Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Weekend in Melbourne

Would you believe me if I said before this year, I'd never traveled to Melbourne before? We spent just three days in Vic's capital, and I absolutely fell in love with the city. 

J's brother got married in the incredibly picturesque Montsalvat; an artist colony set amongst rich gardens and old European-style buildings. The food was a proper feast, and the tone of the evening was set with a jazz band. We're so thrilled for the couple, and so happy we were able to celebrate with them. 

The next morning we had brunch at Vue de Monde - amazing food and being in the second tallest building in Melbourne, we were witness to an awesome view. 

We spent Sunday exploring the city and partaking in a river cruise on the Yarra. 

I truly fell in love with Melbourne in my short time there, and cannot wait to re-visit the city to do some more exploring. 

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What's in my Shower?

Since you can never have enough products in the shower to choose from, we have two shower caddies in ours. I prefer to have everything at eye level where I can see it (and thus will be more likely to use it), and I hate having things on the shower floor as they are more prone to get mouldy and gross. 

So... what is in my shower caddies? 

MooGoo Milk Wash* - (review here)
I love this product, it's really moisturising, creamy and basic - for those times where my eczema is playing up or my skin is just generally being shit, this will really calm my skin down. I love the handy pump bottle, meaning I never need to take it out of the caddie. 

J keeps his toothbrush and toothpaste in the shower - mine live next to the bathroom sink because I am not a fan of brushing my teeth in the shower... fun fact. 

Natura Siberica - Oblepikha Shower Gel*

I received this product at a bloggers beauty event a few months ago, and am so happy I discovered this brand. Their products are all organic, using natural ingredients sourced from Siberia. 
This shower gel promises "energizing freshness", and is beautifully fragranced. 

Joico Colour Endure Conditioner

I bought this just before we travelled to New Zealand, and de-canted it into a smaller bottle for my travels. I love that I really don't need a lot of this product for it to work (which is great as my hair is getting so long now, and hair products now get used up so much faster). This conditioner glides through my hair, de-tangles it, and leaves it feeling silky and smooth - after it's air-dried and I run a straightener through it, it's so sleek and beautiful. The product isn't thick and it doesn't weigh my hair down or leave any residue behind. 

Schick Hydro Silk TrimStyle Razor*

I pretty much only use razors that have replaceable cartridges. This razor has 5 "curve-sensing" blades, and an electric bikini trimmer on the end. The razor takes 1 AAA battery (included) and is totally waterproof. Which is good, because I only ever shave in the shower. I think what I like most about this razor is the white dots around the razor head contains a water-activated moisturising serum, which moisturises your skin as you shave. I also think it's really convenient that the bottom of the razor has a little stand to prop it up when it's laying flat, preventing it from touching any surfaces. Although I keep mine on a wire rack, so that's not really that necessary for me. 

The waterproof trimmer works really well too, with trimmer guides to assist you in maintaining your desired style / length. 

I bought this shower caddie from Howard's Storage World, and it seriously stores so much stuff. It hangs over the edge of the shower, and it has a little hook which I hang my shower cap up on. I also like that it has room at the bottom for a squeegee - convenient storage as our shower is all glass doors.

Natural World Moroccan Argan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo (Review here) 

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil (Review here) - I love this product, and have used it for years and years. Totally decadent, beautiful, luxurious. 

Skin Theory - Aloe Exfoliating Polish*

I try to exfoliate my skin regularly, so keeping an exfoliator in the bathroom assists with that. This is a manual exfoliation, using micro sea salt crystals. The product itself is quite creamy, and the salt dissolves so it's not scratchy on your skin. There's not really a scent to it, which is good. I love how clean and refreshed my skin feels after using this. 

Unfortunately the entire skin theory range is only available at Amcal chemists (unfortunately because I don't really have one conveniently located to me), but it is super cheap at $10.

Lush Rose Jam Shower Gel

This smells exactly like the Ro's Argan Body Conditioner, also from Lush. I love this shower gel. Smells incredible, and the scent lingers on your skin. 

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque

Another product I've used for years and years, have done numerous reviews on, and has appeared quite a few times in my empties posts. I use this as a conditioner when my hair needs some extra love and attention (e.g. right after dyeing it). Leaves my hair feeling and looking healthy, silky smooth, beautiful. 

