Monday, October 27, 2014

A Little Lush

I read a lot of blog posts about Lush products but up until now have never tried any.  Lush stores have been in Australia for a while but I could never really bring myself to go in.  Why?  Because of the smell.  Don't get me was never a bad smell!  It's just that when I walked past the store I would immediately begin to feel itchy.  My nose would start to twitch, my throat would start to burn and even my eyes would water.  As you can probably guess I'm a bit sensitive to overly scented products, so for me a Lush store was equivalent to torture, despite the delicious treats concealed within.

So, as a result I have never bought anything from Lush, as tempting as the bath bombs and hair products looked.  But then I discovered Lush online and bath time has been changed forever.
I ordered four different bath bombs to try, one of them being this....
....  the 'Golden Wonder Bath Ballistic'.  It was super festive with it's shimmery gold and pretty white bow, perfect in the lead up to Christmas.
My husband was away shearing up north, the kids were (finally) in bed, so I decided to treat myself and have a relaxing bath.  Now I've never used a bath bomb before so this completely freaked me out!  (In a good way).
How much fun are bath bombs?!  This particular one had a description that read -  "Drop this gold dust gift in a warm bath and watch in wonder as golden stars burst out, turning the bath a vibrant blue.  The champagne-like fragrance of sweet orange oil, cognac oil and lime oil will uplift your spirits."
I was pretty gobsmacked that it turned the water blue after all that gold.   I also really liked the gold stars and the lovely golden shimmer that drifted about the bath for a while after it turned blue.
Pretty gold stars! water.
All in all I did have a relaxing bath, something I should do more often as I know it will be good for my bad back and my frazzled nerves (!)  Now, with a couple more bath bombs to try, I have an excuse!
What are your favourite Lush products?





Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day Trip to Walhalla

I'm very lucky to live in the gorgeous state of Victoria here in Australia, and even luckier still I live in a region called Gippsland.  Now Gippsland is actually a rather large area, consisting of West Gippsland, South Gippsland, Central Gippsland and ( guessed it) East Gippsland.  It is a rural area, which if you look on the map, covers pretty much the entire south east corner of the state of Victoria. 

Here you will find such diverse country as mountains, rivers, farmland, rainforests, swamplands, National Parks, State Forests, beaches, the ocean and everything else in between.  It's a gorgeous part of the world but weirdly I don't often venture out into it for fun.  You know, just take my kids for a day out.  We're a little boring really! 

I do get to see a lot of Gippsland with my magazine job as it covers the entire region, so here I am extremely lucky.  Anyway, today I thought I would rustle up the kids...which is no mean feat...and take them on a day trip to the historic township of Walhalla.

Now Walhalla is a teeny weeny town lodged in the middle of a groove in the mountains north east from where I live.  It appeared in the mid 1800s due to a gold rush and at its peak had a population of 3,500.  Now roughly 20 people live there, although it has a continual influx of tourists due to its remoteness, it's historical buildings and the old steam train which you can ride on through the narrow valley down to the Thompson River.  This town is actually so remote you can't get service on your mobile (Oh no!  Shock horror!!) and I am assuming Wi-Fi is completely out of the question.  In fact they were the last mainland town in Australia to have electricity connected....which wasn't until 1998.  Yes...I said 1998 not 1888 or 1908 ...but seriously, only two years before the year 2000.  What the??

Anyway, here is a visual feast of our day.
My three boys.  They look adorable but no doubt are thinking about how they can get into mischief.  A LOT of mischief.
Little girl's very first train trip.
I know I'm biased...but how cute is my daughter!!
I think she's enjoying herself!
About to go over the Thompson River.  The boys are literally about to explode with excitement.  Either that or it could be the vast quantities of sugar they have consumed. 
In summer my husband comes up here to the Thompson River with a big rubber tyre and his brother.  Together they hop on the tyres at one spot and drift on down to where they leave one of their utes.  It takes a bit of ute Ping-Pong, so to speak, before they can hop in the river, leaving one ute at their destination, then driving back up the road together to their starting point on the river and getting in here up stream before drifting down to the first ute.  Later they then have to drive back up to the start point again to pick up the other ute.  Confused??  Trust works.  Although they still haven't taken me yet I'm hoping that this summer I'll be good to go.  Once my husband even had a little platypus swim along beside him, which is amazing because normally they are really shy.  He said it backstroked around him for ages.  For those who are unsure what a platypus looks like...just image an otter crossed with a duck.
My eldest and my youngest....10 years apart!  Good grief!
How pretty is the Australian bush?
There was even a ragtime band awaiting our return! it might not have been to herald our arrival...but it was pretty cool.
The old CFA building (Country Fire Authority), or should I saw Ye Olde CFA.
A local resident...a Rosella.
And a King Parrot.
Australia has awesome birds.
And just to prove I was actually there....
Judging by my expression it's been a long day and I'm ready to take the little terrors..I mean darlings...home.





