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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation - Review


I have combination skin so powder is a definite must in my foundation routine. I also like a full coverage finish and using a powder foundation rather than just a setting powder helps me achieve that.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Plus is a completely matte, medium coverage powder when used dry or a full coverage powder when used wet. It's incredibly soft and applies like a dream. The main thing I love about this powder is that it never looks like a powder foundation when it's on the skin. It looks smooth and natural.

I apply it with a MAC 182 Kabuki brush, swirling it around my face to get a nice cover, I use it over the top of my liquid foundation to boost up the coverage and set it in place.

Studio Fix Powder doesn't have a sunscreen so you're safe to use it with flash photography and it lasts around 7-8 hours of wear.

It is obviously a foundation so you can wear it alone also, it provides a good coverage and is soft on the skin. For an added boost of luminosity when using a powder foundation I recommend MAC Fix+ skin spray, it adds radiance to your skin without disturbing your foundation.

I use this powder every day, love the coverage, love the feel and highly recommend it as one of MACs best products.

Disclaimer: I have worked with MAC on a professional level for many years and received a lot of my professional training from MAC. However I have never been employed by MAC and this product was paid for with my own money. I am not being paid for this review, all opinions are my own. 

Animal Testing: MAC has always maintained cruelty-free production of products and is against animal testing. There has been some controversy over the past few months but MAC is still maintaining that they do not test on animals. 
Some MAC brushes do contain animal hair. MAC maintains that the hair is is farmed ethically and cruelty-free. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Haul!


So it's no secret that I thoroughly enjoy cosmetics, particuly the shopping of cosmetics.
Here's what I picked up a few days ago:

Firstly, I managed to get my hands on eight items from the Shop/Cook MAC Collection, you can see my post on the collection and swatches HERE.


A few MAC lipsticks, Angel, Lovelorn and Hue. All favourites and just replacements because I had used up my existing tubes, these are my three most used shades, I've gone through countless tubes:

 Lovelorn, Hue, Angel

I also picked up a Chanel Rouge Coco Shine lipstick in the shade 'Romance'

 Romance

Also from MAC, a new Set Powder and Brow Pencil because I had used up my existing ones


I needed a new mascara and liquid eyeliner and decided to choose something I hadn't used before. I went with Lancome Hypnose Drama and Lancome Artliner. I used both yesterday and really, really like them. The eyeliner is incredibly black and the mascara works really well. I'll post a full review on them when I have used them more.

I found this little NARS set called 'Sea Of Love'. It contained a mini Turkish Delight Lipgloss, mini Super Orgasm blush, mini Orgasm Multiple and a full Size Laguna Illuminator. I have wanted to try NARS Turkish Delight for many years but always forgot to buy it and was put off by everyone saying that it smelt like plastic, which it does. I haven't tried the blush or the multiple but I will post review when I have. The Laguna Illuminator is something I have wanted for a while but am still figuring out how to use it. I have very fair skin so for me it's too shimmery to be a bronzer and too dark to be a highlight, I'll report back when I've figured it out.


Next, L'Occitane Hand Cream. I've been on the hunt for a really good hand cream and this one was recommended to me. I am loving it so far but I only purchased the little tube to try it out. I also bought Smiths Strawberry Rosebud Salve, it's a hydrating lip balm that can be used as a topical salve for cuticles, cuts, grazes, etc. It smells divine, incredibly strawberry scent. You can also buy it in the 'original' formula which has a rose scent. Next was a Korres Lip Butter, these have been out for a while and I've been interested in them but didn't have a need to buy it. I've been looking for a good lip balm and wanted to give this one a shot. It's a really, really strange cream. It's almost like a jelly, almost like a mousse, really odd. I bought the shade 'Pomegranate' and it smells great. 


From the MAC Vera collection I purchased the two Pearlmatte Powders. Unfortunately one of them smashed in transit and shattered into a thousand pieces. The good news though is that after I posted it on twitter, MAC Cosmetics contacted me personally to offer a replacement, how cool is that?!

Left: What it should look like. Right: The smashed powder.
Pearlmatte Powder in 'Sunday Afternoon'

I picked up three new MAC eyeshadows and a brush. The eyeshadows I bought are Typographic, Plummage and Coquette. The brush is a 214.




