Hacks to Save Money When Travelling in Europe

  1. Find a Geographical Focus

It is easy, if not natural, to get wrapped up in the excitement of endless possibilities when planning your voyage throughout Europe. When considering what historic streets and enchanted cities you want to roam, many look solely at the well-loved destinations such as Paris, London (although no longer in the European Union), Milan, Rome. Whilst some do jet-set from corner to corner of Europe to experience major cities, it is imperative to be methodical and geographically focused when planning your route.

My best friend and I ran into this issue whilst booking our voyage.

We had both visited different countries respectively and neither of us were willing to overlook unseen cities for those that were familiar. In out attempts of working around said issue, it became apparent that we would have to invest thousands upon thousands for a few weeks of travel to jet-set throughout Europe.

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DUBROVNIK>KORCULA>PRAGUE>AUSTRALIA

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In retrospect, our excitement and naivety led us to making inefficient decisions that lost us valuable time and wads of cash. What is painfully apparent is that you cannot see all of Europe at once, and to be frank, you probably shouldn’t either. If you are lucky enough to do so, travel at multiple stages throughout your life, when you have different passions, interests and desires.

If you, like us, have no idea where to start and how to determine what the natural route of travel is, I recommend referring to established bus and train routes to grasp the most efficient way of seeing as many cities as you can.

2. Stay Central and Travel by Foot

An ethos I have worked by throughout all my trips domestic and abroad. Whilst residing in
central city locations can be on the pricier side, savings from not using public transport, taxis and ride-sharing services should be accounted for in the price of your central location.

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3.  Continental Breakfasts 

The gift that keeps on giving.

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I am yet to stay at a hotel or hostel in Europe that does not provide a continental breakfast,complimentary or not. A sneaky penny saving tactic that I have used in the past is packing lunch on the go at the breakfast bar.

A simple ziplock bag can house a sumptuous rustic sandwich made with fresh and healthy product, too often overlooked whilst travelling.

In doing so, I am unashamed to have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars with packed lunches.

4.  Travel with Countries not on the Euro

Exchange rates can be a make or break when travelling on a tight budget. Eastern European nation such as Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania that have a favourable exchange rate in comparison to the AUD/US Dollar/Pound will not drain your pockets and accounts.

Note: Strong economies that do not adhere to the Euro currency, such as Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the UK can be onerous on the back pocket. 

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5. Pack a Flask

No, not that type of flask.

I mean, each to their own but that’s not what I’m referring to.

A trick I recently learnt on my cruise is to take a lightweight flask that can maintain theh999bu078_t2-stainless-steel-flask-lilac_r1
warmth of tea or coffee for the duration of the day. Whilst some may see this as a ludicrous proposition, for someone like me who drinks 5+ cups of
tea daily, I can save on average $700AUD within the month of travel.

6. Beauty Maintenance 

Calling it out for what it is, beauty maintenance services in travel hubs is the equivalent of a daylight robbery.

Forget the gypsies and pick-picketers, the lay-traveller should fear the beautician and how much he/she will charge you.

Every time I return to Europe, I learn the hard way (over and over again) that shellac is not anywhere near as popular and affordable as it is in Australia.

Whilst I am consistent with my fortnightly shellac maintenance, affording that same maintenance overseas makes me feel like I’ve sold my soul for a fresh pair of non-cuticle, coloured claws. For the sake of your monobrow, nails, spirit and account – tick a pair of tweezers, a bottle of nail polish and hair treatments off your ‘to pack‘ list.

7. Be an Aware Passenger (Taxis)

Before departing for Budapest, I was advised by fellow travellers that the taxi-drivers in Eastern Europe are notoriously known for ripping tourists off. I, ever the optimist, paid little attention to the advice offered to me, being:

A. Familiarise yourself with the rate of the side of the taxi.
B. Ask the driver whether they can estimate how much the fare will come to, and/or whether they are willing to establish a set price before the meter begins.
C. If all else fails, bargain with different drivers until you are offered a reasonable price.

Even with this advice, we were ripped off and charged a ridiculous amount for a 10 minute adventure. Ironically, the driver who was perfectly competent in the english language and conversed with us throughout the whole journey, claimed there was a language barrier when we questioned the final fare cost charged.

8. Hop-on-Hop-off Buses

2016 was the year of the hop-on-hop-off adventures. The amount I crammed into a limited amount of time stands testament to how fantastic these services truly are.

The beauty of the hop-on-hop-off service is that it is tailored to facilitate the ‘go-to’ placed for tourists whilst still allowing the option to sight-see solo.

When I sit and calculate how much time, effort and money would be funnelled into catching public transport and hiring a tour guide, it is evident that these services are both efficient and economical.

9. Travel Insurance

Need I say more?

You are potentially saving yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars if one of your adventures turns pear-shaped.

In the meantime, happy travelling!

