Everyday Life

Market Dreams

I have some really exciting news for you today, and I can't believe I didn't spill the beans earlier. You may have noticed the little button in my sidebar that proclaims my inclusion in the Top 40 Beauty & Lifestyle Bloggers for the Kidspot Voices of 2014 campaign? Well, I'm extremely humbled to say that I've been chosen to participate in the "Paint The Town Ford" challenge! For the past couple of weeks, I've been cruising around town in a brand new Ford Kuga Titanium, which I must say, is quite a step up from "Arnie", my little Mazda who is missing the door handles and has at least 3000 spiders living on him (I still love you Arnie!) Over the next month or so, I'll be taking the Kuga out on some adventures, snapping tonnes of photos, and having an all around nice time with my new ride.

For our first adventure, my pal Vanessa and I headed into Eveleigh Farmer's Markets, which is located in Carriageworks. If you're not familiar with the location, let me set the scene... All the way back in the mid-century, my grandfather worked here as a railway man! The building is heritage listed and it is the original workshop where Sydney train carriages were built from the 1880's through to the 1970's. While not as grand, it does remind me of an Australian version of Gare du Nord in Paris, with it's high ceiling, arched windows and industrial interior (the brick walls are incredible). The workshops have now been transformed into an arts hub, with everything from fashion week to theatre productions showing within it's walls.

I dragged myself out of bed on a Saturday at 7am (unheard of) in preparation for some farmer's market goodness. These markets have been going on for some time, but I've never quite been motivated enough to make it before. The grand hall was bustling with folk stocking up on breakfast, organic produce and farm fresh cheese, meat and flowers. But our first stop: Caffeine. Very important.

Once we'd warmed our hands on the paper coffee cups, it was time for a wander. We were both amazed at how many dogs were in attendance! Every shape and size, they trotted alongside their owners, oblivious to the masses of people. There was even a doggy treat stand selling organic dog biscuits.

A little further along, there was quite a crowd at the dumpling bar. I have no problem with eating dumplings for breakfast, but was a little surprised to see so many people on the same wavelength, until I spotted the famous chef Kylie Kwong cooking up a storm. No dumplings for me today, but I'll come mentally prepared for a dumpling breakfast next time.

The best thing about organic markets is discovering new and unusual fruit and vegetables. I've never seen brussels sprouts on a stalk before! I also discovered a stand selling bush tomatoes and another with Rosella cordial. In the end I stuck to a few staples, unwaxed granny smith apples, rainbow chard, leeks and beetroot. At the mushroom stall, I was tempted to make some kind of incredible Asian stir-fry, but it was too early in the morning for adventurous thinking and we opted for some Portobellos instead (they made amazing burgers!) We picked up some lavender, poppies, succulents and jonquils to spruce up our homes. Finally, there was an emergency stop at the Sonoma stand for some of their incredible bread. Vanessa: Spelt Rye. Me: Spelt Fruit Loaf.

With the shopping done, we made a beeline for the seats under the gas heater and scarfed down (ahem, daintily nibbled) some freshly made crepes. We headed back to the car and I tested out one of the best features, the hands free, key free boot (trunk) opening. A simple kick under the rear bumper tells the motion sensor that I want in, and because the key is in range, it opens automatically. I recommend amazing the general public by proclaiming "Open Sesame" while you do it.

Our haul safely stashed, we enjoyed the gorgeous sunny day that had emerged from the wintery morning and headed back home. Eveleigh Farmers Markets was so much fun, I'll definitely be back. I have my eye on the Billy Kwong stand and also spotted a Pho stall that I wouldn't mind checking out too. There's nothing better than a farmer's market visit on a weekend morning! I may have found myself a new habit.



Caturday! + Clearing The Air

We've been painfully enduring a lot of Nico cuddles lately ;) This cat. While she has loved a good (and constant) snuggle from day one, and constantly nags you to get into the bed so she can cuddle you, she's been even more demanding lately. (Once she even propositioned the cable guy). We are all too happy to oblige, as evidenced on the @KittyandBuck Instagram this week.

Today we ventured out to the nursery and purchased some indoor plants. It's been a long time coming, but I've always been extra cautious about what is and isn't ok for cats. A good thing I checked too, because the instant the plants were inside, Maggie attacked them like they are her very own salad bar. It already feels great, there's something about having plants inside that clears the air and makes everything feel more fresh (and lets be honest, just a little 1970's).

