Essie Nail Polishes for Autumn & Winter

Essie-nailsThe Perfect Cover Up | Chinchilly | After School Boy Blazer | Skirting the Issue | Stylenomics

Winter is well and truly here – my new woollen coat is a daily wear and my gloves make several appearances a week. On my nails I’ve swapped out red for burgundy and pastels and brights for deep and dark colours.


I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Essie. I love the colours but I don’t always love the formula. The dark colours are gorgeous but pastels can be a hit and miss – which is such a shame because the selection of pastel colours is gorgeous! With that in mind, I find Essie is a brilliant nail polish brand for winter.


After School Boy Blazer is the perfect dark navy blue. The Perfect Cover Up is one of the most unique colours I’ve ever seen, I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s kind of a deep navy teal. Stylenomics is a stunning deep forest green. I just bought it recently – I’d been looking for something like it for months! Chinchilly is an Essie collection staple – it’s a wintery grey with a slight purple undertone. Skirting the Issue is a burgundy red – it’s a little lighter than I usually like my winter reds but it’s gorgeous all the same.

If you’re interested I buy most of my Essie nail polishes from Farmers.


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Shake it Off Print


As Taylor Swift would say… shake it off ah ah shake it off. I absolutely love everything about this Shake it off Print! The sentiment behind the saying, the design and the fact that it’s Taylor-inspired. I think this saying is perfect for so many situations in life so it’ll be nice to have it hanging in the lounge or above my desk as a little reminder.

I’ve been trying to implement shake it off as one of my life mottos – I have a few sayings I like to live by. I talked about this in my being kind to myself post but I’m fairly type A so I tend to get a bit stressed about things that I don’t necessarily need to stress about. For those situations I’m now just telling myself to shake it off.

You can download the print here.

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Hostess Gift: Pancake Mix


One of the most important things my mom ever taught me is to never show up empty handed. It may seem really simple and trivial compared to the many other meaningful things she’s taught me but when you think about it, it really says so much about her values. She’s kind, generous and truly caring – I think the act of showing up with a hostess (or host) gift really speaks to that.

Sometimes it’s easy to figure out what to take to a party but other times the host insists on nothing – I recently remembered Emily of Cupcakes & Cashmere writing about a friend who brought her breakfast for the next day. I thought it was just the best idea! Pancakes are my go-to weekend breakfast when I’m wanting something special so I thought they’d be perfect. I put the dry ingredients of my favourite pancake recipe into a jar and then paired it with a ribbon and a block of delicious Whittaker’s chocolate. Chocolate chunk pancakes really are the best! Make sure to write out the pancake recipe so your hostess knows what ingredients to add.

I really enjoyed getting creative with this hostess gift and you can be sure I’ve now got some other ideas I’ll be sharing.

Do you have any go-to hostess gifts?



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Blogging: Blogs About Blogging and Business

Blogs-about-bloggingI’m a firm believer in continually developing your skills; no matter how long you’ve been doing something or how much of an expert you are, there’s always something you could improve on. Plus learning is really fun!

Because of this I’m always working on my blogging skills – looking for ways to improve and new things to learn. I just love geeking out over plugins, analytics, strategy, social media and branding! Over the years I’ve gathered some go-to resources as well as some great tips and so I thought it’s about time I share them. Today I’m talking about blogs about blogging and business. Gosh that was a mouthful!


by Regina [for bloggers + freelancers + creative businesses]

I don’t even know where to begin with Regina and her blog Regina is the straight-talking, friendly, honest mentor-like friend you didn’t know you needed. The great thing about her is that even through her blog you feel as though you’re actually talking with her. She’s extremely talented, intelligent and driven. And I love how straight up she is. Her content (which comes in many forms) covers a range of topics: from branding, to un-niches, to entrepreneurship and infopreneurship. I can’t even begin to explain how beneficial her blog has been to me; her content has been a huge help with my upcoming redesign.

