to get my booty over to the Peanut Butter Bar in Leichhardt, Sydney. My life flashed before my eyes when I saw their video pop up on Facebook, featuring a brownie being drowned in peanut butter from an ever-flowing PEANUT BUTTER TAP. That’s right, you heard (read) me – peanut butter on freakin’ tap.

Upon further investigation, I discovered that this place is in fact HEALTHY? Dishes bumped up with extra protein, decadent desserts made out of pumpkin and dates and coconut milk… of course, not everything on their menu follows this protocol, but for argument’s sake, we won’t focus on those.

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I convinced a pal to come with me, and we weren’t even swayed by the torrential downpours, sudden peak-winter temperature and 1 hour bus journey. We were excited for peanut butter, and no-one and nothing would stand in our way.

Off the bus, lured by the siren of PB (but mostly so we didn’t get soaked from the rain), we sprinted into the café. The decor is very interesting; the walls are donned with brightly painted murals and quotes from sporting greats (see pic for their subtle ode to Arnie). Admittedly it wasn’t quite what I was expecting! But they certainly are aiming for their clientele; this seems like the place to go once you’ve finished a hardcore session in the gym and are after a ‘healthier’ treat.

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Feeling a bit out of place, we made our order: salted peanut butter and choc chip cookie (with a scoop of their protein ice-cream), peanut butter chocolate lava cake (also featuring a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream) and a vegan berry cashew cheesecake. We didn’t travel all that way to order something measly!

Oh my gooey-ness, the lava cake was INSANE! However, after two bites, it became a bit of a struggle as the dish is incredibly rich! The cookie was okay; with the ice-cream on top it was a dream, but the cookie on its own really wasn’t that great – you could really taste the protein-y-ness (what do you mean that’s not a word? Lies).

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Then there was the vegan cheesecake… oh boy. I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy this one at all! There was hardly any flavour, and the texture wasn’t pleasant. It was basically all mush! The base of the cheesecake seemed to essentially be ground up flaxseed, and the top layer with the berries tasted watery. I know vegan food tends to have a reputation for being fairly flavourless, but I have tried some truly tasty dishes in my time. What a shame this one was a disappointment! We ended up leaving it pretty much untouched.

The highlight from our entire spread was the ice-cream. Ooooh it was yum! And the peanut butter of course, although I really wish there was more of it!

For all of our goodies, it was a total of $41.95. Not the cheapest, yet not the most expensive either.

Unfortunately I left feeling heavy, the food sitting stagnant in my belly, thirsty and with the desire to brush the furries off my teeth. Ah, well! Perhaps if we tried different items off the menu, we would’ve had a better experience, who knows! Alas, I can now say I’ve been there, done that.

Have any of you popped to the Peanut Butter Bar before? If so, what did you think?

Alix x

ASPARAGUS, GOATS CHEESE AND SWEET POTATO FRITTATA

When I think of a frittata, my mind automatically takes me back to my living-in-a-dorm University days. On a Sunday night, the canteen would present to us leftovers from the week… in frittata form. Think stodgy, misshapen and strangely brown lumps (drooling yet?). Needless to say, this skewed my opinion on the classic frittata and turned my previous “ooh yum” into a “get it away from me!!”. This was unfortunate as my dad used to make mind-bogglingly delish frittatas at home growing up!

Well, I am pleased to report that my opinion on frittatas has now officially turned back into a “hell yes!”. What restored my faith is this little guy here:

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Asparagus, goats cheese and sweet potato frittata. Asparagus? Yum. Sweet potato? Yummo. Goats cheese? OH SWEET LORD GET IN MY MOUTH. This combination is a dream, and I paired it up with a nice tangy, peppery radish and rocket salad.

I was SO lucky to be plucked from the masses to win a box of fresh veggies from Matt Moran and his restaurant Chiswick here in Sydney. Included were the asparagus spears and radishes, which is what inspired this whole ensemble!