Milk&Co Face Cleanser* - Review here.

Rosehip Plus Organic Daily Cream Cleanser*

This is a fairly new product, launching in October 2015. I haven't really used many cream cleansers before, but I'm really liking this one. It's a bit heavy, which is awesome for when my skin is dehydrated or dry, but it doesn't really give you that "squeaky clean" feeling, so if that's your jam you may not love this. The thick cream though does help to dissolve your make-up, and I never get my make-up completely removed with gel or foaming cleansers alone. The product contains rosehip oil, jojoba and sea buckthorn. All products are Australian Certified Organic. I'm really impressed with this cleanser. It also smells incredible.

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterisk (*) were provided for editorial consideration. No brand or PR company have influenced my opinion in any way, shape or form, and all opinions are my own. Links in the post are not affiliate links - I've just linked for your convenience! For further info check out my disclaimer.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Going Gluten Free: My Experience

Before we dive right in and start discussing my diet, I want to say a few things. Firstly, there will probably be a bit of a TMI factor in this post, so apologies in advance. Secondly, this is my experience only, and does not constitute medical advice. I'm not a doctor, and I'm not trained in medicine. The best medical advice I can give is that if you think you are having problems with your gut, then you should go get medical advice.


As long as I can remember, I've had issues with digestion. I would bloat easily, I would be constipated for about two weeks, then have diarrhea for a week, all accompanied by painful stomach cramps and occasionally nausea. The thing is, I didn't realise these symptoms weren't normal, because it was all I knew. About 5 years ago, I was talking with a friend and said something about my constant bloating every time I ate and she commented that it wasn't normal to experience that degree of bloating.

So I went off to the doctor, and was told I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), which basically isn't a real diagnosis or problem, but a name for the symptoms I was experiencing. I took a blood test, which revealed that I was low in a lot of vitamins (and hence my food was probably not digesting properly), so I was told to take a certain enzyme and that should solve my problems. The doctor told me that IBS is really common, there's no known cure, and I basically had to just deal with it.

I was pretty young at this point, (like 17 or 18 years old) so I didn't think to get a second medical opinion, and just put up with my symptoms that now had a name. There was also a certain element of guilt that surrounded me at the time - I had struggled with an eating disorder throughout my teenage years, which was still sort of hanging around, so I honestly believed I had probably caused these digestive problems, and I believed that I deserved to go through the pain that I was experiencing.

The Elimination Diet

About a year ago, I found a different local doctor, who is honestly, just wonderful. She listens to anything I say, she actually tests for things, and tries to find out what the problem is before just filling out a script and sending me on my way. In one of my appointments, I mentioned to her that I had been diagnosed with IBS. She took a medical history from me, and then started testing me for what could be causing it.

I tried so many different things, and eventually she referred me to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. Part of the referral was due to my never-ending hayfever/allergy sinus symptoms that have also been giving me hell, my entire life.

At the Allergy Unit, I was paired with a doctor and a dietitian. I was pin-prick tested, and apart from some minor allergies, nothing that would be giving me the symptoms I was having showed up.

So I was put on the RPAH Elimination Diet. Explained briefly, this diet cut out anything that could be giving me problems for 5 weeks (gluten, soy, dairy, artifical colours, flavours, preservatives, and a whole bunch of naturally occurring chemicals). I basically lived on a diet of potatoes and pears for that time. Then, the potential triggers were slowly introduced to see what I reacted to.
I kept a food diary, recording everything I was eating and what reactions (if any) I was experiencing.

I was supposed to test gluten for a week by gradually introducing it into my diet. Days 1-3 would start with a cup of pasta, then I would add extra gluten sources for days 4-7. The thing with the elimination diet is you need to have a lot of the potential trigger, to ensure that any reaction is a result of the introduced food.

By day 2 of the gluten test I was really sick. I had the most painful stabbing pains in my stomach that I had ever experienced - I was actually out at a work event and the pain was taking my breath away it was that bad; very embarrassing. My eczema also flared up after weeks of being absent, my sinuses were completely inflamed and I could hardly breathe. I wasn't digesting any of my food - my symptoms were almost like I had gastro, they were that bad. So I immediately took the gluten back out of my diet, went back on the basic elimination diet until symptoms cleared and then carried on with the testing. Within two days my symptoms had cleared up, and it was pretty damn apparent that I had reacted to the wheat/gluten test.

