Thursday, August 21, 2014

Zoeva Brushes

Lately Noodles has been getting into makeup and watching YouTube beauty vloggers, which is how I came to be sitting watching Tanya Burr, even though I am definitely way outside her demographic. In a tutorial she used and raved about the Zoeva Luxe Face Paint brush, and since I have nothing like that, and was also looking to splurge on something smallish before my massive pay cut kicked in and I became a povo, I decided to buy one and check it out. I'd heard about Zoeva because Siobhan of Letzmakeup uses them all the time and loves them, but I'd never paid much attention because I have more than enough brushes.

The downside is that shipping is kind of high, which was not enough to turn me off buying, but instead made me think I should buy several brushes (any excuse, really) to justify the cost. When the package arrived I realised why the shipping was expensive. To be honest, I think this is a bit of overkill.

The six brushes were packed in this ginormous box, each one in its own little plastic pencil case sleeve, and then surrounded by those plastic floaties things full of air. Although it's nice that they are well protected and arrive without damage, I do think it would be possible to safely ship brushes with a lot less palaver and therefore less cost. However, minor quibble - on to the brushes themselves!

109 Face Paint (12.80 Euro/$18.30AUD)
This is the one that got me to the site in the first place after seeing it on Tanya Burr's video. She used it for highlighter, but I use it mostly for contouring. It's a flat square brush that is sturdy but very soft. One thing I discovered is that it picks up a lot of product - hello brown stripe down the face - so you need a light hand if you're working with highly pigmented products. The price has gone up - I paid 10.50 Euro - but for less than $20 this brush is amazing.

322 Brow Line (6.80 Euro/$9.71AUD)
This one is my favourite - the bristles are very short and quite stiff so you can get really precise and sharp with your brows. It has replaced my previous holy grail brush, the Illamasqua Eye Brow brush, which is good because I have still not forgiven them for their bullshit non-apology over their racism debacle and I hate using the few things left of theirs that I own. The Brow Line brush works beautifully with both cream products and powder.  I LOVES IT.

226 Smudger (7.80 Euro/$11.15AUD)
When I decided to buy more brushes to make the postage sting a little less, I tried to go for the ones I didn't already have a version of. For some reason I did not previously have a smudge brush. I think I had a cheap Coastal Scents one years ago that fell apart, but since then nowt. This is the one I use the least, but that's not because it's not good, more because I just don't smudge a hell of a lot. I rarely use eyeshadow or liner under my eyes but when I do, this one does a lovely job of - well - smudging. It has short, sturdy but very soft bristles.  

318 Soft Paint Liner (6.80 Euro/$9.71AUD)
I've used this brush for a few different things - it works well with gel liner, and it's also good for smudging shadow, softening powder on brows and I've even used it for applying highlighter to my cupid's bow and inner corners of my eyes. The bristles are a little longer than the Brow Line and not quite as stiff.

221 Soft Crease (7.80 Euro/$11.15AUD) and 227 Soft Definer (7.80 Euro/$11.15AUD)
One can always use more blending/crease brushes, right? I couldn't decide which of these I wanted so I just got both. The Soft Crease is more narrow than the Soft Definer, with slightly longer bristles. The bristles are softer on the Soft Crease than the Soft Definer also, so the Soft Crease is better for diffusing colour, while the Soft Definer is good for small area blending.

So. As I said, shipping is a bit high - I paid 15.00 Euro ($21.50AUD), so if you're buying from Zoeva it's worth stocking up on a few things at once rather than just one or two items, because shipping is a flat rate. The site currently lists shipping for Australia as $16US, so you might end up paying a bit less than I did.

The brush quality is fantastic. I have used and washed each of these quite a few times and I've not experienced any shedding at all. They are still soft and pliable, and the handles and ferrules feel firm and sturdy. What I really love is that the handles are also a little shorter than many other brands, so you can get up close to the mirror!

I found the prices really reasonable, especially considering the quality. They are a little cheaper in most cases than Sigma, for example, and they absolutely shit all over them. It's no secret that I am not a fan of Sigma - I've had several of their brushes fall apart on me, and I have several more that I never use because they shed like mofos. The Zoeva brushes are streets ahead of Sigma, in my opinion.

