Thursday, April 27, 2017

Growing older, getting smarter...

Bag: Gucci mini Sylvie (at Gucci, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, and MatchesFashion)

I recently realized that next year will be my 10 year blogaversary, which means in the almost 10 years since I first started my blog, and a lot has changed in the last (almost) 10 years:  I have gotten married, had not one, but two children, gained a pound (or twenty), changed careers (more than once), it has been quite a ride, thanks to those who have been riding with me!

Last year I celebrated a milestone birthday, I won't tell you which one, but you can gather I am definitely not 21 (yeah, not even close, haha), ahem...moving on.  Thankfully (for me) I have never been one to panic about birthdays or getting older, I think it is because I see how young and sprightly my own mother is, and how neither of us really think of who we are in terms of how our age.  Age truly is just a number, really.

Having said that, there are areas that have started to think smarter about, about how to take better care of my body and myself:

I gave up eating two macarons for breakfast every morning when my daughter told me: "Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to eat macarons for breakfast just like you". Eeps, talk about role model! I have tried choosing better fuel for my body, despite my love for food (I love healthy and unhealthy foods, I'm just trying to stay on the healthier side most of the time), not only because I then feel better (in the last few years my body has been increasingly telling me to eat better, as I certainly don't feel good when I eat too much refined sugars and such). And of course, being a role model to my children.  I am so diligent about teaching them good eating habits, I should follow what I preach, so that is what I'm trying to do now.

Ok, I used to love exercising before I had children, and I know having children is not an excuse not an exercise.  But for the past 7+ years, I have not set foot in a gym, did 3 pilates sessions last year (and didn't follow through), and now my body is paying for it (and I don't even mean the many pounds I've gained), my back (and shoulder!) have finally said: enough is enough, and now I need to change my ways.  All those years of carrying kids with one arm, and bending over to take flatlay shots have not treated my body well, so I am determined to start moving again, and strengthening my back with pilates again.  I also want to start cycling regularly, I prefer incidental exercise as opposed to pounding a treadmill...

I have been blessed somewhat in that I have never done much with my skin, and have gotten away with it.  My mom has nice skin and both my grandmothers did too.  In fact, my beloved maternal grandmother's favourite skincare product was simply Clinique's 'yellow moisturizer' (as I called it, now referring to its proper name: Dramatically Different Daily Moisturizer), which was a staple of hers for decades, proving that it is a bestseller for a reason.  In addition to using Clinique's 'yellow moisturizer' (DDDM) as part of my 3-step skincare regime I also love their 'Smart' serum and moisturizer (and treatment oil - not pictured below), because these products understand the particular needs of my skin, even before I even know what those needs may be.  It is a multitasker, whether you need to visibly erase wrinkles, even skin tone, firm or hydrate, it does it all, so I don't have to sit down and figure out the 1001 different products I need to use (it also anticipates a breakout before it happens - so smart!)

Tee: Uniqlo, Bag: Valentino (avail. at Farfetch and in black at Matches)

Ok, this is one area I have never quite changed because of my age, and that is probably because I dress for whatever shape I am in, and not so much the age.  My love for wearing Mickey Mouse shirts and overalls has not changed, but I do find myself dressing for comfort more and more each days, even though I do love dressing up now and then.

What have you found yourself doing as you grow older, I mean, smarter? 

Post written in collaboration with Clinique Australia.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cooking (and eating) with Miele...hard job but someone has to do it

Those who know me, and/or have followed me here or on Instagram for a while, will know of my deep and serious love for food; some eat to live, I live to eat...

I recently had the pleasure of attending a 'Miele Kitchen Experience' complimentary pre-purchase class at Miele's Experience Centre, and boy, was it an eye-opener! Literally! My eyes were seriously as wide as teacups throughout the entire 90 minute cooking demonstration, as my mind was being blown away by how innovative their kitchen technology was! I am a long-time fan of Miele appliances myself, having previously bought a dishwasher (which is sadly now in my old house - I miss it dearly), and have just recently purchased their washing machine and dryer, which I both love. But...I never knew that kitchen appliances could be so amazing and technologically advanced.  Every Miele kitchen appliance and accessory (e.g. their pans, probes, etc.) has been to designed to help make things easier for the home cook: easier to use, easier to cook, easier to clean.

