Songs You Should Listen To This Christmas

Okay it’s been way too long since my last post. It’s amazing how busy life can get, and all of a sudden a month has passed without me even realizing.

Speaking of time flying by, it’s almost December again! When did that happen? You know what that means though, it’s almost time to start playing the Christmas music. I’m going to be honest with you here, and tell you that I’ve been listening to festive playlists non-stop since the beginning of the week. Usually I have a “no Christmas music before the 1st of December” rule, but when I saw the Happy Holidays genre pop up front and centre on Spotify on Monday, I just couldn’t resist.

So, to get us all into the Christmas spirit, I thought I’d share five Christmas songs that I absolutely love. Although I do enjoy the classics, I have to admit that I can’t get enough of all the poppy tunes that are gracing my Spotify playlists. So, for those of you who also get great joy out of hearing insanely poppy Christmas jams, here is my round up of Christmas songs you have to listen to this year

Mistletoe – Justin Bieber

This has been a staple in my December playlist every Christmas for a good four or five years now. Every time I hear it, I find myself swaying along, imagining I’m sitting by a fire, watching it snow outside. Which is quite the opposite to the classic beachy weather we are used to at Christmas time here in New Zealand.

My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears

This one takes me back to being about 12 years old, dancing around the lounge on Christmas Eve with my brothers and sister. I think it was featured on one of those Christmas compilation CDs. It’s exactly what you would expect of a Britney song from the year 2000, an upbeat pop-tastic song about wishing for her true love.

 

All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

I think this one speaks for itself,  isn’t this everyone’s favorite Christmas song?

 

Underneath The Tree – Kelly Clarkson

If you’re a Kelly Clarkson fan, you’ll probably love this one. It’s upbeat, and rivals Mariah’s All I Want For Christmas in my books (big call I know). Literally every time I hear it, I have this urge to throw my hands up in the air and sing “YOU”RE HERE, WHERE YOU SHOULD BEEEE”. This is another one of those songs that makes me really sad that we don’t get to experience the magic of a white Christmas here in New Zealand.

 

Santa Tell Me – Ariana Grande

I’m not usually a big Ariana fan, but this one is just so fun to sing along to. It turns out Ariana has a couple of Christmas albums, who knew?

 

So, that’s a round up of the songs I’m looking forward to singing my little heart out to this Christmas.

What are your go to Christmas songs? Comment and leave a link below to your favorite songs, and I will give them a listen.

Long Weekend in Queenstown

Recently I took a couple of days off work and headed down to Queenstown, for an extra-long weekend getaway. This was my second trip down there in the space of year, but before that, I had never ever visited in my 25 years of living in New Zealand.

It’s a two hour flight from Auckland, which is pretty far by New Zealand standards (although it probably seems like nothing to those of you who live in large countries), and flights can be pretty pricey if you don’t grab them during a sale, or months in advance like we did. It’s totally worth it though. Queenstown is easily one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.

I thought I’d put together a little list of things you might like to do if you ever find yourself in magical Queenstown.

Ride the gondola

For the prettiest views of Queenstown, I would highly recommend taking the gondola up to the top of Bob’s Peak. Once you’re up the top you can take in the views, eat at the restaurant, or ride the luge (which is super fun, so I would strongly recommend you give it a go).

Wine tasting

On my most recent trip to Queenstown, we visited a few different wineries for wine tasting. On a beautiful sunny day, there is nothing better than sitting outside, sipping a glass of wine (or three), and admiring the stunning scenery. My favourite vineyard was Gibbston Valley. It was very relaxed, with picnic tables dotted amongst the blossoms – perfect for an afternoon of wine tasting with good company.

Hire electric bikes

If you’ve never ridden an electric bike before, you are in for a treat. These things can get up to 50kms per hour, and are so much fun to zip around on.

We hired electric bikes for a couple of hours and went for a ride around Lake Wakitipu. It’s such a great way to see more of the sights of Queenstown.