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Styling Menswear

Throughout my years of retail experience, I have met men from various walks of life who have different levels of competence when ‘outfitting’. As a result, I felt it necessary to share some helpful hints and tips I have aquired from my 2.5 years working in men’s fashion.

1. Trans-seasonal Layering

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Tran-seasonal periods are when both men and women have the opportunity to exhibit their personal approach to fashion.

Unlike the warmer months, it is hard to dress with style in mind when your primary concern is not melting in the heat. Personally, I believe that during the colder months one can layer high street pieces into a decadent (yet stylish and affordable) outfit that both looks and feels incredible.

The best tip that I could ever offer is to invest in staple pieces.

Whilst fast fashion can be riveting and playful – certain items of clothing should not be compromised for trends. A classic investment piece of clothing can be worn hundreds of times without looking worn and tattered. Whether it be a wool jacket, suede desert boots, a comfortable pair of boat shoes, high quality yarn knit-wear or a cashmere scarf – pay attention to the fine details of your clothing investments, as these are the pieces your outfits will revolve around.

Now I know what you’re thinking – I bet that you’re scrolling through your phone or sitting behind your computer screen rolling your eyes thinking… “yeah okay, and how much do you expect me to invest?“. Well, the truth of the matter is that high fashion companies are lifting their game – no longer do luxury materials and well fitted pieces have to be purchased from the luxury market. Newsflash, in this competative market, quality garments and expensive price tags are no longer mutually exclusive. Everyday accessible brands such as Connor, Tarocash, YD, Industrie, Saba and Country Road can offer fantastic alternatives to designer clothing, with a similar finish.

When investing in basics, pay close attention to the fabric content and don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate of the best ways to clean the garment, or how it will wear over time.

Alternatively, if you own a classic coat that needs updating, take that coat to an alterations shop and taper the shoulders and waist to flatter your figure. The smallest details can be the difference between items looking mass-manufactured and made for you.

2. Everyday-wear

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Working in men’s fashion you quickly learn that every sales assistant gravitates towards different styles, so much so, that as colleagues we direct customers to one another if we feel our personal style aligns with a customers. If you are after trend-driven casual streetstyle that revolves around fresh sneakers, I could blindly assist you with sizing and not much else. On the other hand, if you are after a collared shirt, fitted chinos and boat shoes – I’m your girl.

For everyday outfitting, I suggest that you consider what appeals to you most and working from there. Determine whether you appreciate sportier styles, trend-driven streetwear styles, or anything in between. Once you know the look you are trying to achieve, it is easier to shop for individual items.

The ‘preppy’ look always spoke to me – the timeless blend of comfortable everyday clothing with a touch of formal flair. This appreciation inspired me to style the model (pictured above) in a quintisential preppy look appropriate for university, casual fridays in the office, or weekendwear.

3. Work-wear

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Dressing for work isn’t too complicated. If you stick to a few golden rules, there’s not much that can go wrong.

Firstly, always match your belt and shoes (and workbag if you so wish). Far too many times men have come into the mens-wear store I work at with the intention of purchasing a semi-matching belt for their work outfit.

I’m sorry, but no.

There are some things in this world that are fundamentally wrong…this is one of them.

The purpose of wearing a belt other than for functional reasons, is to tie the details of an outfit together to achieve a polished look. If your belt and shoes do not match, the proportions of the outfit are scewed and you are better off untucking your shirt and sporting the shoes on their own.

I note that whilst in this image the workbag is black and the other accessories are a deep chocolate brown, the subtle hardware of the bag paired with the brown patch detailing on the strap ties the outfit together.

Further, do not fear the ‘dress chino’. Whilst a lot of mens fashion brands are yet to jump on the bandwagon, I am a great believer in the versatility, practicality and beauty of the dress chino. This is a pant that can be worn for work and paired with a different top, can be transformed into an everyday pant for casual day-to-day life. If purchased in a subtle color such as black, navy, ink, camel or sand, the dress chino can be the perfect addition to a capsule wardrobe (whilst still looking professional and polished).

Whatever your style, experience or confidence with men’s clothing, we all have to start from somewhere. Thanks to my delving into clothing styles, I have progressed from the completely inexperienced 19 year old to a reasonably well-versed near 22 year old – I have no doubt that you can do the same!

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February Favourites

Fashion

1.  Dior Tribal Earrings

The En Dior Tribale earrings have quickly established themselves as a staple piece of every bloggers wardrobe. For that specific reason, I vowed to never show interest in the seemingly over-hyped pair of earrings. Whilst I am a huge pearl enthusiast, I like many was unwilling to look past unbranded accessories that exhibited great craftsmanship and individuality, for mass-produced pieces that are not even freshwater pearls.

My stoic attitude was however challenged by one of my favourite bloggers Lydia Elise Millen, as she unboxed a stunning sterling silver pair of Tribal Earrings from Paris, with an unrivalled intricate design. From there on, I could not get the less common tribal earrings designs out of my mind, helplessly watching the items sell for ludicrous prices on the consignment market. For that reason I decided to invest when I had the opportunity and jump on the tribal bandwagon…and I have not looked back since!

