Goodbye Miss C

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Earlier this month Adelaide Zoo said goodbye to Miss C, the oldest known Hoffmann’s Two-toed Sloth in the world. She was also the last sloth in Australia.

It had been my plan to go through our old photo directories in order to put some of the older photos into storage, taking out the better shots for posting on Fridays here, for the rest of this year. I was planning on working on it, soon.

But then Hailey from Discourse of a Divine Diva went to meet some sloths, and she mentioned Miss C passing, and I thought if I set myself a time limit maybe I would Get Some Photo Viewing Done. And I did!

I still have a lot of directories to go, and Miss C was not the most photogenic of zoo animals. I have found these shots, thus far.

As zoo members, we could drop into the zoo for a short visit or a long visit, show our membership card, and go in for “free” – you pay a yearly fee which is some very low amount of money in my opinion.
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So whenever we got there, we could choose – which way will we like to go today, which animals do we want to visit. There were times we went for the whole day and walked the entire zoo and took a lot of photos, and there were times when we dropped in first thing for a half hour to check on the new lion cubs or to see a specific animal.

We no longer live close enough to a zoo to be members. If you do, you should check with your local zoo and find out how much it is. Most of the time in Australia it is around $2-4 a week across the space of a year, and you may get some benefits like free entry to other zoos and the ability to volunteer or go behind the scenes, discounts in the zoo shops, and other unique experiences. You can find out more about Zoo Membership on the website for your local zoo. :)

animals, zoo

Movie Catch Up 7

This week we have a Men I Love To Watch trilogy.

Loved

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John Wick

“An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.” IMDB

At first glance this may not seem to be the kind of movie I would enjoy, especially if you look at my previous movie catch up posts. But I am a fan of Keanu – I have been ever since Bill and Ted back in 1990. SO-CRATES. And then there was Point Break and Speed, where he proved he could be an action star.circlek

I would probably not have found my way to this movie at all if I had not gone to visit The Other Half as he was watching it, because it is not my kind of thing. But I walked into a scene that I found interesting, and I spotted more than one actor I enjoy watching in it. So I said I would like to see the whole thing. And wow, was it quite the show!

But I need to offer one word of warning. There is a huge reason John Wick – who had retired – un-retires. And it is probably one of the most difficult things for me to watch when it comes to movies and luckily I knew about it in advance so I did not have a massive sad, which I would have if I had not known. But I really do not want to spoil the movie for anyone who has not seen it yet.

That one I will not spoil it for you event sets John Wick off on a rampage of epic proportions. And because of what that event is, I was right there with him, and likely 99% of the world was as well.

These movies involve a lot of people fake dying and sometimes that is not very pretty to look at however the fight scenes and the John Wick Shoots Every Bad Guy In Sight But Conveniently Misses Innocent Bystanders scenes are so beautifully choreographed, it is almost like interpretative dance. A ballet of death, of sorts. Not a ballet for the feint of heart and there is a lot of shooting, so do not watch this movie if you are offended by violence and shooting.

The movie soundtrack is excellent, my particular favourite was Killing Strangers by Marilyn Manson but there was a lot of great thumping bass songs, too.

I have to credit the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul insider podcasts for giving me a respect for how things are done in teevee and movie land. There were some scenes in here where I was just wow, how much time, effort and work went into that!

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Hands down this is the 2nd best action movie (the 1st best will be here next week) I have seen in a long, long time. Some of the shots are SO gorgeous. There are some great names in this cast, everyone from Lance Reddick (seen above, who I love watching in the TV show Bosch) to Ian McShane to John Leguizamo to Willem Dafoe – plus the wonderful bonus of Toby Leonard Moore for us Billions fans.

I really loved that most of the main characters were suited up in very gorgeous menswear suits most of the time. Though if you are a hitman, perhaps there are better colours of shirt than white. And if it is bucketing down rain and you are fighting in a suit complete with waistcoat and tie that might be a bit of a hindrance to your performance in real life but it sure looks great on the screen.

