Auckland, New Zealand: 36.8485° S, 174.7633° E


Auckland Domain Wintergardens

Auckland Domain Wintergardens

West Haven Marina

View of Auckland from Mt. Victoria Reserve
The Spirit of New Zealand Yacht
Narrow Neck Beach
Narrow Neck Beach
Silver Fern read

Karekare Falls
Kitekite 


Do you see this tree giving you Sleepy Hollow realness? 


Piha









Everyone I spoke to before going to Australia suggested that I try to make it to New Zealand as well. So I did. After spending some time in Sydney I took the three hour flight to Auckland, New Zealand for the second leg of my trip.

New Zealand is two hours ahead of Sydney so if you are planning to fly between the two countries you will need to factor in the time difference when planning your trip. I did not need a visa to travel to New Zealand. You can check for your visa requirements here. The New Zealand seasons are are also opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere so the weather was similar to what I had experienced in Sydney. I also found the prices of things in New Zealand to be comparable to Australia.

Auckland is nicknamed the City of Sails due to the amount of marinas and sail boats you can find in the city. I didn't do any research about the people of New Zealand so I was pleasantly surprised by how diverse it seemed to be.  I observed quite the melting pot of ethnicities while there.  Everyone I met was very welcoming and friendly. 

I'd heard New Zealand described as magnificent, stunning and breathtaking. I can say from first hand experience that all of those descriptions are apt.  This is the land where the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Last Samurai were filmed. I walked through enchanted forests,  and beautiful black and gold sandy beaches with waves breaking against majestic peaks. I was blown away by how beautiful it was. The last time I got that verklempt while on vacation I was in Paros looking out at the stunning Aegean Sea and making a promise to myself that I would come back to that very spot with my mother one day. And I did. I made the same promise to myself in New Zealand. It's the kind of place you want the people you care about to experience. 

So yeah I liked Auckland 😁(<- Heyyy they have emojis now!!!). 

Have a great week! 



Stardate:160027.11

Kiehl's Blue Herbal Facial Skin Care


The fact that I have a blue mani is I assure you a coincidence.


According to their website Kiehl's has been around since 1851. I like that their products are usually reasonably priced and available in multiple locations. I have combination skin prone to cystic acne that tends to be oily when I'm having a flare up. Whenever I feel a breakout coming on I turn to Kiehl's Blue Herbal Facial Skin Care.  If I catch it early enough the wash and the toner help minimize the period of time the breakout lasts. 

The wash contains 1.5% salicylic acid which I suspect is what does the trick. The toner lists castor oil, witch hazel and aloe as some of the ingredients. The spot treatment also has 1.5% salicylic acid. 

Once my skin has calmed down I usually discontinue using the toner as it can be a bit drying for me with prolonged use. The Blue Herbal line is described as non drying but I think it would be better suited for those with oily or at least combination skin.

If you've tried anything from Kiehl's what are some of your faves?




Stardate:160018.09








Diptyque Holiday 2016


Une Nuit Chez Diptyque Scented Candle Trio Gift Set(3 x 2.4oz candles/$100) 

Act 1- Un Encens EtoilĂ©(Sparkling Incense) 

Act 2- Épices et DĂ©lices Candle(Delicious spices)
Act 3- Le Roi Sapin Candle (The festive fir tree)




I love a good candle, especially during the holidays. This year Diptyqye's holiday collection is based on the tale of Henri. Henri is a seller of this and that who gets snowed in one night and has to stay at the Paris shop where he works. As he waits out the storm he is visited by a candle fairy that introduces him to three special candles. You the viewer experience Henri's magical night as a mini three act play.

The first act is the candle Un Encens Etoilé(Sparkling Incense) described as:

Fairies caroling, sparkling incense and crystalline elegance. A burst of dazzling elemi and spicy cloves mingle with mysterious swirls of incense and sweet vanilla. source

The second act is the candle Épices et DĂ©lices Candle(Delicious spices) described as:

An exclusive treat, a unique recipe of delicious spices. Warm gingerbread notes mingle with tasty honey laced in hints of star anise. source

The third act is the candle Le Roi Sapin Candle (The festive fir tree) described as:

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your branches… The incredible smell of a lush, pine-laden forest steeped in the woody tones of resin, cedar and patchouli.  source

All of the candles smell very nice on their own but I love burning all three together. Combined the trio smell divine as the notes of pine, ginger and cloves meld into a warm and soothing scent perfect the holidays.

Since I discovered Diptyque I've been impressed by the care and thought they put into their holiday collections. I found this year's story even more endearing when I learned that Henri is an actual Diptyque employee. According to the Diptyque rep I spoke with Henri started with the original store on 34 Boulevard Saint-German in Paris when they sold fabrics, wall paper and other beautiful things picked up during the founders travels. You know this and thats. And he's still there.  

You can check out Henri and the enchanting night that inspired this year's collection here.

Have a great week!



Stardate:160020.11





The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney













The first day I went to the Royal Botanical Garden in Sydney I thought I would stroll around a bit and then head back to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is within walking distance to catch their Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera Exhibit.  I walked through the garden gates and within minutes I was enveloped by the most amazing fragrance.  The rest as they say is history.  Hours and I mean hours later after the tired garden employee in the SUV with the streaming led sign announcing the park was closed kept circling me at a very polite distance I finally left. And then I returned the next day.