Thursday, October 23, 2014

Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara

I have never owned an expensive mascara.  I have never even owned a 'slightly more' expensive mascara.  Never having worn a great deal of it, because my lashes are naturally dark anyway, I never really saw the point and have got by with the odd slick of a cheaper brand that you can pick up anywhere...such as in supermarkets and chemists.  Maybelline has always done me just fine, and I still can't really fault these lesser priced brands, but finally I decided to spend a bit more and get a different mascara.
So browsing through the fabulous online beauty store Mecca I came across this one - the Josie Maran Argan Black Oil Mascara.  Having heard so many great things about Argan Oil and how good it is for your hair I thought I would give it a whirl on my lashes.
The one thing I have discovered is that it is definitely worth spending a little more on your mascara.  I actually can't remember what I paid for this, yes I'm a dufus, but I am pretty certain it was just under $30. 
My thoughts so far is that it creates quite a natural look with the first application and that it has a really good brush to it.  It left a few tiny clumps this morning but they brushed through ok and it did leave my lashes looking a little longer and thicker.  I did apply one coat but discovered that for maximum definition you will need at least two coats, particularly if you want your lashes to really pop.
I will probably need to keep using it for a while to see whether the Argan Oil has any long term effect, although I think it may be difficult to actually see whether my lashes are more conditioned or not....they are pretty small!  But I am confident that I will keep using either this one, or another that is a mid-range priced product.
What is your favourite mascara?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

For a bit of fun, and to share the blogging love, I have been nominated for this award by the lovely Bianca over at Ditsy Sprinkles.  Please pop on over and say hello!
So the Rules are:
1.  Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
2.   Put the award logo on our blog if you wish
3.  Answer their 10 questions
4.  Make up 10 new questions for your nominees
5.  Nominate 10 bloggers
Questions for me...
1.  How did you come up with your name?
This blog used to have a different name which was 'Amber Rhodes Copywriting', which was a little boring, but it was mainly to just showcase my writing work and use it for advertising.  Gradually it was getting a few more personal type posts on it and I was starting to display my photography work as well.  From here I realised it had become something different altogether so I decided it needed a new name.  Sweet Words Pretty Pictures was just the description of what (I hope!) is on it.
2.  Which TV family most accurately portrays yours?
The one that would slightly, maybe portray my family is one that lived on a farm, which was a show called 'McLeod's Daughter's' here in Australia, which was basically a bunch of women living on a farm together and doing farm work, although this is not really that accurate because there was no constant male figure living in the house (like a husband), and they didn't have a pile of little kids like me.  They did, however have sheep and horses like us.
3.  What's your morning ritual like?
Struggle to wake up, struggle to shift my aching back out of bed, pee (sorry), make a cup of tea, wrangle screaming kids, wish I was still asleep.
4.  Share an embarrassing or bizarre encounter you've had in life.
I sort of embarrass myself all the time so probably I'm bizarre.
5.  If you could invite four famous people to dinner who would you choose and why?
Ryan Gosling (but only to tell him that he is the spitting image of my younger brother), Princess Mary of Denmark (who is originally from Australia and is the spitting image of my older sister), Hugh Jackman (because he is my 'celebrity pass') and Seth McFarlane because he's really funny, especially when he does all his different voices.
6.  List at least one feature you like about yourself.
I have pretty nice eyes, they're green and fairly large.  I also quite like my hair colour, which is auburn, even if my husband calls it 'Spook' hair (feels like the working dog's rough coat....although in all honesty it isn't quite that bad)
7.  If you could be any animal which would you be and why.
That's easy.  A horse because it would be brilliant to be able to run like that and look so gorgeous.
8.  How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?
No idea, will go count........  About 9 pairs, although I only wear my cowboy boots but if my R.M. Williams boots didn't have a hole in them I would wear those too.
9.  Your favourite childhood toy?
I had a teddy called 'Baby'.  I loved him so much I pulled all his fur out so he resembled a scrap of fabric.  I still have him somewhere I think.
10.  If it was impossible for you to ever fail, what one thing would you most like to do.
Start my own magazine. 
Questions for my nominees
1.  What is your favourite outfit?
2.  Would you prefer to go out or stay in?
3.  Who is your biggest role model?
4.  If you won a million dollars what would you do first?
5.  What is your favourite thing about blogging?
6.  What is in your fridge right now?
7.  If you could decorate your home any way you liked what style would you choose?
8.  If you could spend the day with a celebrity who would it be and what would you do together?
9.  What is your biggest goal?
10.  If you were a movie character who would you be?
My nominees are...
Alice from Alice's Wonderland
Kayla from Sunshine Problems
Susanna from Flower of April
Nilla from Nilla Forever
Victory and Caroline from 31 Shades of Aubergine
Wendy from College Cheese
Evelina from Evelina T
Have fun guys!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Parcel

