Baxter Blue Eyewear Review – Part 1

I spend way too much time looking at screens, not only with my social media, using my phone and running mybusiness, but I also work in front of a computer for 8 hours of the day, and that is just in my paid employment.

Often i will come home with eye-strain and headaches. I wear glasses at work, but that was to reduce glare, rather than as prescription. I have been seeing the ads for Baxter Blue glasses for a couple of weeks and Ifigured at a relatively affordable cost, it was worth trialling them.

I ordered them on Thursday and here we are on Monday morning and I have them, that is one hell of a fast turnaround! The style I was originally after were sold out, so I went with the ‘Clark / gloss black’ style – gotta love those strong lines and a classic style!

ACS_0575[1]My first impression is they are incredibly light and are a nice fit, I can actually feel (see?) the difference? My eyes feel less strained. I can see the difference looking at the screen, my eyes are hurting some, but I think that is because they are no longer straining, it will likely take some getting used to.

I will trial these for the week and see how I am at the end of the week, I go home with incredibly tired and itchy eyes most days, so if these provide even 10% relief, I will be thankful!

Baxter Blue provides a person in need a pair of reading glasses for each set sold – so seeing as 2019 is all about the year of giving for me, this gives me the warm and fuzzies. They have partnered with RestoringVision to provide this wonderful service, a not-for-profit organisation who has distributed over 7 million pairs of glasses to those in need since 2003.

My gorgeous new frames are going to: filter out 50% of harmful bue violet light, let the good blue light in, alleviate my digital eye strain, add contract to define characters on screen (I can see this already!),  fight reflections, avoid scratches and look pretty darn cute.

I will see how I go for the week, and provide an update for anyone who, like me, is heavily involved in digital screen time!

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*This is not a sponsored post, I will always honestly review items which I have bought and am trialling for myself.

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Kind February <3

IMG_0972[1]Being charitable should be a daily task, like brushing your teeth or having a shower. Sadly, we sometimes only remember to be charitable when there is a particular function/event/drive and there is a chance to promote a particular organisation or cause.

My mission this year is to be charitable every day, in many different ways.

In November & December, I littered our kitchen with canning equipment, trays of fruit, far too much sugar and sterilised jars.

As it approached Valentine’s Day, I can honestly say my Husband is ready to lock me in the backroom to stop me from dropping thread and cotton and pins throughout our two-bedroom unit, as though I am personally shedding these items from my body.

IMG_2609[1]I have no intention of slowing down with my creations, I may have a pretty solid case of #scrunchiethumb and hear the sound of my sewing machine in my sleep, but I feel so good about my creations!

So, how can you help? Well, first of all, Lee is holding a pretty bloody cute Pop-Up Kissing Booth with her dutiful and cuddly Aussie Bulldog, Derek. If you are in the South-East Queensland area, then this event is for you – the details can be found here.

Your gold coin donation will go directly to the support of vital medical research products funded by the Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

February and March, my donations will be going to Cancer Research Australia, an organisation I was made aware of through my friend Lee, who is fundraising for this incredible charity throughout 2019. I am hoping to reach the $100 mark for them, as I did for Orange Sky Laundry.

I hope to see all of your gorgeous photos taken with the kissing booth and there will also be a few prizes given out for the winning photo of each location! You will go into the draw to win a dog kerchief + scrunchie combo, created by Rock it Like a Redmond :).

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My #instabreak (read: #instarelief)

A week and a bit ago, I decided to deactivate my travel Instagram page, @courtney_brisbaneblogger. It was a choice I battled with over and over and for the first couple of days, I honestly was not sure if I had made the right choice.

Now I can honestly say, I made the right choice. I am not waking in the morning and checking Instagram, worrying about the stats. Worrying that I am not getting notifications from the same people, being disheartened by the lack of engagement.

I miss the contact of several people, absolutely – but for the sake of my mental health, I have to tell you – it is the best choice I could have possibly made. I absolutely want to get back on there one day, although I wonder if there is, in fact, a way to clean-out my followers and those accounts I am following – without re-activating my account.

….

So I waited a week before I continued this post, just to see if my opinion had changed at all. It has not, thankfully. This last week I have been able to concentrate on my business, my work, and my I.R.L friends. I have not been caught up in algorithms and phony human-contact, hashtags, and scrolling through the same photos over and over again.

I can slowly feel my creativity coming back to me, I felt porous, leached dry of any genuine creativity when I was playing such close attention to my lifestyle/travel IG. There are quite a few people I have connected with, through text and message – those who genuinely understand the need for a break.

What I find to be completely amazing though, is the gorgeous woman who started our niche #gram tribe, also was going through the same thing! I had no idea when I was at our meetup (the night before I deleted/blocked everything) and looking at this incredible woman in the flesh, that she too was looking at taking a break. I’ve just checked and yep, this woman -who I really admire, has also taken a break from the gram.

The thing is, it is and is not real life, as much as any one thing can be both and both not something. You look at places, some genuine shots, genuine moments and then there are the pre-meditated, posed, screen-show masterpieces which are popular. It is fictitious, it is vacuous and do you know what? It is not inspiring. Not at all. It creates a breeding ground of doubt, of comparison and of an intrinsic sensation of failure.

I know there are people out there who are personally offended by my choice to delete my page or to stop communicating with them. All I can say is it is personal 100%. It was personal to me and I am feeling lighter, breathing deeper and my social media anxiety is fading.

Thank goodness.

