The days are getting mighty chilly in my corner of the world. One of my favourite ways to warm up is with a big bowl of hearty soup. This veggie soup is one of my all-time favourites. I love it because it’s simple to make, it’s great for using up leftover vegetables and it freezes well.
4 cups vegetable stock
3 medium potatoes
1 medium brown onion
2 cloves garlic
1 400g tin of chickpeas, butter beans or cannelini beans
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste.
(You can also add in any other vegetables you like. I’ll throw in anything I’ve got in the fridge that’s on it’s last legs).
-Put the stock into a large pot and bring to a brisk simmer on the stove
- Chop and peel all of your vegetables.
- Add the vegetables and herbs to the pot.
-Turn the temperature down low and simmer on low for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve with crusty bread, crackers or a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top.
That’s it! This is also a brilliant recipe for slow-cooking. Just put all of your ingredients into your slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high.
This soup will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days after cooking. It’s also suitable to freeze. I usually make a big batch at the start of winter and freeze it in individual portions for lunches.
Also, if you prefer a smooth soup, you can always blend this to a puree with a stick blender.
Do you have a favourite winter-warmer recipe?
Happy Thursday to you! Happy Thursday to you! Happy Thursday dear blog-buddy! Happy Thursday to you! *Throws confetti*.
It’s Things I Love Thursday and I have a lot to be thankful for this week. This Thursday, I love:
- RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ross got season 1 for me as a ‘cheer-you-up’ present after I lost my little doggy friend the other week. It only took a single episode for me to get completely hooked. I’ve been watching season 2 and it’s fantastic. As you already know, I’m totally obsessed with makeup and costuming, so you can only imagine how fascinating drag is to me. It’s amazing to watch these men transform themselves into gorgeous women. Some of them are walking works of art. In particular, I’m drawn to drag makeup and the artistry behind it. It’s been a great show to watch to get my mind off my troubles.
- Jet-black nail polish
- Waiting until May to turn the heater on. Every year, I have a competition with myself to see how long I can wait before I turn the heater on for the first time. I’m a bit of a tight-arse when it comes to power bills, so I like to wait as long as possible to fire up the heater. This year, we made it until May 1st, which is a new record. Score!
- Listening to Come on Eileen by Save Ferris on full volume and dancing wildly.
- Making birthday plans. I’ve decided on a theme for my birthday party this year, and I already know what I want to dress up as. I’ve been very busy planning food and cocktails too. I hope it will be a great night.
- Gathering ideas for piercings. I really love piercings, but it’s been ten years since my last one. I’d really like to get something pierced for my birthday, but I haven’t decided yet whether I want to go with a couple more holes in my ear or a nose piercing. I’ve got a pinterest board with all my ideas that you can check out. Let me know if you have any ideas!
- Hanging out with my mum.
- All the gorgeous people who sent beautiful messages to me after the death of my family dog, Ella. It’s been a really rough time for my family, but it was so lovely to get all your messages of sympathy. Thanks very much.
- Writing all morning.
- Gin and tonic in a fancy glass.
- Taking a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to household chores to get them done faster. Last weekend, we had loads of chores to get done. so we made a list and divided the chores between Ross and I. They were finished before we knew it and we had a whole evening to relax together.
What do you love this week? Leave a comment with your own Things I Love Thursday list!
Hi there! I’m hoping to do a Frequently Asked Questions vlog in a few weeks time. If you have a burning question that you’d like to ask me, now’s the time to do it!
Thanks so much for your support. I’m really looking forward to making this video.
When I first started blogging, I asked this question all the time. There were certain details of my life that I felt should be kept private. I was hesitant to use my own name, so I came up with the pseudonym Nessbow, which is a composite of my first and last names: Vanessa Bowen. After a while, I gave up the act and just started using my real name. It just seemed easier and made more sense.
There were other details that I didn’t talk about in my first few months of blogging. I had decided from the beginning that I wouldn’t give my boyfriend’s name. I was mostly worried about invading his privacy. Eventually though, his name slipped out. It wasn’t like a dramatic, Mr-Big-style reveal, I just typed it by accident one day. It turned out that Ross didn’t mind so I just kept using it.
For me, it’s easier to just be honest than to try to create mystique around the finer details of my life. I’m not good at hiding things so my general attitude has been to just let it all out.
But should you let it all out? Are there certain things that you should keep secret? Are there some things that shouldn’t be talked about online?