And finally, Cle de Peau Concealer. This is an intense concealer with a super pigmentation, just a tiny bit of this goes an incredibly long way. I've used it twice and have completely fallen in love. As someone which fair skin and dark circles I can see that this concealer will become a life saver. It has a pretty hefty price tag but because you need to use such a small amount it should last a really long time. I'll post a full review when I have had a better chance to use it.


If you want a review on anything, let me know in the comments :)

MAC Shop/Cook Collection, Summer (Winter-US) 2012

How cute is the packaging?

Well, well, well. I blogged about my excitement for the Shop/Cook MAC collection earlier (see it HERE) and have managed to get my hands on each of the items I was after.

I purchased two lipsticks, one liquid lipstick and all four Tendertones. This is a haul post with a mini review, I'll review the items seperately when I have had a chance to use them properly, swatches below:

The three lipsticks I picked up are: 
 
Watch Me Simmer
A bright orange-pink, completely opaque no shortage of colour here.
It's an Amplified Cream formula and has a very smooth application. 

Quick Sizzle 
A bright Matte pink, slightly neon. More creamy than most Matte lipsticks and it does have just a small amount of a sheen. I'd say it's more of a Satin finish than a Matte finish

Naughty Saute
A very bright posey pink, perfect summer colour.
It's a Cremesheen formula and it's incredibly smooth, it feels amazing on the lips.
More creamy than most Cremesheens

 Watch Me Simmer, Quick Sizzle, Naughty Saute.

 

The next item is a Kissable Lipcolour. These are a mix between a lipstick and a lipgloss, essentially a liquid lipstick. It's relatively long wearing, more than a lipstick, but not so much that I would advertise it's staying power.

I purchased the shade 'Flaunting It', it's a grey pink-mauve and has a very warm tone. It's a medium cover, not sheer, not opaque. I bought it because I think it will be great to warm up pink lipsticks in the winter.

Flaunting It

And lastly, Tendertones! I blogged about the hype surrounding tendertones in my original Shop/Cook MAC post but I'll copy and paste it here, just for food measure, skip if you like:
"While all MAC Collections drum up conversation, the most talked about item in this collection are the Tendertones. Tendertones were first launched years ago (I believe in 2007) and they're a creamy, tinted, jelly lip balm that caused a craze amongst fans. They've been talked about ever since and their return has driven up even more excitment. Tendertones have been long lusted over by fans of the first launch and those who have heard so much about them since. Much of the conversation is speculating wether the Tendertones will be made with the same formula. MAC is notorious for relaunching a product that we haven't seen for years and it being slightly different to what people remember."
I haven't been able to play around with these too much but I'll post a picture of them below. Because I never tried the original Tendertones I can't compare the formula but from what I've gathered so far they're a decent gloss/balm. They're not incredibly hydrating or healing for the lips and they are super glossy. They smell incredibly sweet which could be off-putting for some but it's fine for me.

Top left: Purring. Top right: Hush, Hush
Bottom left: Tread Gently. Bottom right: Hot 'N' Saucy


If there is any item that you would like a more in-depth review on, let me know :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

OPI for Sephora 'Personal Shopper' Nail Polish Review (NOTD)



Personal Shopper is a bright red that leans slightly towards a brown base. It's opaque and applies so smoothly, like a dream. Now, please ignore the obvious imperfections on the polish, I decided (against my better judgment) to use Seche Vite again. Yep, see the review of that awesome horrible product HERE. It chipped quite fast, but I blame the Seche Vite, not the polish.

I love the colour, it's really flattering on all skin tones because it's not overly warm but not cold either. It's a solid cream formula, no shimmer. The brush is a round brush, not flat like other OPI brushes, but it still applies incredibly precise and even.

Although you might find it hard to get your hands on this in Australia (try eBay), those in the US can pick it up at Sephora.

Parcel It On - Mail Forwarding Service Review

(Please note that all prices and service fees are accurate as of February 2012 and may change over time)

I don't need to go into detail of how annoyed we are that cosmetic and beauty prices in Australia are so much higher than prices in the US. We're all trying to find other ways to source the products we crave while not feeling like we're being conned into buying at the Australian retail price.
Especially when the Australian Dollar is worth more than the United States Dollar.

