Since there's as yet no sign of my June LHI women's box, I thought I'd sneak in a review of the May 2014 one. This was the box that won so many of us over and gave us hope that LHI was improving on both quality and timeliness.

All five items were full-sized (wuhoo!) and there was a good mix of products.

In no particular order...

Mary Kay Lip Lacquer (RRP $22, 4g)

LHI has started letting us choose a particular product that will appear in our boxes (GENIUS idea). This month, we had a choice of colours between Pink Pagoda and Chai Latte. I went for the nude Chai Latte because I've got enough in the pink department for the time being.

I like the design, packaging and how it comes with a retractable lip brush (to keep the brush up when you're using it, stick the lid on the other end). It's a pretty colour in the container, but for me there wasn't a good colour pay-off on my lips (as in, it may as well be clear). Also, I wouldn't be calling this a lacquer - to me, 'lacquer' implies staying power, and this doesn't have it. It's more of a gloss, and it comes off the moment you sip your coffee (or your chai latte, as it were...).

Coral Colours Eyebrow Definer Pencil (RRP $7.95) and Eyeshadow Quartet (RRP $7.95, 3.2g)

I was pleasantly surprised by the pencil. It's super creamy and glides on smoothly, and the staying power is good (well, it mightn't be - but you don't use your eyebrows throughout the day like you do your lips, so who knows? ; ) ). I can sometimes be a bit of a makeup snob, but I don't mind using a cheap brow pencil so long as it gets the job done.

The eyeshadow, however, is another story (which of course makes no sense whatsoever) - I'm a little suspicious of a quartet that retails for this price. The colours are usable though; we received the 'vibrant forest' quartet and most of the colours will suit everyone. An idea for eyeshadows that you don't like or that are getting old: you can use the ones close to your hair colour as dry shampoo. Just crush 'em up, brush 'em on and you're good to go.

The Cosmetic Kitchen Pure Mineral Blush (RRP $34.95, 6g)

This box is starting to look like smashing value, isn't it? Initially I wasn't happy about the pink colour (pink blushes don't suit me at all for some reason), but it doesn't look too pink on so it's wearable. Hopefully you can see the swatch well enough on my wrist. Be careful using it - it's so pigmented that you need a light touch or you'll end up looking like a clown. It's not the most blend-able blush I've used, but you can work with it if you have a good, big, fluffy brush.

My issue with this product (and I've seen that many feel the same) is the design. While it's quite cute, it's not functional. There are too many holes in the container and they're too large, meaning that product comes out way too easily; hence it's not good for travel and it's easy to make a mess with it.

Premium Spa Face & Body Mask (RRP $14.99, 150g)

I'm saving this one to use as a body mask since I have quite a few open face masks at the moment that I need to get through. Trouble is, it's bl*ody cold in Melbourne right now and I don't fancy covering myself in this and waiting for it to dry and do its work (what a lightweight hehe). Bring on summer! It contains organic rosehip and chamomile, and Australian kaolin clay and sandalwood. Looking forward to giving it a go.

In sum

Not a bad box! I hope LHI can keep up the good work. Let me know if you've used any of these products and what you think of them if so.

At the end of each month I'll go through the beauty products I've finished and let you know what I thought of them. This will hopefully be useful to anyone thinking of purchasing any of the products listed, and also useful to me because I'll feel better about actually finishing things (!).

This month has brought that first stinging chill of winter and my skin has definitely felt it. I've switched to heavier moisturisers and oils to stave off dryness, and have also started using some of the deeper colours from my stores of lipsticks, blushes and eyeshadows. I'll be reviewing those kinds of items in the coming months as I finish them.

The June 2014 empties list:

MAC Fix+ skin refresher/finishing mist (RRP $27 100 ml)

I've bought this time and time again (so that's a gigantic yes in terms of whether I'd repurchase it). I've tried many similar products over the years and this one remains the best of its kind. I swear my face looks five years younger whenever I use it, and it keeps skin hydrated and plump. It helps set make up and gives your face a lift. I can't recommend this enough.

Happy Skincare sample pack: Cloud 9 Deep Cleansing Balm, Raindrops on Roses Hydrating Tonic and Good Vibes Omega Facial Oil (RRP $9.95, also includes Pig in Mud Mask)

I first discovered Happy's cleansing balm in one of my beauty subscription boxes, and I had one of those sublime moments when I knew I'd discovered a staple. Seriously, it's brilliant. It's since become a cult item and there's a reason for this - there's nothing else quite like it on the market (not that I've found, anyway). I urge you to try it.

The tonic is the best I've tried, although I haven't used many tonics and they're not usually part of my skincare routine so I'm no expert. It smells wonderful and has a smoothing, calming effect - and it's the only face spray that compares to MAC's Fix+ in terms of moisturisation and general impact.

The facial oil is also lovely; however it's not my favourite oil in the Happy range (so far that's the Black Seed oil, but I'll report back when I've tried everything).

The mud mask (sachet not pictured because I threw it out after use (!)) is decent although a bit messy to use - you have to mix it with water first. While I like it, every mud mask on the planet fades away in comparison to Cellilux's Glacial Mineral Gel, so I've been spoiled in that sense. Happy's mask is cheaper and much easier to come by in Australia, however.

Happy is an Australian company (yay!) and their products are wonderful and all natural, and their customer service is second to none. You actually feel like part of the family. After trying out this sample pack, I of course went out and bought half the store (hey, I got some good specials).

Five stars to this kit. I would buy it again and have already done so. You must try it, if only for the cleansing balm. Wowsers.

Revlon Colourburst Lip Butter 025 Peach Parfait (purchased half-price for $11)

If you haven't tried these, you must. They do feel like butter (in a good way) and come in a range of colours. You can also pick them up cheaply at Priceline or Chemist Warehouse, which often have specials. They go on smoothly and feel wonderful on the lips. The staying power isn't great but I reckon you can't expect otherwise from this kind of product (as compared to, eg, a lip stain). Would I repurchase? Yes.

