Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

"A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves."

I'm not sure how I originally came across Caitlin Doughty and her youtube channel "Ask a Mortician". Possibly, reddit? Anyway, Doughty's youtube channel, and indeed, mission in life, is all about normalising death.

In the Western world, there's a real fear that surrounds death, it's something that's talked about in hushed tones, and it's not really acknowledged that it's something that is going to happen to all of us. Doughty sets out to change that, sharing details about her profession to enlighten people and hopefully make them more okay with the eventual end.

So I will preface this review by saying that this book is pretty macabre, and consequently, this post will probably be too. If you're not okay with that, that's cool, click out, I won't judge you.

I'm a bit naturally fascinated with the macabre. Maybe it's because I've lost so many loved ones, I'm not 100% sure why, but death kind of fascinates me. When Caitlin announced in one of her youtube videos that she was writing a book, I knew I would eventually have to read it. And it really did not disappoint.

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is part memoir, part research. The book opens with an explanation as to how Caitlin came to be a mortician. In an almost sweet irony, Doughty is terrified of death, having seen a young girl fall to her death at a shopping centre when she was eight years old.

The book continues on explaining her first job, the first part of mortician school and covers all sorts of death-related topics:
- death/funeral rituals from other cultures;
- discussions on embalming - the history of why we started embalming our dead and the purpose it serves (or doesn't);
- the politics of the funeral industry in the USA;
- why we fear death, and where that fear came from.

Although there is definitely humour injected throughout the book, the topics are handled with compassion and the stories shared are treated with respect.  Doughty does not shy away from the more grisly depictions of the mechanisms of cremation, and what actually happens during an embalming process. For that reason alone, I would say this book is not going to be for everyone. I think so many people would really benefit from reading this, but realistically some people get squeamish about that kind of thing.

My main criticism of the book is that it kind of tries too hard to be too many things; it's a memoir, it's academic, it's historical non-fiction, it's anthropological, and it doesn't have the length to do all of it well. I think the book would have been better as either a memoir with stories of the dead (as the first half of the book was; I also would have loved to read more about Doughty's experience at mortuary school), or as a non-fiction look into the funeral/death industry in the West. Either or, not both.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a really fast read; I finished it in about two days, and I found it really thought-provoking. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Rating: 4/5.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OOTD: Monochrome

This is one of my favourite outfits. It's surprisingly comfortable, and the black-and-white monochrome is a little bit badass. 

I saw these pants a few years ago and just had to buy them. They are really stretchy so I went a size smaller than I would. 

- Jumper: Dotti
- Pants: Motel 
- Boots: Doc Martens
- Rose gold bracelet: Mimco

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Monday, September 28, 2015

My Week in Pictures #77

Saturday night was spent with my bestie, who I haven't seen in months and months. We caught up over dinner and margaritas at El Topo in Bondi Junction, then over hot chocolates at Max Brenner and finished the night with a 9.30pm screening of 'The Gift'. Written by Aussie Joel Edgerton, The Gift was a great psychological thriller. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it! (although I think it's in its last few screenings) 

Much of the weekend was spent putting Rommy's new cat harness to good use. We have spent the last few weeks getting him used to wearing it around the house, then spent some time getting him used to the lead, then finally ventured to the great outdoors, aka our courtyard. Rommy loved exploring all the new things to eat and sniff, and I loved knowing he wasn't going to run off. 

Only a week until we're off to New Zealand! We decided we should probably start actually working out a bit more of a concrete itinerary, so spent most of Sunday morning poring over guidebooks, researching on the internet and gazing at maps. 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My Essie Nailpolish Collection Part 1

Ever since Essie was introduced at Priceline, my collection has slowly grown. 
I really like Essie nailpolishes; they last well on my nails, there is a beautiful colour range, and when on sale, they're pretty reasonably priced.

I own a mix of pastels/muted colours and brights - in this post, I'll talk you through those colours.

Ballet slippers:  this is apparently one of Essie's most famous shades, and was the first Essie polish I ever bought. I was so disappointed with this colour and it really put me off Essie for the longest time. The formula is thin and streaky, and it takes sooo many coats to build up any colour. I also think the colour is too pale for my skintone. 