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2. Gucci GG Blooms Continental Wallet
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As exhibited in my previous posts, the GG Blooms print truly is the apple of my eye. With that in mind, let’s not act surprised that I am insanely in love with my GG Blooms Continental ‘Zip Around’ Wallet.

Even though fashions are moving away from continental wallets towards sleeker card cases, I proudly rock my floral beauty like a nana with her decades old fur jacket – wearing it without a care.

If you are on the market for a sturdy canvas wallet that can be utilised as a clutch (and that isn’t sported by every Tom, Dick and Jane) – I would unreservedly recommend this piece.

3. Zoe Wittner – Clide Shoes

Quite literally my ‘go-to‘ shoe.

Work? Clide.

Date night? Clide.

Mountain walk? Clide.

Wedding? Clide.

Funeral? Clide.

Okay, perhaps exaggerated slightly, but nevertheless these shoes scream Aquazzura vibes to me (minus that painful Aquazzura price tag) ! This attention grabbing pair is always the focal part of conversations, and/or outfit. After spending a day in the city shopping with my mother, she came to the opinion that women and other on passers spent more time staring at my shoes than they did anything else. They are the perfect comfort sandal, with a durable suede lining, paired with that certain pazazz you do not often see in high street.

My love runs deep for them, so much so that I returned to purchase the style in all provided colours – not even sorry!

Beauty

1.  Guerlain ‘Rouge G de Guerlain’ Lipsticks

Guerlain is a brand I always wanted to try, but somehow never got around to (like most things in my life). Hearing esteemed lifestyle bloggers rave about the velvety and luxurious pigment of the lipsticks made me instantly lust for one of my own. As if that wasn’t enough, the heritage of the company had me swooning unimaginably, with the House of Guerlain was founded in 1828, when Pierre-François Pascal Guerlain opened his perfume store at 42 in Paris.

I finally took the leap into Guerlain, and have not looked back since.

The two colors I can not get enough of are the Orgueil M69 and Luxure M27 (pictured below). As someone who rarely stray from my holy grail nude shades, and in the rare occurrence that I do it is to sport another nude, these shades are a well needed sophisticated nighttime shade.

2. Omorovicza Skincare

I first encountered Omorovicza products in Mecca Cosmetica and to be blatantly honest, the moment I heard of the process behind the product, the efforts chemists went to and the active ingredients, I was listening.

The moment they told me the story of Margaret and Stephen, the founders of the product, they had my attention.

Fast forward to the early days of this century Margaret and Stephen met in Budapest. Stephen took his future wife on a tour of Hungary and their first stop? The thermal baths. Here, they were amazed at the transformation of their skin and so enlisted the help of a Nobel prize-winning laboratory to harness these healing waters into a pioneering new luxury skincare range, using Hydro Mineral Transference.

Origins of Omorovicza

The moment they told me the product originated from Budapest – I was sold.

Irrespective of the product packaging, indifferent to the scent and/or the popularity, Omorovicza is by far the best skincare I have ever used (finally, something knocking Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Review off it’s pedestal).

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3. MECCA COSMETICA (store)

Okay, so, newsflash to everyone else out there who like me, didn’t know that Mecca
a does not purely specialise in makeup (Mecca Maxima), but also in skincare!

Further to that, I can hand on heart attest to the fact that I have never been so impressed with the sales assistants as I was in Mecca Cosmetica. After wandering aimlessly into The Galleries store, I was so thankful to have met a brilliant sales person named Alma who spent in excess of an hour with me, discussing the heritage, stories and skincare products within the store. What struck me was how much knowledge these women possessed and the inconceivable passion they had for exceptional product and helping
clients with their skin needs.

I will be hard pressed to shop anywhere else for my skincare needs from now on. Through old fashioned customer service, I will happily blow the trumpet and be an ambassador for Mecca Cosmetica. If you too feel like you are wasting hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on ineffective creams – head into your nearest Mecca Cosmetica and merely ask for help.

4. Carolina Herrera, Good Girl

My first encounter with this scent was in the duty-free shopping of the Pacific Jewel.
From that first whiff, I could not get the flirtatious fragrance out of my head, so much so that I woke up the next day knowing that I could not resist brining the stiletto shaped bottle home. Carolina Herrera’s new fragrance is a delicate balance between sweet floral scents and deep sexy undertones.

5. Priceline Hair Care ‘Goody Bag’

This month Priceline offered customers a ‘Goody Bag‘ with product amounting to $260 when customers spent $50 on hair care products.  This bag consisted of various full-sized products which to my surprise were of impeccable quality and value.

Miscellaneous

1. 7/11 Iced Coffee

At the risk of sounding like a ‘BB’, iced coffee is the man-kinds greatest creation since sliced bread.