Mokosh Rich Face Cream (received sample; RRP 60ml $49)

I was expecting to love this one. I like the packaging and my skin certainly needs extra hydration at this time of year. This cream however was way too greasy, even for me. Would I purchase? No. It's so greasy, it's the kind of thing you'd consider putting only on your feet.

Bioderma Crealine H20 (received sample)

This is a cult item that a lot of people rave about. I've received it a few times in beauty subscription boxes and have never been wowed by it. It's a gentle daily cleansing and make up removing water for face and eyes. It is indeed gentle, but it's not for me - it doesn't feel like it does much. You can buy 250ml at Priceline for $29.99. Would I purchase? No.

Villainess Whipped Body Cream Dulces en Fuego (received sample)

This is one of those products that I had high hopes for, but it didn't deliver. It smells wonderful (although a bit strong, to the point where it interferes with your perfume) and I like the company, but the body cream wasn't rich/moisturising enough for me. Would I buy it? No. But keep in mind that I prefer heavy body creams; many others would love this product. You can buy the full-sized product in the Violet Box shop (along with other Villainess products) for $18.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel (received 7ml sample; RRP 60ml $54.90)

For me, face masks are generally one of those things that make my skin feel a bit nicer immediately afterwards but don't make any real difference. This mask is one of the few exceptions. It's a peel so it has an exfoliating effect and you can definitely feel a difference in your skin's surface afterwards - tighter and smoother. Yes, I'd buy it. Probably not with the Australian price tag though!

That's the list! Have you tried any of these products?

I've mentioned before that, as a writer, one of your tasks is to observe. That includes observing your own behaviour and perhaps finding some good/bad/neutral traits that you can use for your characters, or even finding some common humanisms that others will recognise and relate to. As humans we like knowing we’re not the only ones who do weird things.

I’ve made a list below of some things that make us human, including quirks and gripes. (Some of my friends will have seen a few of these before on Facebook – apologies if so. Another task as a writer is learning how to recycle material so you can get the best mileage out of it hehe.)

The list

I’m the kind of person who will never bring the groceries in from the car in two trips. I will get the bastards in one, goddamn it – even if this results in personal injury.

I really hate things that beep at me to remind me they’re there – the microwave (no, I haven’t forgotten my soup), the dishwasher and washing machine (yes, I know you’re done – I just wanna finish this sentence). Gen Y Whitegoods, I’m calling them. Wish you could turn bits of them off.

No one looks glamourous when running for a tram.

My husband often cooks something for himself and keeps it in the fridge. Even though I’m of course welcome to eat some, I prefer to do this in secret when he’s out, nibbling away at the edges so he won’t know I’ve been eating it. Consumption by stealth. This makes me feel like a spy. I love it.

Life will be the death of me.

When going into public bathrooms I’ve used before, I always return to the same cubicle. Because it worked the first time and is therefore superior. The others remain suspect.

I fill my coffee/tea mug right up to the brim each time I use it. And ninety per cent of the time I spill some and have to clean it up. I don’t know why I do this.

Eighty-five per cent of women can’t walk in high heels, and yet persist in wearing them to the office. How can you expect to be taken seriously if you can’t walk properly? The mind boggles.

Everyone’s elbows do wees in the shower.

I only buy clothes that don’t require ironing. Enough said.

Nothing makes you feel like a bigger a*sehole than eating a big, fat, juicy steak in front of a dog.

I hate people who lick their fingers before turning pages, particularly when it’s completely unnecessary, and particularly when they’re reading a communal newspaper that I’m planning to read when they b*gger off from this cafe. Boo.

You know that thing when you accidentally turn the tap on too hard and the water recoils from the bottom of the sink and sprays all over you? Well, I’ve done that three times today. Three different sinks. Superb.

A world covered in crisp white snow is sublimely beautiful. For about two seconds. After that it’s just freezing.

When having dinner in front of a film, I can’t take the first bite until the film is playing and the credits are over. Because starting to eat before the actual film is just plain wrong.

Why do I continually persist in painting my nails and then doing things like opening a can of tuna? Why do I expect a different result when finger meets ring pull? And why do I always get 564 itchy spots as soon as I’ve painted them? And haven’t I learned yet to go to the bathroom before said painting? Indeed, why do I paint them at all?

I’m one of those water-conscious people. We have a water-saver shower head and I really do have four minute showers. Except in hotels. In hotels I shower for at least half an hour. Because hotel water doesn’t count.
When your stash is too big

I thought I'd write something on general organisation and storage of beauty products, maximising shelf-life and keeping things simple etc. It's easy to accrue far too many cosmetics over time, winding up with a drawer full of products you barely use or don't use at all.

Back in December 2011 when I became a beauty junkie overnight and made way too many online purchases as Christmas presents to myself, I did what many of us occasionally do and went through everything I owned and turfed what needed to go (which was basically everything - I had a bundle of stuff I'd had for years and a few newer items that I just wasn't using, many of which weren't great quality). 

As for the few products that were of better quality and newer, if I wasn't using them, I let my sister and friends take anything they wanted. So I had a clean slate. Awesome. I was ready to build a collection.


You've probably heard that it's best to store things in a cool dark place. I know some people who store their more expensive items in the fridge. While I don't do the fridge thing (no space!), I do keep the good stuff out of the bathroom and arranged nicely in my dresser or in dedicated boxes. 

Anything that's 'high turnover' (eg samples or full-sized items like cleansers that I know I'll get through reasonably quickly) stays in the bathroom because it won't be exposed to heat long enough to go off.

Making things easy

Since it can be pretty annoying to not have your products on-hand in the bathroom, I use empty sample and travel-sized containers and squeeze my foundation, BB cream and primer into these. For loose powders like eyeshadows, blushes/bronzers and finishing powders, I do the same. 

Once the little containers are empty, I refill them from the full-sized products. This means that your full-sized items won't be facing the heat every time someone has a shower (thus reducing their shelf life); it also means that your full-sized products undergo less exposure to air since you're not opening them every day - only perhaps once a month when you refill the small containers.