I always like getting parcels in the mail.  Always.  Even when it's only shearing gear for my husband (like the gigantic box that arrived two days ago)...anything better than bills right?  Anyway, for the first time Marie Claire magazine here in Australia has launched a beauty box aptly named 'The Parcel' and this is the one they have sent out for Spring.
I have seen these types of boxes reviewed by other bloggers, but only those in the UK, and I had never seen or heard of them in Australia.  Perhaps they are about, (and have been for ages) but maybe I've just been living under an un-beautified rock.  So I saw this advertised on television and thought I would order one.  For $25 it wasn't too bad and happily it arrived today.  Yay...The Parcel in my mailbox!
On opening it this was what I saw.  Hmmm...  A few mini samples and two full sized products, not too bad.
Here's what it contained....
Pantene Pro-v Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner
These smell really nice and are mini versions so they will fit nicely in my beauty bag when (or should I say 'if') I happen to go away!  Always handy to keep these bottles to re-fill later.  I am looking forward to trying these actually because of my chlorine ravaged hair, although the truth be told it has been holding up quite well, perhaps because of the Argan Oil infused shampoo I'm currently using and the copious amounts of conditioner I wad all over my head.  This product promises some intense moisturising action which will be great.
L'Oreal Elnett Satin Purse-Size Hairspray
I actually don't use hairspray.  In fact I often forget to brush my hair because it's always in a ponytail or scrappy bun thing at the back of my head...even when I sleep.  There is a possibility that I might use it in the future sometime so I will pop it in the kids bathroom for the moment.  It does, however, smell ok (for a hairspray) and when I spritzed some on my hand it wasn't sticky.  I know!  Weird!  But in a good way. I do like the size though...kind of me.   I don't know...perhaps I will start using it when my 15 month old daughter grows up and I'm forced to turn into a 'ballet mum'??  (Fingers crossed she will be in to pony club instead.  In that case I might be able to use it on the horse when doing it's mane and tail in those fancy braid things.)
Lancôme Visionnaire Advanced Skin Corrector
This is a little mini sample but I think there will be enough to give it a bit of a run and see whether it does what it promises.  With a claim to visibly correct wrinkles (!), pores and the skin's texture in six weeks I am quite interested to give it a go, although the little bottle is certainly not going to last me six weeks!  But I'll give it a try and perhaps it could be my new wrinkle blaster.
Revlon ColorStay Moisture Stains
This was a full sized product and I received the colour 030 - Milan Moment.  In the tube it looks a red-orange, which looked like a colour that would suit me (I'm 'an Autumn' - ie. auburn hair, green eyes, look best in brown, pinks, orange etc), but when I put this on it came out way more orange and to me it was quite disturbing.  Probably only because I'm not used to glossy lips (although it wasn't too glossy), but it certainly was more orange than I am used to.  It did, however, make my eyes look really green, which sort of shift between khaki, murky brown, brilliant green....depending on the light/my mood/what I'm wearing/what I ate for dinner/what colour my undies are....(no...just kidding).  Anyway, I think if I smudge it on with a finger it might be more do-able for me.
Gwen Stefani by O.P.I Nail Lacquer
This was also a full sized product and I am a little freaked out by this as it is not a colour but a little jar of glitter!  It's all silver sparkles with the occasional colour bit thrown in for good measure and I'm not sure what to do with it.  Hmmm....I just popped some on my pinky finger nail and it's very Christmas festive like and it matches my spotty pyjama bottoms.  Not sure if that was the intention but it is kind of fun.  Probably wouldn't wear it to a job interview but a New Year's Eve party would be fine.
Benefit They're Real! Push-Up Liner and They're Real! Mascara
The liner thingo is pretty nifty, although I was a bit baffled at first.  It has what they call an AccuFlex tip, which basically just looks like an old finished pen nip (sort of sideways), and it looks like the liner is squeezed out through this tip and it then draws on your liner really easily.  I don't wear dark liquid liner or do the whole smokey eye thing.  Perhaps if I went out in the evenings I would but I think it looks easy to use.  I was pretty chuffed about the mascara.  It's so teeny tiny!  And so cute.  Reminds me of that line in the movie 'Despicable Me'....."'s a little teeny tiny toilet....curse you tiny toilet!"  Sorry, I'm getting distracted.  The mascara.  This is a great mascara and it doesn't clump either which I always find is a problem.  Probably the difference between me normally buying cheap mascaras in the supermarket and this one coming in at $38 for the full sized version.  Go figure.  Anyway, I really like it!
So...this was my first experience with a beauty box.  It entertained me for a good half an hour trying out all the bits and bobs.  Have you tried any of these products?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Write a Magazine Article