Why not enjoy a guilt free iced coffee that will only set you back $2, in comparison to cafes that will end up being a robbery by daylight?

2. ECOYA White Peach & Orange Blossom Reed Diffuser

As an appreciator of all scents peach, it seems fitting that my room constantly smell of sweet citrus!

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3. Spotify – Sleep Playlist

I am still unaware of what the third track on the playlist is… I am always in a peaceful slumber by that stage.

4. T2 Tea Flask

I was lucky enough to be gifted the much anticipated tea flask for Valentine’s Day. H999BU078_t2-stainless-steel-flask-lilac_r1.jpgWhilst I was advised that the tea will stay hot for 6-8 hours, a claim that I was sceptical about, I found that tea could stay hot for much longer. I can confirm that these claims are not mere puff and they are completely and unreservedly worth the money.

My flask was my number one item used on my recent cruise, addressed in Travel Tips & Tricks: Cruises. A stunning gift and addition for anyone who loves there tea anywhere near as much as I do.

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Travel Tips & Tricks: Cruises

 

I went on a cruise.

Now there’s something I never thought I would say/write.

Whilst I have always loved travelling (if you couldn’t already tell after reading Honestly, Is Travelling In Your 20’s Really Worth It?), I never really gave crusing a second thought. For me a holidays correlated with planes, trains and everything in between, bar boats.

I suprised myself in agreeing to book a quick little getaway with my partner on the Pacific Jewel, and at the other side of the trip, and I readily await my next cruising experience (and when that time comes, I will be sure to return to this post as a refresher).

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1.Calculate your expenses using the cost-per-day method

When determining what cruise to book, calculate the cost per-day expenses.

Whilst it may seem daunting to shell out hundreds of dollars for a few days of excitement, when you break down the daily costs and what those funds include, the value of the cruise really speaks for itself.

Sidenote: Seems that the cost-per-wear ideology is trickling into other areas of daily life!

2. Make a standing reservation for dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant

The Waterfront Restaurant was honestly one of the highlights of the cruising experience!

My partner and I determined by the end of the trip that if we were to dine at a restaurant in Sydney for four nights in a row, our bill would amount to more than what our cruise fare was.

The Waterfront Restaurant is a gorgeous dining experience where a large selection of fine-dining meals are available and included in your cruise fare. The Waterfront to me felt like a date night every evening – with the impeccable service, food, decor and attention to detail, it was easy to forget the fact that you are actually on the high seas.

Every day our anticipation grew throughout the day, wondering what we would indulge in that evening. Needless to say my extra 2kg of weight on my frame was well worth the experience of the Waterfront Restraunt. I am happy to run on a treadmill for a few weeks for my few days of unrestricted indulgence.

If you are cruising on the Pacific Jewel, as soon as you get on the cruise liner, head to level 7 and make a standing reservation for each evening at a consistent time… thank me later!

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p.s if the images do not look appealing, blame it on the photography – in reality the food was flawless.

 3. Bring an empty flask or water bottle

My biggest concern before boarding the boat is quite possibly the most ridiculous concern anyone could ever have – I was concerned with the tea situation. My browsing history was all kinds of odd – I neurotically googled and enquired whether there was tea available onboard, whether I was required to purchase a ‘drinks package’ and whether it was humanly possible to sneak a kettle in my bag without detection.

One of the better decisions I made was taking one of my valentine’s day presents on board with me, that being a T2 tea flask that keeps drinks hot for 6-8 hours on average. I quite literally probably spent more time on level 12 where the tea dispenser was than I did in my room.

If you on the other hand are not a tea fan and you are wondering how you are to have water onboard (because let’s be real, who wants to spend copious amounts of money on water), I recommend brining an empty water bottle and filling it up onboard. Whilst it is asked that you do not directly place your water bottle under the water dispenser, I filled cups of water and poured that water into my bottle to ensure I was hygenic and respectful to other patrons and that I was not going to die of dehydration.

4. Prepay your ‘Cruise Card’

Two words – accountability and security

Call me paranoid, but I prefer to keep my card details to myself, rather than share my financial details with business and corporations. Whilst I acknowledge that there is little chance of banking details falling into the wrong hands – I will take any and every precaution I can take.

Further, why not keep yourself financially accountable and stay on-top of your onboard spending habits?!

I know that this is a tip that the cruise liner would prefer you not take, and might I note that we were not informed that there were pre-paid cruise card options onboard, but be sure to ask about the option when boarding the ship.

5. Schedule your daily activities the night before

Cruises are fantastic not only for their great service and culinary delights, but also for their on-board experiences. With the amount of comedy shows, dance classes, tournaments, trivia games and movies on offer, it can be difficult to schedule in everything that you want to experience within the hours available.

As I was travelling with my partner, we had to compromise with one another and determine what our daily activities would be the night before. P & O Cruises leave the daily schedule for the next day, ‘Good Times‘, allowing you the opportunity to pre-plan your onboard experiences.