How long do things last? There's so much information available online about how long different products last; and as you probably know, each make up and skincare product comes with a use-by date and/or a little symbol telling you how long the product will last once open. Be guided by these but also remember - companies obviously prefer that you keep buying their products, so they'd rather you threw out your existing items and replaced them, rather than getting the best mileage from what you already own.

I've only ever had one foundation go off (this was years ago when I was a major beauty dunce), and I suspect that was because I'd been carting it around in my handbag for god knows how long and kept forgetting to use it. I've also only ever had one perfume go off, and I reckon it may just have been one of a dud lot. One perfume I owned for 10 years before finishing it, and it was still going strong at the end. Keep your perfumes stored away in their boxes (the boxes are often so nice and make good display items anyway). Try to avoid carting them - and other beauty products - around in your handbag unless you know you'll be finishing them within six months. Handbags wind up in hot cars, lying in the sun and of course move around a lot, meaning some products can slosh about and get bruised.

I own two blushes that I've had for over three years. According to the use-by symbol, these should have been thrown out after 12 months. But there's nothing wrong with them - they look the same, smell and feel the same, and I haven't had any bad reactions on my skin. I'll keep them until something tells me not to.

When it comes to how long things last, be guided by your senses and your skin's reaction to them. Also be guided by the consistency of the product; eg if a foundation has gone a bit gluggy or is starting to 'separate', it's probably ready to go.

Nice products are to be seen, not just used

I always get a lift when I look at my dressing table and see my fancy products laid out, the same way I get a lift if I see a nice vase or a scarf made from beautiful fabric. Display your items. Enjoy them. That's part of what they're for! 

Savvy companies know this and beautiful packaging is becoming the norm more and more. We're consumers. We're swayed by what things look like and, when it comes to cosmetics, we do judge books by their covers.

Streamline - the 'one in, one out' rule

This is a good one, and one I try to stick to. Don't buy a new lipstick until you've finished one you already have. For people with too much stuff, you may prefer to do 'two out, one in'. Nuff' said!

Don't open everything as soon as you buy it

I reckon it's fine to have a few different foundations open - you may have one for summer when you're more tanned, one for winter when you're not, and a lighter one for daytime when you don't want to look like you're wearing make up.

But maybe you've bought something you don't actually need yet (like a back up primer) because it was on sale. Don't open it until you need it; things start going off the moment you do. Save it - you'll be glad you did, promise!

Keep records

This will make me sound totally anal, but I actually keep two tables in a Word document. The first lists the date I bought something, its shelf life prior to opening (you can check with the manufacturer about this if the info isn't available online) and the date it should be opened by. Once something is open, I move it up to the second table, which lists the date of opening and its expected use-by date after opening. I look at the tables every now and then and, if something is getting close to its use-by date, I make sure I use it as much as possible and get it finished.

If this sounds like too much hard work, I promise it isn't. I prepared these tables in front of the telly one night and just add to them every couple of months when I've got a few new products to type in and/or have a few finished items to delete.

Finishing products

Ever wind up with a bunch of open, similar products - to the point where you wonder whether you'll ever finish any of them? I've certainly been guilty of that one, particularly when I've received things in beauty subscription boxes and want to open them for review purposes, even though I may already have a couple of similar things open. This is especially easy to do when you have a bunch of sample sizes and end up using those instead of your long-ago-opened full sized products.

To get around this, I pick a few items each month or so that I'll focus on finishing. Similar products are put aside for the moment to use only occasionally if I feel like using something different. Believe me, this process works - it's especially useful for things like lipsticks and lipglosses.

Also on the 'finishing' topic - once you've squeezed the life out of that tube of moisturiser and it seems to be empty, cut it open with scissors and scrape out the rest. You'll be amazed at how many more uses you can get out of the product if you do this.

Finally, resign yourself to the fact that you're never going to finish everything you own

While skincare products tend to get finished eventually, get used to the idea that you'll have things like blushes and eyeshadows for years before you finally decide they've been around too long and need to go. This idea took me a while to get used to, since I really REALLY REALLY hate waste of any kind (to the point of obsession). Having said that, it's a good thing to keep in mind when you feel like buying something you really don't need - as in, ask yourself how you're going to feel when you've had the product for five years and have hardly made a dent in it. Is it worth the price tag?

On that, I wish that companies released all their eyeshadows, blushes and bronzers etc in sample and travel sizes. There'd be much more chance you'd have the satisfaction of actually finishing them. Full-sized items like these can feel like such a waste of product when you never finish them. I'd rather have 20 different mini blushes to choose from than limiting myself to six large ones. Or maybe that's just me!

Do you have any tips on product storage and organisation etc? I'd love to hear them : )
So someone really thought through this design...

I'm going to start this post with a bit of my background. If you'd rather just scroll down to the quirks list, please do so : )

I've been fortunate enough to have done a good deal of travelling - fortunate in the sense that this is where most of my disposable income has gone in the past, and I don't regret it. As part of these travels I've lived for a few months in Florence, Italy; Seville, Spain; and New York, Yemen (had you there for a second...; ) ).

My husband and I also migrated to Berlin for just shy of two years at the beginning of 2012 and returned to Melbourne in late 2013. We had hoped to stay longer - or even indefinitely - but in the end we just couldn't handle the weather (weaklings we are!); the job market was too tough and hence living there wasn't sustainable; and at the risk of sounding rude or alienating some readers, we just couldn't handle the local mindset (which of course was as much to do with our background/mindset as it was to do with theirs).

When I've lived in other countries I've always done my best to learn the language and embrace the culture, and I think that's the way it should be. However, when it came to Germany - nowhere in any country I've ever visited or lived in have I received so much attitude when doing such shocking things as ordering a sandwich, asking questions at the train station about which train to take/ticket to buy, or inviting the neighbours over for a drink.

