Thursday, October 22, 2015

Real beauty hacks for women who actually are too busy

I laughed when I read this article about beauty hacks for "seriously" busy women. The authors reckon you're seriously busy, yet you have time to test your makeup in different lighting, do a smoky eye, and wear mascara every day? Yeah no, as we say in Australian.

I used to do a job where I had to be away from home in a different from Sunday night to Friday night, started work at 4.30am and finished usually around 3.30-4pm. To get enough sleep, I needed to be in bed with the light out before 8pm, and before that I walked back to my apartment and then cooked myself dinner. I was also exhausted almost all the time - to be at work at 4.30am I had to be up around 3.50am. No way was I going to get out of bed early enough to put on makeup, wash my hair, or do anything other than shower, dress in the outfit I'd laid out the night before, and leave the house. Getting up before 4am should be covered in the Geneva convention, because it is not really ok for humans. But I digress. Point was, I was busy, I was on the road, and I didn't have time for most of the stuff "seriously" busy women apparently have time for.

Since then, I have worked even longer hours (though not generally requiring me to get up pre-6am thank goodness) and am travelling internationally for work. So I've added even more "hacks" to the routine.

Here are five things that save you serious time on a daily basis:
1. Permanently straightened hair, aka Korean rebonding. No blow drying, no straightening tongs, just smooth, sleek, glossy hair, airdryed. It's a hair miracle. I have thick, stupid, frizzy hair. That turns into an Edward Scissorhands style nightmare if it's even slightly humid. You know what's humid? The entire continent of Asia, among other places. You know where I have to go for work? You guessed it. Roots require redoing, but not that often, and in between all I have to do is wash and go.

2. Eyelash tinting. Ain't nobody got time for mascara. I have dark eyelashes and brows, but they get bleached at the ends by sunlight, so tinting them makes them look longer and thicker, just like mascara would, except instead of having to do it daily, I get to do it around once every six weeks.

3. Epilation. If I epilate my legs once a week I'm good to go barelegged or in sheer tights, without anyone thinking they've finally spotted the abominable snowwoman.

4. However 3. is not as good as hair removal with a giant "laser".# For a once-off cost of more money than I've currently paid off my mortgage* I have hair free armpits and upper lip. Forever. I'd get my legs done too, but that would require a second mortgage.**

5. A streamlined makeup routine that doesn't take longer than two minutes. I use a Body Shop vitamin C face thing, Neutrogena rapid wrinkle repair, and no foundation (which I think unless you have really terrible skin looks worse than not wearing it) except a dab of benefit porefessional on my nose and chin. White eyeliner inside my bottom lid to combat redness, pink eyeliner outside the bottom lid, benefit lemon aid on my eyelids, and benefit ooh la lift to combat dark circles. I have too many wrinkles there to use concealer - it sits in them and looks terrible. A dab of blush and some benefit high beam. That's it. I don't like to look like I'm wearing a lot of makeup - I just want to look like me but less tired (and as you may have gathered, I love benefit products!) (they are sadly not paying me to say this!) I usually put some coloured lip gloss on but not until I've finished my coffee on the train.

# obvious joke, although hair removal lasers are in fact surprisingly large.
* joke, although it wasn't cheap.
** not a joke.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My secret weapons: staying tidy on the road

Confession time: I'm not the world's neatest person! In fact, my mother always used to claim my t-shirts were hungry, because I liked to feed them when I ate! But I like to travel with hand luggage only ('carry on' as those in other parts of the world call it) and I need to look professional when travelling for work. So I'm going to let you in on my two chief weapons, baby wipes and travel sized lint rollers. And a stain removal pen. My THREE chief weapons are surprise, baby wipes... (etc :P)

Baby wipes are remarkably effective stain removers - they'll get just about anything out of anything. But on the rare occasion that doesn't work, I have an instant stain removal pen. In the US you can get Tide to go, which I've read good things about. In Australia you can buy these on ebay, or occasionally you'll find them in shops that sell things like "Hollywood tape" and other handy items associated with being a woman like gel insets for silly shoes.

My other weapon is a mini lint roller. I ran out of the 3M one I bought I think from the Container store in the US, but was delighted to find they sell them at Bunnings for $2 each (no point linking as Bunnings have yet to join us in the 21st century and start selling things on the interwebs). I have two pugs, aka constant fur-shedding machines, not to mention a cat, and yesterday I opened the package of a brand new black cardigan I bought on line, to find (I kid you not) it had pug hairs on it already. THEY HAD MIGRATED THROUGH THE PACKAGING!!!

I wear a lot of black while travelling - it's the best for minimising the visibility of anything unfortunate, but it shows up fawn pug hairs like they're giant genetically engineered glow in the dark mammoth hairs! The lint roller is a must for staying professional - and it's also great for stray hairs, furniture that was shedding lint, scarves that were shedding fibres - the list goes on!

Friday, September 4, 2015

A lot of travel comin up

I have a new job that involves a fair bit of travel - I start on Monday and I've hear that between now and the end of November I'm going to be off to Japan, Indonesia and the US and China. Then I have a nearly three week trip to various theme parks in the US booked with my ten year old niece and my aunt - so it's going to be a travel-packed few months, and I'm promising to keep the blog updated with travel tips and maybe even some trip reports!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A weekend in Launceston

Launceston is one of my very favourite places to visit - and we just spent the weekend there last weekend.