To give you an idea of the Australian mark up, here are a few examples:


PRODUCT COST IN US  COST IN AUSTRALIA
MAC Lipstick - $14.50 $36
NARS Blush - $26 $49
Chanel Eye Quad - $55 $99
Revlon ColorStay- $10 $42
MAC Foundation - $26 $56
L'Oreal Eyeliner - $8 $29


Yep, you can expect to pay anywhere from 40% to 400% more in Australia for the same product you can buy in the United States. It's not just cosmetics that are priced higher in Australia, it's everything.

But never fear, I have a solution for you:

PARCEL IT ON

The perfect, all loving, saviour for Australian retail junkies.
Parcel It On is a mail forwarding service based in New Jersey in the United States. The simple way of describing it is that if you order something online and send it to Parcel It On, they will send it straight too you.

Now there is a loophole for shopping at all those online stores (cough, Sephora, cough) that refuse to post to Australia - HA!

My Experience with Parcel It On

I don't have a single bad thing to say about Parcel It On and their quality of service. Every email I send will be responded too promptly, everything is always packaged perfectly and I am kept in-the-loop with the status of all of my deliveries. The service is personalised and I am always remembered each time I go back. I have used Parcel It On at least 10-12 times now and have never had any reason to look for another mail forwarding service. The fees are incredibly low and I know that my orders are safe with Parcel It On. I can order hundreds of dollars of goods at a time and know that everything is safe.

I give Parcel It On the highest compliments and gratitude.

So here's how it works:

There are two services, a Mail Forwarding Service and an Assisted Buying Service.

Mail Forwarding Service:
All you need to do it go online, fill your shopping cart with all the goodies you want and send them to Parcel It On (you can find the address HERE on the website).

Email them to let them know what items you're buying and the individual values of the goods ordered (I just send through my email receipt from the store I'm buying from). This is so that they can check to make sure everything is there and they need to know the cost for their import declaration (sounds scary but it's not).

Once your package arrives, Parcel It On will email you to let you know that they have your delivery and give you your shipping options.

You will be able to choose from First Class (approximately 2-3 weeks, only available for packages 1.8kgs or less), Priority (10-14 days) or Express (5 days) postage, Priority and Express come with a tracking number and Express requires a signature on delivery. You will also have the option of adding insurance for a few extra dollars.

Parcel It On will then send you an invoice with your postage fees and your service fees (more on that later), you pay the invoice in USD through PayPal (very simple) and then patiently await your new purchases to arrive on your doorstep. Simple!

Assisted Purchasing Service
Some of those sneaky online stores that won't post to Australia also refuse to accept international credit cards (cough, Sephora, cough). But never fear, Parcel It On comes to the rescue with their Assisted Buying Service. Simply email them with the items you would like from a particular store and they will send you an invoice for the total amount (plus a small service fee - more on that later). You send the money in USD by PayPal and Parcel It On will purchase the items for you. Talk about quality service, right?!
You can find more details HERE on the website.

The process from here is the same as the Mail Forwarding service.

But what if I want to buy from more than one store?
That's okay too, you can send as many Packages as you like to Parcel It On within an 8 week period. Each additional package has a $2.50 handling fee.

Can I only buy from select stores?
You can buy from any online shopping store within the United States, be aware though that you cannot send any dangerous goods through international mail. You won't be able to buy items such as perfume, nail polish or some make up removers that contain alcohol.

What are the fees?
Good question, there are a few small fees, I'll list them in simple forms below. Fees for different mail carriers aren't included, you can read it all on their website HERE.

Service Fee - $15.00
This is the fee for giving you the mail forwarding service.

Additional Packages Fee - $2.50
This is the fee for each additional package you have sent to Parcel It On

Assisted Purchasing Fee - 4% of the goods total. 
For example: if you buy $100 of goods from Sephora and need to have it purchased for you, it will cost an extra $4.

Administration Fee - 3.9%.
At the end of your purchasing you will be sent an invoice for your shipping fee, your service fee and any fee's for additional packages. 3.9% of this total will be added as an Administration fee to cover the PayPal fee's.


And that's it, now you've paid, your package is being sent and you just have to wait patiently to receive it.
If you've chosen to have Priority or Express postage, you will receive your tracking number by email so you can follow it as it makes its way to your house. If you chose First Class, you'll need to wait for the surprise arrival.

Please remember that the shipping is international, it will be more expensive than regular domestic shipping. When I make an order I choose Express Shipping and I buy a lot of things at a time. Shipping usually costs me around $40.