Zoeva is based in Germany but ships worldwide. They have makeup as well as brushes, but I've not tried any of that. There are also some Zoeva products available on the Luxola site (which I've never used so I don't know if it's any good), but they don't have the full range and they seem to be sold out of most of it.

All in all, I give Zoeva two massive thumbs up, and if it were not for the fact that I am now officially povo and also have pretty much every makeup brush I could possibly need, I'd be back buying one of everything.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

50 Book Challenge - June & July

16. The Book of Joe - Jonathan Tropper
Highly readable but ultimately forgettable story of a guy who left his small town, wrote a snarky book about it, then has to return there when his father dies. If you've read any Jonathan Tropper before you're familiar with where this goes - dysfunctional family, thirtysomething unsettled Jewish guy learns things about himself, blah blah blah.

17. And When She Was Good - Laura Lippman
Suburban mom lives a double life as a high class hooker, then it all starts to come apart when people from her past begin to get killed off. Enjoyable enough crime novel.

18. Say You're Sorry - Michael Robotham
Every year I say I'm going to read 'quality' books for my 50 Book Challenge and every year I fall back on page-turning mysteries and crime stories. A present day murder ties in to the disappearance of two teenage girls several years earlier. It's a pretty gripping story but the reveal of the villain is kind of eh.

19. Mohawk - Richard Russo
I was mildly obsessed with Richard Russo in the 1990s and I remember reading this and loving it. Second time around - ehhhh, not so much. It's about several different people in a small town and it is mildly interesting, but very much a clunky first novel.

20. The Last Policeman - Ben H. Winters
Now this I liked. Set in a world where an asteroid is about to hit the earth in 6 months and destroy everything, most people have given up bothering about much. However, one policeman still does his job and sets out to prove that an apparent suicide was in fact murder. The crime and resolution is a bit hokey, but the premise is awesome and I really enjoyed it. Apparently it's the first of a trilogy so I'll be hunting down the next two.

21. Snowblind - Christopher Golden
Oogedy boogedy horror novel about creepy creatures who come out in two extreme blizzards years apart in a small town. It started off well but got really bogged down with all the different characters. Christopher Golden seems to have been going for a Stephen King everyone-has-a-POV kind of thing, but it doesn't really work.

22. All Fall Down - Jennifer Weiner
Incredibly tedious novel about a suburban mommy blogger with a secret (she thinks) pill addiction. It drags on and on forever with so much repetitive detail that I almost chucked it. Somehow I ploughed through to the end and then immediately wished I hadn't bothered. Avoid.

23. Cop Town - Karin Slaughter
Set in the 1970s in Atlanta, this is a novel about the attitudes of white male cops to their changing environment - a lot about women on the force, homosexuality, a half-arsed nod to racism, and a mildly interesting crime story of a serial cop killer. I found this book riveting while I was reading it, but after I felt a bit uncomfortable and I'm still not sure why.

Well over halfway through the year and I'm not even halfway through my 50 books yet. Must get cracking!

Saturday, August 9, 2014


Aloha! I am still alive, and though I have quite a few blog posts I've been working up to doing, I am just going to do a quick update for now of some random crap.

1. I had been acting in a higher position for nearly 4 years and it's one of those ones you have to reapply for every year. I decided not to reapply this year because I hate the job, I hate almost everyone I was working with, and it was just causing me too much stress. Instead I've taken a massive pay cut to go and answer phones all day. I am going to be pretty povo from now on, but it's so much better than dealing with all the shit I had to deal with before. Although nothing ever changes in call centres - there are always a large number of weirdo loner types, and pretty much everyone is on some stupid diet and can never stop banging on about it. Whatevs, I just want to do my work and go home.

