My aim here is to share my experiences, thoughts, and ideas about certain aspects of life and to create a community of young female readers who can learn, empathize and be inspired to grow into the successful and wonderful women they are destined to be.
I feel like you’re all constantly hearing me banter on about getting the ‘glow’, but it’s getting cooler and our skin is getting dryer, so getting the glow is slightly more difficult, unless you have the right products!
Skincare is essential for treating dry skin in the cooler months, but I always recommend to take it one step further with your foundation and your skin is going to love you for it.
I actually used to be a super ‘oily acne prone’ skin type and gravitated towards matte foundations which clung to dry patches and pretty much made me look even duller than I already did during winter, thankfully over the years I discovered face oils (helped me go from an oily to a normal/combo skin type!) and glowwy foundations with beautiful ingredients and it’s been life changing. I now feel confident wearing makeup because I’m not worried about it sitting on top of my skin and looking cakey, and brands are now bringing out better and better formulations which give the skin a glow but never allowing it to look oily! Tick, tick!
I’ve compiled my top four glow giving, hydrating, good for your skin luxury foundations that I have fallen head over heels for, and am currently using exclusively as my only four foundations on rotation.
Formulated with 70% water, hyaluronic acid (the best for dry skin!), Vitamin E to protect and nourish the skin and lots of skin loving antioxidants
This is the one for you if you HATE the way makeup feels on your skin, it literally just feels like moisturiser which is a real point of difference for this product, It also it makes an awesome holiday base, when you want some coverage but you don’t want to feel it on your skin! YSL Beauty call it a tinted moisturiser but for me it’s definitely a light to medium buildable foundation that can be worn in the evening with concealer.
This is also the one for you if you want a glow but you’re prone to oiliness, it does a great job of looking glowwy but not at all sweaty or oily
Doesn’t settle into my expression lines, the plumping hyaluronic acid means it smooths out the skin and doesn’t crease, I can confirm that this is true!
I find it’s best applied with my fingers! This is the foundation that gets me the most skin compliments
Oil free and non comedogenic so a great option for breakout prone skin
Overall I adore this foundation for days where I don’t want to feel the ‘heaviness’ of makeup on my skin. I will often apply it with my fingers, pop on a bit of cream bronzer, brush through my brows and run out of the door! It’s the perfect chill vibes, weekend go-to base!
I currently only have shade B40 which is far too dark for me right now, it’s my summer shade and will be coming with me to the Euro summer. My winter shade would be B20
The best way to describe this skincare/foundation hybrid is to use the word… silky. You definitely get those skincare benefits which I absolutely love, your skin just looks instantly happy and radiant as soon as you apply it, you can truly see the change in your skin rather than being a product that completely covers your skin up
It has a lavender scent like most Bobbi Brown foundations which I love and makes me feel so calm when applying this in the mornings before a busy day
It’s absolutely beautiful for every-day wear, but I wouldn’t use it in the evening because it can be difficult to build up coverage, however it’s SO blendable which I love and I know those of you with dry skin will appreciate. It’s definitely a good skin day foundation!
Formulated with a focus on hydration, sun protectant, collagen damage and fighting signs of ageing. One to go for if your concern is ageing or tired looking skin however I’m 23 and I absolutely LOVE this foundation for its texture, hydration and glow effect on the skin
I find it’s best applied either with a brush or your fingers
The dropper dispenser annoys me just a litttttttle bit as it’s a lightweight serum formulation so can be messy if you aren’t careful. I wish it came from a pump but it is fun to feel like a scientist sometimes when doing your makeup! Lol
I noticed the shade range at Farmers and Smith & Caugheys aren’t as diverse as I would like them to be, but hopefully they have the full shade range in Bobbi Brown stores as I saw on their website there is a much more diverse shade range. It appears that unfortunately the department stores aren’t stocking the full shade range.
Overall I adore this foundation and see it being one I will always go back to in the future for its skincare and anti-aging properties
I use shade 2.5 Warm Sand which is my perfect shade! In winter I tend to either fake tan or just wear long sleeve clothing so I always go a couple shades darker than my skin colour because I never like to look pale
Contains vitamin C & E to brighten and protect the skin from environmental stressors making it a fabulous every day foundation for the cold months! Vitamin E is one of the best ingredients to use in your products during winter because it’s literally a barrier that protects and nourishes the skin. Fragrance & paraben free, so the best option here for those of you with sensitive skin!
I find it’s best applied with a brush
The glow is real with this foundation! It’s beautiful and the one I always reach for when I’m feeling like my skin is looking dull but I don’t want too much coverage. The coverage is light to medium buildable but on a good skin week I would still wear this on a night out! It doesn’t cling to any dry patches which is another thing I struggle with when it comes to foundation and it melts into the skin beautifully so never, ever ever looks cakey
One of the VERY FEW foundations that doesn’t crease or settle into my expression lines which I love because I don’t need to keep looking in the mirror throughout the day I just know it looks perfect for hours!
Overall this baby will be a favourite of mine forever, I wear it all year round through summer and winter months and I absolutely LOVE it!
I use shade CN1 Alabaster which is perfect for me all year round
It claims to be 16 hour wear, I’ve worn it for 8 hours and it still looked great (just needs touching up in areas where you touch your face and around the nose etc). This would be a fantastic night out foundation as well as being great for day time (especially with the SPF) when you need your makeup to look good all day, the perfect work day foundation!
Buildable coverage: I find you can really buff a small amount so that it’s more like a skin tint type of coverage, or you can really build it up to a medium/lower end of the full coverage spectrum, coverage.
I find it’s best applied with a brush
There are 30 shades available from Guerlain however the Auckland stockist Smith & Caugheys is only currently offering 9 shades. I would love to see them offer more of a diversity of shades for this amazing foundation!
