Monday, September 28, 2015

Travel with me: Port Douglas {Pic Heavy}

Port Douglas Marina Photo by Stitchimonsta

The Great Barrier Reef has been on my list of things to see for quite some time, the reef as we know it has been severely damaged in the past 10 years, no thanks to Rina Rinehart and co. It's also been an aim for us to travel around this country we call home and get to know the land, history, flora and fauna a little bit more. So, we flew off to Port Douglas for 6 days and 5 nights. FYI - this trip ended up being a lot more expensive than expected!

Warning... This is a very detailed post.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas Street Photo by Stitchimonsta

Port Douglas is located approximately 1 hour north of Cairns in far North Queensland. The influx of tourism has changed the town, there were resorts and motels at every corner, local travel agents and souveneir shops situated along the heart of Port Douglas. It is a resort dweller's paradise. If you love sun, beach and tropical rainforest, it is the place for you. Most tourists we met during our time were from different parts of Australia.

September is probably one of the best months to visit Port Douglas, we had incredible weather ranging from 26-28 degrees on a daily basis. You will need your dresses, singlets and short shorts!

Getting there (from Sydney)

The flight from Sydney to Cairns is approximately 3 hours, we got there by Jetstar and came back with Tiger (Tiger air was significantly cheaper - approximately $250 for 2, while Jetstar was approximately $450 for 2).

Ensure to pre-book a shuttle to transport you to and from Cairns airport to your resort, unless you are planning to hire a car. We used Krystal Transport which was probably the most cost effective at $32 per person, one way.

Where did we stay?


Most resorts in Port Douglas are quite expensive, we used Trivago and found a lovely little pool view studio apartment at Port Douglas Retreat, the early bird prices was $129 per night.

We loved the Retreat, our studio apartment had a balcony that overlooked trees and the pool. It is perfect for 2 people, it will be a tight squeeze for 3. A Kitchenette and a small fridge is available in the apartment, cutlery pots and pans etc. There is also a BBQ area by the pool that was frequently used by other families.
A view from our retreat

There is no room service, there will be a cost if you want new linens, however a communal laundry room with washing machines etc for $4 per load is available. We didn't have a lot of clothes so we literally just hand washed everything with the complimentary soaps.

Owners David and Joyce Costello were absolutely lovely, they provided recommendations and helped us book all our tours. The retreat is only a stroll away from the heart of Port Douglas and Four Mile Beach. There are walls of tour brochures at most resorts so you don't need to book until you get there.

Snorkeling with Sailaway

On Sailaway

As a first time "snorkeler" (and the thought of scuba diving scares the crap out of me) we decided to go with Sailaway. There are two options, Snorkel during the day or afternoon at Low Isles. We picked afternoon snorkeling to catch the sunset on the sail back at approximately $235 per person (plus $6 carbon off set tax per person) - includes all transfers.

The sail out to Low Isles was approximately 45 minutes and it was an amazing experience... sun... sea.. sail.. and music to chill with. 
Low Isles

Our guide took us on a snorkel tour.  We are both relatively confident swimmers, but never snorkeled before, hence we joined a beginners tour... we did end up spending some time waiting for beginner swimmers to catch up. If you are a confident swimmer, I would advise you to go with an intermediate group or just snorkel alone.

This tour is excellent for non-swimmers and beginner swimmers. Snorkeling gears and floating noodles are available. If you are an avid snorkeler or a confident swimmer, you'd probably be better off joining a different tour group and snorkel in the outer reefs (which was something I regret not doing).




We did see a tiny shark, a school of rainbow trouts, heaps of reefs and a great range of stripey and coloured fish. The water was a lot murkier than expected, you can really see how the health and quality of the reef has deterioriated over time.

Under water camera hires are available for $55 prior to boarding, you get to keep the SD card... however I highly recommend everyone to bring their own HD under water cameras or protective covers. The photo quality of the hire cameras were rather average - for the underwater photos I did have to amp up the contrast and saturation, otherwise it came out a little "muddy" looking.

Canapes, finger food and a complimentary drink provided on the sail back.

Daintree Discovery Tour
Mossman Gorge


Out of all the Daintree tours, we opt for a full day Daintree Discovery Tour at $190 per person including all transfers.

Our tour guide Cam was extremely knowledgable and provided a vast amount of information regarding different native animals, mangroves, sugar cane farming etc.

First stop was a stroll through the rainforest into Mossman Gorge.