I should remind you to enter any final {white} themed images into the #kittyandbuckcolor Instagram Challenge. Even if you don't join in, check out the hashtag, there's a bunch of amazing photos. I'll be sharing my favourites next week, so be quick!

Finally, I forgot to do a sponsor call this month, I got too caught up in the excitement of launching my new blog design! If you'd like to advertise in February, check out the advertising page here. In less than a week, there is an opening for one of the XL ads, so if you'd like prime position, get in quick! There's some other sizes available as well, whatever floats your boat :)

I hope your weekend is going well, I finally started my calligraphy class, and I'm staining some bookshelves and doing some macramé. I feel oh so productive!


Girl Talk: Skincare

Wow, another day, another new topic up for discussion. I wanted to do a monthly chat on 'girl talk'. The first one up for discussion is the bane of my existence, skincare. Since I was a teenager, I've had problem skin. You can put spots down to hormones, but when they don't go away, and you're no longer a teen, you start to wonder if there's not an underlying problem. (and considering whether some kind of face-covering haircut is actually an option)

When my skin problems started, I visited many doctors, trying to find a solution. I usually got the normal "put this expensive medicated cream on your face, it's part of being young" treatment. After that it was, "try these birth control pills, they'll fix your skin". I saw some improvements here and there, but never any real, lasting solutions. My symptoms included painful acne, sore, red swollen skin and other great side effects like blushing profusely if someone glanced sideways at me (a combination of shyness and overactive capillaries). After years of agony, I happened upon yet another doctor after a particularly painful attack. He took one look at me and said "You have Acne Rosacea. There is no cure." With those words, and some internet pictures later, I was devastated. Right away I went on mild antibiotics to get it under control. I saw a skin specialist and was told that I could control my outbreaks with medication and by avoiding heat - hot food, hot showers, alcohol, spices, exercise, the sun. The advice was to only exercise by swimming and eat only warm, mildly flavoured food, avoid alcohol, especially red wine.

These days, I'm pretty good at knowing what I can and cannot get away with. (I cannot get away with red wine, ever). Here's a list of skincare tips that I've learned over the years - they are specific to my routine, but I'm sure might help some of you out there:
  • Even if your skin is oily, always, always moisturise. Seriously. I don't care how oily it is.
  • Use a non-foaming cleanser (or lightly foaming if you must) Foaming cleansers strip your skin of it's natural defences and agitate it more, especially when you already have a breakout.
  • Don't exfoliate all the time - for the same reason you shouldn't use the foaming cleanser. My skin specialist actually told me to NEVER exfoliate but I cheat once a week or so. Her advice was to use an AHA, but I find a very gentle scrub works for me (I'm stubborn, I know).
  • If you get a breakout, don't bother it! It's tempting to get the gross stuff out of your face (I'm trying to make this as un-gross as possible!), but don't do it. A dab of tea-tree oil on the spot is the best treatment. It kills all the nasties and in a day or two, the spot will be greatly diminished.
  • Wear sunscreen. It's the best way to keep your skin looking healthy as you age, plus it offers protection against skin cancer.
I've tried many products over the years, here are some that I swear by:


1 ◆ Aesop Fabulous Face Cleanser - I'm using this one right now, it's a light foaming formula, but doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.
2 ◆ NCD Concentrated Cleanser - this is a gentle cream cleanser that works well on eye makeup too
3 ◆ This Works Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser - As the name says...


4 ◆ Philosophy Hope In A Jar - It has a slightly strange texture, but it is non-greasy and works great
5 ◆ Perricone MD Cold Plasma - If only I had smellavision right now. This is the best moisturiser I've ever used. The first time I put it on, I wanted to tear my face off, it smells SO bad. That said, if I was a rich girl, I'd use it all the time. You get used to the smell and it's amazing for your skin (it's super fishy)
6 ◆ St.Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastic Facial Moisturiser - super affordable, I've just started using it and it is going well so far. I've had a few breakouts, but I think they are food related (thanks Christmas)


7 ◆ Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel - The packet says 'daily' but I use these once a week (or less because I'm forgetful). They leave your skin feeling fresh and smooth (they're a little burn-y at first, which always concerns me, but I haven't had any reactions to them at all)
8 ◆ Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Again, not a daily use item. But it's the gentlest of all of these exfoliants. It's a very fine powder that you can mix into your cleanser when you wash your face.
9 ◆ Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste - I like this stuff, but I think my dermatologist would weep. It's fairly gritty, so again, use it sparingly. I like the texture and smell, too.