The texture is insanely smooth, the most natural looking foundation that isn’t a ‘tinted moisturiser/BB cream’ I have ever come across! It’s skin perfecting but in the most natural way possible, it’s covering but truly looks like your skin with a luminous but ‘not too glowwy’ finish
Guerlain products can be quite over scented but this foundation is an exception! The fragrance is incredibly light and non-irritable
Overall I was so surprised by how completely obsessed I am with this foundation, it was a real ‘love at first application’ product for me and I will definitely be repurchasing her after I run out for the media sample! The PERFECT versatile base for every day and evening wear!
I wear shade 02N which is paler than what I would normally go for, however I noticed this foundation does slightly oxidise and with a bit of bronzer it looks great! However I still think I would need to go slightly darker in the summer
Recently I have been thinking a LOT more about how I shop. I think we can all agree that it’s been a bit of a slap in the face recently, and I definitely have experienced a lot of guilt when realising how much waste I could have avoided over the years when it comes to consuming fashion.
While it’s easy to feel guilty, the best we can do is be open to change and educate ourselves about being a conscious consumer. I’ve found this topic really interesting recently, as there are just SO many ways that we can be better, so I thought I would give you guys some tips!
Look for natural fabrics such as wool, silk, cotton & hemp. They’re better for your health as well as the environment
Avoid Polyester – The absolute worst. It’s made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid. So, so, so unbelievably terrible for the environment. I’ve started to make a real point of trying my absolute best to avoid high percentages of polyester in my clothing, it’s tricky because it’s so popular due to how much the fabric can be manipulated in terms of texture, but it literally cannot biodegrade so will sit on the earth forever unless it’s recycled
Shop from ethical and sustainable brands! My favourites include: RE/DONE Denim, Kowtow, Mahsa, Nobody Denim, Everyone, Veja, Nice Martin, Spell & The Gypsy, Arnhem, All Birds, Rowie The Label, Georgia Alice and Maggie Marilyn (one day…).
Quality is better than quantity: Yes the above labels can be very expensive, but if it will last for years then it’s worth it! If you buy less, you can invest in high quality wardrobe staple pieces and have a much more chic wardrobe anyway
Start a capsule wardrobe: The idea is to spend less time on money (buying less) and time (figuring out what to wear) on clothes! It’s a capsule, so a small collection of more or less 37 pieces that changes with every season. It includes coats, jackets, dresses, tops, trousers and shoes, it’s pieces that are well thought out and work together so that it’s quicker to figure out what to wear each morning. You stick with this clothing for 3 months and then switch things in, out and around seasonally and put what you don’t need away in storage for the next year to roll round. It’s a great idea for minimalists or a challenge for shopaholics!
Learn to look after your clothing, everything lasts longer when you look after it. ALWAYS read the label and wash accordingly to avoid shrinking or damaging your clothes. Use a delicate cycle when washing bright colours or dainty fabric, line-dry whenever possible, stretch out denim washing as long as you can. A brand that I really love to use when washing wool & cashmere especially is The Laundress which is stocked at Max! I also love their Fabric Refresh spray which is perfect to spray things that sit in your wardrobe and tend to get a bit gross and smelly by mid-late winter
Shopping fast fashion consciously: We don’t always have the budgets to avoid fast fashion brands, shopping them consciously is the ultimate key. Look at the fabrics! Try and pick up cotton and avoid polyester, think about whether the piece is of good quality and will last you longer than one season, can you have it dry cleaned and wear it year after year? Will it go out of style quickly? The longer the piece stays in your wardrobe, the better. Stick with your personal style rather than seasonal trends and the pieces you pick up will likely to still be loved in 1-5 years time! My mum still has shoes and jackets from the 90’s that she still wears! Also, does this brand have less than a B+ ethical rating? Check out Tearfund to see their ratings, it’s important to consider the social side of where your clothing comes from
Shop second hand: Thrifting is so much fun and there is no better feeling when you score an epic piece for a good price! Nobody else will have it and you can tweak it to make it your own. I love chopping up jeans and shirts to make them more unique. Glassons has also recently jumped on the bandwagon, they have reopened their flagship store in Newmarket and decided to create ‘Vintage by Glassons’ where the entire back section of their store is full of vintage finds that they have handpicked in Los Angeles! I picked up a vintage Coach belt for $40 and I am absolutely in love with it! My other favourite stores to shop second hand are: Recycle Boutique, Tatty’s, Paper Bag Princess,Stalgic Society
Take your unwanted clothing to stores such as Recycle Boutique and Tatty’s where you can make some coin, or make a clothing sale Instagram account and sell your clothes. Please avoid your local clothing bin as those clothes can often be dumped! Otherwise donate to charity or give unwanted pieces to friends and family.
I really think that if you can shop for wardrobe staples from high end sustainable & ethical brands, special one off’s that suit your personal style from thrift stores and then pick up bits here and there with conscious consideration from fast fashion stores then you are doing a GREAT job. Sustainability is not about one person doing it perfectly, it’s about millions of people doing it imperfectly. If you are taking your reusable bag to the supermarket and thinking about how and where you shop, then you are a total legend! We are all doing our best!
Just some thoughts and feelings I’ve had recently.. everything I feel pressure to be and feel and do right now.
I thought you might relate!