I blame it all on the Wisteria (second picture above) which I learned from my guided garden tour was what I smelled on that first day.  I have never smelled anything so beautifully fragrant in my life and I have no words to describe the scent. I can tell you walking the 100 or so feet where the Wisteria flowers lined a path I felt as if the pleasure sensors in my brain had been triggered flooding me with a sense of deep calm.  I felt like I could stand there forever. And I did stand there a long time but then it got weird because other people kept passing by wanting to take their own pictures and I was just in the way so I moved on. 

The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney is 74 acres.  The garden has restaurants, free guided tours, lovely walking paths, and many areas where you can sit and relax and enjoy your surroundings. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Sydney and well worth a visit if you are in the area.  Just remember the gates close at 8pm.  You can find out more about the garden here

I found this nice article about the most pleasant smelling flowers in the world here and Wisteria made the list.  What fragrant flowers do you guys love? 


Stardate:160008.11


Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick: Hel's Bells, Walk of Shame & Love Bite


Hel's Bells($32/.12oz)

Walk of Shame($32/.12oz)

Love Bite($32/.12oz)





Hel's Bells


Love Bite 
Walk of Shame 






Never one to be rushed I recently tried Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks.  I'm a sucker for beautiful packaging so she started off on a good foot with me once I saw those sleek rose gold bullets. I bought Walk of Shame first which I followed up with Hel's Bells, and finally Love Bite. 

Walk of Shame and Hel's Bells are described as modern mattes. I found them to be a lot creamier than other self-described matte lipsticks so I'm guessing that is where the modern part comes in. Walk of shame is several shades deeper than a my lips but better color but I would still consider it a neutral. Hel's Bels inspired by actress Helena Bonham-Carter, is one of those pinkish-purplish colors that I think can do no wrong.  It's my favorite of the three. 

Love Bite is one of the ten shades in her K.I.S.S.I.N.G. signature collection range. The formula reportedly offers UV protection and light diffusing pigments. The only thing I can vouch for is that it is a beautiful, notice me red that was just the merry and bright I wanted for the holidays.

All three of the lipsticks had a very subtle sugar cookie smell. They all lasted on my lips for several hours with no slipping or feathering and were a breeze to apply. I'm not the most dexterous person so I have to make sure that I'm very close to the mirror, and it's quiet so I can focus when I'm putting on lipstick(you laugh because you think I'm kidding). And even with all that it might take a couple tries for me to get it just right.  I didn't have any application issues with these colors. In my humble but albeit late opinion her lipsticks are definitely worth a try if you are into bold pigmented colors that feel great when applied, and are long lasting.

Which color is your favorite?


Stardate:160006.11



Sydney, Australia: 33.8688° S, 151.2093° E

Sydney Harbour

A glimpse of St Mary's Cathedral from Hyde Park

State Library of New South Wales

State Library of New South Wales

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Aboriginal Art at the Gallery of New South Wales

Aboriginal Art at the Gallery of New South Wales

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Aboriginal rock engraving- male kangaroo


"Eeeeek it's cold up here! "

Blue Mountains National Park

Wentworth Falls and a very brave bride




Hello there or should I say G'day mates!  We here at otc have returned from the great Down Under and it was an epic trip.  I try to go to at least one new place a year. I thought this was going to be the year I went to Morocco but the universe had other plans so Oz it was. Sydney to be exact.

First thing you should know about the island continent is that its seasons are the opposite of all of the countries in the Northern Hemisphere. So, my trip coincided with the end of their winter and early spring. The temperature in Fahrenheit ranged from the middle 50s to the high 60s which was down right frigid for me.  I was wearing at least two layers every time I ventured out.

The second thing you should know is that most travelers will cross the International Date Line on the way to Australia. That meant I lost an entire day while traveling.  For example if I left my neck of the woods for a trip to Australia on the 8th of the month I would arrive on the 10th.  The 9th... poof gone.  I was about a day and a half ahead of all my friends and family back home while I was there.

The third thing you should know is that an Australian Travel visa is required to visit Australia. Interested readers can determine which type of travel visa they would need here.

The fourth thing I think you should know is that Australia is a fairly expensive destination. See this interesting article here about the cities with the most expensive taxi fare in the world. Australia makes the list three times.  I found another interesting but long article here about the price of food in Australia compared to the rest of the world.

So enough of the things you should know.  I had a great time in Sydney! The opera house was a sight to behold up close. I would recommend checking it out in the day and then coming back at night for a totally different experience.  I was able to make it to the mountains and to the beach. I saw some great exhibits at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and got my entire life at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  

I found the Aussies to be friendly. They are an extremely fit bunch. I tell you every where I went I saw them running,  jumping, strength training or engaging in some type of sweat inducing activity.  Every where. Those buggers are in shape.  They really inspired me to step my fitness game up. I figured if they can have what seemed to be lunch time rugby meetings I should really drive to the gym after work.

I think this post is long enough so if you are interested in anything I didn't mention let me know in the comments.  I hope you have all been well.




Stardate:160031.10