Tea and Crumpets: this is a much nicer 'nude' colour, and is a bit of a frosted, golden-toned beige. I really like this colour for work. It's pretty sheer, and takes about 2-3 layers to become opaque. 

Chinchilly: I love this grey-slate colour. I think it's super flattering on almost every skintone and I get compliments every time I wear it. The formula isn't too runny, and two coats is all you need for the most perfect opaque-ness. This is also probably the perfect office colour. 

 Lilacism: Honestly, I am not really a fan of pastels. I think this is colour toes the line nicely between being pale and muted, but also being bright enough that it doesn't quite cross over to "baby purple". This is a thin formula, and takes about 3 thin coats to reach a nice colour on the nails.

Mint Candy Apple: This is another colour that always gets me compliments. J said it looks like the colour of a 60s bathroom. I say it's the perfect 'mint' colour. I love this shade. This colour only takes 2 thin coats to reach the desired opacity and colour on my nails, without being streaky.
(L-R: Ballet Slippers, Tea and Crumpets, Chinchilly, Lilacism, Mint Candy Apple)

What's your favourite Essie shade?
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Monday, September 21, 2015

My Week in Pictures #76

 The week began with acrobatics and ended with beautiful sunsets. 
After trying my hand at partner-acro, I have a new-found respect for people who are actually good at it - it's seriously difficult.

I kicked off the weekend with a Mexican-themed night with B. We started at El Loco for frozen margaritas and delicious $6 tacos, before kicking on to Tio's in Surry Hills for more margaritas, very expensive tequila shots and delicious $6 Rio Brava.


Sunday kicked off with a brunch date with the beautiful Rai, and exploring Newtown. There is nothing better than catching up with friends over nutritious smoothies and delicious foods. 

 After bidding farewell to Rai, I met up again with B, for a much-needed coffee and some gelato from the always-fascinating N2. 

Sunday night has mostly been spent relaxing preparing for the week ahead; a bit of blogging, planning, a quick clean of the house, colouring in and mindless TV.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

My Week in Pictures #75

We spent Sunday celebrating J's birthday a bit early - grill'd burgers for lunch, escaped from a puzzle room at Para-Park (seriously so much fun - cannot recommend highly enough) and then finished up at Zanzibar's rooftop before retiring home. 

How beautiful was Sydney this weekend? This weather is amazing! Bring on more Spring!

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

6 Tips for Cleaning Out and Organising Your Wardrobe

So, it's now Spring! Spring and cleaning go hand-in-hand; new life, new beginnings, etc etc.

I've done a few wardrobe clean-outs recently, so thought I would share some things I've learned along the way, and things that have worked best for me. Unfortunately, my actual wardrobe isn't that beautiful blog or instagram-worthy - one of the many downsides to renting!

1. Be Brutal
I think this is the most important thing to keep in mind; if you're cleaning out your wardrobe, there's probably a good reason you've chosen to do so. Maybe you have too many clothes, maybe your clothes are uninspiring... whatever the reason, something has made you decide "I've had enough". So hold on to that feeling, don't get sentimental and that will keep you from being distracted.

2. Questions to ask yourself...
These are the questions I ask myself when being brutal and deciding whether I'm going to keep something:

- Do I love it?
- Does it fit me? No? Get rid of it.
- Have I worn it in the last two years?
- If I haven't worn it in the last two years, why? I have some fancy dresses and things that I haven't had a function to attend where I can wear them. Those items stay.
- Is this damaged? Yes? How bad is the damage? Am I willing to pay someone tomorrow to fix it? No? Get rid of it. 
- How many different ways can I wear this?
- If I was shopping right now, would I buy this?
- Which is more valuable - the clothing item, or the space?

3. Decide where the "rejects" go
I usually sort my clothes with the options of "donate", "keep", "sell", and "bin" in mind.
If I love an item then it obviously stays in the "keep" pile. 
If I don't love an item because it doesn't fit me, isn't my style or I'm just over it, then it goes into the "donate" pile. If I don't love it, and think it's worth my time to try selling it (honestly, usually only worth it for expensive name brands), then it goes in the "sell" pile.
If an item is badly damaged, or is underwear, then I'll throw it out. 