As a follow up to my post on How to Conduct an Interview I thought I would do one on how to write up the article afterwards.  In my case I am writing articles for a magazine called 'Gippsland The Lifestyle', but for you it could be writing up a report, a case study, an article for a newspaper or even writing words for your blog.
As I mentioned in the other post I record my interviews on a Dictaphone, which saves me the hassle of writing down everything the interviewee is saying, and also means that I don't miss anything, and I can focus on asking the right questions.  Therefore the first step, once I get home, is to listen to the recording and type up a list of rough notes of what was said during the interview.  I make sure that I take note of anything that is said that can be used as direct quotes within the article, as I find this personalises it and adds more weight to the story.
Once I have typed up the notes I print them out, which gives me everything I need to write the article.
Here is a photo of the recent edition of the magazine with the cover photo for an article I wrote on my husband's shearing.  This is him hard at work.
For me I find the introduction is where I will sit and ponder the longest.  Usually I have some idea of what tone I will use to set the scene, and often have this worked out at some point on my drive home from conducting the interview.  The introduction, as you can probably imagine, is a vital part of the article as it needs to capture the reader from the get go and really lure them in.  If you don't grab their attention within the first paragraph you really have lost them and they might not continue to read the article.  It doesn't always come to me easily, however.  I have been known to stare at my screen for a good half an hour, typing in a bit of rubbish here and there...hitting the back space button...and fiddling around on Pinterest for a while before I come up with something decent....but thankfully it doesn't happen too often.
More of the shearing article...
The Body
Now it comes to the juicy part of the story.  Here is where I will refer to my pages of notes taken off the interview, and really it's a little like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle.  The secret here, I find, is to make my original notes as detailed as possible so when I go to write the article I just need to rework what was said and put it in the correct order.  I'm certainly not copying word for word what was said in the interview, but I stay true to the information the interviewees gave me which is important for ensuring that I get all the facts straight.  I make sure that I insert the direct quotes into places that are logical, but I don't just use them for the sake of having them.  The quote should be powerful on it's own but also tie in with the text around it and enhance that section of the article. 

This does sound like I have simplified the process of writing the article, and in a way I have.  Having the notes there does give me something to work off.  I do, however, find writing easy, it is my major strength.  Everybody has a talent, and this is mine, and I know that some people do struggle with it (for example, my husband can hardly string a sentence together when writing...but he sure can shear a sheep! and can fix anything which I'm insanely jealous of,) perhaps it might not seem as simple for everyone. 
I also keep in mind the photos I have taken to accompany the article and make the writing relevant to the photographs, if that makes any sense!