The 'Miele KitchenExperience Class' is primarily intended for those who are considering investing in a Miele kitchen or appliance, so they can see firsthand these innovative appliances in action, watching delicious dishes being cooked right in front of their eyes with said appliances.  I was one of 6 attending this class, which was both a relaxed and enjoyable experience.  The other 5 attendees were either renovating their kitchen or building a house, wanting to find out which appliances would best suit their needs.  Just like when you buy a car and take it for a test drive, when investing in kitchen appliances, it's important to experience what you will use everyday for most of your life.  This is an ingenious way of witnessing these appliances in action, rather than simply reading through brochures and listening to Sales Assistants (as helpful as they may be, nothing beats seeing things in action, right?).  The Miele Experience Centre also offers post-purchase (owner) demonstrations for when you have already purchased your appliance, and want to learn how to best use your shiny new toy.  This is something I promptly informed my mother-in-law, who recently refurbished her kitchen with Miele appliances, but was not aware of these demonstrations.

But onto my 'Miele Kitchen Experience':

Miele's Wall of Fame (sorry, I just coined that), but Miele's incredible range of built-in appliances, which includes a Steam Combination Oven with Moisture Plus (an oven that can burst steam onto whatever you are cooking, without having to open the door oven while it cooks!), a Speed Oven, a Pressure Cooker, Sous vide, and this Vacuum Sealing Drawer:

Miele's Vaccum Sealing drawer for their Sous vide appliance.

 Turning simple ingredients into something spectacular...

'Miele Home Economists' Daniel and Clare in action - have both previously worked in commercial kitchens and work full-time at Miele to share their expertise (even if not during a demonstration).

The best part of the cooking demonstration? Eating the food after it is cooked! Although this heirloom tomato salad may look relatively simple, the flavours were other-worldly, thanks to the Basil sugar syrup that was vacuum sealed in Miele's Vacuum Sealing Drawer and Sous Vide in Miele's Oven on Sous-vide setting, which was later vacuum sealed in Miele's Vacuum Sealing Drawer once more, this time with the green tomatoes, for maximum flavour.  The Sous vide method ensured he basil remained vibrant in colour and flavours are intensified into each little piece of green tomato.

Chive Japanese milk bread - cooked in the Steam Combination Oven with Moisture Plus function, with one burst of steam released during baking period without the oven having to be opened.

 The steam helps conduct the heat, giving it that beautifully golden brown crust...

The best thing about Miele oOvens is that they mostly don't even require pre-heating, as the ovens reach and maintain the required temperature very quickly, which is absolutely brilliant (I personally hate waiting for the oven to pre-heat)!

Shio koji chicken in the making - these amazing Miele Ovens not only have a touch screen, but can also save several settings for each favourite recipe you may have! It gives you instructions of each required step (e.g. insert wireless probe, etc.), and does all the controlling for you, amazing!

Shio koji chicken with summer vegetables cooked in Miele's Steam CombinationOven to perfection with the greens coming out a vibrant green, due to the air being expelled when the door closes before steaming...amazing! The chicken was cooked in a Steam Combination mode, which allows you to control the moisture (70% for this chicken), core temperature (70 degrees - with a wireless probe!) - yes, my jaw dropped with this one.

Blueberry and pecan galette baked in the oven with the 'Intensive Bake' setting for the ultimate pastry crust...

Served with crème fraîche whipped up by Miele's Culinary Experts by using the Steam Combination Oven! Is there anything they cannot do in this kitchen?

Miele collaborate with professional chefs like Shannon Bennett and Maggie Beer to create recipes, exclusive to Miele, and have over 1000 recipes on their website.  They even have cookbooks with recipes created especially for Miele appliances.   In his role as Miele ambassador, Shannon has trained a team of Miele Culinary Experts, sharing his cooking techniques, recipe suggestions and passion for quality. And it is this knowledge that is than shared with us attending the Miele Experience classes.

Thank you Miele for the eye-opening experience and for feeding me (thank you Daniel and Clare!).

This post is written in collaboration with Miele, thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

All images by me.

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A quick study in Geometry... Celine's Trapezoid Mules

More often than not, my love for fashion extends beyond the fact that it is simply clothing, shoes or accessories...On occasion I view of them as art...Whether it is a beautiful embroidery or embellished piece, a beautiful textile, or exquisite tailoring, fashion can be art...

Case in point: these Céline Trapezoid Mules, I could just stare at its lines and get lost in its geometry, isn't it a work of art?

Also love the simplicity of this square bracelet by Italian jewellery designer Caterina Zangrando, it can also double as a desk accessory, don't you think?

Also wearing Lemaire's latest range for Uniqlo's UniqloU range (which I absolutely LOVE! Might deserve its own blogpost, I think)

Top: Uniqlo, Pants: Uniqlo, Shoes: Celine (still available in a few sizes at Yoox Asia Pacific, Yoox UK/US currently 25% off! Run, don't walk!), Bracelet: Caterina Zangrando

Are you following me on Instagram? I post there daily if you want to follow me there.

