Food Lately: January 2017

Autumn Brekky bagel with ham, egg, beetroot relish & cheese (Huff Bagelry, Carnegie)

This used to be a seasonal special but they’ve kept it for years and years. Did you know that every time I go I get the same bagel – this one. It’s so perfect I don’t think any other bagel could surpass it, so what else is there to try? This is one of my favourite food items in Melbourne!

Tostados: Cauliflower with beetroot, smoked cheese & spices | Crab & prawn with celery, cucumber & apple guac, lime-habanero mayo & luxury walnut (Mamasita, CBD)

Mamasita is another favourite restaurant of mine. They always get the flavours and textures spot on. These tostados were amazing!

Mejillones: Mussels with garlic chilli & tomato (Portello Rosso, CBD)

These are the best mussels I’ve ever had! They were so fresh and meaty. The incredibly flavoursome sauce also had wonderful depth. Mussels aren’t really my pick but I was more than happy to tuck in to this dish.

Croissants, ham & gruyere croissant, danish, lemon curd cruffin (Lune Croissanterie, Fitrzoy)

I wrote in depth about my experience at Lune during the peak of their popularity. These days you can often walk in mid-late morning without lining up and almost have your pick (I took the last two plain croissants). This box was for my family, although the lemon curd cruffin was for me. It’s just as delicious as I remember it being back when it took a combined five/six hours to get. It’s so fluffy yet crispy and the curd is amazingly tangy. I’m already dreaming of the next one…

Fashion: What I bought in 2016

I’ve kept track of all the clothes/accessories I purchased in 2016 and how often I wore them (to the best of my ability) up until the end of January 2017. I definitely cut down a lot on spending and chose a lot of pre-owned pieces. Some have been great purchases that I’ve worn a lot, some have been great purchases but don’t fit into my everyday wardrobe, and others have been bad purchases.

Ziera sandals (pale pink) – Purchased in January via Ziera ~$150. I haven’t kept track on the wear count, but I’d guess it’s over 50 times. Because of inner and outer colours, they’re not the most practical to keep clean, but they’re not too bad one year on. The comfort is not exceptional (only because they rub against my bunion after a while, but this is minimal).

Ziera sandals (taupe) (not pictured) – Purchased in January via Ziera ~$150. Worn once and since sold. The removable half insoles were incredibly irritating.

Ted Baker coat (black) – Purchased in March pre-owned via eBay $62 (including shipping). Worn 15 times. The coat is absolutely beautiful although there are signs of wear. I’m happy with it for this price point. It’s my warmest coat and I’m thinking about future coat purchases thanks to trying this. The neck situation is a bit annoying and my only regret.

Cue long suit jacket (black-ish) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $25 (including shipping). Worn twice. The jacket is gorgeous, thick, amazing quality and in as new condition. I love it but haven’t had many opportunities to wear it. It’s handy when I need a formal jacket.

Hi There by Karen Walker ruffle skirt (teal navy) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $23.25 (including shipping). Worn 11 times. The skirt is also great quality, easy to care for and interesting. I was unsure about the shade at first.

Saba striped tunic dress (navy and white) – Purchased in April pre-owned via eBay $23.75 (including shipping). Worn twice. I have no idea how to wear this and writing this makes me consider getting rid of it. It was listed in my size and meant to fit two sizes above, but I didn’t find this to be the case. It’s too short as a dress and not comfortable enough as a top/tunic.

Hi There by Karen Walker bow skirt (black) – Purchase in May pre-owned via eBay $28.50 (including shipping). Worn three times. It looked quite worn when it arrived (despite the condition listed to be as new) and I hated the awkward pleat at the front so had it tailored shut. But the material is itchy, it’s always wrinkled and with the pleat closed there is little stretch in the skirt while walking. I got rid of this.

Cue peplum top (dark eggplant/almost black) – Purchase in May pre-owned via eBay $32.00 (including shipping). Worn once. This is amazingly tailored, of amazing quality and condition. It’s very much an occasion top.

Uniqlo cotton cashmere jumper (grey) – Purchase in June via Uniqlo $39.00. Worn 22 times. This is without doubt my most successful purchase. I am practically “allergic” to wool touching my skin, but this 90% cotton and 10% cashmere blend is almost okay. I still can’t wear this without a collared shirt underneath (I wear sleeveless shirts) though, but I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it! I machine wash it on the gentle cycle and it’s still looking good with very minimal pilling.

Uniqlo silk sleeveless shirt (black) – Purchased in June via Uniqlo $14.90(?). Worn 4 times. I picked up this basic piece because collared sleeveless shirts are so convenient to pair with or layer underneath jumpers, plus it was so cheap and “washable silk”. It is noticeably thinner than Uniqlo’s normal silk though, but I think it’s fine for what I bought it for. It hasn’t been worn enough because it is also usually in my steaming pile.