To drink almond milk coffee
To give up coffee all together
To have a 100% sustainable & ethical wardrobe
To be wearing Maggie Marilyn when I can’t afford it
To keep up with Brexit and actually understand it
To speak about anything, everyone and everything perfectly to avoid criticism
To show up to things I don’t want to go to
To go out drinking every weekend
To learn not to burst into tears when pretty much ANYTHING goes wrong
To convince everyone that I’m not just another pointless ‘social media influencer’
To convince the older generations in my industry to take me seriously
To convince older generations in general to take me seriously
To move out of home even though I live in Auckland and I don’t want to pay someone else’s rent
To do F45
To keep my lady mo waxed at all times
To keep my suede boots clean through the whole of Autumn/Winter
To make a home cooked meal instead of order pizza when that’s all I want
To have a huge social circle and friend group when I really can only keep up with 3 friends
To be ‘fun to be around’
To leave the house in the weekend when I’m truly a huge homebody
To be saving for a house
To be constantly busy, when being busy gives me complete anxiety
When I read that list, it’s so easy to say “oh what a load of crap, just live your life girlfriend!”, but I think the pressures that are thrown at us in our twenties are monumental, especially when we self compare and are unable to have what others have, whether it be in real life or on social media. HOW am I supposed to be a ‘successful business lady millennial’, make the time to eat and make nutritious food, save for a house, purchase sustainable & ethical clothing only while those brands prices are out of my budget right now, struggle with inner conflict over not being environmentally conscious enough, go to F45, spend quality time with my partner, be a good and physically present best friend, be a great daughter, take ‘me-time’ to recharge the introvert inside of me, manage my mental health, keep my entire body waxed and shaved at all times, make sure people take me seriously and buy that Maggie Marilyn blazer all at the same time?
All of that makes me tired just by reading it, let alone living it.
Some of you might think that the above is 100% achievable, and I’m jealous of you! But I am the type of person who gets exhausted by life very easily, and enjoys staying focused on the simple things. So here’s to doing everything at our own pace, to knowing that life is not a race, life is not about owning $1000 blazers or being the perfect sustainable human. We are all doing our BEST.
So accept what your best is, be at peace with your best, be a good human, but remember that at the end of the day, life isn’t enjoyable unless you’re looking after you! Look after you first, then worry about the rest.
I’m working on it! (Still got time for Pilates tho)
I think it’s SO important to not let social media rule our lives, and I think we all often forget that we are the ones in control.
Instagram especially has a bad rap for making you feel like shit as we have the tendency so follow aspirational accounts that aren’t always totally honest or authentic, and surprisingly it’s actually harder to find accounts that make you feel the opposite of shitty, that make you feel excited, inspired, calm, reassured, grateful, motivated, that make you laugh, that ARE real and honest. That tell you that you are enough and that you’re beautiful just the way you are.
I have listed some accounts that make me feel all of those things, and never make me feel shitty. These people post content that is a true pleasure to consume, and they all add true value to my scrolling life. Let’s be honest, we all spend way too much time scrolling Instagram, so why not make our scrolling experience more positive?
Less blaming Instagram for our low self esteem, more taking control over the app experience and only following accounts that ‘Spark Joy’. Marie Kondo the shit out of your shitty accounts you follow that make you feel shitty.
@theannaedit – Anna makes you actually want to be productive, encourages you to achieve your goals and does the best most honest reviews which I always appreciate. I can always count on her to be honest about a product!
@morganharpernichols – Aesthetically pleasing quotes to make you feel happy and remind you of your worth
@rubyalicerose – A local kiwi gal creating cute, relatable artwork that will make you giggle and keep you inspired
@katiejanehughes – Doing makeup on Instagram how it SHOULD be done. SHE SHOWS EVERY PORE and I love it!
@emmahill – Fashion without the snobbery, Emma is by far the most down to earth fashion blogger I can think of! She has impeccable ‘cool girl’ style but is an absolute goof on her IG stories and YouTube channel. She’s straight up hilarious but has no time for bullshit which I love about her!
@sharmtoaster – More honest beauty reviews! The more honest people you follow, the less bullshit you allow into your world as a consumer, you’ll make better purchases and not feel as if the influencer world is trying to sell you crap.
@plantswithben – Educational about indoor plants and honestly it’s just SO NICE to see plants pop up in your feed, almost just as good as having them in your home
@ssssamanthaa – One of my favourite YouTubers because her straight up, savage attitude towards reviews and the influencer world is all kinds of hilarious and refreshing! my favourite part about her Instagram feed is that she DOES NOT edit her skin, she lets her acne and scarring shine through her beautiful makeup artistry work. We need more people like Sam to change social media norms, she’s so relatable and it’s so nice to see beautiful make up done with imperfections still being showcased, because news flash, that is real life
@julesvonhep – The founder of tan brand Isle Of Paradise (sold at Mecca) is an advocate for body positivity and I absolutely LOVE his good vibes and encouragement to love your body no matter its shape or size!
@mypaleskinblog – I am OBSESSED with this beautiful girl and her feed, another gal who keeps it real on social media when it comes to her skin. Her captions are also incredibly inspirational and it’s a pleasure seeing her content in my feed
@allanaramaa – Oh my word this girl puts me in FITS of laugher. I could watch her Instagram stories all day long, she is the queen of posting unflattering angles just for the lols, but also curates a beautiful IG feed. Absolutely adore Allana and you should definitely also check out her YouTube channel!
HELLO! It’s been a while, dear old friend.. also known as the monthly playlist. If you’ve been here from the start (approx 4 years ago) you will know that I used to create these playlists every month. Life got busy and I became useless at curating my favourites each month on Spotify, however I’ve rediscovered my love for collecting sounds and the monthly playlists are back!
My music taste has changed so much over the years but the one constant, since around age 14, has always been my love for indie/alternative rock/folk music. That’s all you’ll find here this month (with the exception of an AJ Stone Remix) because it’s truly all I ever feel like listening to these days! Ok. Cool. Here we go!
Liam and I are currently planning and booking our big 3 month trip to Europe via the USA for later on this year which is CRAZY exciting. As a lot of you know, we went to Greece last year with Flight Centre & Topdeck (read about that trip here), but Liam has never visited anywhere else in the UK or Europe so I cannot wait to show him all of my favourite cities and discover some new ones with him!
I’m 23 years old but this will be my fourth time in Europe and yes, I have done it all on my own. So often I have people telling me how lucky I am, how they wished they could travel and how ‘maybe one day they’ll get there’ as if all of my trips have been parent funded and I’m not going to lie, it does frustrate me a bit.