We sat with a pen and initialled the activities we wanted to be involved in and debate why we should choose one over the other… (ladies, you know you’re onto a good thing when your partner agrees to take two dance classes at the cost of their table-tennis tournament).

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6. Get to know the cruise staff members

Cruise staff work ridiculously hard, they are always so chirpy and helpful and should be recognised for their amazing service and professionalism. Say good morning when you pass them in the hall, take the time to talk to the entertainment staff and find out about their stories – after all, that is the beauty of travel.

7. Forget about the internet (and WIFI for that matter!)

Yes, you will feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway without internet.

Yes, you will survive. No, the ‘free wifi’ will not work, even in public spaces.

8. Pre-purchase your adventure activities prior to the cruise

Moreton Island is a beautiful destination, yet given the stringent time frame allocated for activities on the Island, I am so grateful that we booked our adventures before the cruise commenced. If we were to book on the Island, the time lost in determining what adventures we wanted to take and organising the experience would have eaten away a chunk of the day that would be better spent in the water.

Note that there was no price difference in our experience between repurchased activities and those that could be bought on the day.

9. Pack a capsule wardrobe

A golden rule for any travels is organising a versatile capsule wardrobe.

Packing Rules:

1. Do not pack anything you don’t absolutely love–you won’t wear it. Like an capsule wardrobe, you wan’t to focus only on what you adore. Instead, you’ll re-wear the things you do love, and will have wasted space for nothing. (If you don’t love something, why do you own it anyway?)

2. Pick a color scheme, and stick to it. Every single item you pack must also match every other item you pack. This results in dozens of outfit combinations and virtually zero effort required to get dressed every day. Sticking to classic basics also ensures you won’t look back at photos and think, “GOD what was I wearing!?” Remember, there is nothing chicer than all-black.

3. Limit yourself to three pairs of shoes. There’s a reason most capsule wardrobes limit footwear choices, you really don’t need that many!

A Travel Capsule Wardrobe: Your Ultimate Packing List

10. Take a power-board with you

With two power ports in each room and multiple appliances to charge, packing a powerboard was an ingenious idea!

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Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s day has always been a special event in my eyes. Albeit, I acknowledge that the day to many is merely driven by consumerism and Hallmark’s advertising team. To me on the other hand, it is a day of love, celebration, sentiment, romance and perhaps a cheeky rose or two!

My partner, ever the romantic, outdid himself this year.

Leading up to the big day, I pitied my lover and the mammoth task set-out for him of beating last years celebrations. Needless to say I was touched that he organized a stunning hot air balloon ride for us to experience sunrise together, followed by a buffet breakfast, an intimate picnic lunch and dinner at the location we had our first date.

Safe to say he has his work cut out for him next year!

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Whilst I appreciate that I am incredibly lucky, everyone has experienced a lonely and painful valentine’s day. For that exact reason, I think it is incredibly important to think of both your friends and family and what their experience of valentine’s day will be like.

Whether it be a simple text letting them know that they are in your thoughts, a coffee catch-up throughout the day, attending an anti-valentine’s day event with them or gifting a basket of goodies that you know they would appreciate – it’s important to think outside of merely your romantic relationship and show platonic love to those who also matter to you!

Sending love to all this valentine’s day,

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2016 Favourites

As a consumer who gullibly believes the claims of beauty companies, I have dabbled in various products and their claims to determine what is and isn’t mere puff.

To celebrate the beginning of the new year, I would love to share the products that proved exceptional, that I will continue to use throughout 2017!

Skin Care

Clinique Anti Blemish Solution

2016 was the year of acne.  Vicious, aggressive and unyielding acne. Quickly I learnt that  teenagers are not the only ones to fall victim to the curse of cystic hormonal acne.

Thankfully, with the assistance of the Clinique Anti Blemish Solution Range (review available at: Clinique Anti-Blemish Solution Review), my skin has been afforded the opportunity to clear up. I recommend these Clinique products to those struggling with their skin, yet do not want to use harsh chemicals or reach to prescribed oral or topical medications.

Frank Coffee Scrub

When it comes to ensuring soft luxurious skin, coffee scrubs have been all the rage this year. Every Tom, Dick and Jane have released their take on the humble coffee scrub. Meanwhile, I have been the foolish consumer who has purchased dozens of coffee scrubs in an attempt to knock the most popular of them all, being Frank. Unfortunately, said venture has led me to some skin issues. Some of the scrubs have been too coarse, causing grazing and irritation, some have had far too many chemicals, causing mild allergic reactions, whilst the others were bluntly underwhelming. Through my hundreds of wasted
dollars and my many skin issues, I have come to the final determination that Frank is not at all overhyped and that it is about time I show fidelity to the original coffee scrub brand.