TOPICS: Branding, Entrepreneurship, Social media, Blogging income

SPECIAL OFFERINGS: Google Hangouts, E-books, Workbooks, YouTube Videos

MY FAVOURITE POSTS: How Being an Infopreneur Helped Me Earn Six Figures in a Year, The FREE “Love My Brand Kit” for Creatives, 20 Actions You Can Take to Look Like a Pro Blogger


b is for bonnie design designer & brand stylist

Firstly, let’s all take a moment to appreciate Bonnie’s blog and brand design. I mean look at that gold… and that beautiful peachy pink! Bonnie’s blog is what I turn to first when I’m in need of a little visual inspiration – her pictures are absolutely stunning! As well as the visual side of branding she also talks about the emotion, the storytelling and the strategy. She’s a designer and brand stylist so she often shares her client’s redesigns – I just get so much inspiration from these! She also writes about the business side of being a blogger and small business owner and shares her advice. All the business goodness is also perfectly balanced by little looks into her personal life.

TOPICS: Branding, Design, Life, Being a #bosslady, Branding Reveals, Shop Talk

SPECIAL OFFERINGS: Branding & Design Services, Stationery Shop

MY FAVOURITE POSTS: Rebrand vs Brand Refresh, The Breakdown of a Strong Brand, Shop Talk: Promoting Products on Social Media


Marie Forleo creating a business and life you love

Marie is a bubbly breath of fresh air who tells you how it is. Her content is all about creating your dream business, while also living a great life. Every Tuesday she publishes a video which answers a viewer’s questions – topics include branding, burnout, self-doubt your special gift and even relationships and parenting. What I love about Marie is she’s not afraid to have a little fun – her videos always involve a little singing, dancing or playing around. After watching even just one of her videos you won’t be able to help feeling extremely inspired!

TOPICS: Business, Business/life balance, Confidence, Self-development

SPECIAL OFFERINGS: YouTube Videos, Q&As, B-School, Interviews with experts

MY FAVOURITE POSTS: Are the People Around Me Dulling My Drive, How to Plan for the Future & Be in The Present, Networking for Introverts

Another blogging blog I’m a fan of (which you’ve probably heard of) is Problogger – it’s the place for the technical, analytical and monetisation side of blogging.


As well as from blogs about blogging I also find a lot of great information from some ‘regular’ blogs. Not only am I inspired by their amazing content but these three bloggers occasionally talking about blogging and their tips.

Vivianna Does Makeup: Anna (and Lily Pebbles) did a blogging & vlogging series on YouTube.

Lily Pebbles: As well as the collaborative series with Anna, Lily also occasionally writes about blogging on her blog.

ghostparties: Kate’s blog has quickly become one of my favourites – I mean have you seen her photography! One of my favourite topics she discusses is blogging!

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Australis Velourlips


When the cold weather hits I swap out creamy lipsticks for matte ones. I don’t know why but I just find matte lips very chic and winter appropriate. I first bought the Australis Velourlips Matte Lip Creams about a year ago but didn’t wear them for a while – when I finally did I was smitten with them. I sometimes struggle with applying matte lipsticks as the dry formula can drag along my lips but with these being a cream formula, that doesn’t happen. They go on really smoothly and then dry matte around five minutes later.


The red I’ve got (NY-CEE) has become my go-to red lipstick – I love that it’s blue-based so makes my teeth look whiter. That’s me wearing it in the photos I took for my about page (although it looks a more little orange there).

I also love this nude (HON-O-LOO-LOO) – I often don’t suit true nudes as they just blend into my skin but this one has got a little bit of pink in it which makes it much more wearable. You can see me wearing it here in my Rose ‘My Lips but Better’ Lip Colours post.

I find the two bright colours – TOK-I-O and RIO-D – a little harder to wear. I just tend to gravitate towards reds firsts, then ‘my lips but better colours’, followed by bright pinks. In saying that though I do love rocking a bright and funky lip colour when the occasion calls for it. What I like about these two is although they’d usually be considered summer colours, I do find they work well in winter because they’re a matte formula.

What’s your favourite lip product formula? Do you change it up depending on the season?