In life, we choose what we want to prioritise. In my last year of school in year 13, I had no idea what I wanted to do, or who I wanted to be. All of my friends were deciding on whether they wanted to go to Dunedin or Wellington for university, but all I could think about was travel. I was 17 when I made this decision, that I was going to finish year 13, turn 18 (the December of my last year at school), get a full time job and work to save money until the following July where I travelled around Europe for three months with a girlfriend. Travel was my priority.
I learnt SO much about saving money, and just how worth it it is to sacrifice as much as you can for the love of travel because it’s true when they say that travel is the only thing you can purchase, that makes you richer. I wouldn’t be the adult that I am today if it wasn’t for those three months of self discovery in Europe when I was 18.
Unless you’re under 18 or you have life commitments that stop you from travelling like young children etc, it’s so important to remember that anyone can save for a big, exciting trip overseas regardless of how much money your earn! It’s all about planning, budgeting and knowing all of the little tips and tricks to help you get you onto that trip of a lifetime!
MAKE A PLAN & A BUDGET
How long do you want to go for? 8 weeks? 2, 3 months? Do you want a luxurious trip or are you happy to stay in hostels and budget hotels? Think about how much you want to spend per night on accomodation, how much money you’d like to spend food & activities per day and how much you’ll spend on flights/transport. Then look at how much you get paid, work out a realistic percentage of income you’ll need to put away each week and figure out how much time you’ll need to save that money.
It’s important to remember that if you want to go away for 3 months, you’ll probably need to start saving 7-12 months in advance, and have at least 10 grand in your bank account by the day you fly out (assuming you would have already paid for your accomodation and you only need your spending money at this point, which is the smartest way to do it).
BOOK EVERYTHING AT LEAST 6 MONTHS IN ADVANCE
The best way to save money on EVERYTHING is to book in advance. I often hear people say how they are going to go to Europe and wing it and I worry because they are going to spend an extra 5 grand that they didn’t need to just by leaving trains, flights and accommodation to the last minute. Trust me you NEED to book even those trains super early to save money!
COMMIT TO THE TRAVEL SAVING LIFESTYLE
Yes, you have to stop going out every weekend, say no to dinner dates or the temptation to eat out. You have to learn to catch up with people without spending money, make food at home, make coffee at home, go without those things that add up
REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS
Create Pinterest boards, save inspirational travel photos to your Instagram saved albums, look at your budget every time you feel tempted to purchase something materialistic that you don’t need. However.. for those who struggle with not spending money on clothes.. you will need practical clothing to travel in. If you ever feel tempted to buy something, always make sure it’s something you can wear in your travels, for example if you’re doing a big Euro summer trip and you want to buy a new dress, make sure it’s 30 degree heat appropriate so that you can wear it when you’re wandering around Rome so that it’s not a complete waste of money and kiiiiiiiiinda goes towards your trip
SELL YOUR OLD CLOTHES
For obvious reasons!
CANCEL YOUR GYM MEMBERSHIP IF YOU AREN’T GOING FREQUENTLY
Liam and I won’t be because we go to the gym as a way to de-stress and it’s not something we will compromise when it comes to our mental health, but if you have that gym fee going out each week and you aren’t going more than twice a week, get rid of it!
STRETCH OUT YOUR HAIR APPOINTMENTS
If you’re dark and you get blonde at the roots, opt for a lower maintenance hair colour like balayage or have your hair dresser blend the blonde into your natural roots so that the blonde grows out subtly, this is what I do!
USE ONE WEBSITE TO BOOK ACCOMODATION AND GET LOYALTY DISCOUNTS
When you’re booking accomodation in advance, use the same website to book through because you will get perks. I use booking.com just because it’s so easy to browse accomodation types but they also have a loyalty programme meaning the more you book with them the more discounts you’ll get! We have saved SO much on our New York and Europe accomodation just by being loyal to Booking.com!
TO AIR BNB, OR NOT TO AIR BNB?
I’ve also found that if you are travelling as a couple or with one friend, Air Bnb isn’t the cheapest way to travel through America or Europe. You’re better off staying in a hostel because Air BnB always seems cheap but at the end of the booking process they end up adding on $300 worth of fees and the end price gets super expensive. We have booked an Air BnB in Budapest but only because we are staying with 6 other friends who are meeting us there, so it makes the total cost much cheaper! Otherwise stick with hostels and budget hotels.
STAY IN HOSTELS
If you’re comfortable doing it (and you should be! I’ve done it plenty of times and it’s totally fine), pay for bunk bed dorm accomodation in hostels. My friend and I did it through Europe and it’s absolutely fine, you make so many friends and meet so many incredible like minded travellers! Plus if you’re on your own or there’s only two of you, you’ll always make friends to go out and party with. If that’s not for you, most hostels still have ‘budget hotel room’ style rooms where you can get a small room with a double bed and ensuite for a super cheap price. Liam and I have booked a lot of these, in Prague and Krakow we managed to find our own room for 80 NZD per night, so only $40 each! In a bunk bed dorm room you can be paying down to 8 NZD per night. You spend 0 time in your room anyway, it’s just a place to sleep so it doesn’t need to be fancy. Unless you won the lotto it’s pretty much impossible to stay in luxury accomodation all through a three month trip. Save that for your short term holidays to Bali!
BOOK A TOUR
If it’s your first time overseas, book a Topdeck or a Contiki tour! I did a one month Contiki all through Europe when I was 18 and because so many of your meals and activities are included, you save heaps of money. We did our Topdeck tour through Greece last year and they are FANTASTIC value! Especially when it’s your first time in Europe and you’re unsure of how everything works and all of the tricks you need to know to save money!
There are so many ways to save money for travel, it really just comes down to committing and knowing how badly you want this.. and I PROMISE, you want this.
I still have to pinch myself when I think back to the two days that Liam and I had at Disneyland earlier this month in California. Both of us had grown up with stories from our parents and grandparents about how much they absolutely adore Disneyland and that anyone who is lucky enough to go will always say that it was one of the best days of their entire life, and one of the best (two) days of our lives it certainly was!