I think it depends on the individual. In my case, I’m pretty happy to talk about most aspects of my life. I’m a lot more discreet when it comes to talking about other people. I wouldn’t give out the personal details of my friends or family members. If I talk about them on my blog, I’ll either use just their first name, or a nickname, or else I’ll just refer to them as “my friend” or “my mum”.
There are some details that I think should be kept private. In general, I think it’s a bad idea to give out your address or phone number. I’m also of the opinion that you shouldn’t talk about your day-job (if you have one) in too much detail. I like to keep my work and my blogging separate.
There are also certain topics that I don’t discuss on my blog. It’s not because I think these topics are taboo or anything like that. Some of them are things that I just don’t think that anyone would be interested in. Some are things that are totally irrelevant to my blog. Others are topics that are private. For example, I don’t talk about my sex life, just because y’know, this isn’t really the place for that. It would be different if I were a sex blogger, but I’m not.
When I started writing my blog (almost four years ago!) my posts were pretty pedestrian. I wrote about fashion and beauty and not a lot else. Lately, I’ve expanded my posts to include musings about mental health, self esteem, emetophobia and relationships. A long time ago, I would have been scared to write about these things. I remember being very worried about publishing a post admitting that I’ve suffered from an eating disorder, or talking about my depression. I was terrified to write about my emetophobia. Mostly, I was worried that people would judge me for writing those things, or that they’d think I was nuts. I was concerned about getting negative comments. I also thought that these types of posts would bore my readers. But you know what? Not only have I not had a nasty backlash to these posts, but I’ve gotten loads of comments and emails from readers who are going through similar things and were grateful to hear about someone else’s experiences. So now I’m really glad I wrote about these things.
As I get older, I find that I get more open about talking about my life. I’ve become a lot more flexible about the things I’ll post on my blog and a lot braver about giving my own opinion.
As for the question about how much you should share online, my answer is this: share as much as you are comfortable with, but be careful. Don’t give away any vital or private personal details. Stay safe. Regularly re-evaluate what you’re putting out there. Don’t write about a certain topic just because you feel you ‘should’. If there’s something personal that you’d like to write about, but the thought of doing so scares you a bit, it might pay off to tiptoe outside your comfort zone a little.
How much do you think you should share online? If you’re a blogger, are there certain topics that you won’t write about?
A few weeks ago, I ran out of my absolute favourite blush. It was a perfect, pale pink and it was perfect for my complexion. When I went looking for a replacement, I got a bit panicked. Apparently, it’s really difficult to find a true pink blush. Most of the ones on the market come in shades of brown and peach, with a few dusty pinks. While I do like a nice dusty pink, I was looking for a clearer pink shade. I had heard about Bourjois’ blush pots and I was delighted to see how many shades of pink they have available. I picked up a pot in Rose Frisson to try out.
My first impression of the blush was that I adore the packaging. The blush comes in a sturdy little pot with a magnetic clasp. The pot is small enough to sit in the palm of my hand. The package is nice and strong, so it’s great for travelling. The pot also comes with a little brush, which is really too small to use for blush, but it’s cute nonetheless. It has a mirror inside the lid too, which I think is handy.
The blush itself smells amazing. It’s rose scented and so pretty. It reminds me of country gardens and talc-dusted beauty queens. While the smell is quite strong in the pot, it fades quickly once it’s applied to the face. For me this is a plus because I don’t like my makeup to have a strong scent.
The blush has a beautiful true pink colour. It’s a very soft shade, which is perfect if you’ve got a fair complexion. You can wear just a little bit for a natural-looking flush, or build the colour up to something a bit more dramatic.
The blush is baked, so it has a hard texture inside the packaging. That’s brilliant, because it means it’s unlikely to break up or separate. On the skin though, it’s a different story. The powder is silky soft and goes on smoothly. It’s easy to blend and gives a natural, pretty finish. The colour doesn’t seem to fade throughout the day, so you won’t need to touch up.
If you’re not a fan of pink blushes, Bourjois makes this blush in 12 shades for you to choose from. The rainbow of shades includes browns, taupes, peaches and plums as well as gorgeous pinks.
I bought my Bourjois blush from ASOS for less than $9. I think this product is truly excellent for this price point. I’ve bought blushes that cost four times this amount which haven’t performed half as well.
I’d happily recommend Bourjois blush to my readers. I’m keen to try out some of their other products now!
Have you tried Bourjois blush? What did you think?