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Being kind to myself

Being kinder to myself

Sometimes things don’t go as planned because of reasons outside of my control and other times it’s my fault that things don’t work out. No matter what the reason I’m always pretty hard on myself. I’m your typical type A – I like things a particular way, I like to know what’s going on and I like to have a plan. As I get older I realise that while this is one of my main strengths, it can also be a weakness.

My personality, my motivation and my need for planning are huge contributors to my successes in life – my degree and qualifications, my awesome job, my blog and the house that we’ve just bought. But these traits can also cause me a lot of stress and mean I can be really hard on myself.

I’ve had a tough couple of weeks – some days have been overly busy and other days I’ve just been in a bit of a funk. Monday was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Monday was the birthday of my best friend who died – it was his third birthday since his death but it just doesn’t seem to get any easier. On his birthday and on the anniversary of his death Myron and I try go out for Nando’s to celebrate his life – it was our favourite meal to eat together.

Sometimes it’s harder than others and this time I ended up crying, in Nando’s, while eating a burger. We finished up our meals and headed home where I proceeded to cry even more – this time in the shower (it’s my favourite place to think and reflect). Anyway this post isn’t about grief and losing a loved one – although I do think I’ll write about that when I’m ready (almost 2.5 years on and I’m still not quite there yet). My tears for my beloved best friend ended up turning into tears of stress and then anger at myself for not having the next day’s blog post done.

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I try really hard to stick to a schedule but it doesn’t always happen. This year my main goal for my blog is to get really consistent with posting – something that hasn’t happened yet due to a variety of reasons. So there I was crying in my bathroom when Myron came in, sat me down and talked me through everything. He let me cry for my friend – the real reason I was upset – then helped me calm down and focus on the next issue. My blog. Truth be told, I wasn’t going to get any writing done that night, certainly not any high-quality writing so I just had to accept it and let it go. I was exhausted, sad and drained so it was okay to not keep working that night.

But then the niggly you could do better feeling came back – yes, I couldn’t work that night but if I’d prescheduled everything last week like I’d planned then this wouldn’t have happened. That’s when I realised there was no point thinking like that – it doesn’t help me, my blog or my readers. What’s done is done and I wasn’t going to post the next day. I breathed, I accepted it, I gave myself a break and then I moved on. I got into bed, put my electric blanket on and read a book (Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home) and watched YouTube videos for the rest of the evening. It was as blissful as that night could be.

While I’m a long way from being kind to myself ALL the time, I feel like I had a little breakthrough that night. Be kind to myself and giving myself a break, combined with saying no to things I don’t want to do and saying yes to more things that scare and excite me (two topics that deserve their own posts) will hopefully help make life less stressful and more fulfilling.


  1. Let yourself be sad/mad/angry. But only for a limited time.
  2. Treat yourself – whether it be a manicure, a hot bath, an ice cream or an hour of YouTube watching.
  3. Accept what you can’t change and realise that most situations won’t be as bad tomorrow as they seem today.
  4. Recognise and celebrate your achievements and successes.

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Five Years of Topshop Beauty

Five Years of Topshop BeautyTopshop released its first beauty collection five years ago and up until this past weekend I hadn’t tried a single product! I’ve always wanted to try the beauty range but New Zealand only got its first Topshop store a couple of months ago. When I saw the fifth birthday collection I knew that it just had to be my introduction to Topshop beauty. Just look at that packaging! The collection launched in New Zealand late last week so I popped in over the weekend to pick up some pieces.

Topshop BeautyI could’ve easily bought every piece from the collection – it was very hard to restrict myself to just a few. I bought two nail polishes, one in Green Room and one in Heart of GoldGlow (a cream highlighter) in Polished and a cream blush in Head Over Heels. Truth be told I think I’ll head back this week to buy the eyeliner and one of the lipsticks. I also didn’t have a good look at the rest of the beauty collection as I was fawning over the birthday collection so I’m sure there will be some other pieces I’ll want to pick up too.