I had a lot of (exciting!) messages from those of you who are planning first time trips to the Anaheim Park in California and wanted some advice, because the other thing that everyone tells you (aside from that it was the best day of their life) is that you MUST approach your day with a tactical plan. To get the most out of Disneyland, you need a solid game plan, so I thought I would put together some tips for those of you heading there in 2019 so that you can have the best day ever, but without the hours and hours of research that I had to do prior to the big day!
Purchase your tickets before you leave the country, definitely never purchase them on the day you arrive. Buy them online from Disneyland.disney.go.com
Decide how many days you want to do, we did one day at the main, original park Disneyland Resort and one day at their newest park Disney California Adventure Park (DCA). I recommend 1-2 days at Disney Resort and 1 day at DCA as it’s a lot smaller with less (but more thrilling) rides. If you’re doing both then you must do Disney Resort first because it’s the ultimate magical experience!
Download the Disneyland App and link up your tickets to the app so that’s all you’ll need to get into the park! No printed tickets necessary.
Buy the Disney Max Pass upgrade for $15 USD per day, per person. TRUST ME, this is completely worth it and will make your day ten times easier and will help you get through more rides. It includes access to FastPass which is a feature of the app you can use to book yourself into rides throughout the day and skip the line by using the FastPass line. Basically you can book yourself and your parter/family (you can load your entire party of people into the app and do this all on one phone) into one ride every hour and a half, for example: you would arrive in the park at 9 AM and book your first FastPass, you might want to book Space Mountain as your first FastPass, so it would give you the option to ‘book FastPass for Space Mountain between 10-11 AM’. Once 10 AM arrives you can arrive to Space Mountain any time between the gap you were given, use the app to scan your FastPass in and skip the line! As soon as you scan to go in, the app will allow you to book your next FastPass. It’s amazing, we used FastPass strategically throughout the day so we never had to wait in line for any of the big rides. The Disney Max Pass also gives you access to those cute photos that the ride takes of you and you normally have to pay a million dollars for, you jump off the ride, find your photo, type the code into the app and boom you’ve got the photo ready to download and chuck on your Insta story! The app also includes a park map with live waiting times which is super handy to help with your ride itinerary strategy. P.s: not every ride has FastPass but most of the popular ones do! Also bare in mind that they have limited numbers for the FastPass slots, so you need to book the busiest rides in the first half of the day.
Wear comfortable shoes, try and wear proper runners or sports shoes cause normal sneakers won’t cut it! We did 14 hours on our first day at Disneyland and Liam’s feet swelled due to non supportive footwear. We both wore Converse and wish we had our Nikes runners!
If you want to look cute and wear ears like everyone does, buy them before the big day. I bought mine from the Walgreens down the road from Disneyland, you definitely do not want to be wasting your time at the start of the day looking for them! They will also be super overpriced.
You’re allowed to bring in drinks, water and snacks, so take full advantage of that! Buy them the night before from the CVS or Walgreens down the road and bring them in a backpack.
Don’t bring an extendable GoPro or selfie pole, they will confiscate it from you.
Arrive at the park an hour before it opens so that you can get in line first (check on the website park open times vary, normally 8AM). The first couple of hours are the best times to get on those popular rides, and EVERYONE arrives to Disneyland before it opens so you definitely want to be one of those people otherwise you will be behind thousands of people who will get on the good rides before you
As soon as the park opens, don’t get distracted by Main Street, everyone does that and then ends up having to wait an hour for their first ride. Bolt to one of the busiest rides that doesn’t offer FastPass (I recommend Peter Pan cause it’s a classic and gets some of the longest lines!) and book for your first FastPass straight away at the same time, as soon as the rope drops and they let everyone in. I suggest you book Space Mountain as your first FastPass, it’s super fun, has the longest line for the entire day and the FastPass slots for it normally book out.
Don’t miss out on all of the best Disney treats! Get the Dole Whip (delicious Dole Pineapple soft serve) from the Tiki Room in Adventureland, the Mickey Macaron from the Jolly Holiday Bakery and the Churros which are everywhere! Tip: if there is a long line to get the Dole Whip, go inside the Enchanted Tiki Room and line up on the other side of the cart. At DCA go to the Incredibles Baby Cookie Cart and get the Cookie Pie.. so so so delicious
12. Create a Ride/FastPass strategy for the day (do this the night before!!!!), you are better off to go by ride rather than do each land in one go, the park is walkable so it’s no big deal to go back and forth between the different lands. Ours looked like this and worked really well..
9 AM Rope Drop, walk straight ahead under the castle to get in line for Peter Pan, at the same time, book Space Mountain FastPass.
Normal line for Star Tours (must do for those Star Wars lovers, it’s a cool ride either way)
Enter Space Mountain FastPass and book Indiana Jones Adventure
Normal line for Pirates Of The Carribbean (it has no FP)
Enter Indiana Jones FastPass and book Splash Mountain FastPass (people say to do Splash at the end of the day cause you get wet, but you’re better off doing it mid day so that you dry off before it gets dark and cold)
Jungle Cruise (No FastPass but line goes quick)
Enter Splash Mountain FastPass and book Big Thunder Mountain (one of my fave rides)
Have a break! You would have eaten your snacks by now, so sit down, have a drink, get a late lunch and relax because there is still so much of the day left!