I’ve been on the hunt for a new winter coat for a while now. I have a few coats, but none of them are suitable to pair with some of my vintage outfits. I used to have a gorgeous soft pink pea-coat that was perfect for pairing with vintage. Sadly, I completely wore it out and it had to be retired a few years ago. Ever since, I’ve been on the look out for something to replace it.
A couple of weekends ago, I was describing what I was looking for in a coat to Ross’s mum. I said that I wanted something that was at least knee-length, with large buttons. I wanted something with a slight flare at the waist, so that I could comfortably wear it with fuller skirts. I also wanted a nice colour. Sure, black goes with everything, but isn’t it so much more fun to wear pink, or red or green when everything outside is grey?
The very next day I stumbled across my dream coat in St Vinnies. For just $8. Perfect!
I love this coat so much! It’s got lovely deep pockets, which is a plus for me. It’s warm without being too heavy or bulky and it’s a great fit. What a win.
I wore it for the first time with some fun tights and pearls (fake, of course!)
I am wearing:
- Red coat (thrifted)
- Black bodysuit from Supre
- Black and red skirt from Seven Angels
- Black herringbone tights from Big W
- Black patent leather heels from Nine West
- Long strand of faux pearls (thrifted)
- Assorted silver rings
- Red snood (handmade by yours truly)
I made this snood last weekend. I went to a toy-customising party, but I had decided ahead of time that I wouldn’t be doing any painting. (You all remember my custom My Little Pony, right?). Instead, I took along a bag of crocheting, and finished quite a few projects while everyone else painted away. I fished this yarn out of the bargain bin at Spotlight. I was instantly drawn to the red colour and the sparkly strands running through it. I’ve still got a couple of balls left, so if anyone wants a snood of their own, just let me know!
It’s been a good week for op-shop finds. I’m ticked pink with my new coat, especially since it seems that I dreamed it into being.
So, remember a while back when I revealed that I don’t like Pride and Prejudice or Dirty Dancing? It turns out that a bunch of other people don’t like them either! After that post, I got to thinking about whether there were other things that the majority of people seem to adore, but which I find overrated. And it turns out that there are. Here are a couple more things that other people get all excited about, but which just don’t do it for me.
In theory, the beach is brilliant. You’ve got beautiful sunshine, the sound of crashing waves, all the gorgeous salty smells and cute people in bathers. The reality is so much different: sand in freakin’ every place imaginable, sea creatures just waiting to take a chomp out of you, dried dog poop hidden in the sand and old blokes in Speedos. It’s not for me.
So often, when I ask people what they’re looking forward to on the weekend, they’ll say something like, “Heading out with my mates, we’re gonna get wasted!” It baffles me that some people find the mere act of drinking alcohol to be sufficient entertainment for an entire evening. Or that the success of a night out can balance on whether or not you spewed on your shoes/passed out on a lawn/ lost your top. I don’t even like the feeling of being drunk. I do drink, but I’m a Cadbury Girl: a glass and a half and I’m done. I’ve just never understood the attraction of getting shit-faced.
Lord of the Rings
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Lord of the Rings is fine. I also understand what an incredible literary work it is, and what a huge achievement the films are. I’m not questioning that. I’ve just never been able to get into it the way that so many of my friends have. At the end of each of the movies, I’m not hanging on the edge of my seat wanting more, I’m desperately waiting for the credits to roll so that I can go home. In my opinion, three hours is far too long to sit around watching a bunch of guys walk to a mountain. The thing that baffles me the most is that LOTR has all the hallmarks of something that I would love: fantasy, awesome costumes and effects, magic, Sir Ian McKellan. I just don’t enjoy it as much as I feel I should.
I just don’t find him funny. Sometimes one of his jokes will elicit a little half-hearted awkward giggle from me, but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t really get why he’s such a big deal, or why the shows he’s spearheaded (Family Guy, American Dad) are so popular. There are way funnier people out there that I’d rather be watching, or who would do a better job of hosting The Oscars.
On some people, a light tanned glow can look gorgeous. But on me it looks like shit. I’m naturally very fair, and each time I’ve tried fake tanning, I’ve regretted it. No matter what I do, it always looks streaky and orange on me. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not convinced that I need to be tan. I like being fair. And I’d rather be pale and mysterious than look like I’ve lost a tandoori-wrestling match with an oompa-loompa. And don’t even get me started on sunbaking…
Is there anything that everyone else seems to adore, which you think is overrated?
It’s Thursday again! Which means that it’s time for me to list all the things that have made me smile this week. It’s been a massive week, so I’ve got lots to write about today.