Rent a car

Although you could probably do most of the things on my list without a car, renting one makes it a lot easier to get around. The centre of Queenstown itself is very compact, and you could easily walk around the town in less than five minutes. But there is so much to see outside of Queenstown, that really does require a car. You’ve got picturesque Glenorchy in one direction, and Arrowtown and Wanaka in the other. All of these little towns are worth the drive and the scenery along the way is unbeatable.

Note, if you do make the trip to Wanaka (a little over an hour each way), you should definitely stop off at the Cardrona Hotel. This is a fantastic historic pub with a huge outdoor sitting area amongst the garden.

Onsen Hot Pools

The Onsen hot pools are the ultimate in luxury. Located on the edge of a hill, looking over the well-known Shotover River, you will have your own private hot pool for one hour. For a bit extra, you can pay to have wine, ice cream and candles, which makes it all that little bit more special. This is super romantic, but also a fun thing to do with friends.

All the adventure activities

SO MANY ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES. Queenstown is the home to bungy jumping, high speed jet boat rides, paragliding, zip lining and so much more. During our most recent trip, we did a jet boat ride around Lake Wakatipu, which was thrilling and scenic at the same time.

Even with all I have done above, I have only scratched the surface of Queenstown. So much to do, so little time. I think next time I visit, I might have to do a bungy jump.

That’s it for today, I hope you will find my suggestions useful 🙂

Guide To Goal Setting

In the last few months I’ve been making a real effort to get serious about setting achievable goals. I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few years thinking about where I see my life going, without feeling like I’ve made any real progress. So, after making this decision to make a conscious effort towards my goals, I’ve actually made some real, tangible progress. Below are a few steps I’ve taken to become more clear about my goals:

I wrote my goals down

This is such a simple task, but I can’t tell you how valuable this has been. Having my goals written down somehow makes me feel more of a commitment to them, and makes me feel like I have more of a clear focus. It’s even been scientifically proven that those who write their goals down are more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t.

I talked to a friend

A friend and I recently decided to become accountability buddies, which basically means we talk to each other about our goals and check in with each other from time to time to see how we are going.  Talking to someone about what you’re working towards somehow makes you feel more accountable, but also gives you that support you need to keep working towards your goals.

Attended a goal setting workshop

Kikki K does these awesome Goals workshops (and many others). I went along with a friend, where we were given a beautiful Goals journal, and were encouraged to think about our core values, our goals, and working towards these. This was a really worthwhile workshop, and if you are struggling with goal setting, or just looking for a bit of inspiration, I would totally recommend going along if you have a Kikki K near you. Plus there is wine 🍷

Set up a vision board

I haven’t actually done this yet, but as soon as I have a free weekend at home, I’m going to get started on this little project. Apparently this is a really great way to stay on track with your goals. They also just look really pretty and will be a fun DIY project.

I’m happy to say that by just doing the few simple things above, I have so much more clarity on my goals for the next few years, and am have already made so much progress in the space of a couple of months.

So that’s a little update on what I’ve been working on lately. If any of you out there have some handy tips on achieving your goals, please let me know in the comments!

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Get To Know Me – 21 Questions

Today I’m doing a “Get to Know Me” tag, because it’s always good to get to know a bit more about the person behind the blog. Thanks to Life Journey With Liyana for inspiring me to do this post. She did a similar one over on her blog recently. I decided to do a slightly different tag, and found the questions below on Ysis Lorenna.

1. Are you named after anyone? 

Not that I know of, I think my mum just liked the name.

2. When was the last time you cried? 

Balled my eyes out last weekend watching the Gilmore Girls finale. Hopefully you won’t be bombarded with my constant Gilmore Girls mentions now that I’ve finished all seven seasons. Lol jk the new season is coming out in two months..

3. Do you have kids?

No kids. Have just been given some plants though, so this will be my chance to see if i’m cut out for parent life.

4. If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

Definitely, I know we would share the same taste in TV and movies.

5. Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Never (all the time).

6. Will you ever bungee-jump?

Its not something I’m super keen on, but I live in New Zealand which is pretty much the bungee capital of the world, so you never know.