Daintree River

We were then transported to Daintree River, provided with a cuppa and home made lamingtons before boarding the Solar Whisperer to spot crocs in their natural habitat. With some luck, we spotted this little guy above. Our boat guide, again provided us with insightful information about how the mangroves kept the riverbeds together and their internal filtration systems that allows mangroves to grow and live in saltwater.
Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation
After the cruise, we were headed towards Cape Tribulation - where Captain Cook struck his ship onto the reef in 1770 ... it was a world of troubles, hence named Cape Tribulation. Luckily a series of fortuitous events allowed Cook's crew to perform temporary repairs to the ship for sail. Otherwise Australian history may have been extremely different. Cape Tribulation is also the only place in the world where two world heritage listed sites meets (The Great Barrier Reef meets the Daintree Rainforest).

Around midday, we were transported to a private area of Daintree to enjoy lunch that was packed by our guide. We also earned some free time to look and walk around the forest.


Wild Turtles!

Cassowary Falls - Private Property

After lunch we headed towards Cassowary Falls - unfortunately we did not spot any cassowaries..we were extremely disappointed, as it would be amazing to see this beautiful endangered creature outside of captivity. But... our journey carried on in a Land Rover through "Riverhome" a cattle property to enjoy a magneficient waterfall view while feeding wild fish, eels and turtles.

If you are planning to go on a Daintree tour, do not look past this one, it's one of the only tour that will take you onto private property. Whereas Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation etc are all open to the public.

Lady Douglas


Lady Douglas took us around Dickson's Inlet, it's more of a scenery cruise. We attempted to spot some crocs but didn't have any luck.

Pre-booking is not required, you can jump on this boat at any time, at $35 per person, it's a bargain compared to the other activities. Nibbles and a complimentary drink is provided.

This is a great, calm cruise for the family, especially if you have young kiddies.

Kuranda, Scenic Rail and Sky Rail with Down Under Tours
Scenic Rail to Kuranda

We were tossing up between Skyrail and Wildlife Habitat on our last day, however decided against wildlife habitat since we can go to Taronga Zoo and Featherdale Wildlife park in Sydney.

Joyce from the Retreat helped us book a "tour" with Down Under Tours this includes all transfers, sky rail and scenic rail at $158 per person.

This was probably the worst "tour" out of all other tours we've been on. We were picked up at 7:55am, boarded Scenic rail at approximately 9:50am - the ride went on forever. We reached Kuranda at 11:30am and was advised to hop onto the sky rail to go back to our shuttle at 1:30pm. So we had roughly 2 hours to "experience" Kuranda... we didn't have enough time and literally had to run through all the attractions.

Kuranda was initially home to hippies, the current markets in Kuranda were comparable to Paddy's Market. We were extremely disappointed. We were expecting tie dye shirts and hand made merchandise.

Although we did see some agile wallabies having breakfast on the way there.



While in Kuranda, we decided to cuddle a koala - since QLD is the only state in Australia that still allow visitors to hold and cuddle a Koala. We envision this to be banned fairly soon. So off we went to Kuranda Koala Garden, entry was approximately $17 per person and koala photos were $20.

The wallabies and other marsupials were severely over fed, most were sleeping and did not give a stuff about our food pellets.



We had roughly 30 minutes remaining so we paid a visit to the Butterfly Sanctuary, entry fee was approximately $12 per person. This is worth going.. how often do you get to hold a butterfly or multiple butterflies!! Make sure you wear colourful cothes and a nice big white straw hat (the butterflies loves it!)

Overall we had fun, but we were both disappinted with our Kuranda trip with Down Under Tours, scheduled times to catch our rides were poorly matched, so a lot of people (us included) waited over an hour at the bus stop when we could have spent a bit more time at Kuranda markets. Our self guide pamphlet instructions were ambiguous, we had to ask a few staff members to interpret the brochure and find out where to go.

My advice... GO THERE YOURSELF. Even just for that day, hire a car and drive there.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS......

Four Mile Beach
=



Cane Toad Racing at Iron Bar


Daintree Ice cream

Ice cream made on premise and all key ingredients are grown on site! It's one of the best ice creams I've ever had!!