I did react to some other food additives, but nowhere near as badly as I did with the gluten - for instance, sulphites make me wheezy, and sorbates (a type of preservative) gave me really bad headaches, along with a "foggy" feeling and inability to concentrate.

The Aftermath

Since coming off the elimination diet, I've been strictly gluten free. The few times I've slipped up have been painful enough to convince me to stick with it, regardless of how difficult or how expensive it is.

Here's a list of some things I've learnt in the past few months:

  • People are jerks when it comes to your diet. Even if it doesn't affect them in the slightest, they will make snide comments and remarks, and you kind of just have to ignore them and carry on with your business. As much as you try and explain it, these people don't really care, they don't really get it and there's no point wasting your breath with them. 
  • Gluten free stuff is getting better, as far as taste goes. I always go in expecting it to taste like cardboard, so then I'm pleasantly surprised when it doesn't. 
  • Gluten free baking is hard, and doesn't give you the same results as glutinous baking. For instance, gluten free self-raising flour doesn't actually self-raise. 
  • Gluten free options are always more expensive. 
  • Most restaurants and cafes are wonderfully accommodating when you tell them of your dietary requirement. 
  • It's easier to tell people you're celiac because generally, people do not believe that gluten intolerance is real, (despite other intolerances, such as lactose intolerance being well-accepted).
  • You need to read labels very carefully - gluten is in the strangest items as it's cheap for bulking, or a cheap binding agent. For instance, mayonnaise, soy sauce, most junk food (chips, ice cream, chocolate), almost all sauces.
  • The biggest thing I've learned is to make sure I have my own food prepared, and always inquire in advance if I'm going to an event or function. Overall, it's not too bad, and like anything in life, you do learn to just adapt with what you've got. 

I feel so much better these days - I honestly can't believe how unwell I felt before, for so many years and just accepted it as "normal". My digestion is totally normal now, I don't get stabbing stomach pains, I can breathe (The sinus thing probably surprised me the most).

Do you have any food allergies or dietary requirements that make life difficult? Share your experiences in the comments below. 

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Monday, January 4, 2016

New Years Resolutions and January Goals.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016!

I still can't believe how fast 2015 flew by. Nuts.

I love the idea of fresh starts and having goals to work towards, and I love spending the start of each year reflecting on the year just gone, and the new one about to begin.

Let's look back at last year's Resolutions...

2015 GOALS
- Read 30 books. 
Failed pretty hard at this one.
- Get my splits
Still nope. 
- Continue learning
Definitely. I'm learning so much every day at work, and generally about myself. 
- Get a job
Definitely the biggest goal - I cannot believe that not only did I achieve this in my first year as a graduate, but that I did it so soon after graduating. I've now been a lawyer for almost a year, and learned so much in that time (one such lesson being that actually being a lawyer is nothing like law school). 

2016 GOALS
- Read 30 books
I'm going to actually hold myself accountable to this goal this year. 30 books in a year is only 2.5 books a month, which is totally do-able if I actually finish the books I start. I have about four books on the go at the moment, so I should get a good head-start to this one. 

- Get the Splits
Another year, another flexy goal. I really believe I can achieve this if I actually kick myself in the butt and train stretching regularly. Flexibility is really difficult for me (compared to strength training), so I need to get over that "too hard" mentality and just train. This is the year where the excuses end.

- Journal regularly
I love journalling, and want to get back into doing it regularly. I don't think I can commit to every single night, but I definitely want to be doing it more than I currently do (which is whenever I remember). 

- Get better at saving
It's not that I'm bad at saving, it's just that I'm better at spending. Although we have some big expenses coming up this year, I want to make a conscious effort to put some money aside each pay, just to be more of a responsible adult. 

- Finish three books
- Clean out the linen under the bed.
- Clear off my bedside table
- Stretch 5 days a week
- Pay off my credit card bill by the end of the month. 
- Go trapeze-ing! 
- Clear the hallway

I'm so excited to get started with this year, and am read to dive head-first into it. I have quite a lot of time off work these holidays, so want to get a good mix of productivity and relaxation in. 

Are you setting New Years Resolutions? 

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