A qualifier: not all German people are like this and many were lovely and very helpful - but in our experience at least, the locals generally seemed so unhappy with their jobs, so unlikely to smile and so damn suspicious of migrants/foreigners. Maybe there were good reasons for this; maybe not understanding those reasons was a shortcoming of our own. I will say though that my husband (who was born and raised in Mexico) and I weren't alone in feeling this - we had a community of people from other nationalities over there and the verdict was the same: we felt judged and disliked. But maybe migrants/foreigners feel that way in Australia too? I really hope not.

But I digress. Over my travels I've made notes about truths and quirks I've discovered and I wanted to share them. I'd be excited if anyone wants to add to the comments below about their own travel truths and quirks. They always make me smile, and please note: they're meant well and not meant to be taken the wrong way!

Travel truths and quirks

Nowhere else in the world does washing strung high between windows look so amazing as it does in Italy.

Greece: I totally agree that a large bottle of beer should cost less than a small bottle of water.

Laughter sounds the same in every language.

Dear Germany: there's more to life than potato, cheese and sausage.

Dear Australia: there is no need to treat your citizens like two-year-old children and over-regulate to the point where breathing the wrong way may soon be a punishable offence (which of course will carry an extortionate fine that most of us can't afford to pay).

If we all smiled as much as the locals in Thailand, the world would be a happier place.

Mexico... Where every salt shaker is filled with salt, and every pepper shaker is too.

The Swiss embarrass me. They speak better English than I do.

German is a useful language when one is in a foul mood.

Egypt: I get that tipping is standard when you provide good service in restaurants. I'm not sure the same applies when you remove all the toilet paper from the cubicles in public bathrooms and then hand it to me in scrunched bundles, expecting payment for this 'service'.

So Canada... What's with the gross yellow cheese? You know that's not the only cheese on the planet, right?

Melbourne: Where you can get off a train at a station you don't know, in an area you don't know, and yet be certain that decent coffee is a stone's throw away.

Italy, I like your style. Smoking in underground train stations might be illegal but when people do it anyway, 'eh' is a great response.

Um, Germany... For all the hoo-hah about the brilliance of German design, you do realise that your traffic lights are placed in such a way that you can't actually see them unless you bend over your steering wheel, cock your head and peer upwards, right?

Having said that, dear Germany - I LOVE your autobahns. Please publicise to the world (and particularly to my own dumbarse country) that you have one of the lowest road tolls on the planet. Speed limits do not always mean safety.

Oh Australia, I am happy to drive at 40km per hour in school zones. I am not happy to do same for phantom roadworks.

You learn things when you travel. Like snow really does fall on beaches. And Texans really do speak and act as they do in films. And even the smallest country town has an Italian restaurant, a Chinese one and an Irish pub.

Hi Mexico, just a suggestion - not every dish has to be drowned in condiments. If I order meat, I want to taste meat - not a gluggy, soupy mass of seven or more unidentifiable sauces.

So, um, America... Portion sizes, obesity... Yeah? Speak to the French for more information.

Dear Europe: Light switches should be placed just inside the room you intend to illuminate, not in random positions in the room outside it.

Dear Europe 2: I love the large bathrooms you have in many of your hotels, really I do. So luxurious, so much space - I could play mini golf in some of them. Do you not think, however, that the showers could be enlarged at least slightly? As it stands, I don't have enough room to wash my hair without smashing my elbows on the shower screen. And I often accidentally turn the tap off with my arse when I bend down to pick up the shampoo. Not ideal.

G'day Australia, I've been thinking - if you want your citizens to prosper, perhaps you might consider reducing your prices so we can all afford to eat? And speeding/parking fines shouldn't bring one to the point of bankruptcy. Just a thought.

So Belgium... What's with the local attitude? Are you still p*ssed over the fact that the French claimed fries as their own?

'Ladies and gentlemen, our sincere apologies for the delay in opening the boarding gates. However the hostess tells me that you are all on board and seated and your luggage is correctly stowed, so we can in fact leave 20 minutes early.' (Christ I love Germans.)

Hi again Mexico, another suggestion: If you'd like to solve your traffic problems, you might consider introducing rules and actually enforcing them.

Dear Western Europe: Why can't I ask for a glass of tap water with my meal? I mean, what's the problem? Do I need to pay for air too? And can't I just use a public toilet without paying for it? Please???

Dear Eastern Europe: Thank you for giving me tap water with my meal without me having to ask for it. And for not charging me to use public bathrooms. I love you.

Oh Australia and your over-regulated ridiculousness, the whole cigarette plain packaging thing didn't really work out, did it? You turkeys.

Asia... I thank you from the bottom of my heart for bringing us some of the best cuisines on the planet. I have to ask though, what's with the desserts? Is bean curd flan really such a good idea? Really???

South America, I ask you kindly to please reconsider your bus system. Tiny two-way lanes high up on mountains, paved in gravel and with no lighting, and crazy drivers doing crazy turns at night are not a good mix. I do rather like travelling with cages full of chickens though.

Someone seriously needs to explain to the Germans that a coffee is not a jug-sized cup of boiled foam.

Attention: India and France. Please learn how to queue. 

Turkey... Why do you get angry when I want to pay in your national currency? I'm not European and I don't want to pay in Euro. Thank you.

If Italy and Greece can't stick to timetables for public transport, why have them at all? What a waste of paper.

I signed up to receive this when LHI revealed that the box would contain three Teeez Trend Cosmetics products. I've no doubt many people did this - particularly when able to use the $20 May gift code we received in our May women's boxes.

A lot of us are going nuts for Teeez and I'm no exception - proof that packaging counts when it comes to beauty products. I display my nicer-looking cosmetics on the dresser in my bedroom; so even if I don't use a product every day, I still get a lift when I see it and that definitely counts for something. For the same reason I have many of my scarves on display on a rack in my room.

I don't know why, but the vast majority of boxes I've received from LHI have arrived in battered condition (including this one), as though they've travelled to the North Pole and back three times before turning up on my doorstep. Happily I've only ever received one broken product (a leaked nail polish - yukko), which is a miracle considering the state of the boxes.

Anyhoo. The review!