Flavours: Raspberry, Macadamia, Wattle Seeds, Black Sapote
A FEW LOCAL THINGS TO BRING HOME..
Draintree Estate Chocolates - Locally grown cocoa!
2. Honey


3. Daintree Tea
The tea leaves are all grown in Cairns, you can taste the freshness. Other brands such as Lipton and Twinnings are picked/packed/processed overseas and take months to get into your local supermarket.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Review: Katy Perry Mad Potion Fragrance


Katy Perry launched another perfume and it was a Firework... of confetti and sparkles in my backyard. My taste in perfume is usually fresh floral or fruity (i.e., Jo Malone's Wild Bluebell, Burberry's The Beat).

The bottle and packaging is fun, fresh, fierce, it's a potion bottle that somewhat resembles my favourite character from Disney's Alice in Wonderland, The Cheshire Cat.

This fragrance is a little different to what I usually wear..

Top Nntes
Tahitian vanilla orchid, fresh and crisp apple musk, sweet white peony

Middle notes
Madagascar bourbon vanilla, soft and whipped fluffy musk, luminous jasmine petals

Bottom notes
Mexican vanilla bea absolute, magical musk, glowing amber

There's a lot of musk and I usually associate musk with mothballs. I was quite hesitant to try this on so I did the good ole' spray in the cap to test out the scent. It was very sweet and a little musky, to my ardent surprise.. I actually quite liked it.

Katy Perry Mad Potion Eau De Parfum 50ml

I proceeded to wear this the next day, the fragrance lasted for a good 6 hours on me. My boyfriend really liked the scent but personally I felt that it didn't work on my skin. When mixed with my body chemistry it just did not smell as nice as it did in the cap. It was sickly sweet. But when my mum wore it, it smelt like candy floss and I loved it!

Mum has been happily using Mad Potion on a daily basis and I am happy smelling it on her. Mum is in her mid 50s and she never thought she'd be reaching for a Katy Perry perfume, this just proves that there's no age to perfume. My best advice is for everyone to go in store, spritz the perfume on your skin and let it sit for a good hour. Keep tabs of the notes from reviews and trust your nose.


*This product was provided for my consideration, all opinions are my own.

What's your favourite perfume?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Empties: September 2015



Lately, I've been looking through #projectpan on Instagram on a regular basis, there's nothing more satisfying than finished beauty products to make room for new ones.

As a turtle, I only managed to finish a small handful of products in the past couple of months.


Elucent Whitening Spot Corrector
I have a lot of freckles, they all tend to live on my nose and I hate it! Unfortunately most spot treatments are not effective on my skin due to the amount of time I spend in the sun. New freckles would have popped up before any could fade. Nonetheless, I loved this corrector as a serum, it hydrated my skin and provided a nice glow.
Repurchase? Already have another one!

John Plunkett Multi Vitamin Moisturiser
This is a heavy moisturiser that my skin loved during the winter months. It applies like a balm with light scents. A great winter moisturiser
Repurchase? Possibly after I finish a few of my other moisturisers!

Mary Kay Makeup Remover
This makeup remover was excellent, comparable to my Lancome and Shiseido removers. It took off my stubborn water resistant mascaras with ease. Also recommended for sensitive eyes/skin.
Repurchase? Yes definitely!

Murad Energizing Pomegranate Cleanser
This was a product I received from Megsmakeup back when her website had product redemption system. Otherwise I would not have a clue where to get Murad from Australia. This is a foam cleanser which I naturally disliked as I usually prefer cream or gel cleansers. Half way through the product, I started utilising my Shiseido Cleansing brush and it worked wonders. Foam cleanser + Cleansing Brush = Good outcome.
Repurchase? Probably not since I don't know where to find Murad in Sydney


Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Sensitive
This was a sample from a previous Lust Have It Box, I've seen some rave reviews about this product but I wasn't really sure what it did for my skin...? There was a slight stinging/minor burning sensation once the product was applied. My sun spots were still there, but my skin did feel smooth after I washed the content off my face.
Repurchase? I dont't think so, I didn't feel that the product was very effective on my skin

Aveda Purifying Gel Cleanser
So far, all Aveda products/samples I've tried had left a positive impression. This is a really gentle cleanser that left my face squeaky clean. I also love going to Aveda to get my hair checked under the microscope. Customer service is top notch!

Repurchase? I would definitely like to once I finish a few other cleansers!

I won't go into too much detail about the Clear Shampoo it didn't do anything out of the ordinary and cleaned my hair fine.