10 ◆ Tea Tree Oil - Get the 100% pure variety, forget all the strange lotions and creams. This stuff will dry your skin out, so target spots directly with a q-tip. Also, broken skin + tea tree oil = ouch! It's potent and can be painful, so water it down a little before applying and try to avoid any broken skin.

I'd love to know about your skincare challenges and solutions. After years of never knowing if I would wake up with a swollen, bumpy bright red face, I feel much more in control of my skin. If you think you might have Acne Rosacea, see your skin specialist for a proper consultation and treatment, it made the world of difference to me.

If you have any specific topics that you would like to "Girl Talk" about, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or email me.


*Any comments left via mobile devices will need to be manually added by me, as Intense Debate is no longer compatible with the mobile templates on blogger. I am in the process of switching my commenting system to a new provider so please be patient. Your comments will still be published. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience.

Best of 2013 - Experiences

We met some amazing people, went to wonderful new places and learned new things in 2013. Here are some of the highlights!

Meeting James Nachtwey. If you haven't heard of the photojournalist and war photographer, you've still probably seen some of his famous photographs. C and I attended a talk by Mr Nachtwey at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. It was very difficult to watch the reels of his photographs, even though I'd seen them before. The stories behind them were often heartbreaking, and it is difficult to imagine from our comfortable place in the word, the hardships that others endure on a daily basis.
"I have been a witness, and these pictures are
my testimony. The events I have recorded should
not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

-James Nachtwey-
If you ever have the chance to see him speak, I highly recommend it. He spoke so well about the strength of the human spirit, and it was amazing to see him discuss so eloquently the complex issues surrounding the various conflicts, famines and social issues that he has covered, with a stoic and ultimately positive face. He was so humble about his talents and achievements and would not indulge any audience questions that sought to glamorise his job or the events he had witnessed. After the talk, we managed to have a brief chat, shake hands and have our copy of "Inferno" signed.

Witnessing the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Kyoto. I already blogged about our perfect day :) You can probably preface everything in this post with "If you ever have the chance, you should totally do this" I know travel isn't for everyone and often seems financially daunting. We managed to go to Japan twice this year, and I received a few side-eyes from people who probably thought that we were perhaps spoiled a little from mommy and daddy (neither of us have well-off families, and we've both supported ourselves since we were still in high school). Truth is, we worked really hard and saved our pennies. Once you pay for the big things (transport, accommodation), everything else is just what you'd normally spend on day to day living anyway, give or take a few dollars. For me as well, the cost of living in Japan is cheaper than Sydney, yes, even in Tokyo. So eating out and shopping is way more affordable. If you're interested, I'd be happy to share some budgeting tips in the new year on how to travel without millions (or thousands) of dollars... Let me know!

Anyway, the cherry blossoms.  Riding our bikes along the banks of the Kamo River, wandering along the canals in the Geisha district under a gentle rain of pink and white petals, eating okonomiyaki and drinking plum wine. Meeting new friends, seeing new places. In the midst of the constant drizzle over Japan, the clouds broke and we managed to squeeze in an absolutely magical, petal-filled day. I'll definitely remember that trip forever :)

Quitting my day job. Probably the hardest thing that happened to me this year (thank goodness, since many harder things can happen to someone) but also the most rewarding and definitely the best thing that happened as well. My gut reaction was 'uh-oh, what have I done?'. To be honest, that was also the reaction of many people around me (I had full encouragement and support from C though!) I suppose I grew up (like many) being taught that you finish school, get a job, work hard in an office until you are 65 and then retire. I knew that wasn't for me and I think, 6 months into my self-employment, I'm certain that I've made the right decision and now have so much more freedom to pursue a life more tailored to my expectations (i.e. enjoyable, adventurous and meaningful!)

I'd love to know your top experiences of 2013. Looking back, I think it's been the best year yet!


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Best of 2013 - Music + Gigs

We went to a bunch of shows in 2013, here's a selection of the most memorable.

2001: A Space Odyssey | I love this film and was so excited to see a live performance of the soundtrack accompanied by a screening of the film in the Sydney Opera House. I learned one valuable lesson. Even though I know the movie by heart and don't need to sit in the front row, the nosebleed seats in the Sydney Opera House are near impossible to bear. So squishy and high up it was nauseating. Duly noted. Other than that it was incredible to see the film brought to life with a live orchestra. I never tire of hearing a huge group of musicians show off their talents.