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Anthropoid

“Based on the extraordinary true story of Operation Anthropoid, the WWII mission to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution and the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler.” IMDB
This movie contains two men I love to watch – Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy sporting a haircut that reminded me very much of an early Mark Owen hairstyle. In fact his resemblance to my favourite pop star was mildly jarring to me throughout the entire movie.marko

Mark Owen from Take That

I really should research these kinds of movies before I watch them but that tends to spoil them. In this case I am very glad I did not as not knowing the outcome ramps up the tension levels for me. If you plan to watch this movie I strongly recommend you do not research this operation either.

I am not going to say anything about what actually happens in this movie other than to say this is an important story which was extremely difficult to watch. I am glad I had no idea what I was letting myself in for or else I may not have watched it at all. Approach with caution is all I can suggest. It might be that I find the Nazi regime more scary than most things.

I will say that I had planned to see this in the cinema when it was released and having seen it now I am very glad I did not. I think it would have been too much to witness all of this on the big screen. I was enough of a mess having seen it on the TV.

The performances are excellent by everyone in the cast, especially Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy but they are ably supported here by a truly wonderful supporting cast. The writing is great, the tension is high and for at least the last 40 minutes I was completely freaking out. I understand in real life the events that took place in that 40 minutes went on for 6 hours. That is completely unimaginable to me.

The end result that Sean Ellis directed, co-wrote, produced, operated the camera and was the cinematographer for is an incredible effort. He is someone I will be keeping an eye on, this was so well done. I cannot believe one person was responsible for so much of it. That is a lot of work.

Liked

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Come and Find Me

“When his girlfriend goes missing, David must track down her whereabouts after he realizes she’s not who she was pretending to be.” IMDB

The only reason I chose this movie was because Aaron Paul was in it. I have been a huge fan since he was in Breaking Bad. Sometimes even the best actors end up in Not Great movies and this was one such occasion. I think the biggest problem here was the huge amount of flashbacks for no apparent reason. Every time the story began to pick up the pace and you would get comfortable and/or interested in the “now” suddenly the movie would flash back to the “then”.

Garret Dillahunt was the stand out cast member other than Aaron Paul, and an unexpected star of the movie was Canada, where this movie was filmed. Aaron does his usual reliable work, and that was enjoyable, but this is not something I would go back to watch a second time.

Directed and written by Zack Whedon – the brother of Joss and Jed – I also suspect that these two tasks did not mesh very well. Sometimes when you have written something, you cannot see the trees for the forest when it comes time to direct that same something. The story might have been better served if someone else had directed it.

Men I Love To Watch, movies

TK Maxx Shopping

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TK Maxx arrived in Australia in late April 2017 after buying out Trade Secret. Slowly the 35 Trade Secret stores have been rebranding across to TK Maxx and there are now stores in NSW, VIC, ACT and QLD. When visiting Oahu in 2013 I was lucky enough to visit the US version of this store – they are known as TJ Maxx over there. We got some seriously discounted Samsonite luggage and I found a gorgeous dress there.

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Shopping at TK Maxx is not for the faint of heart. It is not the kind of place you can go into for a quick visit. You need to have time on your hands – plus a heck of a lot of patience – to wade through the racks of fashion. Almost everything is jumbled together into “sizes” but you cannot always rely that the other shoppers have put back items into the correct place. They also do have some areas where identical items which they have in a quantity and variety of sizes of that same item are placed.

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On my first visit to our “local” store, I had a goal in mind which was to find some warmer leggings to wear around the house. I was surprised to find workout leggings with a thin fleecy inside layer and they have done the job perfectly. I also ended up with a couple of scarves and a gorgeous sparkly sequinned beanie.

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There is usually some Michael Kors to be found, but the way TK Maxx buys you can never be sure what is going to arrive in the store. I have seen all kinds of brands there in my three visits so far and many of the brands are ones I did not know before but on research they are popular brands in both the US and UK – with the brands I know being things like Christian Siriano, French Connection, Rag and Bone, Cynthia Rowley and I even spotted the occasional Australian brand like Philosophy. At the moment there seems to be a large amount of Ivanka Trump and I expect we will see more of it as less and less people are buying that brand worldwide.