LHI Accessories Crystal Love Bracelet (RRP $29.95) and Crystal Drop Earrings ($19.95)

I've mentioned before that my main issue with the FAB box is that earrings are included all too often and I don't have pierced ears. Yes I can give them away as gifts, but it's pretty annoying to consistently receive one product that you can't use (particularly considering that many of us will usually find at least one product in the box that we won't use anyway - so that's two products down already).

The bracelet's too big but I guess I could have it altered easily enough. I'm not a major bling fan but it's not the most garish thing I've seen so I'm sure I'll use it a bit. The bracelet feels like it's better quality than the earrings, although the feel/look of each doesn't match the price tags in my opinion. Still, a nice addition.

Lethal Lips Temporary Lip Tattoo (RRP $8 for 3)

This is the bonus item for this month. I understand that these things are trending in Hollywood at the moment, but I certainly don't see myself or anyone else I know wearing them! 

Having said this, I get the inclusion of on-trend products. Apparently they last for 8 hours and contain vitamins to help keep your lips smooth.

Teeez Trend Cosmetics Fabulous Foundation Brush (RRP $35)

Oh how I love a good make up brush! Especially one that looks so pretty. It's made with natural goat hair and feels nice to the touch. I'm looking forward to giving it a crack (or maybe I don't want to - maybe I just want to leave it there on the dresser looking all nice and clean...)

Teeez Paradise Perfect Lipgloss (RRP $25) and Mysterious Crystal Eyeliner (RRP $28)

I love these! The lipgloss smells exactly like the clear Haribo gummi bears (so fake pineapple, but a nice fake pineapple). It's clear with golden flecks and works well over a coloured lipstick or just on its own. The box says 'amazing lip plumping' and there's definitely some lip-plumping action going on there. Yay.

The eyeliner is black and has added micro glitter, in this case a nice blue colour. There's also a smudger on the end of the pencil. You don't have to sharpen it (wuhoo!) and it applies easily, taking 45 seconds to dry (according to the product description card) so you can play around with it before it sets. I can happily confirm that it's smudge-proof - I couldn't make it budge from my hand no matter how much I rubbed at it. Yay again.

In sum

A great box and good value. With three full-sized Teeez products, it feels like Christmas. Super excited. I can take or leave the other products but the Teeez items alone make this box worthwhile.


I wrote this article back when I was studying Professional Writing & Editing at the CAE in Melbourne. It was written for a project and it’s meant to be a humorous rant. It’s one of those pieces I’ve been reluctant to publish because I may come off as a little crazy… But I am crazy so I’ve decided to live with that.

Please note that the statistics quoted are valid as of 14 December 2008. I realise that’s a while back now, but I don’t think I need to update them for these purposes.

I've also posted this on my author blog ( because it’s an example of my non fiction writing.

To all you dastardly dawdlers…(footpath rage accelerates)

Over one million disgruntled pedestrians have now joined the Facebook group ‘I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head’. 

Inconsiderate walking behaviour has long been an issue close to my heart, so you can imagine my glee over being able to vent my frustrations when I found the gripe group earlier this year. No longer must I suffer stragglers in silence. And, as membership swelled, I felt vindicated to see just how many people feel strongly about this issue.

The vast membership is significant; it’s very rare that any group achieves such high numbers, let alone one that isn’t related to some specific cause. (Facebook doesn’t release group statistics but, as an indication, ‘Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barak)’ remains just shy of its target.) So interest in the walking group suggests that footpath rage is fast overtaking road rage as a social dilemma.

Of course, some may have joined as a joke, along with such other associations as ‘Denny Crane for President’ and ‘What would Chuck Norris do?’; but humorous groups like these are lucky to attract 5,000 members, so there must be more to it. The founders of the walking group have clearly exposed a social nerve, and it’s a nerve that signals broader issues, including inconsiderate public behaviour in general – particularly on thoroughfares.

Let’s consider what’s meant by ‘slow walking’. This isn’t about tolerance; us speedsters are generally sympathetic to the pace constraints imposed by such factors as age, pregnancy and pram pushing. And we understand that some people enjoy a leisurely stroll. But the notion of ‘slow walking’ runs deeper: it relates to those mindless moochers who refuse to keep to one side of the footpath, who dawdle erratically with no consideration for the rest of us, and who seem unable to just get out of the way.

There’s a certain lack of awareness to slow walkers, an inherent thoughtlessness, and they carry general characteristics and behavioural patterns. They often travel in packs (walking three or four abreast) when dilly-dallying in pairs or single file would suffice. They’re the random swervers, the ones who cut you off – again – just when you’ve finally spotted an opening through which to pass them. 

They’re the couples whose interlocked hands block a person-sized space, the people who linger in the centre of the grocery aisle with their trolleys, rather than placing themselves to one side. They’re the ones who push through to the vanguard at the traffic lights and then proceed to walk at 0.2 kilometres per hour, the ones who thwart your passage when you’re rushing to make the little green man – even though their light is red and they’re not going anywhere.

Several repeat sightings of weasel waddlers confirm they are the same people who can’t get it into their heads to keep left on the escalator, the same ones who stop in the middle of the street to gasbag, or to decide whether the restaurant door they’re obstructing – along with the entire footpath – is the door they want to enter. And the self-involved nature of dawdlers creates an inability to hear ‘excuse me’. 

One suspects that, if you stuck a slow walker on a bike, they would be the ones taking up both lanes of the road when peddling with their lycra-clad pals, or the ones who don’t understand the concept of ‘bike lanes’ in general (thus forcing entire lanes of traffic to merge right – just for them).

Yesterday I was rushing home, desperate to use the bathroom (know the feeling?), when I got stuck like a pinball behind two amblers on their mobiles. They happened to live in my building and, when we finally reached the lift, guess which button they pressed? Level one! For the love of… Take the stairs.

Should we, as a society, really have to tolerate this kind of behaviour?

