31 Mar 2013

Travel: Backpacking in East Indonesia

I've finally recorded my travel vlogs from my trip to East Indonesia in December 2012, and I wanted to share with you my impressions of the country. My boyfriend and I backpacked around the Maluku Islands region, which is a very remote part of the country that is largely untouched by mass tourism. We visited the Banda and Kei islands, where tourists are few and far between. If you want more information about this beautiful (albeit sometimes hard to reach destination) this is the best website with relatively up-to-date information: http://www.east-indonesia.info/

I included a lot of pictures in the video to make it interesting, but yes the vlogs are long! A lot happened, and I unfortunately ended up getting extremely ill at the end of my trip which forced us to cut out journey short to seek medical help. It was a nightmare ending to an otherwise adventurous and beautiful trip.

Part 2 goes into detail about what happened to me after getting extremely ill with Dengue Fever, a tropical disease transmitted through mosquito bite, and how we managed to make it home safely after what seemed like a nightmare week and a half.

Enjoy watching! Have you ever had a terrible experience in a foreign country, health or otherwise? What happened? Share in the comments!

19 Mar 2013

Cooking: Hearty Beef Vegetable Stew

This hearty beef stew is one of my favorite meals to make on cooler nights, or when I'm in the mood for some comfort food. I took a traditional beef stew, and amped up the vegetable content quite a bit to make it a bit more healthy, than just meat and sauce. Are you a vegetarian? No problem! Substitute chick peas and/or lentils for the beef, and adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Ingredients (makes 4-5 large servings)

600-800g of stewing beef, cubed (about 1.5 lbs)
2 medium sized onions, slivered or diced
200g mushrooms, quartered (0.5 lbs)
4 celery stalks, chopped
300g pumpkin or squash, cubed (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium can of unsweetened corn, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, chopped up
4-5 medium carrots
4-5 firm cooking potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium can peeled and chopped pelati tomatoes
Worcestershire Sauce
300ml dry red wine
800ml beef stock
1 large tablespoon tomato concentrate
salt and pepper
Thyme, dried or fresh
Sweet paprika
chili flakes (optional)

1. Heat up some oil in a very large cooking pot, preferably with a lid. When oil is very hot, brown the stewing beef on all sides on high heat, then remove from pot and put aside on a plate.

2. In the same pot, add a bit more cooking oil, then brown the slivered onions for 2 minutes. Then add the garlic and stir-fry for another minute or so before adding the carrots, pumpkin, celery, and red pepper. Stir fry the vegetables for 3-4 minutes on high heat. Season with some sea salt and fresh black pepper, and add 1 teaspoon chili flakes if you want a bit of kick to your beef stew.

3. Add the beef cubes back to the vegetables in the pot at this point, including any juices that came out. On high heat, add the tomato paste and stir. Add any seasoning you like: I added some thyme, sweet dried paprika, and cumin. I don't measure these, but I'd say anywhere from 2-3 teaspoons is good!

4. Douse the entire contents in the pot with the red wine, beef stock, several glugs of the Worcestershire sauce, and add the entire can of pelati tomatoes. A good rule of thumb: The ingredients in the pot should just be covered all the way to the top with liquids, so no vegetables "stick out". Add more water or beef stock to adjust.

5. Place lid on the pot, leaving a small crack on the side, and let simmer on medium heat (it shouldn't be a raging boil) for about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Now add the mushrooms and drained corn, and continue to simmer for another 20 minutes or so. If a lot of the liquid has evaporated at this point, add some more water and/or beef stock so that the stew has enough liquids to cook in.

6. Once meat is nearly tender (try a small piece, it should not be too tough anymore), add your potatoes and continue to simmer your stew. The potatoes should take anywhere between 25-40 minutes to be done, depending on the variety you use, and the size of the pieces. Just keep an eye on things, make sure there's enough liquid, and try a potato or a piece of meat now and then to see how things are going. The meat should be tender after this long cooking time.

7. Finish off with any seasoning you like (salt, pepper, hot sauce) to adjust to your taste, and serve piping hot. Enjoy!