I haven’t used these enough yet for a proper review but I’ve had a play with them and I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the quality and pigmentation – especially for the price! And like I said before, just look at that packaging!

Topshop Beauty's Fifth Birthday Collection

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IKEA in New Zealand

Two IKEA BILLY bookshelves

If you’re anything like me then seeing the words ‘IKEA in New Zealand’ has probably got you hyperventilating with excitement. I know I was extremely excited when I found out I could buy IKEA here in New Zealand. Now before you fall off your chair, no IKEA stores are not coming to New Zealand (unfortunately) but there are a bunch of resellers here selling IKEA items for a reasonable price.

I remember when the IKEA ALEX 9 drawer unit was extremely popular a few years ago I looked around for one in New Zealand and after weeks of hunting I found one for around $600 or $700. Now you can pick one up for around $400. Now that’s not as cheap as in the United States where you can pick one up for $US129, but nothing in New Zealand is ever as cheap as it is over there. It is a pretty fair price when you compare it to the IKEA Australia price of $AU299 – especially when you consider the cost of freight and importing for the reseller, as well as their need to make a profit of course.

If you search IKEA on TradeMe you’ll find dozens of sellers – there’s especially a lot in Auckland – but my favourite store is Living Concepts. They’ve also got a website but at the time of writing this blog post it wasn’t working. Their store address is 17 Mackelvie Street, Grey Lynn.

Now I did find some IKEA sellers cheaper than Living Concepts (and some more expensive) but the customer service was so abysmal with the cheap ones that I prefer to pay a little bit more for the service and care of Living Concepts. The team there are so helpful and even load everything into the car for you!

So far – I say so far because I’m definitely lusting after more pieces – we’ve bought three of the large white IKEA BILLY bookshelves (one for my studio and two for our lounge), the IKEA KALLAX 2×2 for under our TV and the IKEA LACK coffee table.

IKEA-Billy-Shelves-in-NZ IKEA-Kallax-in-NZIKEA KALLAX 2×2

So there you have it; IKEA in New Zealand! Go shop your little hearts out and fill your home with IKEA furniture – that’s what I’m doing. IKEA ALEX you will be mine!

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This or That | Brow Mascaras


Welcome to This or That, a new series here on A Lovely Look where I review and compare two products. If you’re familiar with ‘spend vs. save’ type posts then this is similar to that but the two products I review mightn’t be very different in price; the only criteria being they’re great products with a similar purpose. For this first post though, the two are different in price.


Benefit Gimme Brow $45

Gimme Brow was my first introduction to brow mascaras and if you’ve been reading A Lovely Look for a while you’ll know that I love Benefit brow products.

Up until recently I used this product every single day and a tube lasts me several months so you certainly get a lot for your money.

One thing I love about Gimme Brow is that the formula is really unique – there’s little fibres that cling to your individual brow hairs as you run the wand through. It sounds a little gimmicky but it really truly works and never comes out looking clumpy.

I also love the wand on this one as it’s the perfect size for eyebrows (unlike the Maybelline one which I’ll talk about in a second).

The staying power is pretty strong and I only ever touch it up if I’m going out for a special event after work – the tube is small so it’s easy to stash in my bag.

I sometimes wear this on its own, but I mostly wear it over Brow Zings. It’s supposed to fill your brows and set them so you can definitely get away with just Gimme Brow but I like my brows really full, dark and strong.


Maybelline Brow Drama $15-20

My sister raved about this product all the time and swore it was better than Gimme Brow so I asked her to bring me back a tube from Australia.

Side note: my sister currently lives in Australia and makeup is way cheaper over there so whenever Priceline has a sale that’s at least 40% off makeup I put in an order and she stashes everything away for me until she comes home for a holiday. Love her!

I’ve got to say I wasn’t really expecting much from this product as I just love Gimme Brow but I was running low on that so decided to give it a go.

I must admit I was a bit shocked with the size of the packaging – it looks more like a full-size eyelash mascara than Gimme Brow and other brow mascaras I’ve seen. At first I also wasn’t fond of the wand – it’s huge! But as you can see in the picture there’s a little bobbly bit on the end and I’ve since started using just that part and now I really like it! It’s the same with regular mascaras, you just never know if these weird shaped wands will work until you actually use them.