Uniqlo cable-knit jumper (cream) – Purchased in June via Uniqlo $49.00. Worn 17 times. Cotton is easier for me (both to wear and to wash) but I don’t like it as much as the grey jumper. It’s a bit cropped on me and I wish I had sized up.

Dorothy Perkins ankle trousers (black) – Purchased in July via The Iconic $47.96. Worn 8 times. In June and July I was really hunting down ankle trousers. My legs are tricky to find pants for, and after ordering four pairs from DP via The Iconic, I settled on this one as a piece to start with (to see if I actually get good use out of pants like these). I can’t say whether it’s been a success or not, but mostly because I don’t think any of my shoes really pair with it…

DIY skirt (black) – Made by my mum. Worn 4 times. It’s a bit short, but it’s such an easy skirt thanks to the waistband and colour.

Marcs shirt dress (black) – Purchased in July via Marcs $63.20. Worn 3 times. Honestly this dress is great and so versatile, but it takes ages for me to steam out small wrinkles. I do all my steaming in huge batches which means this dress is rarely available to wear, haha. Nonetheless it’s a great simple black dress for almost all occasions.

Cue long tunic top (black) – Purchased in July via Cue ~$69. Worn 10 times. I find the neck area scratchy, but otherwise it’s an easy drapey piece and I love it.

Saba leather biker jacket (silvery biege) – Purchase in October pre-owned via eBay $63.50 (including shipping). Worn 16 times. I’ve been toying with the idea of a leather biker jacket for a long time, but they’re expensive and hard to find the perfect one. I took this pre-owned option to try out since it was cheaper and the colour is much softer than black, which I don’t think would suit me. Figuring out how to DIY clean it was a bit tricky. I’ve enjoyed wearing it. One of the lapels keeps sitting weirdly though, which annoys me.

Banana Republic midi dress (purple and black) (not pictured): Purchased in October pre-owned via eBay $13.00 (including shipping). I thought this would be perfect as a more covered-up piece for summer (for work etc). I assumed it was labelled as Australian sizing even though I know it’s an American brand. Unfortunately I made the wrong assumption and it was too big on me. Even after simple alterations, it swamped me. I gave this to my mum.

Country Road tee (black) – Purchased in November via Myer $33.71. Worn 6 times. I started hunting for comfortable and soft material tees. I love the look of the T by Alexander ones, but read mixed reviews and didn’t want to order it online without seeing/trying it in person. I landed on this option from CR. It’s soft, light and has stretch thanks to it’s 50% cotton and 50% modal material. It’s comfortable but really thin, so I chose black.

Cue panel blouse shirt (white) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $16.47 (including shipping, was $54.45 but had a coupon). Worn once. This shirt is great quality and I wore it to an interview. I see it getting more wear when we move out of summer.

Karen Millen midi skirt (pink) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $14.18 (including shipping, was $49 but had a coupon). Never worn. I learned the hard way that their UK sizing runs one whole size smaller than AU, so this did not fit. I probably would’ve gotten rid of it anyway, as it was a lot puffier than I had anticipated and I didn’t see it being practical for work. I’m re-selling this.

Plenty tulle mesh midi skirt (navy) – Purchased in November pre-owned via eBay $30.00 (including shipping). Worn 11 times. I’d never heard of this brand before but I looked up retail prices and this was a bargain. I’ve found this so versatile to wear. It has a nice weight because of the double layers, but isn’t heavy or stuffy thanks to the mesh layer and cotton layer. I love this!

TFNC pleated midi skirt (mauve) – Purchased in November via ASOS $41.30. Worn 7 times. Can you tell I was on a major midi skirt hunt? Apart from being a tad long, this is everything I was looking for in a pleated midi skirt. The colour, weight and comfort are all spot on.

Country Road tee (navy, grey, burgundy) – Purchase in December via Country Road $33.71 * 3 = $101.13. Worn 3-4 times each. Yes, when they went on 25% off sale again a few weeks later, I purchased them in all the colours I could ever want. The only thing that would makes them perfect was if they were a bit longer, and if they didn’t stretch out after the first wash. Nonetheless I love these and wear them all the time!

Sandler sandals (black) – Purchased in December via Sandler $52.51. Worn 16 times. All my sandals are too casual, and these filled a hole. They’re comfortable and go with everything. I’m also so proud of myself because these are current season and were $149.95 but I piled on three different promos to get it for a third of the price. Yay!