Think I’m self-indulgently ranting about nothing? Perhaps. But so many people feel rage over this issue, and not just those who’ve stumbled across the gripe group on Facebook. People expect a certain level of consideration from others – and why shouldn’t they? Society is acutely bothered by those who conduct themselves with such blatant disregard; you should see the comments on the group website – particularly those from inhabitants of New York, London and Tokyo (unsurprisingly the cities worst hit by the slow walking phenomenon). Many members have detailed what they’d like done to idlers and, without going into graphics, for some this involves choice orifices and heavy artillery.

For those of you (probably dawdlers) who can’t understand these levels of frustration, have you ever been stuck behind a slow vehicle on the Great Ocean Road? And how do you feel when that driver, despite your rampant tailgating and fiery honking, doesn’t seem to grasp the purpose of slow vehicle turn out lanes? Exactly.

This isn’t just about frustration. The point is, such drivers encourage dangerous behaviour in others – tailgating, harebrained overtaking, distracting horns and slamming fists. The same applies to slow walkers. Yesterday a dallying flock of schoolgirls created the situation where people were forced to walk on the road to overtake them; some even jaywalked to the other side in despair, weaving through oncoming traffic.

Hardly safe, is it? 

I raised the slow walking issue among friends and received an impassioned response. We had some brilliant ideas to combat the problem, such as dividing the footpath into fast and slow lanes, and fining those caught transgressing. Is this suggestion so outrageous? We keep left on highways unless overtaking, don’t we? And public swimming pool lanes are divided by speed.

So to any dalliers who still question the importance of this issue, I ask you this: just how many times have you and your brethren affected someone’s day? How many people have missed their trains because of you – perhaps on their way to some crucial appointment or job interview? Just how does your behaviour impact other people’s daily lives? Some of us like to walk quickly to get some exercise, to ensure punctuality, or to squeeze an hour’s worth of errands into a forty-minute lunch break. Spare a thought for us. Please.

In the end, I think the intense irritation society feels towards selfish slowpokes boils down to the simple fact that, in the vast majority of cases, this disgraceful situation is so damn easy to rectify.

Keep left, think straight, move aside.

* Statistics are current as of 14 December 2008.

This month was Violetbox's first birthday and have they ever impressed us with a special birthday 'box'!

I've mentioned before that Violetbox is my favourite of all the boxes I receive and this month's is no exception.

In no particular order...

Caddy Cosmetics Pouch (RRP $26)

Like most lasses I've a bundle of cosmetics cases - including back ups that have been given to me and I haven't used yet (because I tend to use them until they literally fall apart). But I HAD to use this one straight away! Love it. 

You can probably tell from the photo that it's already been packed. It doesn't look or feel cheap, unlike pouches I've received from other subscriptions in the past, and it's got plenty of little compartments, making for easy location and storage of your goodies. Woot woot!

Appelles Shampoo and Conditioner (both RRP $18.95 150ml and $44.95 500ml)

The description card says the shampoo is effective, lightweight and suitable for daily use; it cleans and nourishes. The conditioner is enriched with Tamanu nut oil and repairs/protects hair from UV and chemical damage by maintaining hydration, manageability and softness. It's especially suited to permed, treated or sun damaged hair.

I love the packaging for these and can't wait to try them. Next time I wash my hair I'll do so and let you know the results. They're good-sized samples too (60 ml each) and handy for travel.


I have now used these products and can review them properly. I like the smell of each: herbal and refreshing. Despite how lovely they look sitting there in the shower, I don't think these are great products - at least, not for my hair (keeping in mind that my hair's a bit of a nightmare, dry and tending towards knots and frizz if I give it half a chance).

Note: No directions for use are on the bottles. Of course we all know how to wash our hair, but I needed to know how long to leave the conditioner in. (According to Appelles' website: apply a small amount of Tamanu Conditioner to damp hair and gently massage into scalp using fingertips. Wait a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly.)

The shampoo doesn't seem to clean well. It wasn't lathering much, even after three washes. The conditioner wasn't heavy/moisturising enough for my hair, but it may suit those with normal hair.

After washing, my still-wet hair feels a little greasy at the scalp (so didn't wash properly), and wet chunks of knots are all through it. Not looking forward to the brushing process!

gdh Straight & Tame Cream (RRP $24 120ml)

Gotta love a full sized product ; ). This was the sneak peak item, and while hair products generally don't excite me as much as make up and skincare products, I'm excited about this one and I've already used it.

It's designed to tame and transform unruly hair (that's me!) with ease. Ease is good. Ha. It also contains various goodies (like vitamins and aloe) to help with moisture retention. It's best used on towel dried hair before blow drying.

This just feels like a quality product. The container is well designed and looks fancy. I needed quite a few pumps for the first use in order to get the product out, so be aware of that. The directions suggest using 3-5 pumps each go but I personally think that's too much (and I have long hair) - otherwise it can weigh your hair down a bit. Go easy to start with and build if needed.

It's not the best product I've ever used of this nature (I still can't go past John Frieda's Frizz Ease) but it's a good product.

Bioderma S├ębium Pore Refiner (RRP $30.95 30 ml)

A good-sized sample (15 ml). I've received a bundle of Bioderma products in different boxes and haven't been impressed thus far, though I haven't received this one before and I liked the sound of it from the product description: it aims to mattify, refine and smooth the skin texture and its powdery finish apparently makes it a good makeup base.

I've just given it a crack and it does do what it says, but not to a great degree. If you're after some serious mattifying and pore-plugging/refining, you really can't go past L'Oreal Base Magique.

Strange Beautiful Nail Polish (RRP $22)

I'm assuming this is a full size item. I've never heard of this company and am looking forward to trialling it (I'm not thrilled about the colours, but of course you can't have everything). The description card says the colours are 'super saturated' and 'compelling', and 'encompass a lush depth and dimension'. Rightio. Don't think I've ever worn 'compelling' nail polish before, so that'll be a new experience ; ).


*After one day of wear - no chipping

I have now used these and can say that the polish is quite thick, so be careful not to apply too much (you may need to scrape some off on the side of the jar, otherwise you'll wind up with too much product on your nail).