4. Invest in matching hangers
I have wooden hangers for my "heavier" garments (such as blazers, longer dresses etc), and then slim plastic hangers for the rest of my clothes.
Not only does this look a lot neater but your clothes will all sit the same way in your wardrobe,  and can save space. I think having matching hangers makes you more inclined to keep your wardrobe looking organised as well.

5. Research space-saving ideas
The built-in wardrobe in our current house is so much tinier than the one in our previous house. And I've been struggling to work out how to fit all my clothes in the wardrobe (side note: although those wooden hangers are beautiful, they take up a tonne of space). So I did a bit of research, and invested in things like underbed storage solutions for off-season items, space saving hangers, and multi-pants hangers.

6. Sort your clothes based on how you get dressed
If you prefer to get dressed by matching colours, then colour-code your wardrobe. I personally sort by type, then by colour. So my wardrobe is:
dresses / coats / short sleeve tops / long sleeve tops / short skirts / long skirts / pants.
Within coats I have: woolen coats / leather jackets / light jackets.
I then have black woolen coats, red wool coat, black leather jacket, red leather jacket, etc etc.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Micellar Water Review - Bioderma, Garnier, Sukin

It's taken a few years, but so many brands are now bringing out their own affordable versions of micellar water - that holy-grail, no-rinse cleansing liquid that melts make-up off your face, whilst still somehow being super gentle.

I've been a long-time lover of Bioderma's crealine H20 (now called Sensibio H20, or the sebium version for my oily-faced friends), and have many, many bottles on stand-by, lest I run out. But, as much as I love Bioderma, it is kind of expensive so I have been trialling some of the cheaper options on offer.

Garnier - Micellar Cleaning Water
RRP = $12.99 for 400mL ($3.25 / 100)

Garnier were the first brand to release a 'drugstore' version of micellar water, and it is remarkably cheap, at just $3.25/100mL. I'm personally really not a fan of this product.
I did not find it effective at removing make-up (particularly mascara and eye make-up), and I would have to go over the same area with at least two soaked cotton pads to remove all my make-up.

This product also really burned my eyes, and dried out my skin. I did use up a whole bottle, and it did come in handy for wiping swatches off my arm.
Overall rating: 2/5

Bioderma - Crealine / Sensibio H20
RRP = $39.99 for 500mL

The original micellar water! Bioderma is super expensive in Australia, coming in at $8/100mL. Unfortunately for my wallet, it's also my most favoured of the three micellar waters I've trialled.

I've reviewed this before on the blog, here. In a nutshell, Bioderma is gentle, doesn't sting my eyes, it doesn't dry out my skin, it doesn't smell like anything, and it is effective at removing my make-up. 
Overall rating: 4/5

Sukin Micellar Cleansing Water
RRP = $9.99 for 250mL

Sukin are an environmentally-responsible and vegan friendly brand, and their offering in the micellar water world is gentle, smells really good and is reasonably priced at $4/100mL. It's infused with cucumber and chamomile, which helps to soothe your skin.

This is probably the runner up of the three for me. It does a pretty good job of removing make-up, and it doesn't sting my eyes. It has got a very distinct scent though, which is a bit strange for a "water", and is something that may not agree with a few people.
This micellar water doesn't leave my face feeling as clean as Bioderma does though - it's almost as if a very thin film is left on my skin, and it takes ages for my skin to dry and feel normal.
Overall rating: 3/5

Final thoughts
I think everyone would like the Bioderma offering, except for the price. The good thing is, when Priceline have their 40% off skincare, you can get the 500mL version for prices that are comparable to what you would pay in Paris.
If your skin isn't sensitive and you don't wear eye-makeup then the Garnier version could suit you really well. If you don't mind scents in your products, then you would probably really like the Sukin version.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

My Week in Pictures #74


Lots of cute animals,and thought-provoking discussion - it's been a good week!
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