T-shirt: Sincerely Jules (available on Shopbop, Nordstrom and Revolve)

Happy International Women's Day!

All images by me.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

It's all in the stars...The Health Star Rating, that is.

I don't know about you, but I am one of those annoying people who stand in the aisle studiously staring at the Nutritional Information Panel on a shelf item before placing it into my shopping trolley.   Being in charge of the grocery shopping in my household means I am very conscious of what I buy to feed Mr Brigs and my two little ones, to ensure I am contributing to their health and nutrition whenever possible with choices that help contribute to a balanced diet.

In recent years the
Health Star Rating (HSR) system has been introduced, which has greatly helped me when choosing a product in the supermarket aisle.  The Health Star Rating is a voluntary front-of-pack food labelling system which provides an at-a-glance comparison using stars, from half a star to five, between similar packaged and processed food. 

The Health Star Rating of each product is based on the amount of saturated fat, sugar and sodium it contains per 100g or 100ml, as well as its total energy (kilojoules).  High amounts of saturated fat, sugars, sodium (salt) and energy (kilojoules) are considered negative factors, as they are linked to an increased risk of obesity and diet-related chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, if consumed in excess of dietary guidelines.   Products may score extra points and potentially higher ratings depending on the proportion of positive ingredients they contain such as fibre, fruit, nut, legume, vegetables and protein.

Essentially, the more stars on the front of pack, the healthier the choice.

This HSR system provides an easy way for me to quickly compare similar packaged products (rather than studying each product for as long as I used to), to choose the healthier option.  Not all stars are created equal though, the 1 star on the 'cheese + crackers' is not to be compared with the stars on the sardines, for example. The system is used to compare between similar products.  I can compare breakfast cereals with breakfast cereals or muesli bars with muesli bars for example, but not between vastly different products, such as yoghurt and frozen lasagne.  The system makes it easier for us to identify the healthier option, enabling us to compare products in the same section of the supermarket and help us think more about nutrition when buying food.

Currently more than 5,500 products from at least 115 companies, carry the Health Star Rating. The system has also influenced manufacturers to reformulate their products to improve their nutrient profile, resulting in improved health star ratings, a win win for all. 

A few items in my pantry and fridge:

At the supermarket:

and how I quickly throw just a few simple ingredients for a healthy breakfast and/or snack of chia seed pudding (below):

The HSR system has even been helpful when shopping for the little ones as they ask for those sugary cereals, and I point out the low-star rating, so we chose a higher star-rated cereal instead.  It helps stir their interest in choosing the right foods, and discuss nutrition, which extends the information they already gaining at Kindy and Primary School.  In fact, even my littlest one always asks me: "Mummy, is this one healthy?"

We all know balanced lunchbox should contain a variety of nutritious foods from each of the five food groups – grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein.  If you include packaged snacks in lunchboxes (or just as a snack at the desk) in addition to fresh fruit and vegetables, the Health Star Rating can be a helpful tool to help choose between similar packaged and processed products (for example, a well-advertised and popular lunchbox 'snack bar' only had 1 star, so I opted for the 4 star bar below, and similarly the 1 star cheese and cracker pack, as opposed to the half-star pack that was sitting next to it on the refrigerated shelf:

If you want to find out more about the HSR, the FAQs on the HSR official website are very helpful to answer some questions.

What about you, have you used the HSR to help you choose your shopped items?
This post is in collaboration with Health Star Rating.

All images by me. 

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Summertime...and the living is easy.

Aside from my favourite jumpsuit (see previous post), one of my most used item this Summer has been this 'bubble sleeve' dress by Lisa Marie Fernandez (I absolutely love her swimwear and designs! I have her Mira bikini, but this is the piece I get the most wear out of). Fat day, lazy day, I-have-nothing-to-wear day, I instantly feel put-together yet comfortable and relaxed in this dress, with flats, barefoot or in high I need it in different colours!

Burning my toes on the hot concrete...
 Spending as much time as I can in here...
And in bed...
 Keeping my fluids up

Dress: Lisa Marie Fernandez (available in angelic white broderie anglaise fabric at Net-a-Porter, Forward and Avenue 32, and in red at Avenue 32, smocked with red trim version at Matches, in black at Lane Crawford , MyTheresa, Farfetch and Matches ), Hat: Lack of Color (available here), Bikini: Her the Label (available here - mine is in Khaki, even if you can't see it), Sunglasses: Self Portrait x Le Specs (available here)

Do you have certain pieces that you have worn lots this season?