Why is it one of my very favourite places to visit? Well, for a start, The Black Cow Bistro has The.Best. steak I've ever eaten - and I've been to Paris. I really don't need to go further than that. Go eat some of that steak.

But in case you want any more details, Launceston is over-all charming. There are some really old buildings (for Australia at any rate), a pretty river, gorgeous walks within walking distance of the CBD - check out the photos of some of the scenery at "The Gorge" - truly spectacular, and worth the walk, which seemed a bit like it was uphill all the way (impossible, I know!) At the top we had a very decent Devonshire tea and watched the peacocks and a little wallaby eating flowers.

And then there was the superb winery just a few minutes outside Launceston. We didn't drink the award winning chardonnay - I had a pinot gris and Hugo had a Riesling.

The Charles Hotel is probably the nicest hotel I've stayed in in Launceston too -  although luxury might be putting it a bit strongly, it's a very nice mid-range hotel and the bowl of fantastic Tasmanian apples they keep at reception is a lovely touch.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How not to lose your phone charger

Phone chargers tend to be white/grey/black - in other words, perfectly designed to blend in with the decor in your average hotel room. Problematic when it comes to taking a final glance around the room to see if you have left anything behind - it's all too easy just not to notice your charger.

I've solved this problem with bright orange cords for my iPhone/iPad - they always catch my eye and I haven't left a charger behind since I've had them. They only cost a couple of dollars on eBay.

(Hotel rooms also tend to have power points in thoroughly inconvenient locations. I can't tell you how many times I have gashed my teeth in incoherent rage because the power points are behind the bedside tables, and too close to the floor to plug in my USB charger. The too close to the floor issue could be solved by carrying a power board, but that would just be an extra thing taking up space in my hand luggage. There is usually a power point in the bathroom you can use in a pinch.).          

Saturday, November 17, 2012

It's the little differences

The first time I went to Italy, I was surprised to discover face washers/flannels/cloths didn't make an appearance in any of the hotels where we stayed.

In the US, it was shower caps - stay in a nice hotel in Australia or Europe and you'll inevitably find a shower cap among the amenities in the bathroom. But in the US, not one of the nice hotels we stayed in had a shower cap. Perhaps Americans wash their hair more often than the rest of us?

The other thing I found with hotels in the US was that they almost always had a coffee maker (mostly one that uses pods), and although some of them also had "tea pods" you can't use a tea pod to make a weak cup of tea - it's road tar or nothing, peeps.

Since then, I always carry a small cellulose sponge, which are not just great for removing facial cleanser, but also for sponging down anything you may spill on a suit if you're traveling for work (lint free, so they don't leave little bits on your pants) and for making body wash go further - a tiny squirt on your sponge creates a massive amount of foam. I've added a shower cap to my travelling toiletries bag - they weigh almost nothing, and take up no room - and a small suction hook, which comes in handy if there is nowhere handy to hang your shower cap to dry. And if I'm going to the US, the travel kettle I got from Bag World (cheapest price for the kettle and free delivery) comes with me.

I don't like drinking from a plastic cup, so I bought a ceramic latte cup, which fits inside it perfectly and saves me from having to buy constant cus of tea. I stuff the cup with tea bags (don't forget to declare them at Customs in the US) and wrap it in a little bit of bubble wrap before putting it in the kettle. I also change the kettle voltage to US voltage before I leave, as this needs a screwdriver, which I don't generally take on the road!

Have you been surprised by what hotels do or don't have in other countries?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Food (not so) glorious food

Work travel sometimes seems to be all about food. It's not always particularly good food, but there's an endless round of lounge food, hotel food, sandwiches and cakes, breakfast meetings and lunches, dinners with colleagues...

Sometimes by the end of a three or four day work trip I feel like I've eaten so much I might bring the plane down!

There are a couple of thing I've started doing to try to avoid feeling like a sluggish sloth after a work trip.

First, I take my breakfast with me. I like eggs for breakfast, so a couple of hard boiled eggs in an insulated lunchbox with a reusable ice block (like the ones you use in an Esky), plus some fruit snaffled along the way somewhere (or when traveling to a state where they're serious about quarantine, I pop into a supermarket) and my travel plunger (French press, for our American friends) and a mini bag of coffee means I get a satisfying breakfast with enough protein that I don't feel tempted to binge mid-morning. If you eat cereal, even easier - and most hotels will bring you a jug of milk to your room if you ask for it for your tea/coffee.

Second, I try to go for a swim. My bathers, goggles and swimming cap fit neatly into a medium sized Eagle Creek pack-it sack - - they're water resistant so stop my bathers getting everything wet once I've used them, if they don't have time to dry.

A zip-lock bag would probably also work. What doesn't work for me is carrying sneakers and gym gear - it just takes up way too much space in my bag, and since I'd prefer to do pretty much anything other than waste time waiting for luggage - especially when Qantas premium tags seem only to work on a random basis - there's no way I'm checking luggage. So a swim is exercise I can do without packing a heap of stuff.

I'm currently sitting in the Qantas lounge in Brisbane on my way back from a two night stay, and despite a full schedule I managed to swim both days, so I'm feeling good about the exercise and less bad about the chocolate brownie I just ate!