The Frank: Peppermint and Coffee Scrub has established itself as a staple of my beauty routine. Beyond the fact that I am a stickler for anything peppermint flavoured or scented, the scrub has an incredible ability to penetrate the skin’s surface to leave a luxurious sheen to the skin (of oil), whilst relaxing tense muscles. I particularly appreciate this particular coffee scrub for post-workout relaxation (as discussed in my first point in 16 Lessons Learnt throughout 2016!).

Makeup

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Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation

There is a reason why the Double Wear Foundation is the number one selling makeup product from the internationally acclaimed skin care brand. The medium to high coverage buildable foundation is incredible for both day-to-day wear and for special occasion makeup.

It is no secret that a wide range of influencers speak glowingly about this product (to be fair, I was late on the bandwagon), but repurchasing on multiple occasions throughout 2016, I would not enter 2017 wearing anything else.

p.s I recommend wearing the matching pressed powder on-top so not to look caked. 

Giorgio Armani Fluid Sheer

I originally purchased this product purely on the premise of price. Cosmo Cosmetics in Sydney was clearing their Giorgio Armani range (still in date) for a fraction of their retail cost. As a constant fake tan user, I was recommended the fluid sheer in shade three, which is a luminous colour corrector that I mix with my foundation. I love the natural highlight that the fluid sheer provides and the fact that it alters to my individual skin tone.

It is also worth noting that the product packaging is stunning and can easily be used as a decorative piece (as discussed in Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: Budget Friendly Luxury Design).

Too Faced: Better Than Sex Mascara

One coat of the carbon black, collagen-fuelled mascara formula and lashes are full, defined and stretched to unbelievable lengths. Two coats and lashes are even more luscious, curled and dramatic. Three coats and achieve the most intense black, oversized, multidimensional lashes possible! A mascara so amazing it’s Better Than Sex!

Mecca Details

…took the words out of my mouth.

Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Liquid Eyeliner 

I struggle with liquid eyeliner. Watching me create a winged eyeliner somewhat resembles a scene from the Trojan War. The Physicians Formula 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Liquid Eyeliner is an incredibly thin brush that is easy to control, which is always a positive when working with carbon black eye products.

Mac Lipsticks: Angel and Honey Love

Considering actions speak louder than words, let us appreciate the fact that I have repurchased the Frost Lipstick Angel six times this year!

Angel is a stunning hybrid of glossy pink and nude that provides medium to full coverage on the lip. Whilst I begun using Angel without a lip liner, I soon determined that the shade suited a slightly darker nude lipliner (currently using one from Nude by Nature). Surprisingly, I recently wore the shade without the lipliner and came to the determination that the colour was slightly too pink and youthful without a darker undertone (which might suit those with lighter coloured features).

At the same stage I started reaching past Angel, I was inspired by the infamous lip combo of my favourite blogger and YouTuber, Lydia Elise Millen. I was gifted Honey Love for Christmas 2015 but did not wear the colour as I am not a fan of Matte lipsticks (seemingly unlike the rest of the world). Lydia prompted me try the shade and have not put the lip product down since!

mac-honeylove

Hair Care

For as long as I can remember, my best friend has tooted on the horn of BioSilk silk infused hair therapies (which fell upon deaf ears).

Whilst sailing through the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, my hair became dry and brittle due to the effects of the harsh and unyielding elements. In returning from the ocean, I fell into the habit of running the BioSilk treatment through my hair after I washed it. In no time at all my lifeless mop turned light, luscious and felt nourished – somehow my hair looked and felt far better than it did leaving Australia.

Since returning back to Australia, I am pleasantly surprised to find out that Priceline Pharmacy has decided to stock BioSilk therapies, which were previously only available from the American or in Europe.

The entire BioSilk collection including the shampoo, conditioner and leave in treatment  has revolutionised my hair care routine. I would unreservedly state that this find was the find of the year.

Fashion

Monogram (Hot Stamped) Leather Goods

Up until 2013, it was rare to see an everyday working woman sporting hot stamped leather. Whilst some were lucky enough to get their hands on hand painted Louis Vuitton, the rest of us were left googling images of celebrities showing off their initials.

Irrespective of how common and ‘on trend’ monogram has become, there is still a wow factor about someone taking their wallet to bag to the next level. I personally believe that people look at a hot stamped speedy and appreciate it first and foremost for the reason that it is a genuine Louis Vuitton piece. The initials take a backseat to the name behind the brand. TDE and Monpurse have branded solely around the complimentary hot stamp service. The fact that your bag isn’t mass manufactured for millions of people to wear worldwide adds a sentimental value to your item.

Personalising a Trend: Monogram

From phone case, laptop cover, cosmetics bags, pencil case, pouches, card wallets, purses and everything in between – I purchased it in 2016 and I will continue to love it in 2017!