2. Noodles and I have been watching Game of Thrones together - her for the first time - and I am enjoying it a lot more now that I understand the connections between everyone and what's happening. For example, I was bored shitless the first time with Daenerys wandering around in the desert for four seasons but it's far more interesting to me now I know why she is doing it. I still have no clue why the wildlings and Jon Snow are going over the wall though. I also noticed that Jon Snow has exactly one facial expression - confused stoner. They really needed a much more charismatic actor for that role, considering how central the character appears to be. Noodles has somehow managed to avoid spoilers almost entirely - except for that one big one in Season 4 that book readers could not resist shooting their gobs off about. So when there was that death in Season 1 and then that other death in Season 2 she was shocked and devastated. Tonight we are watching S03E09. Oh, Noodles. If only you knew.

3. I am currently obsessed with steel cut oats - yes, I've become one of those people. I had tried them before in the slow cooker and it was a complete disaster, but I read somewhere online that you could just soak them overnight, so I decided to try that. I have been mixing the oats with skim milk, frozen blueberries and a tablespoon each of slivered almonds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds in a mason jar (yes, I've become one of those people too) and leaving overnight. I take it to work with me and it's awesome. Chewy and filling and I feel super healthified.

4. My current favourite podcast is Picturehouse Podcast, a London-based film cast that's hosted by two guys who work for a cinema company. (Maybe only one of them does - I don't really know.) Anyway, while their news section is more relevant to locals, their general chat and reviews of films are really fun and interesting, and they have a lot of interviews with cast and creators of various movies. I liked it so much that I downloaded most of their back catalogue and spent a few months listening to them for a couple of hours a day. I'm up to date now and only get a half hour or so fix a week. Boourns. If you like films, check it out. And of course I still highly recommend previously mentioned favourites like Answer Me This, How Did This Get Made, Personal Arrogants and pretty much any of the Bald Move TV and movie podcasts.

5. Noodles has a new BFF at school who is a full on feminist and it's really rubbing off on her. Yesssssss!

6. I've stopped reading the news sites. It's so depressing what this shithead government is doing to pretty much every vulnerable group they can hunt down and stomp on. They are a pack of nasty cunts and I really, really hope that they don't last longer than one term because if they hang around much longer we are all completely screwed.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bargain Shopping

I've lived in the same house now for seven years and it still looks like a bunch of random uni students live here. I've complained about this before and then done nothing about it. I hate most of the furniture - which I just cobbled together when I came to Adelaide, having no idea of the good places to go and settling for a large warehouse type place where I could just get pretty much everything (albeit boring versions of) under one roof. There are barely any pictures on the walls as it's double brick and I'd need an electric drill to create holes for hooks, and the hooks that are there are in stupid, weird places. There is pretty much no storage outside the kitchen cupboards, save for one cupboard filled to the brim with all the random shit you have to keep in a house (ironing board, sleeping bag, extra pillows and blankets, etc.) but don't want seen.

So, finally I have wandered out of my house funk and decided that it's time to do some decorating and make it more of a home we actually want to hang out in. However, that has coincided with me changing to a job where I will have a drop in pay of well over $200 a fortnight, so we are staring down the barrel of a very tight budget. Enter the secondhand shops.

Lily came home a couple of weeks ago and told me she had been to a store with her vintage/op shop loving friend and she thought I would really like it. "They have EVERYTHING, Mum - furniture, DVDs, books, old lady crockery." Since I'd been thinking about finally getting some wardrobes and ditching the clothes racks we'd been using for years, I figured it couldn't hurt to go and have a look, although to be honest, I wasn't expecting a lot. I've been to a handful of op shops and secondhand places in Adelaide before and they were all shit and ridiculously over-priced. But I thought that we could have a look, and then go to (my original plan) Ikea and just buy two wardrobes there and be done with it.

The first thing you notice about Hindmarsh Disposals is that it's huge - it goes back forever and there are so many things to look at that it's overwhelming. We were there for ages and didn't get much past the bedroom furniture. The second thing is that there's a cat who just follows you around to see what you're doing. And the third thing is that it's crazy cheap. I mean, we're not talking about geniune Hepplewhites here, but we're not talking garbage either. I had budgeted a maximum of $600 for two secondhand wardrobes and delivery. I got two wardrobes, two dressers, one of those dining room cabinet things everyone's grandma has, a small table nest and delivery for $490.

This is my wardrobe - my only stipulation was that it had some drawers in it for my jumpers and cardies, so I didn't have to have a separate chest of drawers taking up space.