Parcel It On explains their service very clearly on their website, feel free to have a browse around.

Out of all the mail forwarding services I have researched, Parcel It On is by far the most affordable and nothing beats the quality of their service. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hair Routine Part 1: Hair Care


I've been writing this post for a while now. The problem being that I couldn't keep the post short and informative while talking about everything I do to/use on my hair. So I have decided to split My Hair Care Routine in to two different posts; Hair Care and Hair Styling.

I'll give you a brief run down of my hair and then launch right into the products that I use to clean, protect and nourish my hair.

My natural hair is:
  • Light red with almost blonde roots
  • Very fine and flat at the scalp
  • A giant curly mess from the ears down
  • Naturally dry ends and oily roots
  • Long, about half way down my back
I style my hair to be:
  • Dark, warm brown with natural looking highlights
  • Thick at the roots and smooth through the ends
  • Either straight or with large (artificial) waves/curls
  • Incredibly soft and smooth
  • Voluminous
Here's how I do it:

1. Cleaning my hair

Obviously we all know to shampoo our hair, but did you know that you should cleanse your hair as well?

Shampoo cleans your hair but can have a hard time breaking through product build up, especially if you use styling products at the roots of your hair or if you only wash your hair every other day. Hair cleansers (or clarifying shampoos) give a really deep clean to your hair and scalp, removing any product build up and offering a repairing treatment at the same time.

I alternate between using regular shampoo and a cleansing shampoo.

My regular shampoo at the moment is the Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Shampoo. I am obsessed with Moroccan Oil and I love this shampoo. It's sulfate and paraben free so it's not going to lather up in your hair which can be strange at first.

I am not loyal to my shampoo and conditioner, I like to try new products but always go back to Moroccan Oil products. Redken All Soft is also a great shampoo or for a cheaper alternative, Tresemme Deep Repair shampoo is very similar.

The Clarifying/Cleansing shampoo I use is Redken Cleansing Cream.
I've tried a couple of cleansing shampoos and this is by far the best one. Cleansing shampoos can often be harsh and drying. Redken Cleansing Cream is infused with natural oils to repair the hair instead of drying it out. I leave it on for about a minute before washing it out for a deep clean. You can leave it on for up to five minutes if you have a lot of build-up in your hair.

2. Conditioning my hair

I like very intense, hydrating and softening conditioners.
I most often use the Moroccan Oil Moisture Repair Conditioner, I'll leave it in for 3-4 minutes before rinsing it out. It's incredibly hydrating while leaving my hair shiny and soft. It hydrates right through each strand of hair and actually repairs at the same time, rather than just softening the exterior.
Like the alternative Shampoo options, Redken All Soft and Tresemme Deep Repair conditioners are also great. You don't need to buy expensive conditioners, most of the time they just have more of the same ingredients. Instead, you can just double the amount of conditioner you use and stick with a cheaper brand. I personally opt for the heavy duty, deep repairing, intense hydrating conditioners.

3. Treatments

Redken All Soft Heavy Cream is a super treatment. I usually always have a tub of this in my shower and once or twice a week I'll skip conditioner and use this treatment instead. It's very intense and thick but oh-so luxurious. Sunsilk Keratese Treatment is also incredibly good and only a fraction of the price compared to Redken. Garnier Sleek Melt In Mask is also a long-loved favourite of mine.


I don't need to tell you how much I love Moroccan Oil. You can see a full review HERE.
I apply 4-5 pumps of this through my hair after towel drying it.

I, like most people, was extremely hesitant to use an oil through my hair but it doesn't leave your hair greasy or oily at all. It completely absorbs into your hair and feel amazing. I have a lot of hair, it's very long, so I use a lot of oil. My sister uses it also with her shoulder length hair and uses about 3 pumps. It really depends on your hair.

Make sure you read my full review, seriously, your life is about to change.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Adventure in California and Vegas

In October/November 2011 my sister and I travelled the fifteen hours to California, I've been asked to give a recap of my adventure so I thought, hey, why not. Beware, this is a long post.

We were scheduled to leave via Qantas on the 30th of October at 6am. At 9pm the night before, Qantas grounded all flights. I'm sure you remember this debacle, it was on every news channel for about five hours after the announcement. After about an hour and a half of stressful waiting on hold with Qantas, I was refunded my ticket cost and manage to score two seats on an Air New Zealand flight to California on the same day, with a 4 hour layover in Aukland Airport.