Miscellaneous

Zara Home Car Air Freshener

Having a immaculately clean car is a must for me. The most commonly used phrase said in
my car from friends is generally “wow, your car is so clean!”, to which I hide an inconspicuous smile well-knowing that I vacuum it multiple times a week. I pay just as much attention to the scent of my car considering how many hours I spend in my vehicle in the week.

Zara Home in Sydney stocks beautiful car air fresheners that are beautiful and luxurious smelling. My favourite scent that I continue repurchasing is the wild berries scent that resembles my favourite triple scented candle.

BOSS The Scent for Her

THE FRAGRANCE

INGREDIENTS:

TOP NOTE: ATTRACTION
The fruity and floral Honeyed Peach and Freesia meet in an exquisite, head-turning combination that creates an irresistible attraction.
HEART NOTE: SEDUCTION
Warm and voluptuous heart notes of the oriental flower Osmanthus connect the top and base notes in an initially light and delicate allure that evolves into a darker, heady quality.
BASE NOTE: ADDICTION
Locked together and powerless to resist, the fragrance unleashes an irresistibly rich base note of Roasted Cocoa. An enigmatic element with strong hidden qualities, it offers an addictive boost that arouses the senses, making the protagonists relinquish control in the moment.

Hugo Boss

The fragrance is stunning and no description can honestly pay it justice! I was lucky enough to be gifted this fragrance for Christmas (features in my Christmas Gift Guide: Women who have Everything!) and I am certain that this will be the scent of the new year!

Clarisonic Mia 2

My boyfriend generously gifted me the pink Clarisonic Mia 2 in the baby pink after I dragged him through Sephora on a summers day.

I love the fact that the Clarisonic cleans six times deeper than washing your face and body with your hands, moving at more than 300 movements per second to deeply clean the skin. Unbeknown to the Clarisonic company, their product is also a vital and effective part of my fake tan skincare routine and preparation. The Mia 2 is waterproof and the cleansing head is wide enough to be used for the rest of the body surface making it multifunctional (also ladies, we are getting our cost-per-wear down).

The only downfall of the Clarisonic is the fact that the charger isnt made for Australian powersockets, thus it requires an adapter which can be bulky when travelling.

The Clarisonic has been a constant companion in my self-care routine and I am certain that it will continue to do so in the new year.

clarisonic-mis-2

16 Lessons Learnt throughout 2016!

Following the cathartic experience of constructing and publishing Sticks and Stones: 15 Lessons 2015 Offered, I figured what better way to welcome the new year than to share the trial and tribulations of 2016, for the benefit of 2017 (hopefully).

1. Enjoy the small luxuries in life

Whether it be a triple scented candle, decadent body wash, visiting the salon, meditating or using luxurious self-care products – spoil yo’ self.

When you are content with the bare essentials of life, small indulgences can lift your spirits and be a source of gratification.

Luxury is in the eye of the beholder, to some what may seem menial can be lavish to another – indulge in what makes you feel nourished, maintained and worthy.

2. Love your friends irrespective of their life choices

Irrespective of how abhorrent their decision-making skills are, how poorly they have managed a delicate situation, or how much you want to slap some sense into them – a true friend offers nothing less than unconditional love and a willingness to understand.

Never forget, that everyone deals with heartache differently. It is difficult to sit at the bed of a friend falling apart, accept their vices and not cast judgement on their actions; how they’re dealing with a situation, in comparison to how you would deal with the situation.

Sticks and Stones: 15 Lessons 2015 Offered

3. Take every opportunity and up-skill with time

Say yes to every opportunity and learn on the job.

No one is born all knowledgable and powerful – even the most successful people relied on mentors and the assistance of others to perfect their craft.

If an opportunity is offered to you, appreciate that said individual or company is communicating belief in your current abilities and your future potential. Mirror the trust on offer to you and take a leap of faith.

4. Body transformations should be fuelled by love

Physical transformations should be undertaken with nothing but self-love as the primary drive.

If you fail to love yourself through the various steps of the process, you are less likely to appreciate the final result – neglecting all that you worked for. If you are genuinely putting in the hard yards, take a step back and appreciate the ride.

5. Travel often

You return to that adult life, a little poorer, a little more tanned and with a lot less phone memory – but you return with something money can not buy. You return with experiences, memories that you can hold dear and reminisce about and your return with practical experience. You travelled to a different continent and survived. You return with beautiful images of unspoken places imprinted in your head and memories or the drunken conversations you had with people whose names you can not recall and memories of the scent in the air. Somehow you have changed but the world continues around you. Whilst I wouldn’t say no to a designer bag or a car upgrade, experience trumps every imaginable material object said money could have paid for.

I return home empowered that I am an independent adult, proud that I was frugal to enough save the funds and impatiently awaiting the next stamp of my passport.

I assure you – if you are in a position to and there is something you should do –

travel!

Honestly, Is Travelling In Your 20’s Really Worth It?

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6. It’s okay to take two steps forward, one step back!

There is no shame in accepting that you bit off more than you could chew, or that your chosen path has proven unfulfilling to you.