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However ladies clothes and shoes are not the only thing to be found at TK Maxx. They also have kids and mens shoes and clothing. They have a great section of socks and underwear. They have a beauty section with marked down hand wash, creams, soaps, etc. They have plenty of accessories – everything from scarves and beanies to handbags to luggage and travel accessories. They have a range of food items, candles, reed diffusers, picture frames, bedding, scatter cushions and even some furniture items.

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I loved that green plush velvet bench there. It is my Mother’s favourite colour and if it is there on a return visit I may have to seriously consider buying it for her.

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On my first trip here they had some chromed feet statues on marble bases. I thought they were kinda cool and funky and had never seen anything like it before. I did initially mock them somewhat but they grew on me and I did consider buying them. On the way there for my second visit I said if they were still there I was going to seriously consider them but of course they were all gone.

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I thought about this smoky grey crystal candle holder. The photo does not do it justice at all and it is quite large which you don’t really get from the photo either.. I also found this bathroom set below to be pretty funky and very reasonably priced considering it is four pieces. Especially when the only other example I can find on the web is selling for $130USD+ on Ebay.

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As it says on the wall in one of the shots above – if you love it grab it now, once it’s gone it’s gone. I had hoped to pick up some more of the Kyodan herringbone running leggings I found but they were all completely gone. I was not surprised because they are amazing and can double as “normal” leggings.

I love visiting TK Maxx and browsing through the racks but it is a good hours drive away. Thankfully we love to drive in the new car enjoying the music, plus it is near to friends who just built a house, so The Other Half can drop me to wander while he goes and “helps”. I envision trips at least once a month. However I will not always be buying anything – I came home empty handed on my most recent trip.

shopping

Movie Catch Up 6

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This week we have a Helen Mirren movie trifecta. I’ll watch anything she is in. I love her style and in some ways it is very similar to mine – not so much the lace but the element of always bringing something unexpected. Is there any role Dame Helen cannot play to perfection? I think not. She brings her A game to every single character she inhabits.

Just because I can, here there are Four Helen Mirrens in the same room, it took me a while at first to work out which was the real one, and I only worked it out because that one moved.

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Eye in the Sky

“Col. Katherine Powell, a military officer in command of an operation to capture terrorists in Kenya, sees her mission escalate when a girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute over the implications of modern warfare.” IMDB

This movie has a great cast, including our Helen Mirren obviously, Alan Rickman in his last ever on screen role before he passed away – there were two more movies released with just his voice – Barkhad Abdi who has a great tension filled foot chase, plus Aaron Paul who of course I love. The very delightful newcomer actress Aisha Takow plays a young girl trying to sell bread.

This is a tough storyline to watch, with many people discussing whether or not the mission can go ahead. When the politicians get involved of course it becomes even more convoluted. At the moment with all the terror attacks happening, this movie is timely in exploring the issues around taking action before an attack is carried out even if it puts innocent people in danger VS what might happen if the authorities do not act.

Helen Mirren plays a colonel in this movie and she is determined and resolute in her belief of what is the right and necessary thing to do, right now. And had she been listened to at the beginning, things might have turned out very differently. But then this would not have been much of a movie.

I do recommend this movie if you are looking for something to make you think and of course if you are a fan of any of the cast you will enjoy it, the performances are excellent. I would give it 7 wax Helen Mirrens out of 10 because she is part of an ensemble cast here but she is quite a big part of it.

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Woman in Gold

“Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the Austrian government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.” IMDB

Best to have apple strudel on hand because early on in this film when Helen Mirren serves some to an incredibly dorky version of Ryan Reynolds, you will want some. Who knew it was possible to make Ryan Reynolds not drop dead gorgeous?

When this movie takes off, it takes the viewer places I did not quite expect to go. This is why I love movies overall – when you start the film you do not expect or know what you will see and how you will feel. This particular movie had me experiencing almost all the emotions in less than 2 hours and the ending definitely requires Kleenex.