Enter Big Thunder Mountain FastPass and book Matterhorn Bobsleds (another fave)
Normal line for Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (no FP)
Look out for the classic Disney parade that starts around 5 pm ish! Have a quick look and check the shorter ride times as this is a really good time to ride because everyones watching the parade
Enter Matterhorn Bobsleds FastPass and book Haunted Mansion FastPass (You want to do Haunted Mansion when it’s dark because it’s way creepier and by this point in the day you will book a night time Haunted Mansion slot, thumbs up)
Dinner time! New Orleans Square has the best (but pricey) restaurants or you could pick up something easy from a cart/takeaway food place
Time for your shopping, always leave your souvenir shopping on Main Street to the very end of the evening, just before the fireworks
9 PM: The most magical and incredible fireworks display you will ever see! Big hack: you want to watch it in Fantasyland next to Story Book Land Canal Boats (the one with the big whale mouth), there are heaps of spots to sit down, but here’s the biggest hack. They close down Fantasyland rides for the fireworks display, and people don’t realise this but they reopen them after the fireworks finishes so this is a great time to do the cute little classic rides. Do It’s A Small World, Alice in Wonderland and any others that tickle your fancy! Or if you didn’t want to do Peter Pan in the morning, do it now!
11 PM the park closes and you are EXHAUSTED but so so so happy.
DISNEY CALIFORNIA ADVENTURE PARK:
DCA has less rides so you’re going to get through everything quicker than Disney Resort. You can relax a little more and be a bit more chill with your game plan, just make sure you do Radiator Spring Racers before lunch time otherwise it will book out for the day and you’ll miss it! (It’s the best ride in my opinion).
9AM Rope Drop and walk straight to Incredicoaster, at the same time, book Guardians Of The Galaxy
Normal line for Toy Story Midway Mania
Enter FastPass for Guardians Of The Galaxy and book Radiator Spring Racers
Hang out in Cars Land, do normal line Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree
Enter FastPass for Radiator Spring Racers and book Soarin’ Around The World
Normal line for Grizzly River Run (gift shops sell ponchos if you don’t want to get wet)
Enter FastPass Soarin Around The World
Then that is basically all of the big rides done! Depending on the FastPass slots left, you could spend the rest of the afternoon re-riding your favourites or you could spend the afternoon wandering around and going on the smaller rides.
There is SO much Disney content out there on YouTube, websites and blogs that offer great advice, tips and tricks to get the absolute most out of your experience, that is basically where I got my information from which helped us have such an awesome and efficient two days at Disneyland! Do your research, make a game plan and have the most magical Disney experience!
THE LA VLOG + Palm Springs & Disneyland | Ash Owens - YouTube
Is it just me.. or does it always feel like there’s a big elephant in the room whenever someone drops the word ‘blogger’ or ‘influencer’?
For me, there always is, which is irritating when it’s your full time job that you absolutely love, but the industry is still new and is having some serious growing pains.. and all you can really do is write a blog post about it.
So, here we are! I want to bring up some topics related to influencer marketing that either have some major misconceptions around them or really just need a big, ol’ shake up so that they continue to have purpose.
When reflecting on my first year of working as a self employed blogger, there was a lot about the way people do things in New Zealand that just didn’t sit right with me, or that I knew a lot of Instagram users were getting really sick of (myself included). I think there is a lot that isn’t being spoken about enough, a lot that needs to change and a lot that needs to be understood better.
PR SEND OUTS
So let’s start with WHY bloggers and influencers are sent ‘free shit’ and do ‘PR unboxings’ all the time. Basically brands have been doing this waaaay before the social media influencer was even born. They would send product out to celebrities and magazines to test and try with the hope that they would say something positive about the brand/product and could get some free exposure out of the celeb/mag without having to pay them.
Now they also do it with the influencer, hense the amount of PR unboxings you see on peoples stories! I might also add that if the influencer is on a PR list and is sent a product without agreeing to post in exchange for the product, they are under NO obligation to post about it or give it a positive review. 99% of the time the influencer has no idea that the product is being sent to them, and will just pop it on their Instagram story as a thank you to the brand and to show their audience a new brand or product that is new to the market.
Now there seems to be bit of a divide when it comes to PR unboxings, some people love staying on top of new product releases and then some people couldn’t give a crap and would prefer the influencer to test the product off camera and then come back onto their Instagram story once they have a review to share.
So here’s how I’m going to (hopefully) keep both types of people happy.
This year I want to still show you new products that I love and are new to the market so you can be aware of them, BUT I won’t be showing absolutely everything I get sent anymore. The amount of PR send outs that can often arrive daily would mean my entire Instagram story would just be constant PR unboxings, which is probably boring even for those who love a PR unboxing.
That being said, sometimes a WOW delivery will arrive and I can’t help but unbox it to share with you guys, so I will continue showing you highlights as they arrive and then come back to you once I have used the product to give you my review later on.
With beauty, I’ll be showing you beauty product applied more often to give instant, first impression reviews and probably talking about it a lot more in depth on my YouTube channel. With fashion, I’ll be styling more clothing and showing you things worn rather than just filming a piece of clothing that hangs off my bed. Basically I just want to demo more for you because it’s much more interesting and real content for you to watch and consume!
THE INFLUENCER REPUTATION
I think a huge issue that people have with the ‘blogger’ or the ‘social influencer’ is that a lot of people are in it for the wrong reasons, which taints the intentions of people who are in it for the right reasons.
Yes there are people out there who only care about numbers to soothe their ego, who just want the money or the free product, but remember there are still so many awesome creators out there who do this to connect, as a creative outlet, because they have a true passion for beauty, fashion, fitness etc who want to do this because they absolutely love it. I started blogging 4 years ago because I went through a difficult break up and I wanted to connect with others, I spent the wake of that breakup obsessing over YouTube to feel less lonely, to learn how to improve my makeup skills and learn about skincare because naturally my skin had turned to absolute crap during that breakup period.
I learnt so much in that time and needed a creative outlet because I was in the middle of a really academic degree at university and wanted to share all of this knowledge with others, so I started the blog and four years later I have the exact same intention when creating all of my content.
There will always be people who make you cringe online, but there will also be people who inspire you, who’s images you love, who’s writing you connect with that doesn’t deserve the negative connotation that so often comes with the word ‘influencer’.
(Sponsored content is content that has been created in exchange for money.)