7. What’s your favorite cereal? 

A nice toasted granola/muesli.

8. What’s the first thing you notice about people?

Their smile I think.

9. What is your eye colour? 

Hazel.

10. Scary movie or happy endings?

Happy endings always.

11. Favorite smells? 

Rain or frangipani. Both at the same time is even better.

12. Summer or winter?

Summer summer summer.

13. Computer or television?

Television.

14. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

The UK, which is about a 24 hour flight from home.

15. Do you have any special talents?

No, not really.

16. Where were you born?

New Zealand.

17. What are your hobbies?

Blogging, listening to music, going to concerts, binge watching tv shows, walking, yoga. The list could go on and on.

18. Do you have any pets? I have a cat that lives with my mum.

19. Favorite movie?

Serendipity.

20. Do you have any siblings?

Yes.

21. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Happy. Cliche I know, but as I get older, I’m realising that happiness is not actually a given.

 

Okay that’s it, I hope you all enjoyed learning a little more about me. If anyone else does this tag, leave a comment below with a link your blog.

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Cooking time: Strawberry and vanilla chia seed jam

I am totally not a morning person. I struggle to wake up every single day. One of the things that makes my morning that little better though, is having a yummy (and easy to make) breakfast to look forward to. I’ve spent many the hour on Pinterest, googling recipes, and experimenting with various ingredients.   

My latest experiment has been chia seed jam. I thought this would make a nice topping for my breakfast oats, or could be simply used as a jam on my toast – a much more healthy alternative to the one I buy from the supermarket, and I know exactly what is in it. 

I used this recipe to get me started. 

Last night’s concoction is my favourite by far, a strawberry and vanilla creation. This is what I put in it:

  • 1.5 cups of frozen strawberries
  • A dash of water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A dash of vanilla essence (1 teaspoon would do)
  • A squirt of honey (about one tablespoon worth)
  • Two tablespoons of chiaseeds 

I can’t give you very exact measurements for some of the ingredients because I just kind of prefer to chuck things in to taste (some might call it laziness). You can find the instructions on how to cook at the link above. I found it useful to add a dash of water (about one tablespoon would do) to stop the fruit from burning while cooking. 

This stuff turned out to be absolutely delightful. So far in the last twenty four hours, I have eaten it on toast, with my oats and over ice cream. So versatile, so tasty and so healthy.

What’s is your favorite breakfast creation? Have you made chia seed jam before?

I Left My Heart in New York City

When you travel, you gather a lot of memories, stories, trinkets and new friends along the way.

Some places you will love, and some places you won’t want to rush back to. But there will be those few places that keep your heart long after you leave, as cliche as that may sound. The ones that you’ll long to go back to, and that you’ll return to time and time again.

It’s pretty easy for me to name my favorite three places that I have visited (so far):

1. New York City, USA

NYC had always been top of my bucket list. The art, the shopping, the music, the landmarks where Gossip Girl was filmed. So when I booked myself a tour on the west coast of the USA, I just knew I had to fly across the country to NYC while I was on that side of the world. It would have been rude not to.

Within the first day of my trip, I fell in love with New York City, and now when people ask me where my favorite place is, I absolutely always, without a doubt, say New York City. Why? Maybe it was the shopping, the Broadway shows, or the world famous museums that I had always dreamed of visiting. It was probably a little bit of all of these things. All I know is that NYC worked its magic on me in a big way. And I cannot wait to get back there.

 2. Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of those places I knew little about before visiting, and to be honest, if it hadn’t been a stop on the organised bus tour I was on, I may not have even made it there.

But I am so happy I did. It is the most beautiful place with amazing castles, churches and cobblestone streets. I spent my days there walking the streets drinking coffee, admiring the buildings, and drinking hot wine at the Christmas markets with great company. When I think back on my time in Europe, I always remember my time in Prague as the best time.

Like NYC, it was absolutely magical, and I would go back in a heartbeat.