This is a very difficult movie to watch, especially the flashback scenes of Austria when the Nazis took over. This movie will probably make you angry. Having said that, the performances are – as one would expect – excellent. In the flashback scenes Tatiana Maslany plays the younger version of Helen Mirren’s character and it is amazing how alike they actually look, I had never realised it before. Max Irons is also in the movie, long a favourite actor of mine.

In the middle of the movie the tension ratchets up to almost unbearable levels when in flashback Maria and Fritz make a run for it, which may have you reaching for the Google to find out the outcome but do not do it, no matter what. Let the movie tell you this story. Like any movie there is more to the real life story than what you see in the film and once you have finished watching, then you may google. :)

The levels of love that I have for this movie are so high, even though it made me ugly cry. Wow, that rhymes! Added bonus, it features the airport from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as a shooting location. I strongly recommend this one and would give it 10 wax Helen Mirrens out of 10 because she truly is the star of this movie.

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State of Play

“When a congressional aide is killed, a Washington D.C. journalist starts investigating the case involving the congressman, his old college friend.” IMDB

This is one of the older movies in my to-be-watched directory, released in 2009. It is an adaptation of the 2003 BBC One miniseries which I had enjoyed and the cast of the adaptation is somewhat spectacular. Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Robin Wright, Jason Bateman, Jeff Daniels just to give you an overview.

I really enjoyed this movie, every single cast member brought their A game, even Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck who I can usually do without. Rachel McAdams really saved this one for me, I am such a fan of hers since Morning Glory.

It makes me want to go back and watch the original, which I probably will do over the next few weeks. That one had Bill Nighy and David Morrissey who is probably best known now for his role as The Governor in The Walking Dead.

I would give it 4 wax Helen Mirrens out of 10 because she is in this movie but not as much as she could have been though when you do see her it is well worth the price of admission.

movies, Women I Love To Watch

The Berry Markets

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Berry 1896

There are exciting times ahead for the little town of Berry on the South Coast of NSW. The Princes Highway has run right through the centre of town for over a hundred years now, making this section of the highway a slow and tiresome part of the journey to the South Coast and making life dangerous for the tourists who visit and cross the highway without a pedestrian crossing or set of traffic lights.

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Soon, the Berry Bypass will open which will remove much of the passing traffic – a lot of that being large trucks – from the heart of this gorgeous town, leaving the traffic of those who actually want to visit Berry. This coming Sunday people will have the opportunity to walk the new bridge.berryloop2
You could catch the train down from Sydney if you wanted to do this walk – there will be a shuttle bus taking people from the station to the new bridge.
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The new bypass might not make a great deal of difference to the busy-ness of Berry on the first Sunday of each month, though – with the one exception of February.
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The Berry Markets are held at the Berry Showgrounds that day – depending on weather, they are sometimes cancelled if it is too wet underfoot – which is just a short walk from the main street and also a short walk from the train station which makes it easy for people to visit from Sydney. If the weather is good you can expect many people to descend, all decked out in their Berry appropriate outfits.

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You may see a lot of dogs. You know that saying every man and his dog was there, this is almost true at the Berry Markets. There are so many dogs, they get a cupcake stall. Sounds delicious!

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Big dogs, medium dogs, small dogs, all of them will be on the leash which I deeply appreciate.

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There is quite a range of things for sale at the Berry Markets. Everything from $300 real rabbit fur ponchos to plants and local produce to locally made jams and chutneys to glass paperweights.

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I suggest you bring a tote bag to place your purchases into. Depending on the time of year, in winter I recommend a beanie, scarf and gloves, and in summer you should bring sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap.

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There is also quite a range of food available, from locally made sausage rolls with gorgeous relish to corn on the cob to gozleme to Shanghai dumplings.
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The dumplings are awesome, FYI. But as the sign says, beware the hot soup inside!