Dune London flat sandals with jeweled heel (pink nude) (“Ninah”, not pictured) – Purchased in December via Dune London and Borderfree $64.17. Never worn. I had actually wanted these “Ninah” shoes for half the year because I thought they would be the perfect dressy shoes for someone who can’t really wear heels. I had only found it in faux-leather and a different colour (for over $100) previously, but then Dune London had their big post-Black Friday sale with free international shipping and returns! I have yet to wear them because there hasn’t been the occasion and the soles are too slippery so I need to get them soled first. They were such a good deal too (I did order more to try on and returned this in a different size).

Dune London heeled sandals with jeweled heel (pink nude) (“Harah”, not pictured) – Purchased in December via Dune London and Borderfree $64.17. Never worn. Unbelievably just as I was about to check out with the above shoes, I happened to remember these “Harah” shoe and did a word search. I found they were also on sale with only one left in one of the two sizes I was trying the above sandals in. Thanks to the option of free returns, I decided to just order to give them a try – because FOMO and just in case. They’re too similar to the other pair, and seemed too high for my poor feet. But when they arrived, the size ended up being the right one and actually my feet feel secure and seemingly comfortable (without actually leaving my house). I know it’s a bad habit, but these were special enough and well-priced enough (did I mention last one?!) that I decided to also keep them (eep) JUST IN CASE – I know, I know, terrible. Like the above pair, they need to be soled.

Total: 27 purchases, 1 hand-made from mum. 3 of the purchases are going. Spent ~$1271.7 (some prices unknown).

I’m fairly happy with the spending and the purchases. I don’t know how I fared in previous years, but I would have spent at least three times as much. I used to average ten pairs of (new) shoes a year… that’s probably well over $1000 already. I did also purchase two scarves, a cheap ring and some underwear and hosiery which I didn’t include here.

Beauty empties: January 2017

Mario Badescu Lip Wax: This is pretty funny because I only owned it for a few days. I absolutely hated it. I like my lip balms in a twist tube, but this was incredibly oily and so ridiculously soft. It felt so gross on my lips. T also tried it and hated it. The other day I was twisting it up to see how much there was in total (you know, to prepare myself for how long it would take to use up), and on reaching the end I was unable to twist it back down. The whole thing collapsed when I tried to gently push it down. I’m not going to lie, I’m barely even sad. I hated it. I just wish I hadn’t wasted my money.

Burt’s Bees Hydrating Lip Balm with Coconut & Pear: I’ve been purchasing Burt’s Bees lip balms for many years and still have a few more in use. I’m switching out now (hence trying the Mario Badescu one) because I no longer consider them cruelty free. I really liked this lip balm, despite not liking coconut, because the pear smell was much stronger. It was also a good lip balm consistency, and hydrating without being greasy.

Grown Alchemist Antioxidant Facial Oil – Rosehip & Camellia Seed: I was gifted this a few years ago but found it too oily. Last year I started using it again, this time using very small amounts. I immediately fell in love with it. I usually use it at night, and my skin is really hydrated and soft when I wake up. It’s worked great through the winter and summer seasons. As it was running out, my friends kindly gifted me another bottle for Christmas, which I am now happily using. I hear great things about rosehip oil too, so hopefully my skin’s benefiting from that.

Unexpected life lately

I originally wrote the below post to go up before Christmas, but then the Monday before Christmas, we received news that my grandmother living in China had had a stroke. That night I packed my things and went to my parents’ house. Some time after midnight my dad received the call that his mother had passed away. The next day was spent running around getting flights and processing emergency Visas for my parents and I. Three years ago, also a few days before Christmas, we had to make the same emergency flight back to China so we were well prepared for how to get it done. We flew out that night and arrived the next night (after a horrible delay due to pollution resulting in a seven hour transit in China). It was a crazy and tiring trip. She was my third grandparent to pass away so I am now more or less prepared for Chinese death rituals, although my dad’s siblings kept this one really simple (we were able to sleep every night). The funeral was on Saturday, and on Sunday (Christmas day), I flew back home with my mum (my dad would stay another week). On that day I also got sick and spent the the flight and week between Christmas and New Years being quite sick. Such is getting sick in China. So that was my Christmas. Although it was an emotionally and physically distressing – not least because my grandmother’s passing was so utterly sudden and unexpected, there is peace to knowing that she lived a wholesome and healthy life without any illnesses, and although she went too soon, she was surrounded by friends in the local park when she collapsed (and not alone in her house) and experienced little discomfort while unconscious. May she rest in peace with my grandfather.