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To recreate this at home (and I highly recommend you do!), you will need:

INGREDIENTS:
– 6 eggs
– 4 spears of fresh asparagus
– 1/2 a sweet potato
– 1/2 tsp salt
– Cracked black pepper (to taste)
– 20g unsalted butter
– Good quality goats cheese or curd
– Fresh parsley

METHOD:
– Preheat grill in the oven to 180°C
– Boil sweet potato in its skin. Once it’s cooked through, drain and put aside to cool
– Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and dice into cubes
– Slice the asparagus spears on an angle (into ~4-5 segments each spear. Remember to chuck the woody bottoms!)
– Place the asparagus in a small saucepan and pour boiling water over the top
– Lightly whisk the eggs with the salt and pepper and chopped parsley (a good pinch)
– Melt the butter in a non-stick pan (be sure not to let the butter brown)
– Pour your egg mixture in, drain your asparagus and then scatter them in the pan along with the sweet potato
– Turn the heat down, and let it cook for a few minutes until the sides set (approx 2-3 mins)
– Place the pan under the grill and allow to cook until the top is nice and golden, and the edges have slightly puffed up
– Ease the frittata out of the pan with a spatula and pop onto a plate – top with goats cheese, extra parsley and cracked black pepper

Et voilà! It’s so incredibly light and simple, but don’t be fooled – it’s mightily delicious.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know if you whip it up at home!

Alix xx

MILK_SHAKE SENSORIAL MINT SHAMPOO & CONDITIONER

My hair: an ongoing, uphill battle to de-slick, de-frizz and de-tangle. The top half of my head is prone to grease, and my dyed ends are inclined to become scraggly and dry. To my delight, I have two completely different problems on one noggin! I felt compelled to write this blog post today, as I bared witness to the full power of these two bottles of magic. Upfront I just want to say, THANK YOU MILK_SHAKE. Thank you for being the best and just an all-round good reliable pal!

Okay, taking a step back, let me tell you a tale: a vibrantly red, sweaty girl (me) waddles home post-workout, 4 days into not washing her locks (cute). A shower! Yes. That’s what she needs. She proceeds to the bathroom, excited to feel so fresh and so clean (clean). She takes out her hair lacky and… her eyes widen in horror. Her jaw drops in disbelief. Her hair hasn’t budged. It stayed slick in the same pony-tail shape! Yikes.

In case I wasn’t clear enough, this story is about yours truly. And so, to kick this grease in the butt, I definitely needed something heavy duty! Enter: Milk_Shake’s Sensorial Mint Shampoo & Conditioner.

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I stumbled across this dynamic duo about 1.5 months ago, and at the time there wasn’t much online to tattle on how good (or bad) they were. However, I’m familiar with the brand and absolutely adore their Whipped Cream Leave-In Conditioner (seriously, if you haven’t heard of this stuff, I 2000% encourage you to do a swift google or give it a try. It’s pure heaven!), so I took a leap of faith and chucked them in my lil basket.

I was eager to try something new, something earth-friendly. The bottles are not only eye-catching and calming to look at, but they are also biodegradable. Win. The organic minty-ness is there not only to make your nostrils happy, but to help stimulate hair growth and revitalise your hair and scalp. Double win. Also containing sage and fruit extracts of papaya, raspberry, mango and blackberry your hair will be boosted with extra shine and vitality. Triple win?!

I think minty shampoos are divine! The only taste I’d had were from testers, but I definitely enjoyed what they were bringing to the table. Maybe it’s just me, but using this scent in the shower makes me feel invigorated and fresh and revived. Some may think that’s a bit much for a shampoo and conditioner to achieve, but I stand my ground! So I was very excited to give these a whirl.

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Made for using after an intense gym sesh or sweaty summer’s day, the shampoo comes out as a clear gel, while the conditioner comes out a smooth white cream. I shampoo twice in my hair-washing routine, and I love to really work and massage this shampoo into my hair and scalp. The first round doesn’t work up too much of a lather, but the second round is definitely nice and foamy. The mint is cooling and really very lovely! The conditioner I slather all over my ends and I leave it there for about 5 minutes before rinsing.

It’s baffling that my mane was able to change from a mouldable, greasy, wiry mess to lusciously light, lustrous, soft, and flowy hair. It actually moves in the wind!! My hair is also thicker and more easily managed. A truly heart-warming tale.

The only downside I find is that the smell isn’t pure minty goodness. Because there’s added other bits, the smell is transformed into what I pick up as freshly mowed grass. While I do enjoy this smell, I prefer it when I’m wandering around outdoors on a sweet day in spring, and not particularly when I’m rubbing it all over my head. But hey, a small price to pay for an effective result!