3. Melbourne, Australia

Every time I go back to Melbourne, I fall in love with it a little more. Fortunately for me, this city is just a four hour flight across the Tasman, and a perfect long weekend destination. I posted about my most recent trip there here.

It’s cool and quirky, with amazing food, coffee, shopping and street art. The art galleries are fantastic, the beaches are beautiful, and the city just radiates good vibes. I have been there a handful of times in the last few years, and I never ever get bored. I’m already keeping an eye out on cheap flight deals so that I can plan my next trip over.

So there you have it, the three places in this world that I love most of all. Do you agree with these? Where are your most favorite places?

Latest Beauty Purchases – First Impressions

I’ve bought a few beauty and hair products over the last few weeks, so I thought it was about time I did another first impressions post. I grabbed the NYX products from a pop up sale on Once It, and picked up the hair products at an annual pop up sale, which was conveniently located just down the road from my office – the perfect Friday lunch activity.

NYX – Photo-Loving Primer

This is lavender in the tube, but appears colourless on your face. This shade is designed to brighten the skin. It is also available in a green shade which hides redness, and a clear one which covers the pores. I was amazed by how smooth it made my skin feel. I wore it under a foundation that tends to go patchy after a few hours of wear, and I was amazed to see that when used with this NYX primer, it lasted for a lot longer. So far, I’m super happy with this purchase, especially considering I only paid $14.95 NZD. It is just as good as the more expensive primers I have purchased in the past.

NYX Mineral Stick Foundation – Fair

This is the first time I have used a stick foundation, and I had to YouTube how to apply it. The first layer offered a light coverage, but it’s really build-able which means it can be as light or as heavy as you like. I’d say it is more creamy then matte. So far, I’m quite liking it, but I’d need to wear it for a full day before I can really make a decision on it. This only cost me $9.95 which is probably the most affordable foundation I have ever purchased.

NYX Stay Matte But Not Flat Powder – Porcelain

This comes in a round black compact, with a decent sized mirror. It has a  nice, flawless matte finish, with really good coverage.  I have been using the Maybelline Fit Me powder religiously for the last few years, but thought I would branch out and try something new, and I’m happy I did. I can definitely see myself repurchasing this, especially for $17.95 NZD.

NYX Baked Blush – 06 Wanderlust

I had expected this to be a little more pink, but it is actually a very peachy shade. That’s ok though, I don’t currently have a peach blush, so it’s nice to try something different. This is highly pigmented, and you don’t need to put too much on the brush. It’s also not too powdery – some of my blushes in the past have been super powdery and they go everywhere. It was $12.95 NZD.

Kevin Murphy Body Builder Volumising Mousse

I picked this up at a hair care sale recently. I don’t typically use a lot of product in my hair, because it is super thick and quite long, and I just find it easier to kind of let it do it’s thing naturally. But I thought I’d give this a go for those times when I want to add a bit of extra style. The first time I used it, I massaged a few pumps into my hair and it added a lot of texture and volume. The next time, I just used one pump and it gave it a little more height without feeling like it was full of product.  I think this stuff is going to be really useful when it comes to creating big voluminous waves.

Revlon Professional Equave – Hydro Nutritive Detangling Conditioner

This was the other item I purchased at the hair care sale. I thought this might be good for those days when I haven’t washed my hair and its needs a bit of extra shine. This definitely adds a little bit of extra shine, and it smells great – all good things in my books!

So that is all that I have bought lately. You can find all the NYX products on the NYX Cosmetics website, and the hair products can be picked up online too. What have you bought recently that you are loving?

Favorite Things Part 2

I did a Favorite Things post way back in April, so I thought it was well time for another one. Below are a few things that I’ve been loving lately.

Spring

Winter is almost over, Spring is moving on in, and I’m so happy about it. It’s getting a little warmer, the days are getting longer, but most importantly the Spring lambs are out, and they are just so cute. My motivation to get out and exercise at my local park (which is also a working farm), has never been higher. Here’s a picture of one of my new friends.

Ripped Jeans

Okay, I’m a bit behind the times, but this weekend I bought my first ever pair of ripped jeans, and I just love them. They just add that little bit of effortless edge to an outfit.