Lily's wardrobe. She's not as fussed as I am by 'old furniture smell' so she just left hers overnight with some containers of vinegar and then was happy to put her stuff in it the next day (I'm still messing about deodorising mine). Note her beloved Cosby cardigan - purchased during a Savers expedition a couple of weeks ago. I had a boyfriend in 1985 who used to wear those kinds of cardigans.

There were so many dressers it was really hard to pin down which one I wanted. In the end I went with this one because I liked the curved drawers. It doesn't have handles but I can pick some up at Bunnings or probably even on eBay. Again, I haven't put anything in it yet as I'm still cleaning it out - those drawers are currently sprinkled with bicarb.

Lily's dresser. I kind of wish I'd chosen this one as it's huge, but I do still love mine. She's super happy with it as she finally has a more or less full length mirror in the house.

And the dining room cabinet thing. I don't even know what I'm going to do with this, but it was $65 so I just had to have it. I have a desk/shelf thing in the kitchen that I really hate so I'm thinking I might just clean this up and then use it to store pots and pans and whatever.

The customer service at Hindmarsh Disposals was fantastic - the lady was really helpful and knocked 10% off everything because we paid cash (and not even with me asking - I never, ever, ever haggle). We also lay-byed a small lounge suite while we were there and when I go back next week to pay the rest of it I'm going to finally get around to looking at everything else they have. Seriously, you could spend days in there. And finally my house is starting to look like something I can enjoy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

50 Book Challenge - May Books

I read nothing but magazines in April, but I had a spurt of book activity in May. Still pretty behind on the 50 Book Challenge, but I can catch up. My reading spurt is continuing - I've just finished my first June book and started another.

This is a story about a midwife in New York in the 1800s, a woman who rises from extreme poverty to great wealth, but then comes unstuck by an infamous moral crusader. Loosely based on a real woman known as Madame X, this is what the kids call a ripping yarn, though it does start to drage a bit in the last third of the book. Overall, though, I really enjoyed it and it kickstarted a good spate of reading for the month.

I didn’t realise this was a YA novel until I started reading it. I generally hate YA novels. However, I was curious enough about where this was going to keep reading, and it was very easy to read. It’s about a teenage boy who receives a series of cassette tapes from a girl who has recently committed suicide, where she names and shames every person who did anything to her that eventually led to her taking her own life. It’s kind of meh. I am sure it will be made into a movie with some pretty young people and a hip-but-angsty soundtrack and everyone will go bonkers for it. It’s that sort of story.

I don’t want to say much about this – it’s one of those stories where it’s best to know as little as possible about going in. The most I will say is that it’s a dysfunctional family tale. I ploughed through the first half really quickly but the second half dragged and bored me a bit. It was a good story but just went on a bit too long.

I have had this on my ‘to read’ list for a really long time and I don’t remember why. In fact, I think having it on my list was what led me to read a couple of the Inspector Lynley novels last year (and then give up and just watch the TV show). Right, so. This isn’t about Inspector Lynley; instead it’s about a child who becomes involved in a crime in another Inspector Lynley novel (With No One As Witness), and how he got to that point. I haven’t read the other book, but I think I will. The story itself is really grim and says a lot about the plight of the disadvantaged. My problem with it was that it was relentlessly repetitive. I get that it was meant to show the endless grinding down of this kid and how it led him to the choices he eventually made, but the key word there is endless. Over and over again the same things happened and it just got a bit tedious after a while. The language was a bit twee too – the author is American, and it is fairly obvious she ‘researched’ how people of colour in London interact and speak to each other rather than ever actually being around any of them and hearing them for herself. It sounds real, but kind of ‘fake real’, you know?

Did Not Finish

I read 5 stories and could not bear to go any further. I get the impression that B.J. Novak has deliberately written a bunch of pointless, meaningless pieces of garbage to see if everyone would pretend to get them, and then in a year or so he can smugly come out and say, ‘You idiots, they’re not meant to make sense! I’m so much smarter than everyone.’

