See you in 2015!

I hadn't planned on saying goodbye so soon.

I mean, I still have stories and photos to share and even a recipe or two.
But alas, my heart is not into it and my mind is too distracted by the many demands of life time of the year. So it's goodbye for now as I take time to (hopefully) rest and recharge. I look forward to seeing you back here again in 2015.

Wishing you a very merry and a safe holiday season x

Fab five: hair serums

I don't have much time to style my hair these days but the one step I haven't and never will skip is applying hair serum to hair ends before drying. And why would I? Serums provide instant shine and healthy hair. The best ones also keeps the frizz away, detangles and protects from heat and sun damage.  These five are my favourites:
Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum - I absolutely love this serum, which does a fantastic job of leaving my hair perfectly soft and smooth and gives it a lustrous shine. A small pump is plenty for my long thick hair and its heavenly smell is an added bonus.

Strega Estetica Argan Oil -  I still remember when the argan oil hair craze started a few years when all the beauty magazines couldn't stop raving about it. And for perfectly good reason - IT WORKS. Argan oil is rich in nutrients and has a lovely light consistency that is readily absorbed by hair.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ultimate Remedy Duo Serum - After a week of frolicking in the sun and having dips in the sea in Fiji, I returned to Sydney with hair that was extremely dry, full of tangles and extremely unruly. This was the serum I reached for to detangle and restore my stressed out locks. Pricey but worth every cent.

Keratase Elixir Ultime Beautifying Oil - this versatile hair oil can be used as a pre-shampoo treatment or as a leave in conditioner and works wonders for my hair. Great for banishing frizz and leaves hair super soft. Also protects against heat damage.

Suigo Hairlook Arts Ultimate Shine Repair - if you've been reading this blog for a while then you'll know that I'm a huge fan of Suigo's range of natural based hair products. Their serum is no exception. Effective and affordable - just a couple of drops on wet on dry hair helps restore shine and health to my dry color-treated hair.

Are you a fan of hair serums too? Which ones are your favourites?

Christmas crafts

Every year from around September, tons of mini pine cones get blown into my backyard from a neighbouring tree. I started collecting them just for fun at first, and then it became a bit of an obsession and I ended up with hundreds of them, right in time for a spot of Christmas crafting too.
Rosemary and mini pine cone wreath

You'll need:

Fresh rosemary sprigs, trimmed to ~10cm
Mini pine cones
Round embroidery hoop
Craft glue and glitter
Hot glue gun
Kitchen string

Method

1. Squeeze some glue into a small bowl. Add glitter in a separate bowl. Dip pine cone into glue, then shake to remove excess glue. Then dip pinecone in glitter and shake to remove excess glitter. Leave to completely air dry.
2. Using hot glue gun, make around 4-5 clusters of three pine cones.
3. Make little bunches of rosemary (~8 sprigs per bundle) and tie with string. Position first bunch in desired position on hoop and secure with string.
4. Repeat with other bunches, making sure to overlap so as to cover the string.
5. Add a few pinecone clusters to the wreath by securing with string.
***
Christmas cards garland

You'll need:
Christmas cards (mine are from Tiny Prints)
Mini pinecones clusters (as per above instructions)
Holepunch
String and needle

Method

1.  Punch two holes at the top of each card.
2. Thread string through the middle of one pine cone cluster. Then thread string through the holes in the card.
3. Repeat step 3 until desired garland length is achieved.

Floral Friday - flowers as gift

My next door neighbour Helen had recently moved into a nursing home as her health had deteriorated too much and she needed 24/7 care. She had lived in that house for 47 years and is truly missed by everyone on the street. Her beautiful garden bore gorgeous flowers all year round, and right up till the 6 months prior to her move, this very dedicated and flower-loving lady in her eighties still tended to her garden every single day.

A couple of weeks ago, Alexander and I went to visit her and we brought her some hydrangeas from my backyard as I knew she would be one to appreciate a gift from the garden.
Would you like to give someone (or yourself) some flowers? If yes, show us by linking up below with your floral gift. Be sure to check out everyone else's links too!

Floral Friday is a monthly photography project with different themes each month. This series is about fun and taking time out to smell the flowers. To play along next time, please email me for next month's theme.
http://www.underlockandkeyblog.com/search/label/floral%20friday

Cherry and pistachio chocolate bark

How's this for a neat Christmas gift idea? Homemade chocolate bark. The hardest part is making sure you don't eat it all by yourself.

PS: You get to choose the fruit and nut combo!
You'll need:

250g dark chocolate melts
50g glacé cherrie, roughly chopped
75g pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped

Method:

1. Line cutting board or baking tray with baking paper.

2. Chop chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Fill a pot about 1/3 full of water and bring to boil before reducing to simmer. Place bowl of chocolate over the pot. Stir as the chocolate melts and remove from heat when smooth.

3. Add about half the cherries and pistachios to melted chocolate and stir to coat.

4. Spread the mixture on prepared baking tray thinly and evenly. Sprinkle remaining cherries and pistachios over the chocolate.

5. Freeze until chocolate sets (~ 1 hour). Gently remove chocolate from baking paper.

6. Break into shards and keep in airtight container.
PS: I'm currently holidaying in Fiji and will be back next week with stories to share! I have scheduled a Floral Friday post later this week so watch out for that x