 Who cares about Qantas anyway? I fly Air New Zealand.

It was a 4 hour hop to New Zealand and then an 11 hour flight to California. 11 hours of watching movies, eating far too much food and being generally bored. I have to mention though that while airline food has a general bad wrap, the food on Air New Zealand was bistro worthy, I ordered Vegetarian meals, my sister had standard meals, all of them were pretty good.

 Airport food: Sandwiches and Carrot Cake.

 Waiting for a plane from Aukland to LAX

When we finally made to to LAX Airport in sunny California, we were eager to run through security and greet our Grandfather who was picking us up, low and behold, not that simple in a high security company. It took 2 hours, very long and intense, drawn out questioning, scanning of passports, having our fingerprints and photographs taken and eventually finding our bags dancing around the carousel. No time for duty free shopping, we hadn't slept in 20 hours and were eager to get out of there.

First stop, Starbucks. PS: My Grandfather is obsessed with Starbucks.
Latte for me, Chocolate Sugar-Over-Load with Chocolate Chips, a billion shots of caramel, whipped cream and ice cream chunks Frappe for my sister and we were off.

My Grandfather lives about four hours from Los Angeles in California Wine Region, about halfway between LA and San Francisco. Driving up the coast, weaving our way to his home (with a few Starbucks stops on the way - I told you, obsessed), we finally made it at about 11pm. We went to our individual rooms and bunkered in for the night.

Upon rising, I stumbled into the TV Cabinet situated at the foot of my bed, 'Oh yeah, I'm not in my bedroom'. Peering out the window at the California morning, I started sorting out my suitcase for our first adventure.

 A California morning from my California bedroom

We were headed to Half Moon Bay, a small town on the Pacific Coast about an hours drive from San Francisco. My grandfather had a three day conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, so my sister and I had to endure two nights of luxury, horrible, I know.

The beautiful Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

The gorgeous bathroom in our room

Inside the hotel


We had two half days and one full day at the Ritz Carlton, the hotel had a free chauffeur service to the main town street so we piled in the car, leaving my Grandfather behind at his meetings and ventured out for sandwiches and shopping. After walking about two kilometers down the main street and asking several stop owners where we could go to buy things, we found a Rite Aid. Drugstore heaven, some may call it.

 Oh, you're welcome

Restraining, I picked up a few things, marvelled at the low cost of EVERYTHING and headed for the checkout. MUST. RESIST. CANDY. (Seriously, it was so cheap, like 25c for a block of chocolate). I made casual small talk with the guy behind the counter and he gave me a 25% discount on everything! This whole bag of goods cost like $12. PS: For all diet coke nuts, $1.07 a bottle. Yep.

 Score!

Walking back down the main street of Half Moon Bay
On both nights we had dinner at the hotel restaurants, both had fantastic food and service.

We lazed around in our room pretty early each night, still trying to beat the jet-lag bug and getting smarter by the second.

 Getting smarter by the second

Watching 'Castle' and catching up on days of missed YouTube videos

We had room service breakfast each morning, waffles one day and a fruit plate the next. Seriously, this place did not underfeed you.


The Ritz Carlton, Half Moon Bay was amazing, so beautiful and the staff were very attentive. You can read my full review of the hotel HERE.

The next morning we headed to Monterey Bay, home of Monterey Bay's Largest Aquarium, jelly and pingu shots below.







We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, after rejecting our booking at some other seedy 'Adults Only' hotel my grandfather and sister had blindly booked. Yeah, that happened. But the Intercontinental housed us well, we had a nice view of the main street from our room and had dinner in the hotel Restaurant. Our server was very enthusiastic and even participated in our game of 'Name the capital of each American State', trust me, it's not so easy. Especially when you're Australian. You can read my review of the Intercontinental Hotel HERE.

 The Monterey Bay Main Street

 Laying in bed, watching Jimmy Fallon

On our journey back home the next day we drove through Carmel, one of the most beautiful little towns known to man. Spotted a Lush store, made some purchases. The sales girls were very excited to see Australians because they had just released an 'Australian Outback' sugar scrub. Smelt like ass. Sorry, Lush. We then made the final journey home. PS: The California Mountains in central California are something to be marvelled at. Amazingly beautiful.