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My personal must buy items from these markets are Lemon Myrtle moisturiser and Wasabi and Seaweed macadamia nuts from Batemans Bay Nut Roasting Company. But you can try all the flavours of nuts so don’t just take my word for it, pick the ones you like the best. The salt and vinegar ones are pretty awesome too.
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And when you are done at the markets, you can grab a gelato from Il Locale and then explore the town itself which I personally believe is one of the best shopping towns in Australia. And I have been shopping at a lot of places in Australia. You can buy everything from coffee mugs for less than $5 right up to $400+ reindeer furs.
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Yes that building is in the photo from 1896 – many of the buildings in that photo are still alive and well today. Berry might be able to get creative now with events held in the main street, something which they could not do without closing the highway in the past. I certainly hope they will and I am excited to see what will be possible once they open the bypass.

Berry, shopping

A Quick Canberra Trip

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A small interruption to the Movie Catch Up files – it has been nearly a month since our Canberra visit and I have not managed to tell you about it yet! We left home super early on a Sunday morning to make it over to Canberra before lunchtime. canb2a
Canberra put on some gorgeous weather for us but it was very cold. Our plan was to visit the Old Bus Depot Markets, IKEA, Costco and the Canberra Outlet Centre. When we arrived at the markets it was 11:30am which is peak market time and the carparks were absolutely packed. We decided to head to the outlet centre instead of driving in circles trying to find a park and drop back into the markets later if we had time.

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TK Maxx has opened at Canberra Outlet Centre and that happened to be the first shop we visited. I’d gone to the American version of this store on Oahu and loved it. However this is not a place you can just quickly drop in and visit. You need to allocate some time to flick through the racks and find the bargains.

As my main shopping task for Canberra was to find a pair of winter boots, I did not have the kind of time needed for TK Maxx today so we just had a quick look around. These sneakers were $600 or so and as much as I would love some crystals on my feet, I said heck no to that! ;) They have such a range of items at all kinds of prices. I took a leisurely trip to the Warrawong store the following weekend where I spent 2.5 hours browsing, but that is a story for another blog post.
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There is now a Coffee Club at the Canberra Outlet Centre – we find the food to be reliable and tasty and the coffee is very good here. I had the smashed avo with feta just like a proper hipster doofus.

The official population of Canberra is less than 400,000 people and these lucky people have access to some of the best and least crowded shopping in Australia. They also have access to a lot of other great things – museums, a great zoo, gardens and nature reserves, and some of the best roads with decent speed limits in the country. It is a fairly short drive for us – around two and a half hours – and we have often gone for a day trip before but this time we chose to stay overnight.
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We chose Grill’d for dinner as it was a short but very cold walk from our hotel. Grill’d, what are you doing to me? It was because of you I had to create zucchini fries at home, now you want me to create avocado fries at home? If you have a Grill’d nearby the zucchini & avocado fries are worth trying.
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I will have to consider this carefully before attempting my own version. I was served deep fried avocado once at a wedding in the early 90’s, in the days before I ate avocado. Who knew avocado fries would become a thing and that I would love them? Who knows what vegetable will be next!
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If and when you visit Canberra, do not waste your money on an expensive hotel breakfast. Head out to IKEA and grab their cheap offering (presently just under $6) which includes a hash brown and a sausage not seen here as I swapped it for the tomato on The Other Half’s plate, swedish meatballs, bacon and scrambled egg. They also have warm danish, if you are into that kind of thing, and the cafe serves excellent coffee as well as the cheap or free stuff you get if you are an IKEA member.
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The restaurant opens half an hour before the store itself which is almost exactly the perfect amount of time to eat, caffeinate, and make a quick bathroom stop. Then you can do a quick run or a leisurely wander through the store without the crowds you might find at one of their Sydney locations. We went with leisurely wander and were still through the checkout before 11am. We picked up a couple of LAIVA bookcases for $29.99 along with some other regular items and our HODDE rug..
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Just across the road from IKEA is Costco, we always make this our last stop before leaving Canberra because we like to purchase cold items like cheese and milk. They have 3 litre A2 milk for about a dollar more than 2 litres cost us at home. I grabbed a new rug for my chair, too.
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Winter boot achievement unlocked! Very reasonable at $159 from the clearance outlet. These are Diana Ferrari Supersoft and they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet. In fact it feels like I have no shoes on at all, and yet it is like walking on air. They are also a size and a half smaller than my other shoes – I used to be size 11 but these are 9.5 – I think my feet have lost weight along with the rest of me.
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Canberra may well be the best city in Australia especially when parliament is not sitting and therefore the accommodation is reasonably priced. We’ve stayed at a lot of different places over the years and my first choice here would be The Avenue however that is Up Money at the best of times. If you can get it at a good price I highly recommend it.