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Madame Scodioli solid perfumes

Scodioli Creative has been on my 'to try' list for a couple of years, but I'm not a massive fan of solid perfumes so I just never got around to it. However, I'm trying to branch out a bit so after waiting around FOREVER for the weather to be safe, I decided to order some samples and see what they were like. (As it happens, the day they turned up was 32 degrees celsius - in the middle of Autumn. Luckily I was home early and they didn't have to sit in a hot metal letterbox all day. But seriously - WTF Adelaide????)

The samples come in a set of 3 for $18US. That might seem expensive for samples, but it makes sense when you see the size of them. Check out one next to a clam shell, which is the usual sample size for a solid perfume, and a full size Darling Clandestine solid perfume:

There is 1/4 oz of perfume in each, and according to some mathematical calculations in my head Google, that translates to 7ml for us down under. 7ml of perfume for $6US = bloody good deal (the full size Darling Clandestine perfumes are almost twice that volume, I think, but their perfumes are way bigger than most and crazy cheap for how much you get ). So basically you're getting what amounts to 3 almost-full size perfumes for $6US each.  Shipping was $10US to Australia, which is pretty average these days (sob).

The packaging is gorgeous. These are very sturdy screw top tins with an old-fashioned banner label stuck around them. I could have one of these floating around the bottom of my handbag of doom and not worry about it leaking everywhere. In fact, that's probably what I will do with them. I am trying to acquire a taste for solid perfumes because they are just so much easier to carry around and reapply than oils are. The 3 I chose were Euphorium, Odeda and Boheme. I don't feel as though I need a full size of any of these as they are well big enough for me, and the full sizes are a massive 30ml. However, I will buy more sample sizes as there are a few others I want to check out too, namely Farewell (lilac and bergamot), Timshel (tobacco and vanilla), and Oracle (exotic fig, spices and musk).

Euphorium - almond, milk and honey.
This opens with a strong hit of almond - a note I often detest, and in the tin it is straight up marzipan, bringing back horrific nightmares of 1970s wedding cakes coated with a sheet of almond icing. However, after a couple of minutes the almond mellows nicely into the background to just add a slight nutty note. The honey isn't really noticeable on me - maybe it's that tiny touch of sweetness, but mostly what I get from this is a warm, milky vanilla-ish scent that is pretty much a dupe of my beloved - and discontinued - Firebird Almond Milk. So if you're a fan of that one and you missed out on stocking up before it disappeared, Euphorium is definitely worth trying out.This one was instant love for me.

Odeda - saffron, musk and honey.
This was the one I was most interested in and sadly, the only one I hated. My favourite Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfume is a limited edition called Love's Philosophy, which was released a couple of times for Valentine's Day but to my knowledge hasn't been around for about 6 years. I have two half full bottles that I picked up from forum sales, and am constantly keeping an eye out for more. The notes in it are vanilla, cream and saffron and it's the saffron in it that I adore. It adds a tiny kick of spice to the standard vanilla/cream combo and just makes it amazingly warm and sniffable. So I guess I was hoping that Odeda would be similar, but alas, it was not to be. The saffron is completely overpowering to the point where I could never at any time smell the musk or the honey. It was just a really strong, slightly band-aidy spice smell that gave me a headache and took forever to go away (in my experience solids last a couple of hours if that - this one of course hung in there for a good 8 hours). This is definitely not for me and I won't be going near it again.

Boheme - vanilla oak.
It is what it says it is - a woody unisex fragrance sweetened slightly with vanilla. It's like a really nice smelling furniture polish, and I don't mean that in a bad way; if I had fancy wood furniture (rather than a house full of Ikea) I would totally rub this all over it. Actually, I probably wouldn't because fancy wood furniture is really expensive, but you get what I mean. Like Odeda, this is quite strong, but I find that on my skin with most woody notes. I didn't love this, but I did like it - I'd be more inclined to wear it in cold weather so I think I'll put it away for a month or two and then haul it out mid-winter.

Overall, the blends are quite simple (not a bad thing), and I'm happy enough - Odeda notwithstanding - to try more. Scodioli is a good little shop worth checking out, and they also sell soap and manly beard wotsits for those of you who are into such things.