Being a full time blogger is an absolute dream come true, but I couldn’t do that without creating sponsored content. There is SUCH a stigma around sponsored content which I think is really unfair for those who are just as genuine about their sponsored content as they are with their normal ‘a day at the beach with my friends’ content. People seem to automatically think that just because a promoted product is sponsored, it means the blogger or influencer is only promoting it for the money and not because they actually like it. Before I say yes to any sponsored content I always ask to test out the product before I lock myself in, so that I have the opportunity to say yes or no to the sponsorship.
Now this might be kind of controversial or piss some people off but I’m going to be completely real with you guys.
The honest, authentic, successful influencers will not take on sponsored content JUST for the money because there is plenty of money going around in this industry, I don’t think it’s any secret that influencers are capable of making very good money from what you can see on social media, and so they should, they work hard to create a loyal following who trusts their reviews and recommendations and deserve to be paid by the brand to have access to this loyal following for marketing purposes, it’s the same way that magazines work. A lot of people can afford to say no to 60-80% of the opportunities they are given because that other percentage pays so well. Never assume that everyone is just super desperate for the money and say yes to every sponsored opportunity that they are given! Some people will, but it will be obvious and you will be able to tell. The good egg’s are fine with just getting the bills paid and prioritising honest sponsored work with products & brands that they genuinely love.
Right from the minute I started this blog my intention has been to share things I truly love with you guys that I have fairly tested, so you never have to worry about product sponsorships. I can’t speak for everyone, but because this is my full time career it would actually be destructive for me to not be 100% authentic with my reviews and recommendations! My word is always tried and true and it always will be.
Yes I am often paid to promote product from certain brands, no I will not say yes to payment if the brand or the product isn’t something I would use if I wasn’t being paid.
If the content is sponsored, I will use the hashtag #SP (sponsored post) at the end of the caption or on the first clip of the Instagram story. If I haven’t used that hashtag, it has either been gifted or I have bought it myself! I also often try to mention whether I have bought it myself or not but I think what you really need to know is whether I have been paid.
HOW I WANT TO SEE CHANGE
What I would love to see more from this year (including from myself) is New Zealand influencers not being afraid to discuss their negative reviews. I’ll be honest, I have never said I liked a product that was shit or mediocre, buuut I have had the tendency to banish a product that didn’t work for me, throw it in the bin and just never speak about it again because I didn’t want to upset the brand.
This is more so something directed to influencers but I think it’s good to think about it this way: brands actually get more from an influencer who will fairly discuss products they like and dislike due to the credibility it creates. If someone talks about one product from one brand and says it didn’t work for them for which ever reason, then talks about another product from the same brand and says that they really like it, that positive review is going to resonate so much more with the consumer and from a marketing perspective, much more likely to turn into actual sales because the influencers opinion is much more trusted.
Now you don’t have to be nasty about a product to give it a negative review, for example if you’re obsessed with glowwy, light coverage foundation and you’re sent a full coverage matte foundation, you can simply say that you personally don’t get on with the matte foundation because you love glowwy foundations and that those who love full coverage & matte might really love it and should give it a go. If a face mask made you react or break out it could be because you have really sensitive skin, but for someone else that particular formula might work really well to exfoliate and give their skin a glow. Just because you give a negative review doesn’t mean it needs to be savage! Just be honest and polite.
New Zealand is SO small, and I’ve noticed that influencers will do everything to keep a brand happy, but I actually think if this industry is going to continue to grow we have to put our honest reviews first before keeping anyone ‘happy’. If a brand wants to be on a high horse and doesn’t want to work with you because you said a product of theirs didn’t work out for you for which ever reason, then they don’t deserve to work with you and they can go and manipulate someone else, don’t let that someone be you.
LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS OF INSTAGRAM
I also believe there needs to be a change in how we all manage our expectations of Instagram.
Yes it has the power to make us self compare and feel less than the portrayed ‘perfection’ we see on the app, BUT I believe with a shift in attitude we can learn to scroll without automatically comparing our lives and feeling like shit afterwards. We all know Instagram is just a highlights reel, so we have to put that into the front of our minds while we’re scrolling, it’s like wearing a safety belt as soon as you get into the car. Learn to create a permanent positive scrolling mindset where you are conscious about the fact that you are looking at the best parts of the lives of the accounts you follow, and never allow yourself to compare your worst day with their best photo.
The best accounts often discuss their struggles anyway so make sure if you are prone to comparing yourself with perfectly portrayed accounts and feeling like shit for it, follow accounts who like to discuss the negatives of their lives just as much as the positives because there are definitely a lot of people who do!
Get familiar with the unfollow button! I definitely need to continue unfollowing any accounts that don’t ~spark joy~ or that I feel aren’t authentic or genuine. I continue following travel, art and news accounts so that when I’m scrolling I’m learning, being inspired and getting informed rather than only being smacked in the face with imagery that either makes me feel like shit or doesn’t resonate with me.
I truly believe that the app doesn’t have to be this fake place that sucks away your happiness and forces you to constantly compare yourself to others. I think that following the right accounts is the key to a positive every-day scrolling experience where if you did find yourself scrolling for half an hour, you are walking away feeling inspired and happy and not feeling like you aren’t good enough.
You are good enough, but remember it’s only you who can remind yourself of your worth.
Ohh Lala land, you are often given such a hard time by people but I truly love you.
Seriously though, I hear time and time again people saying how LA is overrated, but I personally think the city is full of magic.. if you look in the right places.
Also, happy new year!
This is still SUCH a pinch me moment, but late last year I was blessed to win ‘Best New Zealand Travel Blogger’ at the Miss FQ Influencer Awards and was given two return flights to LA with American Airlines. I still can’t even believe I just typed out that sentence!!!! Liam and I couldn’t contain our excitement to head to LA, so we decided to book the trip over NYE and created a jam packed itinerary so that we could have a bit of a road trip, do some shopping, attend a music festival, see Palm Springs and also fit in Disneyland (another blog post to come!).