The second favourite is Vibe but that is out at the airport so you would need a car to get around if you stay here and parking can be a bit of an issue at this hotel if it is busy. I think Canberra is a place where a car is recommended and very useful.

We tried a new hotel this time – Rydges Capital Hill – and while it was mostly ok, we would not stay there again due to the shower going super hot and cold as a surprise while showering. So the hunt is still on for our perfect reasonably priced Canberra hotel. Aria is next on the list for us to try. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for it.

It was super cold when we visited. Summer is the perfect time to visit Canberra weather wise in my opinion, any other time of year it has been my experience that you can expect the weather to be on the cold side especially at night, so BYO layers, gloves and hats are recommended too. We have been to visit so many times and yet we still have so much more to see. Canberra is a much under-rated destination and it has become one of our favourites.

Canberra, shopping

Manicure Fiesta

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I have never been a “girly” girl – there was never any nail polish in our house growing up. It wasn’t a thing we were into. I am terrible at nail painting due to a lack of experience, talent, and skill. I probably could become good at it with a lot of time, effort, and learning to use my left hand as well as I use my right hand. But realistically that is unlikely to happen.nails7
In late 2016 I was having a Good Nail patch – thanks to my daily hair skin and nails vitamins, they were growing stronger and healthier than ever before. I was using Hard As Nails by Sally Hansen which I would paint on every few days to make the nails shiny and slightly more protected from breakage. nails2
I had wanted to try getting a proper shellac – or gel – manicure for a while but I was very wary. I had heard tales of woe, of unsterilised equipment, of fungal nail infections UGH. I did some serious research and asked around, and one local place kept popping up in the conversations. After a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing, I bit the bullet and made an appointment.
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So what is a shellac manicure? This excellent post tells the story of shellac better than I probably could. The photos do not really do these justice, it is hard to get a good photo of these nails.
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To summarize it quickly for you, after each coat of nail polish is applied, your nails “cure” with the help of a UV lamp. When you walk out of the salon you do not have to worry about wet nail polish.
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The other benefits include much stronger nails and the polish lasts for 2-3 weeks – and sometimes 4 depending on what you get up to hand wise. Since I started getting the gel nails I have not had a single nail break, and I don’t baby them, they do what they have always done.

I have occasionally done a bit of damage to the manicure but you have to work pretty hard to damage it. Most times when I have damaged a nail it has involved metal coathangers, the ones you use to hang up jeans etc. Gel works for me but it does not work for everyone. In particular it would not work well if one had their hands in water a lot.
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Until I did this, I never realised how having great looking nails can improve your mood. It makes sense now, given that during any day you look at your hands more than any other body part.

I prefer the French tip style manicure because if you have colour down to the bottom of the nail you notice a gap as your nails grow. But the French manicures are no longer just white tips, as you see from my many examples here. You can choose a colour, you can add some glitter on the top, and probably my favourite manicure so far was black tips with red holographic glitter.

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I also loved the ones with electric blue and the pastel but very sparkly green. One appointment I arrived early and sat down with the colour charts and made a memo in my phone of all the colours I wanted for future manicures, so I usually know before I arrive what colour I want to try this time. I’m thinking gold is coming up this week but The Other Half loved the black with red glitter, so I see a repeat of that in my near future, as well.

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My manicurist thinks I am strange because I always ask her to trim the nails back, she said everyone else wants to keep the length. I don’t need my nails to be long. I just want them to be neat, shiny, and sparkly. If I let them get too long I begin to have trouble typing.

Fashion, Vitamins