At around $26 per 300ml bottle, it’s not exactly the cheapest option out there, but I personally think for the finish you get, it’s worth it! I’m more than happy to keep these in my life, however I will continue my hunt for the perfect pure minty shampoo and conditioner.

Alix xx

THE GROUNDS OF THE CITY

Sydney is definitely up there when it comes to the fine art of dining with some truly stand-out places dotted around the city. Recently, there has been a buzz about town with a certain new-ish arrival on our doorstep: The Grounds of the City. When my friend initially mentioned this place, my go-to response was: “The grounds of Alexandria? Perfect! I love it there!”, to which she responded “No, you goose! The Grounds of the City. Totally different. It’s a restaurant on George Street!”.

Huh. One can see where my confusion may have come in (right?), and alas the name does indeed make sense as both places were created by the same team. The Grounds of the City has been around for the past few months now, but I can tell you the hype has not died down in the slightest. My first word of warning: Book. In. Advance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. My friend and I rocked up, eyes gleaming, mouths watering, stomachs rumbling, only to find we had one whole hour (cry) to wait until a seat and table would be available.

Torn between finding the next nearest place to inhale and chow down on something (anything!!) or wait, we decided to take a deep breath and be patient. Behind a rather intimidating red rope and before two ladies standing guard in an information-desk-hole-in-the-wall, we gave our mobile number and meandered on our not-so-merry way to kill some time. 45 minutes later, and we were in!

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Wow. Stepping inside was like a jump, hop and a leap back in time. Think an old 1920s hotel. Stained glass windows, marble, antique pendant lighting, a lady wheeling around a tea trolley brimming with cakes and pastries. It had it all! Through a huge, heavy cast-iron door, we were led past all the comfy looking leather-bound booths and placed on stools at the bar. Not my first choice of place to perch, but hey! I should’ve listened to my own words of wisdom. Book in advance Alix, book in advance.

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The place was packed! Behind the bar, staff were busy making cocktails and crafting up coffee. For my photos, they even kindly offered to artfully grace a swan on top of my caffeinated brew! Now that’s service.

There were many delicious looking items on the menu, with most standing around the $20 mark. Not cheap, but I later learned is reasonably priced for the portions that come out. Let your eyeballs feast on this!

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We ordered the handmade Marrickville burrata (served with brioche, olive crusts, heirloom tomatoes, basil and fresh mint), pumpkin tart (with buffalo curd, roasted onion and thyme) and the smashed potato side (complete with bone marrow, thyme and burnt onion). Can you believe that giant bowl of goodness is a side?! Holy potato! My friend was most impressed with her burrata dish, and my pumpkin tart was melt in your mouth. Hugged in gorgeously delicate pastry, the flavours were absolutely delicious. On top were sprigs of what I assume to be parmesan-crusted kale chips which were crispy and delightful. A side salad you would usually think not to be noteworthy, but this was not your average side salad. A lot of care went into this little pile, I could tell. It was made up of layers! Lettuce, zucchini, radish, squash, a sprinkling of pine nuts and a lovely coating of dressing. Not too much, not too little. Nothing tiffs me off more than a salad that’s drowning in dressing or if a few leaves of lettuce, chunks of onion and tomato are chucked haphazardly on the side of your plate, dry as a desert. But nope, the vegetables and dressing were in perfect balance. Good job, guys! In my eyes, that little bit of extra care went a long way.

We followed up our banquet with a pot of chai tea and lovely little dessert to share; the lemon meringue tart. Smooth, creamy, and brimming with lemony zesty zing. The meringue was the crispy kind, rather than the soft pillowy kind, but that didn’t bother me too much – it just made for a slightly more crumbly experience!

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The damage at the end was around $30 each for a really filling, unique dining adventure. Not as bad as I was expecting! Overall, I was rather impressed with the whole experience. It is definitely a busy, moody, crowded place, so if that doesn’t appeal to your taste then I’d encourage you to perhaps try somewhere else. But, if you’re all about the hustle and bustle and are after a different-than-usual fooding experience, definitely give this place a go and see what you think!

Just book in advance. Did I mention that?

Alix xx