We had by far the most comfortable economy flight with American Airlines ever, I even slept 8 hours on the flight home! I was especially impressed with the entertainment on offer and finally got to watch Crazy Rich Asians which of course I absolutely looooved. The food was fantastic too, and I completely ate and finished every meal which considering I rarely eat plane food was pretty impressive. We loved flying with American Airlines, it made the whole journey to the states even more exciting!
We opted to stay in Beverly Hills because it was the most central spot surrounded by all of the places we wanted to go (Venice/Santa Monica/Hollywood/UniversalStudios/Melrose Ave). The Sofitel is a super luxe option and absolutely lovely to stay in, it’s across the road from Beverly Centre Mall and a couple of minutes away from Melrose & Fairfax ave! There are also SO many great restaurants and cafes nearby. The traffic in LA can be crazy so it’s always best to stay as central as possible to the places you want to visit, unless you only plan on staying in one particular area.
Very, VERY expensive but a beautiful breakfast/lunch location. The hotel is gorgeous so it’s cool to get a glimpse of it by going for brunch! Also the coffee is terrible, order a juice!
Very touristy, but a classic LA spot nonetheless. Liam had never been so I had to show him what the pier was like at sunset (SO beautiful and soooo much fun). The shopping is also great there, it has literally EVERY store in downtown Santa Monica which is handy to fit in a little bit of shopping! We had dinner at The Cheesecake Factory up on the rooftop which was lovely!
Venice Beach + Abbott Kinney Boulevard
It was my first time visiting Abbott Kinney Boulevard and now I can confidently say it is probably my favourite street in LA! It reminds me of Ponsonby Road in a way where it has all of the coolest cafes & restaurants, the one off boutiquey style shops and the ultimate cool vibe everywhere you go with awesome street art! We went to The Butcher’s Daughter for breakfast which definitely has the BEST coffee in LA (good even at NZ standards) however it’s incredibly expensive so be prepared to pay around $80 NZD for two meals and two coffees. We also went to Salt & Straw which is a DELISH ice cream store!
Other restaurants I was recommended on Abbott Kinney:
Also Venice Beach is a fun place to go for a stroll! It can be a little bit dodgy so be careful with your belongings, but watching the skateboarders and checking out the Venice sign is super fun! I wouldn’t spend more than half an hour in this area, so just stop by before or after your time on Abbott Kinney Boulevard.
Melrose Ave + Sunday Markets
A wee shop on Melrose Ave is a MUST DO, it’s home to some of my favourite LA stores including Glossier, Reformation, & Wasteland. Make sure you head there on a Sunday so you can go to the Melrose Trading Post market at Fairfax high school, you can pick up some amazing vintage Levi’s and some super unique jewellery! It’s basically all second hand gooooodness.
Other restaurants I was recommended in the Melrose Ave area:
Definitely a must do while you’re staying in central LA! My top tip is to arrive before the park opens and try and get as many rides done in the first couple hours of the morning as possible. After lunch the ride line times just get absolutely ridiculous. Make sure you do the big Harry Potter Ride ‘The Forbidden Journey’ first thing in the morning as soon as you’re let into the park, it’s the best ride in the whole park and after 10 AM has a two and a half hour wait time for the entire day! RUN! Also don’t bother with The Simpsons ride, it’s lame and not worth waiting for. Everything else is good!! If you have the budget, purchase the VIP ticket which will allow you to skip the line, otherwise if you’re tactical in the morning you’ll be fine and won’t need it. The best food spot is Luigi’s pizza, the pizza, pasta and meatballs are all incredible!!!
By far one of the most beautiful accomodation spots I have ever stayed in, everything about it is magic! They include free breakfast, yoga and cute bikes to go for a ride around Palm Springs.
Where we went:
If you’ve hired a car (which you probably have if you’re out in Palm Springs), you MUST do a day trip out to Joshua Tree National Park. There is so much to explore and the scenes are unreal! Take snacks for the day as there are no cafes or restaurants.
Ginormous dinosaurs right next to the outlets. Enough said.
Where we ate:
We found Palm Springs really tricky with food, it was either takeaways or super expensive meals.. so we discovered a chain wood fired pizza place called Blaze Pizza and loved it so much we went on both nights! It’s like 8 USD to build your own woodfired pizza and it’s absolutely amazing.
If you’re in LA for New Years and you’re not sure what to do, Countdown Festival is EPIC and generally always has a great lineup, Alison Wonderland rang in the New Year and we loooove her so we had such a fun night. The location of the festival is a bit random, it’s in this desert town called San Bernadino and it’s definitely not somewhere you want to be hanging around in the wrong place at the wrong time. We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton which was fine, however it was a 10 minute drive from the festival and there was no easy transport between our hotel and the festival (there are minimal Uber’s & taxi’s!). For our safety and because both of us were unwell with coughs, sore throats & runny noses we actually just decided to have a sober NYE and drive to and home from the festival (they had security patrolled parking).
They wouldn’t serve us alcohol with our NZ ID’s anyway, only if we had our passports on us which we didn’t so that’s also something to bare in mind with US festivals! Regardless of the sober night we had SO much fun and I would highly recommend the festival itself!
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
You need an ESTA visa to travel to the US
The NZ Passport is exempt from the ‘6 month validity rule’. Your passport only needs to be valid until the date your passport expires on the date you leave to fly home
We hired our Jeep Wrangler from a company called Turo. I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s kind of like Air BnB for cars, but make sure you read reviews before you book one. The people we hired from were great and picked us up in a big shuttle with other tourists from the airport, took us to their location where they keep 250 hire cars, then to get back to the airport at the end of the trip we drove back to the same location and they took us back to the airport in the same shuttle. You communicate with them via the Turo app and it’s SO easy and stress free!
Check US driving rules before driving in the states, they do things slightly differently e.g a red light is a give way when turning..