I try and keep my articles within the 1000 word limit and generally find that they are around the 800 to 900 word mark.  Any longer than this and apparently the graphic designer goes in to melt down as he has to fit in the photos around the words while he is sorting out the layout for the article.  For the conclusion I will aim to finish on a positive note and often a direct quote works well to tie it all together.  Sometimes concluding with a paragraph about what the interviewees plans are for the future with their farm/business/shop/café/hobby are.  This leaves readers thinking beyond what I am writing about in the article itself and might push them to seek out the person or business in the future to see if they have come through with their plans.
Proof Read and Edit
A vital part of writing an article, you must proof read what you have just written.  Look for typos as well as spelling mistakes because it's not guaranteed that the editor will pick them up.  Also look for ways to improve your article and cut back anything that seems like it is waffling on a bit.  Succinct copy is better than long winded explanations.
My last step is to get the final word count, which I write at the top simply so the editor knows how long it is, and then I come up with a title.  Sometimes this is easy, such as the heading for my article 'Shear Hard Work', but other times I will stew on it for a while.  Your title needs to be attention grabbing and straight to the point because it is the very first thing that a reader will see and this will help determine whether or not they will continue reading.
Anyway, this is how I go about writing an article, I hope this has been helpful.  Let me know if there is anything you do that is different to help you write!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cowgirl Dirt Sweepstakes!

Just a quick post to announce that Cowgirl Dirt is having a sweepstakes from October 13th until October 31st.  It is their largest sweepstakes ever and there will be total of 9 lucky winners, including one winner of a $400 Cowgirl Dirt gift card.
I have done a review on Cowgirl Dirt cosmetics which you can see here.  It is a fantastic range of natural cosmetics from the American West.  They produce mineral based products with natural and organic ingredients that nourish the skin, as well as bring out your beautiful best!
I really love their eye shadows and the Yeehaw Lipstick, which I have in the shade Sweet Tea. 
Here's what you can win....!!
So head on over to their website and good luck!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shearing Video

I posted a little video last weekend where I showed you all the animals that I come in to contact with on a regular basis, which you can view here.  In it I introduced you to the dogs, the horses, a rabbit, a cat, my cow and her calf and also our sheep.  I promised I would show you a little video of my husband shearing, so today here he is!  As well as doing this during the week as a job he is often found on weekends shearing a few, either ours, his Dads or his brothers.  In this video he had a little weekend job for a neighbour of my Dad.

It's pretty self-explanatory but if it's not something you see everyday it can be kind of interesting!
I hope you like it and maybe learned something new!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Manuka Doctor Age-Defying Serum

Lately I've been hearing all about the power of bees.  More specifically the power of the bee venom and how it is being used in skin care products.  I was also hearing it being linked to the words 'age-defying' and I became a little intrigued.  Hmmmm....
So when the last Priceline catalogue came out (a large pharmacy chain here in Australia) and it was showcasing a range of products by Manuka Doctor I just had to go and check them out.
Having a look at their website they have a few different ranges, from their apiclear, which is for troubled skin, the apirefine for high definition and apinourish, (which is what Priceline have in stock), for youthful looking skin.  Within this apinourish range are a whole beehive of products that I really wanted, such as a restoring night cream, an age-defying eye cream (oooo...come to me baby) and an age-defying serum, which to me, on a limited budget, sounded like the one product I was going to let myself buy that day.  I have never owned a serum before so I thought I would shell out the $40 and give it a go.  It also contains Manuka honey, which I always hear good things about, so I was feeling pretty good.
It comes in a pump bottle, which I quite like, as it means I can limit how much I use by only indulging in one pump per application.  I find this is ample to cover my face, which I do morning and night as suggested, after cleansing (which for me means washing my face with some Moo Goo Face and Body Wash and getting water absolutely everywhere), and then applying my moisturiser afterwards once it has sunk in to the skin.
So far I have noticed a difference, particularly yesterday morning when I woke up looking all puffy, with my eyes looking extra wrinkled.  It's kind of like a face lift in a bottle really, and I am noticing the lines under my eyes are less defined.  I'm loving it!  Thank you bees!
I am thinking that I will try the night cream (once my current Nivea Q10 Anti-Wrinkle pot runs out) and even the day cream, which has a SPF15.  There is also a facial cleanser, which I think I will get next because I do need a proper one, but I will wait until my husband does his next big shearing job so I have the funds to do it! (it is a little pricey)