This week, I love:
- Wreck it Ralph. I watched it again on DVD during the week and it was great. It’s just such a fun movie with amazing visuals.
- Visiting with my mum.
- Grabbing Chinese takeaway food for lunch. Yummo!
-Finding these gorgeous shoes at the op-shop last week. They’re from Lipstick shoes and they’ve never been worn! I saw them in the window as I entered the shop and made a bee-line for them, praying that they would fit me. They are exactly my size and I adore them. They were only $9, which is such a bargain!
I love the little rosette on the toe. Red and black are two colours that I often pair together, so I think that these beauties are going to get a lot of wear.
- Jelly beans
- New P.Js.
- Pearly white nail polish.
-Wearing my hair in milkmaid braids to work and being told by a six-year-old boy, “You look like the princess from Star Wars”. Bless!
- Spending time with my baby cousins.
-Finding these two books in Ross’s collection of photography books. Flipping through them was an eye-opening experience. I think that a big part of the lack of body-love nowadays is the fact that all the women in magazines are carbon copies of one another: tiny waists, tanned, big boobs, not a speck of cellulite, waxed to within an inch of their lives. However, 40 years ago that wasn’t the case.
All of the pictures are from pin-up magazines from the 60′s and 70′s, and the range of women they feature is astonishing. There are tall women and short women. Women with small breasts and big breasts. All of the breasts are natural, and hang like natural breasts. There are big bellies, flat tummies, round hips and pointy hips. There are women with body hair and women with cellulite. Women with stretchmarks and women with birthmarks. A rainbow of nipple-shades! Tummy rolls and thigh dimples! And all of them utterly gorgeous.
While the books aren’t all inclusive (there were no women who I would call fat, and most of the women featured were white), it was so liberating to flip through these pages. There were so many different ideas of what constitutes beauty. There really were no two pictures that were alike, and yet every picture was sexy and gorgeous. I felt so much better about my body after looking through these books. I don’t look like any of the women in magazines today, but there were several times where I flicked past a woman in this book and thought, “Wow, that’s pretty much what I look like with my kit off”.
It made me realise just how unrealistic the images we see in the media today are. These pictures were so much closer to the reality of women’s bodies. It was fantastic to see.
Also, this week, I was nominated for a Liebster Award by Carla of Random Thoughts of a Twenty-Something. I’ve already done two Liebster posts, so I decided that I would just answer her questions here:
1. Do you have children or want children?
I don’t have any kids. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t’ think that I want to have any. There are lots of reasons why that I won’t go into, but basically I’ve never felt any burning maternal desires. I might change my mind one day, but for now I’m pretty firmly set on the idea of not having children.
2. What’s your favourite colour?
3. Where are you from in the world?
4. What’s your favourite drink?
Dr Pepper (which is kind of hard to get in Australia).
5. What’s your least favourite food?
6. Can you ride a bike?
Yes, but it’s been a very long time since I have!
7. Tea or coffee or none?
Tea, always. Preferably several cups a day.
8. What genre of film do you like best?
Probably comedy. But it has to be witty comedy. None of this toilet-humour b.s.
9. Do you enjoy exercising?
Yeah, I do. I don’t like all forms of exercise, but there are some that I love. Running, walking, yoga and pilates are my favourites.
10. Do you wear or need glasses.
I need glasses for distance vision. My up-close vision is perfect and I can read without glasses. I wear contact lenses about half of the time and glasses the rest of the time.
11. What do you get most from blogging?
Great question! Probably the biggest thing for me is the chance to connect with people I would never have met otherwise.
Thanks so much for nominating me Carla!
What do you love this Thursday?
So, here’s the thing. I love having a wardrobe full of fun clothes to play with. But I don’t have a huge budget. So in order to be able to support my shopping habit and still afford things like food and hot water, I’ve had to find places where I can get awesome clothes on the cheap.
So today, I’m going to talk about some of my favourite places to find cheap clothing. Buckle your seatbelts, and away we go!
Op-shops are probably the best place to look for cheap clothes. Charity stores, second hand stalls and opportunity shops are bursting at the seams with budget clothing options. It’s true that you might have to wade through piles of awful garments in order to find a treasure, but when you do, it will be worth it. Op shops are also great for shoppers who love delving into styles from the past, and fashionistas who want clothes that are more unique than what you’d find in your average store. If you want more information about thrifting, you might like to check out my e-book, Nessbow’s Guide to Second Hand Shopping.