Married At First Sight USA

Have you ever watched this show?? I always thought it was just another mass produced reality show, but when I stumbled across it whilst eating dinner in front of the tv the other night, I became positively intrigued. In the episode I was watching, the couples were moving in together, and I couldn’t help but question how you could possibly move in with someone YOU JUST MET. But apparently it actually works out for some of the couples. Totally fascinated. I’ve got to find more!

Garnier Micellar Water

I was given a bottle of the Garnier Micellar Water a little while ago, and it’s made my night time routine so much easier. This stuff literally takes my makeup off in one swoop, and it leaves my face feeling super clean. If i’m wearing full eye makeup, I might also need to use a bit of makeup remover too, but day to day, I generally just wear a coat of mascara, so this works perfectly for me.

Climbing Trees

I spent my Sunday climbing trees. Or to be more specific, I spent the day doing a high ropes course way up in the trees. It was both physically and mentally challenging, but also so much fun. If you live in Auckland, I would highly recommend checking out Tree Adventures


What have you been loving this week?

TV Shows That Make My Heart Happy

I’m a sucker for a feel good tv show. You know, the ones that always have a happy ending, and are super unrealistic, but you just feel good when you’re watching them?

So I’ve compiled a list of my favourite feel good tv shows. Here they are in no particular order:

Gilmore Girls

It’s got those small town vibes, the lovable and quirky characters, and as a girl who grew up with a single mother, I can totally relate to Lorelai and Rory’s relationship. I don’t think my mum and I speak quite as fast though.

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Image found here

Hart of Dixie

Like Gilmore Girls, it is set in a small town with a handful of characters that we grow to know and love throughout the seasons. I’ve imagined myself living in this town and being best friends with Zoe Hart once or twice.

Nashville

IT’S JUST SO GOOD. The soundtrack is incredible. If you are not a country music fan, you probably will be after watching this. It has it’s drama, but most of the time, everything works out in the end.

How I Met Your Mother

Oh how this show makes me laugh. Its hilarious and far fetched, yet smart and totally relateable. When watching it, I kind of feel like the crew are my friends, and I hang out with them in that booth in MacLarens all the time.

Friends

It’s amazing. It’s a classic. You will laugh. I don’t need to say anymore.

So there you have it, my list of shows that make my heart happy when I need a pick me up. Do you have anymore to add to this list? Comment below!

 

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

In the words of Jess Glynne, “don’t be so hard on yourself”. I’ve realized lately, that I can be incredibly hard on myself when it comes to my life and figuring out what I want to do with it. A quick Google search of the phrase “twenty something” is enough to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way.

See, I’m 26 years old, and I don’t have it figured out yet. I’m not even close. In fact, I feel even further away from having the answers then I did five years ago. And I feel like I should I have it sorted out by now. I should know what my ideal job is, and I should be doing it. I should have traveled the world. I should own a house. I should have a clear plan. But I don’t.

I’m so focused on all the things I haven’t achieved, that I forget to take a step back and look at what I have done. Five years ago I didn’t have a university degree, and my work mostly consisted on babysitting and retail. I hadn’t traveled more than a few hours away from where I lived, I had never traveled alone, and I hadn’t lived away from home.

Now, I have a post graduate degree. I have had four years of experience in jobs related to what I studied. I have traveled far and wide on my own, have ticked off a significant portion of my bucket list, and more. I have moved out of home, and have made some life long friends along the way.

And when I look at it like that, it doesn’t seem so bad. Five years ago, I could have never imagined that I would do all that I have done so far. Things happen as and when they should. And maybe in five years from now I still won’t know exactly what I’m doing with this life of mine, but I’m sure I’ll have added a few extra things to that list above.

So tonight, all my fellow twenty somethings, let’s all take a moment to look at what we’ve achieved, rather than focusing on what we haven’t done yet.Stop being so hard on yourself.

I’ll leave you with the quote below, which seems pretty fitting to this post.epicurus