Brow Drama doesn’t seem to have the same fibre formula as Gimme Brow – it’s more wet – but once it’s on it’s hard to spot the difference.

I find Brow Drama leaves my brows a little hard to the touch. Not in a way that I can feel it as I go about my day but if I put my fingers on my brows a couple of hours after applying it then it feels a little hard.

Just like Gimme Brow, Brow Drama has amazing staying power and I wear it on its on or over Brow Zings.

The verdict? I prefer Gimme Brow – but only ever so slightly. I think if you want to splurge then go for that but for $20 less I’d have to say that Brow Drama is the winner.

Have you tried either of these? What’d you think?

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I love a lot of beauty products, and try even more! I’d like to review every product that I love but there just isn’t the time and it wouldn’t leave much room for non-beauty content. This series gives me a chance to review two products together, in a more interesting format! You’ll only ever see products I love here on A Lovely Look so rest assured any products I review in this series will be ones I absolutely love – the verdict will just be which one I love more. I really hope you enjoyed this first instalment. Let me know if there are any products you’d like to see here on This or That.

Happy Mail


I’ve got a bonus Sunday post for you today! Let’s talk Happy Mail! If you follow me on Instagram then you probably know that I’ve been getting Happy Mail for the last few months – I share my excitement whenever it arrives. I’ve seen some people do a Happy Mail unboxing every month but I’m not sure that’s quite right for me – I think I’d run out of things to say, plus the A Beautiful Mess girls do an unboxing themselves before shipment – but I do want to talk about it a little. My sister kindly bought me a one year subscription for Christmas and now I’m a few months in so I thought it was the perfect time for a blog post.


First let’s talk about the cost – I don’t know about you but money is always a huge factor for me when I’m purchasing something, especially if there’s an ongoing cost like there is with this. As I mentioned my subscription was a gift from my sister so I don’t pay for it myself but if she hadn’t bought it for me then I would’ve bought it myself; it was one of those Christmases where we just told each other what to buy haha! Purchasing Happy Mail month to month is $US20 per month, with a six month commitment it’s $US18 per month and with a twelve month commitment it’s $US15 per month. On top of that, postage to New Zealand is $US2 per month (I believe US shipping is free). So for the 12 month commitment you’re looking at $US17 per month or approximately $NZ24 per month. When you buy it as a gift (like my sister did) you have the option of paying it all up front, rather than month to month. In return for your $US15-20 per month, you’re promised $US50 (approx. $NZ70) worth of cards and stationery.


Holy moly do you get a lot with this! Even if I was paying $NZ70 I feel like I’d get my money’s worth. Generic cards at the supermarket can be upwards of $6 and if you’re wanting a more unique artisan one you’re likely to be looking at $10 a pop. As well as the cards (which come with envelopes) there’s also postcards, prints for your wall and other stationery bits like stickers and notepads.


I’ve been really impressed with the quality – everything is on quite thick card and the printing is always accurate and bright. I can tell that the A Beautiful Mess and Studio Calico teams really put a lot of pride into these packs and make sure they’re high quality.


So far the packs have been really varied – as I mentioned before there’s a great mix of cards, postcards, prints and stationery bits. The style of the designs is very much on brand with A Beautiful Mess; quirky, colourful and fun. In saying that they really cater to everyone – some cards are more simple while others are quirky and humorous. There’s birthday cards, thank you cards and a whole range of assortments. There have been pieces that haven’t quite been my style but there have been none that I’ve disliked. And because there’s such a variety I know that I have the perfect card for every occasion and every person.

Happy-MailAll in all I love my Happy Mail subscription – it is a lovely burst of happiness in my mailbox every month. Plus, it’s got me in the habit of writing cards and notes and really putting thought into the ones I give people. It’s also really helpful that I always have a card on hand whenever I need one.

Check out Happy Mail here!

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