7. Purchase with the ‘cost per wear‘ formula

Cost per wear is the magic formula of shopping. Whilst many dismiss the notion as a ploy sales people use to up-sell, I genuinely believe in the cost per wear merits.

Cost per wear is effectively conceputalising your potential material good as something that can be rented. If the GG Blooms Dionysus Bag retails at $2805AUD and I was to theoretically wear it on 250 occasions within the year, the cost per wear ($2805 ÷ 250 = $11.22) – meaning you are paying $11.22 everytime you wear your bag. The more you wear your item, the lower the cost per wear is, meaning you made a successful purchase.

I correlate this formula with a ‘renting’ scenario , as I compare cost per wear to the renting dress and luxury goods market. Yes, you can pay a handbag connoisseur $300 for the weekend to borrow their Chanel – but at the end of the day you are paying off their purchase.

Whilst I love this business model and would be the last person to criticise it – why pay off another persons item, when you can pay off your own?! Likewise, I would rather pay slightly more and own my own home, rather than someone else’s investment (again, I’ll probably live at home until I’m forty-five, so no worries there).

Buying into Luxury?

8

8. Dont let people plant doubt in you

Yes, the blogging industry is over-saturated.

Yes, the legal profession has a high rate of graduate unemployment.

Yes, houses are ridiculously expensive.

So what do you propose I do about it all?

Delete every remnant of my online presence?

Drop out of law-school?

Live with my parents until I am old and grey? (likely to be the case)

Give up on everything I want in life because statistically certain things are hard to achieve? 

Be realistic and appreciate that these are statements of fact, however, an unwavering work ethic, determination and a genuine passion to be successful in your chosen field is a formula without fault. Keep working in silence and have faith in yourself and your hustle.

9. Know how and when to pick your battles

Be antagonistic only when you can afford to be antagonistic.

If you are travelling through a rocky part of your friendship of relationship, be self-reflective enough to know when to back off.

10. Empower, do not compete

Confident women do not hate or compete with one another. These women help one another with guidance, mentoring, love, support and above all – respect.

Confident women better themselves for their own sake, whether they achieve more than other women in that process is secondary to self-growth.

I cannot speak for confident men (for the obvious reason that I identify as a woman).

11. What others think of you is none of your business

You’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t.

Do not preoccupy yourself with the views of others.

12. Write about your goals

Make a habit out of writing what you are grateful for, your goals and how you plan to achieve said goal on a day to day basis. For me, it is a battered diary, full of scrawls, lists and ideas that have either blossomed into something bigger and better, or have rightfully never seen the light of day.

The ability to reflect and foresee how you are progressing is an effective way of holding yourself accountable for your action and/or inaction.

13. The ‘Social Media Self’ is merely a guise 

Instagram has been used as a simulacrum of ones’ life, where over stylized, overly glamorized and deceiving images are used to create an online story that isn’t necessarily representative of the person’s life. For some, these identities have become invaluable with their content winning over vast audiences and attention from companies who are willing to monetise this following, by paying for plugs. Those who work tirelessly on their media presence, often leave their jobs and live off audience engagement and the monetary benefits associated with doing so. It is no wonder why the 21st century lay person is so preoccupied on over-glamorising their lives and sharing it with the world.

I do not hastily point my finger at others, without first looking at myself and how I have engaged in this practice. I am a self-confessed lover of Instagram and I do undoubtedly engage in this process. I could think of nothing better than to put my law degree on hold to post pictures of myself on the internet in lavish places, with beautiful people, wearing the newest and most sought after clothing.

Quasi-celebrity status is what we are all after, whether you are honest enough to admit it or not, is another story.

Looking at Myself: Social Media and the Quantified Self

14. Take pride in ‘breaking the mould’

Be multifaceted; offer different views, opinions and talents to those around you.

Do not try to fit yourself neatly into a box or a stereotype, it is a disservice to the complicated and individual being that you are.

My primary fear in pursuing my blog was how I would describe what I write about in twenty-five words or less. Isawisniewska.com is a springboard for the many thoughts, inspirations and passions that I have. I am multifaceted, as are the topics that I write about. Own the fact that you are full of light, shade and various gradients of grey.

15. Know when to swallow your pride (and be transparent about it)

For the sake of a long-standing friendship, for the sake of your partner, for the sake of your family, or for your own sake – own up to your shortfalls (we all have them after all).

16. Old-school romantics are still out there

Perhaps romance isn’t dead – perhaps, through various disappointments and experiences, we protect and condition ourselves into thinking romance is dead.

Like scorched bushland, our minds become blinded by the desolation of ash and smoke and ignore the potential for renewal.

Similarly, when you find yourself cynically wondering when romance died (and why you didn’t get the memo) – breathe. Allow your childhood innocence to take a front seat and guide you, after all, you never know what is to come next.

Is Romance Really Dead?