Here's a few samples I polished off, just wanted to quickly talk about the Rachel K's CC cream samples that I received from a previous LHI box, the shade is in Neutral and it was way too light, I had to use a darker tinted moisturiser or foundation on top to balance out the colour. However, it did cover most of my pores and blemishes, I still required concealer for more prominent blemishes.

A few really old items that needs to be thrown out, with the exception for Coral Colours brow pencil, it just didn't work for me. Too creamy for a brow pencil and not creamy enough as an eyeliner...



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Brush Cleaning and Makeup Brush Holder



As a clean freak - not a neat freak - those are two completely different things! I am "clean" but not necessary neat and tidy, quite the contrary actually. I clean my brushes at least once per week, if I had the time, I would want to clean it after every use.

After two weeks, your used make up brushes (especially foundation brushes and sponges) would've sprouted 15 times more bacteria than a public loo. No joke, this was on a science channel, I don't believe a lot of things on TV.. but this I do.






Recently, I purchased a brush holder from Ebay for approximately $10 including shipping (it's a bargain!) it's not the most well made piece of equipment (the base is not quite stable and it does wobble a little - but i'm happy to just let it sit as I dry my brushes) but it does the job and. Just be aware that these little plastic brush holders are quite attracted to dust. For the actual cleaning, I use Shampoo if it's good enough for my hair, it's good enough for my brushes!

How often do you clean your brushes?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What's in My Travel Kit?



It's been long time coming but it's finally happening! I was about to die working a fairly stressful job for the past 1.6 years without a proper break. At last, my partner and I decided to take a week off to go on a little national holiday. I'll make a holiday post when I get back so I won't give the destination away yet..but it'll probably be on instagram..

I am trying to take deluxe samples only due to my 7kg carry-on limit, all the products I've pack are  100% necessary... and they all fit in to my Lust Have It pink mesh bag :D


I like to bring my own hair and body products, so I've packed some Head and Shoulders shampoo/conditioner and a Dove body wash. I've also added Clairol's intensive hair treatment because my hair often turns into unbrushable clots after a day at the beach.


For makeup, I've got my Thin Lizzy  6in1 and compact foundation, as well as a Bloom concealer sample kit just incase I need it (Oh and a brush... silly me).

Thin Lizzy's all-day flexi mascara and Rimmel's eyeliner got included because they are both water resistant and easy to remove. Now, I am not a brow person, but since I received Rimmel's brow this way... I became a brow person (Review up later)


For skincare, I decided to bring some Simple wipes and Dermalogica eye cream sample (probably need to dig up another one).

I am so glad that I've got these cute Elucent samples (cleanser, day and night cream) in my stash, they are perfect for my little trip.

Since my skin is going a little crazy with dry spots popping up intermittently I decided to include Rosehip Plus rosehip oil skin boost, it's the perfect product that I can use on the go.


If I was allowed more luggage, I'd probably take a whole bag of Sunsense products.
Sunsense is my go-to brand for sun protection. I have a lot of freckles on my nose and we're going to a beachy area so it is extremely important that I am sun protected at all times. If I am under 7kgs after I pack my bag, I'll chuck in a full size Sunsense product... just because I don't think this is enough!

What are some of your travel must have products?



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Brand Focus: Thin Lizzy Makeup



Thin Lizzy (not to be mistaken with the rock band from Dublin) is a makeup brand from New Zealand, the first time I saw Thin Lizzy on TV was via an infomercial when I was 19 and I was glued to the TV every time the 6in1 was introduced and used. Until now, Thin Lizzy was not a readily accessible brand for me. On this note, I have a confession to make, I  can watch infomercials for hours.. there must be other like minded people out there!!!

I was recently invited to Thin Lizzy's Masterclass hosted by Wendy Nowell-Usticken (who was extremely down to earth, her personality made half the pitch for me). Wendy demonstrated corrective techniques for redness/acne and methods to cover tattoos or birthmarks. Unfortunately (fortunate for the models) they all had amazing skin! Alas, I had a great night, it was an excellent way to end a working day.

Fortunately (for the products, not for me) my skin has coming up with all sorts of issues, from small bits of redness to pimples and a little bit of scarring because I can't keep my fingers away. I thought, perfect!