All images by me.

You can see my daily updates on my Instagram.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

They call me mellow Tome NYC

I realize it has been a long looong time since I have posted an actual outfit post.  One of my 'intentions' (not to be confused with resolutions) for 2017 is to post on my blog consistently once again, starting from this week.

A few months ago I collaborated with one of my favourite online stores, Farfetch, in their #TheOne  campaign.  My 'The One' piece I featured was my favourite jumpsuit (and I have quite a thing for jumpsuits), which is by Tome, a New York based Australian label I absolutely love.  In fact, I love this jumpsuit so much I recently bought it in another colour (black), although the yellow is still my favourite (first thing I fell for was its gorgeous and glorious yellow colour, followed very closely by its draped exposed shoulders and billowy silhouette).

Jumpsuit: TOME (available in black still at The Outnet and Forward), Bag: Chloe Faye in Motty Grey (available at Selfridges in medium and large, at Nordstrom, and loving the backpack version at Farfetch!), Bracelet: Céline, Shoes: Sneaker wedges by See by Chloe (similar available here), Sunglasses: Self Portrait x Le Specs (available at Lane Crawford)

Anyone here a jumpsuit-phile?

All images taken by me.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

The eyes have them...

If your eyes are the window to your soul, and eyebrows are frames for your eyes, then good 'window dressings' in form of mascara and brow products are a must to show them in their best light, don't you think?

If I could only pick four makeup items to use before I head out door, mascara and a brow product would definitely be two of them.  Just a few sweeps of mascara after curling my lashes (a very important step!), but it makes the biggest difference to your face.  If you're wondering, concealer and blush would be my other two items, my dark circles would scare any child I might bump into at school drop off, and blush just makes your face look fresher and more alive; but that is a story for another day.

Back to mascaras, my favourite kind of mascaras are of the 'tubing' variety, and there are many reasons for that.  Instead of the traditional oils and waxes used in mascaras, tubing formulas use a flexible polymer that goes on slightly wetter than regular versions, and when it dries, it shrink-wraps around each lash, creating a "tube" around them so that the lashes are smooth and well-coated.  As more of the polymer is brushed on, the tube builds up and out, as if it is stretching out the lashes, but with a precise, pristine finish.  But most importantly, I love 'tubing mascaras' because not only does the emulsion create a smooth, shiny surface, but it’s also water soluble, so while normal sweat and tears won’t disturb it, several splashes of warm water will cause the tubes to swell and loosen their grip on lashes, easily rinsing off. That means they are smudge-proof (no panda eyes here please), great for days I wear contact lenses, and last through rain, sweat, humidity and tears, BUT are easy to remove.  No smudging on my eyes when washing my face, I can actually see the mascara washing off, and see my lashes in its natural state after, without needing makeup-remover.

I also love an arched wand, just to hold a curl that bit extra after using an eyelash curler.  Clinique's High Impact Curling mascara's arched wand in particular, scoops up, and lifts up every last lash. Smudge, flake, smear-resistant for up to 24 eye-opening hours, and is then easily removed with warm water (39 degrees being the ideal temperature, I've been told).  The High Impact range of mascara is designed to kick up the volume and length of each and every lash with pure, deep colour for added impact, giving lashes instant volume and length.  It comes in its original version, as well as waterproof, extra volume and curling, and I love them all (in black - 'Curling' being my favourite for reasons outlined above).  The waterproof version is great for when a reliable, waterproof mascara is essential, such as weddings, rainy days, swimming, sports and humid climates.  Also, the formula is good for those who find that non-waterproof mascaras don't hold the curl.

I have spoken previously about my need to fill in my brows (which I sadly over-tweezed in the 90's), and have since discovered Clinique’s Just Browsing Brush-On Styling Mousse.  It is a 24-hour-wear light-wear cream gel that tints, tames, and fills-in brows with natural-looking color for thicker, fuller brows.  I love that with the little applicator brush I can do so much and do away with having to use lots of different products to achieve the same effect (but can still also use pencil and/or brow powder if I want a little extra). I use it in black/brown, but it comes in four different shades, that would suit blondes, redheads and brunettes alike.

I use the side of the wand to sweep through brows from tail to front, brushing in an upwards motion, then giving it a slight horizontal flick at the end to smooth over the edges, then very gently use the tip to put some more product in sparse spots, and brushing through again.

My fabulous 'window dressings':

Loved the curved brush on High Impact Curling mascara wand

I'd love to hear which are your favourite mascara and eyebrow products you use?

This post was created in collaboration with Clinique Australia.

All images taken by me.

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