13 Mar 2013

Tutorial: Taylor Swift Wavy Hair

Since cutting my own hair into bangs a few days ago, I've been looking for styling ideas on the Internet. One of my favorite looks is the way Taylor Swift is rocking her bangs lately. Now as a foreword, her bangs are not cut the way mine are, hers are fuller and cut a bit more bluntly than my own, and they are longer. (I hate hair in my eyes!) I do love how she combs it all into her face, and how the rest of her hair is styled into really soft, sleek, and loose waves.

This is a really modern way how to wear curls. They look natural, as if you didn't do anything and that's just how amazing your hair looks when you roll out of bed in the morning...yeah right!!!!

Products and Tools

GHD Styler
Babyliss Pro Ceramic 38mm (1.5 inch) curling iron
Tresemmé heat protecting spray
L'Oreal Elnett hairspray
Sebastian Shine Crafter wax (This stuff is so good!)
Nailpolish worn in video: Illamasqua Throb

Oh and a bonus picture in which I edited my hair color for the thumbnail just for fun. (I don't color my hair at all anymore, my current color is simply my natural hair.) So to anyone who has ever told me they would love to see me blonde: Here's why that will never happen!


9 Mar 2013

DIY Bangs/Fringe!

Bangs (or fringe) are such a fun, quick and easy way how to really change your look, without having to take off too much length from your hair, especially if you have longer locks.

I've been itching to change up my look for a while, and having had bangs in the past before, I knew what to expect from them. I loved having bangs when I was going to university, but then they just became too high maintenance for me over time. Since my hair is not naturally stick straight, especially the front sections which have a decidedly unruly mind of their own, it means blow drying and straightening bangs after every wash.

So why would I got back to that? Well, life is short and if you want to do something, just do it. Especially your hair! If you don't like it, it will grow out again. Take risks with your looks, why not? You could always try clip-in bangs first to see how it would look on you, but nothing compares to the real thing.

Watch my video to see how I cut my bangs myself. I want a more wispy, edgy look rather than blunt cut, I just think it suits me more.

Here are my Tips for cutting your own bangs:
  • Use good, sharp scissors instead of a razor to prevent split ends (especially on fine hair) - you can pick up decent hair trimming scissors at drugstores or beauty supply stores for not much money
  • Cut your bangs on dry hair to prevent cutting them too short - hair puffs up when dry!
  • Section your hair and securely pin back the parts of your hair you don't want to accidentally snip
  • Start off longer, then gradually cut the hair to the exact length you want - nothing more awkward looking than too short bangs!

Styling Products I used in the video:
L'Oreal Smooth Intense Xtreme Straight Creme
L'Oreal Precious Oil Treatment
Sebastian Shine Crafter Wax

Nail polish I'm wearing:
KIKO Nr. 335

What do you think of the new look? Have you ever tried bangs yourself?

5 Mar 2013

Lara Croft Tomb Raider Cosplay

Lara Croft is my favorite game series ever! I'm not a die-hard gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but the Tomb Raider series is one I've always loved to play, and always bought the games when they are first released.

I've been patiently waiting for this new game to come out, meanwhile I've been watching game trailers and checking the Tomb Raider facebook site for updates. Lara's look has changed quite a lot from the previous games - she looks a lot more realistic, gone are the ridiculous Barbie sized boobs, and the tiny hot pants. Instead, we have a young woman who becomes a fierce and strong fighter.

I couldn't resist to Cosplay her! I've been wanting to make a Lara Croft video for ages, and when I heard a new game was coming out, I knew I wanted to cosplay her updated look. Watch my video below on everything I used to recreate her look, her costume, and even her weapons!

Cargo pants: H&M Men's (dirtied up with charcoal & ash)
Tank tops: H&M (dirtied up with soil)
Boots: Steve Madden (you can also check out an Army surplus store)

Props & Weapons
Gun holster: army surplus
belts: previously owned by me, one of them is an old Austrian army belt
Gun: an antique revolver borrowed from a friend (selling replica toy guns is illegal here!)
Bow & arrow: made out of several reeds I gathered from a forest, tied together with rope, the front grip is a bandage that I dirtied up

Makeup & Hair
Blood: Kryolan Film Blood
Eyes: Ben Nye Cork, Maybelline Colossal waterproof mascara
Blush: Ben Nye Natural Blush
Lips: L'Oreal Colour Riche in Sheer Nude
Hair product: Balea Trend It Up Mattifying Styling Paste

Make sure to get yourself really grubby for this look! It's half the fun, and will make it so much more realistic!