Driving through vegetable patches (yes, huge vegetable patched along the side of the highways), weaving through mountains and debating the pronunciation of various Spanish words with my grandfather, we made our way back home.

I must say, my grandfathers house is beautiful. It's situated in the middle of a large block of land on a street of vineyards. The whole town looks like it should be out of a fairytale.

 Plus my bedroom was super cute

We spend the next few days exploring the local area, including dodging deers on the road (literally) to get to Hearst Castle. I could give you a mile long history of Hearst Castle but instead I'll like you to the wikipedia page HERE for you to read at your own leisure. The castle was frequented by celebrities and royals in it's prime years and has been carefully preserved as a tourist attraction now. These pictures don't give justice to just how beautiful the castle was.





We went to my grandfathers favourite margarita bar later that night, Chilli's.

 At least they give you fair warning



Bottomless chips, guacamole and salsa

A few days later, we headed to Vegas. The story of the horrible time we experienced getting there is far too long to detail here, so lets just leave it with these few notes. Never hire from Hertz Rental Cars, a $110 car hire ended up costing us almost $800. I am happy to take fault where fault is deserved but the fault was entirely with Hertz itself.

What should have been a simple 7 hour drive ended up taking 14 hours, so when we got there at 11pm, we were eager to get into our hotel room and go to sleep.

 $1 Tacos at Taco Bell

 The drive there was pretty beautiful, while daylight lasted

We stayed at Planet Hollywood Resort, I'll copy and paste my Trip Advisor review here, for your general entertainment purpose:

Lets start with check-in, after it took over an hour of wheeling heavy bags through the Million Mile Shopping Centre Hertz drop-off and trying to find the hotel check-in I thought that the worst was over and we were going to have a great time, the hotel staff were friendly and polite. We'd had a pretty rough time getting there so I paid for an upgrade to a Resort Room.
 
When we entered the room we couldn't find any light switches and were stumbling around in the dark using our phones as lights. We soon realised that there were no lights, only lamps. That's not a problem except that none of the lamps were plugged in and we had to crawl under desks and pull out bed side tables to plug them in. Note, this was only discovered because a friend in the room tripped over the lamp cord that had been left laying across the room. The television was also unplugged and we had to 'fish' for the cord behind the television cabinet.
 
Once we could see we discovered that the room had obviously not been used for a while. There was dust everywhere, coffee rings on the beside table and general filth around the room. The bathroom counters and sinks were absolutely disgusting, there was hair and a used bar of soap left in the sink. Towels were left on the floor and there was a half empty conditioner bottle on the counter. There weren't any general amenities such as hand soap (apart from the dirty used bar) or shampoo. Not a big deal but something you come to expect. One of the beds was unmade and just had the blanket thrown over the top of what I can only assume were dirty sheets. The television was broken and would mute itself after about 20 minutes, we would have to turn it off and on a few times for it to work again.
When we told the front desk about this we were told that there was nothing they could do because 'how do we know that you didn't make the mess yourself'.
 
Not only was the room and filthy, disgusting mess. When I woke up the next morning the hotel was holding $757 from my credit card. I was horrified and ran down to the check-in counter to speak with a manager who told me this was just in case I ordered room service and didn't pay for it. I was told that I would receive the money back when I checked out, and I did, but when I am only expecting to pay another $300 (we had previously paid a $100 deposit) it was an incredibly inconvenience. This is Vegas, we were planning on spending that money in the hotel.
 
The hotel really ruined our trip to Vegas, I stayed three nights and every single day my friends and I were just waiting for it to be over so we could leave. We paid for an upgrade to a disgusting, filthy room.
 
I will never stay in this hotel again.

Yeah, so that happened.

On the first day in Vegas we were venturing to find a taxi when we spotted a shining beacon of light in our otherwise irritating Vegas trip.

Sephora. In. My. Hotel.

Make up, perfumes, skin care products and $380 later, we were in a taxi headed to Fashion Show Mall. Oh Fashion Show Mall, you beacon of greatness you. We made a Pizza and Panda Express stop to fuel up and headed to Forever 21, Sunglass Hut, Nordstrom, Saks, Victorias Secret, Godiva, Chanel and various other stores to spend up big. We spent hours looking around various stores then took a stroll down the strip. We were so exhausted from credit card over-use that we went to starbucks, bought fruit salads and coffee for dinner and went to bed.