Left to Right: 6in1 in Light, Compact mineral foundation in Minx, Loose Mineral foundation in Minx, Concealer in Minx

Left to right: 6in1, Compact foundation, Loose mineral foundation

I was colour matched on the spot and they were spot on. My shade is Minx (light-medium olive). I instantly feel in love with the foundations and have been using the Loose Mineral Foundation at home before heading out. This product is easy to use with Thin Lizzy's brushes (see below) and provides light to medium coverage, you can keep layering until you achieve the coverage you desire. My Compact Foundation is perfect for my bag, it's so small and slim! I noticed the powders had some light reflecting properties to blur my imperfections, both foundations did well at concealing my redness and blemishes, but I personally prefer the compact powder.

I was extremely skeptical about the 6in1, there are 2 shades, "Light" and "Dark". So did this product tick all the criteria?

✓Eye Shadow: Yes it's a beautiful pearly brown shade, worked well as a natural eyeshadow colour for all over the lids.
? Blusher: I personally felt it was too much of a beautiful bronzer. Call me narrow minded, but when I think Blushes, I think rosy/coral/pink cheeks. However, I can see how this may work as a blusher for other skin tones.
✓Bronzer/Contour: It certainly did! It gave me a beautiful healthy and natural glow, wasn't muddy at all. It was also able to act as a contour powder to provide more definition. I've merged Bronzer/Contour into 1 category because I only use my bronzer to contour.
? Lip colour: Yes, however my lips are extremely dry and I just wouldn't put powder on it.
✓Body Bronzer: I used this around my decolletage and I sure did achieve a nice bronzey glow!


The Concealer Creme was excellent, it's definitely a high coverage product (comparable to my It Cosmetics concealer which I love dearly). I've been using this for my under eye circles, redness, freckles and acne/scars. This concealer did better at covering redness and blemishes for me rather than darker brown spots or freckles. But if you use the concealer in conjunction with the compact powder it'll hide pretty much everything. I am really impressed with this product and would boldly say that it's better than some of my expensive, high end concealers

The Duo Eyeliner was very pigmented, it's not as creamy as I would like (but that level of creaminess would usually leave a huge crease on my lids). Both eyeliners lasted the 10 hour test, with a tiny crease from the black liner.

I gave the Lip Gloss to my mum because it is very glossy and shiny. I don't think I am a particulary glossy and shiny person, I'm more of a sheer or matte person. The gloss was quite thick and a little bit sticky, it doesn't come off. I wouldn't recommend this for windy days (to avoid the hair on lips situation). My mum on the other hand, LOVES the glossiness and yummy scent.

Unfortunately my lashes didn't love the All-Day Flexi Mascara as much as I personally wanted it to. It's a tube mascara that is water resistant and easy to remove. It's a great everyday mascara for watery eyes, however, it did weigh my lashes down a little and did not assist with curling my annoying straight and un-curlable lashes. I can definitely see this working amazingly well for those with naturally curled lashes!


Thin Lizzy also brought out their new synthetic brushes, they are oh SO soft, small and cute. I finally have brushes that I can put in my bag if touch up is needed for a night out. The black brush feels denser than the white. As a result, I prefer to use the black for mineral powders to pick up more product and assist with the blending.

Ok guys, brace yourself, below is the before and after pictures. A part from the moisturiser, I ONLY used Thin Lizzy products in the AFTER picture. Thin Lizzy products used in the following order:
1. Thin Lizzy Concealer
2. Thin Lizzy loose mineral foundation (with a thin layer of the compact foundation)
3. Thin Lizzy 6in1 (cheeks, lids and a dust on my nose)
4. Thin Lizzy Eyeliner (Brown)
5. Thin Lizzy All Day Flexi Mascara
5. Thin Lizzy Lip Gloss

In the scary BEFORE picture you can see some of the following issues:
- A little bit of reddness between my brows
- Small acne around my forehead, nose, chin and left side of my face
- Very dry lips
- Ghastly skin



Overall, I am really happy with the outcome of Thin Lizzy's base products, it exceeded my expectations. I haven't been able to part with the compacts because they are so small, slim and light in weight, and yes, they are perfect for my small bags and purses.
Now that Thin Lizzy is easily accessible via most Priceline stores, I HIGHLY recommend for everyone to visit Thin Lizzy's stand and have a play with their testers!


EDIT : 21/9/15 I took my thin lizzy products on my week away without a primer, i have a lot of pores thats quite prominent.. my pores became extremely visible with the compact foundation. If you have large pores like me make sure you use a primer beforehand.

Video


*These products were provided for my consideration, all opinions are my own.

Have you tried Thin Lizzy?

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