The last couple of months have been rather eventful. Job security isn’t really a reality in my area of science, but I had wanted to leave my current job regardless if my contract could be extended at the end of November or not. Of course it would be a huge risk to voluntarily leave without securing another job. I decided to go for it anyway and push myself out of a comfort zone. Since I already know I don’t want to stay in this job role forever, it was time to be proactive. I sent out about a dozen job applications. Surprisingly, I actually got two offers! The first was basically the same as my current job but in a better environment. The second offer was unexpected me because it was from industry and I only went to the interview for practice. I turned down returning for a second chat on account of liking my other offer more. They were rather insistent that industry was better and paid better (which is true but despite a $13k pay difference on paper, my current salary packaging benefits means I still earn within a few thousand of the industry pay) and asked me to come in again anyway. Once I did that maths, I no longer felt guilty about turning down a significantly higher paying job because it wasn’t. In the end I managed to firmly turn them down. My current boss also extended my contract for a few more months to finish off projects, so I will be starting in a new (but very similar) job mid February. Things ended up working out really well and I won’t be in a worse situation next year, although I’m not sure if the initial decision to leave was a good call (because of the risks) and it was probably very irresponsible. I would have loved to find a job which was more different, but I am so thankful for what I have lined up. Somehow all the pieces fell in to place and I’m counting my lucky stars.

I will also be studying a Masters course in 2017 at The University of Sydney by distance. I am resolved to do this full time and work full time. I never put enough effort into any of my studies in high school or undergraduate university. I can only own up to putting in effort for Honours. I owe myself at least one year of hard work. I hated my Bachelor so much and I still have no idea what I’m doing with my life so I really want to make this degree count. I actually applied for a mid year 2016 intake and was already accepted but decided to wait for the end of 2016 in the hopes of securing a CSP (Commonwealth Supported Placement) placement for 2017. This would effectively make my tuition fees two thirds subsidised. I had been wondering if it was even worth studying full-fee, as full-fee study is a difficult concept for me. I was fairly certain I wouldn’t get a place based on academic standing (poor university performance mentioned) so I had unhappily resigned myself to pushing ahead in a full-fee placement. What’s some five additional years of paying back student loans? However against all odds, I received news that I had secured one of the additional CSP spots! I was quite emotional at my work desk, crying silent tears (don’t worry, nobody saw). I’m not sure if it’s an achievement but somehow it feels like an achievement. I’m so thankful to be given a fairly competitive CSP spot. Somehow the pieces all fell into place again. Thank you, lucky stars!

Needless to say, 2017 is going to be a big, intense and very different year.

Review: ASOS vs TFNC pleated midi skirt

Left: ASOS | Right: TFNC

I was on the hunt for a nude-pink coloured pleated midi skirt for several months. I couldn’t find anything from my usual fashion retailers or pre-owned on eBay. Midway through November, there were a lot of click frenzy online promotions going on, and I used ASOS’s 30% off sitewide sale to pick up the ASOS Pleated Midi Skirt (Nude) and TFNC Pleated Midi Skirt (Light mauve) in my usual size 6 as they looked like exactly what I was after. I order from ASOS once in a blue moon and now with free-returns from Australia, I am slightly more keen to try things then return them (previously I would have to pay return shipping).

Unfortunately the TFNC size 6 was too small and I was unable to zip up and actually breathe. ASOS don’t do exchanges so I couldn’t get the same 30% discount for reordering in a different size (I even emailed to see if they could honour the previous discount code for this situation, but they couldn’t). However Black Friday came around so I just ordered a size 8 with their 20% off discount. (I note, as always, that Black Friday sales are not actually that spectacular online. I always find better sales throughout the year.) It wasn’t too big a deal. ASOS free returns are also really easy now!

Both skirts are 100% polyester and fully lined. The tag says hand wash only but I think that’s extremely silly and will definitely be throwing it in the machine. The TFNC lining is a thicker material and very elasticated (almost like a jersey material), which might make it more comfortable if I were to start sprinting, haha. Both have a waist band, side zip and hook and eye closure. The zip on the TFNC skirt is much stiffer and gives me a lot of trouble (both skirts that came had this same problem so it’s not an isolated problem). Both are also priced at $59 and available in a few different colours. They are not high quality but well priced to fill a wardrobe hole.

The ASOS skirt is noticeably longer by several centimetres. It’s kind of an awkwardly too-long-midi/almost-maxi length. For reference, I’m 165cm but have short legs for my proportions (damn) so even the TFNC one is probably a tad long on me and I may end up altering it (just look at it on the model!). I would have been happy to keep both though, as I really liked the two colours – the ASOS one is a peachy pale nude, while the TFNC one is a dusty grey-toned pink. They also have different weights and pleating – the TFNC one is heavier and has skinnier pleats. However I noticed that the lining of the ASOS skirt was bunched at the waist band and these folds showed through quite obviously since the outer layer was thin. I’m not sure if it was an isolated stitching problem, but it annoyed me a lot. Ultimately this made the decision for me and I decided to return the ASOS one (and the TFNC in the size that didn’t fit).

ASOS Pleated Midi Skirt (Nude) | TFNC Pleated Midi Skirt (Light mauve) (+ cashback via Cash Rewards)