I used to have a real problem with shopping at stores like Target and K Mart. The fact that every second person on the street was sporting their clothes really turned me off. I like to stand out from the crowd and the thought of wearing something that was on the back of practically every person in town did not appeal to me.
It took a while for me to realise that even if you buy something that’s commonplace, you can style it in a really unique way. All you have to do is pull on a pair of fantastic shoes, add a vintage scarf and some handmade jewellery and nobody will guess that your gorgeous dress came from Big W.
This entire outfit came from discount stores. No joke.
Discount stores are also a great place to stock up on basics like plain-coloured shirts for layering. Buying from discount stores is a good way to dip your toe into new trends without wasting a whole lot of money. If you do find that you love wearing a certain style, you can always invest in a better quality version down the track.
They’re messy, they’re crowded and they’re a pain in the neck, but clearance racks are one of the best places to find cheap duds. You have to be very patient, flipping through the racks until you find something in your size, but you can save so much cash if you’re willing to put in the time.
Clearance shopping isn’t for you if you like to be outfitted in the latest trends. But if you’re happy to wait a few months for the items to come on sale, then this might be a good option. Get to know the retail ‘seasons’, which are different to natural seasons. Typically, new-season stock will start arriving in stores 6-8 weeks before the actual season begins. It’s around this time that the old season stick will begin to get marked down. Visit your favourite stores regularly and get friendly with the sales staff. They’ll be able to give you a heads-up when a big sale is about to begin.
Factory outlets and sample sales can be a goldmine for fashion bargains. Often, they only cater for very small sizes as sample garments are usually made as small as possible to save costs. However, if you’re petite, then these outlets can be a fantastic place to stock up on cheap clothes. While some of the stock may be damaged, most of it is totally fine. Some of my favourite fashion finds have come from factory outlets and seconds sales.
Sample sales are also a brilliant place to look for shoes if you have tiny feet. Many of the shoes at these sales are a size 5 or 6, so they’re perfect if you’ve got dainty feet and struggle to find small sizes in regular stores.
Never underestimate the value lurking in your fashion-forward mate’s closet. While I don’t suggest hassling your friends to give you their best clothes, it’s worthwhile asking them to give you a heads-up when they’re going to have a wardrobe clear-out. Before they throw away/ donate/ sell their cast-offs, ask if you can have a look to see if there’s anything there that might work for you. Your friend will probably be relieved if there are a few less items for them to dispose of, and you’ll walk away with a bunch of new threads.
You can also do this with your mum’s or grandmother’s wardrobes. I’ve got so many gorgeous pieces that used to belong to some of my relatives, which I’ve re-styled and given them another run around the block.
Where do you shop for cheap clothes? Any tips that you’d like to share?
This month, my resolution was to get rid of my junk. I had an entire corner of my office that was overrun with stuff. It was basically the spot where I’d throw anything that I didn’t want anymore. It was a bit of a disaster, and this month I resolved to sort it out.
The first thing I did was to go through all the stuff with a critical eye. I set aside the things that I thought that I could sell, and bagged up everything else. Ross and I went for a drive and took about seven bags of clothes, toys and books to the op-shop. With all those things out of the way, my office was already looking so much better!
Over the last month, I’ve been making a really concerted effort to sell the the rest of the things I’ve set aside. I listed a few things on ebay each day, and sold loads of clothes, DVDs and books this way. I even added a couple of special vintage items to my etsy store.
This capelet is one of the vintage items that I’ve listed for sale on etsy. It’s gorgeous, but I just never wear it. I also added some other vintage bits and bobs, so it’s worth heading over for a look if you’re a vintage lover.
I still have a bit of stuff to get rid of. Some things haven’t sold on ebay, but I don’t really want to donate them just yet. In the next month or so, I’m going to look into getting a stall at one of the trash and treasure markets that run locally. Hopefully that will give me a chance to clear out even more of my things.
So I think it’s safe to say that April’s resolution was a success. While I haven’t gotten rid of everything that I wanted to, I’ve made a good effort and I’ve got a plan in place to sell off those last few bits and pieces.
Would you like to give me a hand? If so, there are a couple of ways that you can help out:
- Check out my ebay listings and put a bid on anything that you’d like. At the moment, I only list items for sale within Australia, to save on postage costs. If you live outside Australia, or if you’d like to buy something from me directly then just drop me an email and I’ll work something out with you.
- Visit my etsy store and have a poke around. It’s filled with whimsical accessories, vintage clothing, customised clothes and winter warmers. If you see something you like, you can use the code JUNKBEGONE to get a 15% discount on any purchase over $5.