The colours are pigmented and you may only need to apply one coat (I did). They also dry very quickly - bonus. It's all personal opinion of course, but I don't like the nude colour (and have a similar one I like better); and while I prefer the brighter colour, I also have a similar one that I like better so I may pass these on to a friend.

As you'll see I've put the bright, reddy orange on three nails and the nude-brown pink on two. I applied no base coat to any nail, but I did apply Sally Hansen's Diamond Flash (fast dry top coat) to my ring and index fingers, just to see how the products lasted on their own and how they lasted with some help.

After only two days' wear, you can see from the above photo that there's very little chipping to the brighter colour (just some on the middle finger) but the nude one is in all-sorts.

My index finger has only about two thirds of product left - and this is the one with a top coat. The thumb polish has started to creep off too. Granted, I did get out in the garden yesterday (plus did a lot of typing), but even I don't normally wind up with polish chipped that much after only two days. Foo. Hoh well.

Chella Brow Pencil (RRP $21.50)

Another full size item! These guys have really outdone themselves this month. We received a Chella Highlighter Pencil last month which I loved, so happy to give another product of theirs a go.

I probably don't need to tell you that bold brows are in. This is the third brow product I've received in the last two months from subscription boxes, and I hadn't received any before that. Brow pencils are one of those items that I use if I have but otherwise don't purchase, and I'm not precious about quality as I am with other face products.

I've used this a few times - I like that it's skinny and doesn't need to be sharpened. The colour is good for me (and stays on well throughout the day), although I'm not sure if it's suitable for those lasses with fair brows.

More than happy with the product, though let's see how often I use it; brow products aren't a staple for me.

In sum

What an amazing box. I've yet to be disappointed by Violetbox and I highly recommend signing up. Let me know if you've received the box and how you feel about the products : )

To join Violet Box, click the ad on the right of my blog or visit here. Use the code 'VIOLETBOX10' for $10 off your first box.

I'd say most of us occasionally have the thought: 'I don't want to be a grown up anymore.'

Let's face it - being grown up means paying the bills, working, managing a budget, being emotionally regulated (or attempting to be so), not picking your nose (at least in public) and pretending to be happy with the concept of delayed gratification.

Fark that.

I reckon I'm rational, mature, responsible and realistic most of the time. My husband rolls his eyes when I put on what he calls 'my lawyer voice' and do my usual stint as the voice of reason. There's a place for that. But there's also a place for being irrational and immature, irresponsible. Hell yeah there is.

In my late twenties, I suddenly got a bit wiser (thank god for that). And I realised something: we have to feed the different parts of ourselves on a regular basis - even the parts we don't like. For if we don't, those parts will scream out in hunger and drown the voices of those parts of us that we prefer. But first, all the parts that make us who we are have to be recognised and accepted. Not always an easy task. Living in denial can be fun for a while (lots of fun), but it's not sustainable. Not if we want to reach a place of general contentment.

I'm 33 and I still sleep with a soft toy, my super-originally named 'Teddy' that my grandparents gave me for my first birthday. Don't underestimate sleeping with a soft toy - they give comfort and they don't snore, get up to use the bathroom or twitch in the night.

Every day, I fill my coffee/tea mug right up to the brim each time I use it. And ninety per cent of the time I spill some and have to clean it up. Not so long ago, I had no idea why I did this. But I do now. I have to do something irrational each day or otherwise I'll get swamped in doing things that make sense. I don't want to use 'good sense' as my guiding principle all the time, so I use bad sense with things that don't really matter - just to feed that and enjoy it.

Painting my nails is another ridiculous thing I do on a regular basis. I'm a hands-on person and invariably I paint them and then do something highly intelligent like opening a can of tuna and pretending to be surprised at the result. As a friend pointed out, that falls within Einstein's definition of insanity. But I'm gonna keep doing it.

Being irresponsible matters. I truly believe that. One of the best memories I have of my mum is from only a few years ago: we went grocery shopping and unloaded our two trolleys into the boot of the car. The supermarket parking lot was sloped and the trolley bay was down the other end of the lot, at the bottom of the slope. Parked cars were spotted everywhere and, like all supermarket trolleys, both of ours had at least one bung wheel and didn't like travelling in straight lines. 

I said to Mum: 'Let's aim for the bay and just let the trolleys go and see what happens.' I saw a rare, childish light in her eye (she's a highly responsible lass) and she agreed with glee. So we did. We gave those bung-wheeled trolleys a good push and watched them swerve down the hill, narrowly missing other cars. They didn't quite make the bays (each banged off one of the railings) but we happily avoided the real possibility of damage to other people's cars, all the while giggling like schoolgirls. I'll never forget it. I wanna go back to that lot so I can do it again.

At the crux of all this is, you have to be a kid sometimes. You have to connect with the parts you're supposed to have grown out of by now or you'll find that old inner spark of yours snuffed out by the burdens of adulthood. And who wants that?

Happy playing.
* This post was current as at 21 June 2014. Things may have changed since then.

How to go from a beauty dunce to beauty obsessed

Before reviewing the three main beauty subscription boxes available in Australia, I wanted to give you my background in 'beauty box expertise'. Scroll down if you're not interested in all that.

I remember the day: 21 December 2011. I'd never cared about beauty products and hated grooming in general, and I only wore make up when I absolutely had to. The only time I'd ever painted my toenails was for school formals; one year, only two toes showed through the ends of my open-toe shoes and those were the only ones I painted.

I joined Glossybox Australia (later overtaken by Lust Have It (LHI)) because a family friend had Facebooked about her new employment there. $15 per month seemed like a good deal for a surprise box of goodies - it was the surprise I wanted, not so much the content.

But then.

I wasn't one to open every product I received as soon as the box arrived. From memory, the Mirenesse lipgloss that changed me (to the point where my now-husband still wonders what the hell happened to his wife) arrived in the November Glossybox, but I didn't open it until just before Christmas. When I finally did try it out, I was gobsmacked - there's no other word for it.