 Godiva Chocolate Covered Strawberries cheered us right up.

The next day, Forum Shops. We made a bee-line to MAC, a literal bee line, you know how bee's fly in loop-de-loops? Well, so do Forum Shop Shoppers when they are pushed around by other bee-lining shoppers. A good haul later, we were hungry and darting to The Cheesecake Factory (review on trip advisor HERE). We ordered entrees, mains and drinks, more food than we could ever dream of eating (as with all places in the US) and we grabbed out bags and headed to Bath and Body Works. Then Victorias Secret, another Sephora Stop, a quick dinner (Starbucks fruit salad and coffee) and we went back to the hotel to change our clothes.



 Inside the Forum Shops

 Inside the Forum Shops

 Inside Victorias Secret

Onion Rings at The Cheesecake Factory

That night we headed out to Peepshow, a dance musical starring Holly Madison. It's a nursery rhyme themed show starring all your favourite characters. I knew there would be nudity in the show, I didn't realise just how much nudity there would be. None the less, the dancing was incredible, the singers were amazing and the characters were hilarious. It was definitely a laugh out loud show. We had prime seating at a table in the front section. We pre-booked online and were able to select our seats. Holly Madison was a great performer and the cast was really interactive with the audience, it was all in all a great night.

 After the show we went back to our room, kicked off our heels and went to sleep.

The view from my bed and shopping bags on the chair

 Night view from my hotel room

 Day view from my hotel room

The next day we went and explored other hotels, such as the Venetian, I'll post a few pictures here (these are all from inside the Venetian Hotel.

 The lobby to the casino

 The ceiling was covered in this artwork

 Canals and gondolas inside the Venetian Hotel


And we went back to Fashion Show Mall to return a foundation that didn't match my skin tone and made another stop at the Chanel counter. PS: Every time I went to Chanel they would give me hand fulls of free samples, it's the little things that make me really happy.

We went into other random shops, went out for dinner and then headed back to the hotel to pack our bags for the venture home the next day.

 Bye bye Vegas

 Keeping hydrated on the journey home. $1.70 for 1.5 litres, this was a medium. 

Heck yeah free car upgrade! Driving through the Mojave Desert in style, we spent nine hours driving back home, stopping for plenty of snacks and tourist sights including lunch at Peggy Sue's 50's diner.

We made it home, greeted the family accordingly and spend the night sharing story's of our Vegas adventure.

 My navigator is such a jokester and decided to take me off the highway and down this high speed, incredibly narrow, two way road in the middle of the night for 30km and then throw me right back onto the highway at the exact same place it took me off. It was HILARIOUS..

The next day we relaxed by the pool, went shopping for food supplies and went to Walmart. WALMART! Found some bargains and shopped for food souvenirs for friends and family. Headed back home, stopping at Sally Beauty Supply for Seche Vite, read that story HERE, and prepared for a family dinner.

It was our farewell dinner because the next day we would be driving to LA for a few nights. You can find a lot of people at my grandfathers house, people who complete his renovations, clean his house and take care of the grounds all live in a huge guest house on his property. Everyone came over and we spend the night sharing story's and eating food. It's strange sitting at a dinner table and hearing words like 'soda' and 'ketchup' being casually used, I'd only ever really heard those words in movies.

The next day we drove to LA, grandfather in tow. We checked into the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City and had a delicious dinner. The next day we drove around Hollywood, went to Ulta (because I needed to spend more money, obviously) and made our way to Universal Studios. We saw plenty of attractions and went on a Studio Tour of CSI and Desperate Housewives. As well as seeing where well known movies were shot, including the War of The Worlds set.


 Getting used to the whole 'tipping' thing

 Gorgeous California mountains

 Santa Claus Lane!

We went out for dinner at Santa Monica that night, (review of that restaurant HERE) and went back to the hotel for our last sleep in the Unites States). A late breakfast the next morning consisted of fruit plates and pancakes and we headed off the see the Hollywood Sign and Hollywood Boulevard (and another Sephora). We drove around Venice and Santa Monica, took a break on Santa Monica pier and headed to the airport.

Looking out the window in Santa Monica

We paroosed Duty Free and waited for our flight. An 18 hour journey home through Aukland Airport and alas, the trip was over.