Bat For Lashes | Natasha Khan is just lovely. This show was plain wonderful on every level. The crowd were polite and calm (!) and Ms. Lashes was the epitome of professional. Her performance was fun and she sounded great. She wore a beautiful rainbow cape ensemble from local designers Romance Was Born and just put on a fabulous show, complete with humble thank-you's after each song. There was much dancing and the odd awkward karaoke moment.

Zelda Symphony | Geek out alert! We took a friend who is a fellow avid Zelda fan along to the Opera House to hear the Zelda Symphony Performance. (It's always a good excuse to take someone to something you want to see too!) Again, it's exciting to see a performance inside the Opera House and I was doubly excited to spot one of my old classmates from school playing violin! She always practised so hard, so I'm really proud that she has achieved that level of success. The Zelda music was cool too.

Dead Can Dance | Another show at the Opera House. I was looking forward to this show, but the crowd and perhaps something with the band was a bit off. I wanted to enjoy it, but we ended up leaving a bit early. Lisa Gerrard has such an amazing voice though, which we were both in awe of.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor | This show was just incredible. I really love Godspeed, so maybe I am biased, but I was drawn in and throughly admire the hypnotic nature of this music. It was great to see the gradual build up of their songs performed live.

Cat Power | Oh, Chan. We saw Cat Power when she did the Jukebox tour and waited with some misgivings for her to appear on stage. The previous time she was in Sydney (I heard), she broke down on stage and was heckled by some fine members of our city as she hid behind the piano. When she eventually appeared, she put on a brilliant show. This time. Jeez. I don't know. Her performance was amazing, her voice is beautiful, but it was sad to watch her seek attention in such a negative fashion by constantly referring to her drug and alcohol abuse. I hope she sorts herself out because her music is beautiful but she seems like such a fragile lady.

The Drones | Great Australian rock band - please don't spit on the Opera House though. It felt odd to have a super loud show inside the concert hall with drunk people spilling beer on the nice seats. Maybe it was just a weird juxtaposition that I couldn't resolve. Normally The Drones are amazing but I don't think they're a sit down kinda band, you know?

Blade Runner/Vangelis | Another orchestra performance, this time of another favourite film, Blade Runner. It was pretty great, although the cello player had his mobile on in his bag on stage and it kept transmitting through the speakers. Kinda distracting. The music was beautiful though, it definitely transports you to a futuristic rainy cityscape.

Goblin | The Italian masters of horror soundtrack fame (Suspiria, anyone?) did not disappoint. At all. The original members are getting on, but they rocked out like it was the best night of their lives. At the end they turned on the lights to check out the crowd and thanked us profusely. The amount of fun they were having was contagious, it was just great to witness. And that keyboard rack... oh boy. What an amazing collection of beautiful instruments.

Sonalio | We finally managed to catch our friend, Takuto's band in Tokyo. It was really fun watching the opening acts, who were, in my opinion, a Japanese version of post-rock style. (There's probably a proper genre, but I'm hopeless with the specifics of that stuff) There was a lot of spoken word which was super emotional and serious, I wish I could have understood. Sonalio put on an amazing show, damn these guys are good! Takuto is a fellow motion graphics designer and he created a really cool projection show. I'm so happy we were in Tokyo at the right time to be invited to such a special night. (and how great is it that the show was called "Teddy Party"? I love Japan.)
Takuto rocking out on his bass :)

Sleep | Another gig I was super excited for that the crowd kinda ruined for me. If you're familiar with Sleep, you'll know that they play really heavy, slow music. Honestly, I've never seen a more violently excited group of stoners(?). The moshpit was kind of out of control with fist-fights, head butting and general mayhem. We stayed for awhile, but got fed up fairly quickly and watched from the edges. Since when did doom music incite such rage? (Is that a silly question?) Meh. That's Sydney for you. Like that one time we went to see Guitar Wolf and a skinhead threw a glass at Guitar Wolf's face and broke his tooth :( The next time we went to see Guitar Wolf, the gig was full of "loli girls", go figure.

We saw sunn o))) and Boris in Melbourne a few years back, (same kinda scene as Sleep) and it was a pretty laconic gig. Maybe that highlights the difference between Sydney and Melbourne? (no rivalry guys, we know who's better - and I'm a traitor)

But I digress. Looking back at 2013, we went to so many big shows, I can hardly believe it! There seemed to be a wealth of great music going on in our city this year. Did you see any amazing bands this year? I'd love to find out if we have music tastes in common, or what kind of shows you've been to :)


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