Within 48 hours I'd become a VIP member and had ordered half the store. (Please note: while I still endorse the quality of Mirenesse products, after over two years' experience of being a customer, I do not endorse their customer service etc - I've never had so many issues with a company in my life. Their advertising practices deserve serious legal examination, as do their general business practices. The internet is rife with Mirenesse complaints, and for good reason.)

I stayed with Glossybox when it became LHI, and only unsubscribed when we moved to Berlin for two years, where I signed up with Glossybox Deutsch. On return to Australia, I quickly found myself signed up to LHI and Bellabox (on discounted annual subscriptions), as well as Violetbox monthly. I've been receiving all three for close to a year, and have also ordered a few one-off LHI FAB and Eco boxes in that time.

I have also since done a couple of makeup classes and now spend far too much time looking up new products, buying and trialling them when I can afford it, and reading the many useful beauty blogs that I should probably block from my computer so I can spend that time doing something more functional like gardening. 

But anyhoo. We're all allowed obsessions - where's the fun otherwise?

Violet Box - $22.95/month (now discontinued)

I'm putting this one first for a reason. It's by far the best in terms of products. Not only are they generally of better quality, but they're more interesting. Most people don't sign up to these boxes to receive cheap skincare samples they can find in Priceline, but to discover new and inventive products that they most likely don't already own. Of all the Violet Boxes I've received, only one was a bit ho-hum (although others loved it - it's so subjective and you can't always please everyone). Over time I will review all the boxes I've received from them and the others, so stay posted. Their packaging/presentation is also by far the best.

Another point for Violet Box - their customer service. They're generally fast at getting back to you, send out replacements for damaged products, welcome feedback, take time to answer product queries and are pleasant to deal with. Five stars.

Another positive - all their boxes contain the same products each month (the only variation might be eg the colour of an eyeshadow), so it's fairer. This means that when they send out a sneak peek of an item coming in next month's box (as all the boxes do), you know you will be getting that item.

A negative point - their website/shop. The website has recently been improved, but they don't have as many products on offer as the other two (that can sometimes be a good thing for your wallet!). We can probably put this down to their being the newest of the boxes, so the shop will likely improve further over time.

Another negative point - their reward system. Unlike the other two, if you use your reward points for a discount on an order, you don't earn points for the remaining cash you spend. Eg: order something for $50, use $10-worth of points and earn no points for that transaction, while for the others you'd still earn points for the remaining $40 you're laying out.

A positive point - timeliness. I always receive my Violet Box at around the same time each month. I know when it will come and don't wonder where it is. This matters - no one likes waiting.

Bellabox - $15/month (discounted bulk subscriptions available)

Bellabox used to be my favourite, for a few reasons: their boxes always arrived first each month, without issue; their shop and points/rewards system is by far the best and the best value; they have more specials than the others and more ways to get free shipping on orders; the first few boxes I received from them were better than the later ones. Their customer service also used to be better.

Now, however, their boxes are a bit hit and miss and not always the best value. Their customer service has gone terribly downhill; eg it takes ages to get a response from them and you have to call/post on Facebook to get them to answer your emails (many people have been encountering this issue lately, judging from their Facebook page).

I'm also still waiting on their June box and haven't received a tracking email yet, while most others have received their boxes already. Also, their sneak peek items aren't always included in the boxes you receive - as an example, in June they released three sneak peek items, and some people received two of these while others received none. I personally think that's ridiculous. Either everyone receives at least one, or everyone gets them all.

Their points/rewards system used to be the best in terms of completing surveys and being rewarded for doing this, but they're now having issues with their system and I've had to chase up missing points for the last few months.

I would now put Bellabox at the bottom of the list, but only based on the last couple of boxes and my recent customer service experience with them.

LHI - $19.95/month (discounted bulk subscriptions available)

These guys have improved a lot recently, likely due to many complaints about the timeliness of their boxes and also the quality of products received (they used to be the worst quality - it was like receiving a sample bag from Priceline. Nothing really exciting in there). In some months I received my box in the month following, as did many. Not cool.

The last few boxes have been a lot better however, and things seem to be running on better time (although I still haven't received my June box). Note that their packaging/presentation is the worst, and I don't like the plastic cosmetics bags they're sending out these days - so cheap. I'd rather no box or bag at all - that money could be spent instead on better products.

Their customer service is sometimes a bit slow; however I've also encountered a couple of particular staff who've been extra helpful and gone the extra mile.

A major positive - in the last few months, you've been able to choose one of the products you receive. Eg, a choice between a Teeez eyeliner or nailpolish, a choice in colour of a Mary Kay lip lacquer. This is a brilliant idea - all the boxes should do this I reckon.

Their website/shop - pretty comprehensive, although I don't find it as easy to use/nice to look at as Bellabox's. Their points/rewards system is ok. They offer the least amount of points for completing their monthly feedback surveys on the products you've received, and I reckon this should be looked at.

FAB boxes - these can be hit and miss. I've been lucky enough to pick the few I've wanted when I've already seen what's in them. The jewellery tends to feel cheap and sometimes looks cheap too; the beauty products are generally better quality. My major issue with the FAB box is that so many of them come with earrings, and lots of us don't have pierced ears.


Violet Box is definitely the best box overall. However, if you're new to beauty and want to spend less per month/don't have many products in your armoury yet, you may prefer to start with one of the others.

If I were new to beauty subscriptions, I'd probably start with the LHI women's box (you can get a good discount on your first box) and wait to see if Bellabox pulls its socks up. With any of the boxes, you can cancel your subscription at any time if you're not happy.

At the end of the day, the best thing about these boxes for me is definitely the surprise element. I get so excited about receiving them, it's ridiculous - not only when I actually receive them, but in the week leading up to their expected arrival. It's a simple reminder that spending as little as fifty cents a day can really make a difference to your mood. We should all spoil ourselves sometimes, even with things we don't really need - what's the purpose of life otherwise?

Are you subscribed to any of these and do you have a favourite?
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