Another thing to remember, social media is not real-life and other people’s actions are always made for THEM, not for you and that is A-OK.

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#thegram – an update, it’s time to ditch

The other day I wrote about how I was feeling towards #instagram and my travel/blog account.

Yesterday there was an incredible meet-up, for a travel group I was heavily involved in and truly loved. Given my feelings lately towards Social Media, and Instagram in particular – I was tossing up whether or not to go. I really wanted to meet the woman who had put the group together and had been so incredibly generous, kind and inclusive to all of us. There were a few other local girls I had chatted to on the platform and wanted to meet.

Despite my anxiety being a 15/10, I went and it was so lovely to ‘meet’ these people I have spoken with for a year and a half. Sadly my anxiety got the better of me and I had to leave. I only lasted around 45 minutes and my need to leave and get to my safe-place, home.

captureLast night I was so worked up with anxiety and stress related to my Instagram page that I actually decided this morning to A) delete my travel page I started with another person and B) temporarily (perhaps permanently) deactivate my personal travel / blog page.

This is no reflection on the wonderful members of the community I was part of, however I can honestly say I feel better about it already.

It is time to go back to enjoying my writing, getting my business off of the ground and centering myself. Thanks to everyone who has supported me, read my posts and encouraged me. I may or may not reactivate @courtney_brisbaneblogger / @courtneygaye travels, but for now I think I will just take a break and get back to what I really love.

I hope to see you around the traps otherwise, take care and look after yourselves and the things you love ❤

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My 10 Favourite Christmas Movies

close up photo of gold and silver christmas ornaments
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Christmas movies, are there ever too many?! The answer is no, oh and that is a non-negotiable stand-point on the matter.

Christmas movies are the best, they are my favourite, some people wait for Bublé to crawl out of his cave, some wait for Mariah to step off that swivel chair she is dragged around on…I wait for the Griswold’s, the McCallister’s, John McClane, for Billy Mack to offend all that is Christmas music and for Aurelia’s family to think Jamie has come to kill her.

Christmas movies are my sugar-hit when it comes to December. That and putting up my tree, which looks freaking amazing this year just quietly. #rosegold for the win on that won!

So, without further delay – here they are, my top 10.

10. Die Hard

9. Office Christmas Party

8. Four Holiday’s

7. The Family Stone

6. Bad Santa

5. The Holiday

4. Home Alone 2

3. Home Alone

2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

1. Love Actually

I have to know, what are your favourite Christmas or holiday movies?

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Christmas + mental health

Not another mental health post, some of you may be thinking. Where are the pretty travel pictures and travel stories, others of you may ask.

They’re here. I’ve got them. I cannot wait to share them, but with only nine days to go until Christmas I have something else on my mind.

Mental health. Not mental illness, not mental disorder, and certainly not mental problems. Mental health.

Christmas to my family is incredibly important, we love Christmas. We love being together and cooking and sharing thoughtful gifts, blasting Christmas music and wearing silly hats and telling terrible jokes from our Christmas crackers. My favourite memory of many of my christmases will always be that moment when I simply could not continue, I was full and exhausted, I’d had a day of fun and it was finally time for bed. I will always hear my mum and dad saying Merry Christmas darlin’ as I headed to bed each year. That is my favourite Christmas memory.

The holiday season is not always a happy time for some, for some people it brings with it memories of loss, a time of grieving, feelings of sadness and confusion. For some it means nothing but anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts.

Christmas is hectic. The holidays can be a real trigger for many people out there and we have a responsibility to check in on others.

For one of my friends, she lost her Mother on Christmas Eve. Another lost her best friend to depression on Christmas Day. Some people no longer have anyone to put their tree up with them. There are families who cannot afford to eat. Families without homes. Families doing their best to keep everything together, even though it seems impossible.

My favourite Big Issue vendor in Brisbane, Nathan is someone who stands outside of the 7/11 on Adelaide Street and wishes a Merry Christmas to ever single person who walks past him. I always make the time to stop and ask him how he is and have a chat. December brings with it a lot of hurt and sadness to his life. Not only is he homeless, but he lost his Mother, Step-Dad and his brother in various December’s. Still he wishes you a Merry Christmas. When I see people ignore him or even scowl at him I feel nothing but disgrace for the human race.

Last year, the week before Christmas, Nathan was telling everyone it would be his last week in Brisbane, he was moving to Hervey Bay to be with his son. His happiness was contagious, he hadn’t been that genuinely happy in months. I was silently rooting for him.

When I saw him on that same corner in January, my heart broke for him.

Missing out on the Portman’s dress you wanted for Christmas is not a tragedy. Working Christmas Eve instead of partying with your friends is not sad. Spending Christmas with your family-in-law or annoying Uncle / Cousin / Sibling is not depressing. They are all circumstantial situations.

I want you to enjoy your Christmas, be kind to everyone. Forget misgivings, remove toxic people from your life. Remember the reason for the season and practice kindness. Smile at your Big Issue vendor, if you have $7, buy a magazine. Chat with them. Ask how are you and be ready to listen and to mean it. Be socially aware.

Christmas is not shopping. Christmas is not presents. Christmas is not enduring Christmas with family, it’s an honour.

Christmas is love.

Practice love, always.

Lifestyle Post – Goodies & sale items I love or am trying…

So… Christmas is next month. Which of course means I have once again done the complete opposite throughout the year and gained weight, not saved money and not meant the goals I had hoped to throughout the year. Ah well. Nothing like a last-minute dash towards goals, am I right?

SKIN SPECIALS

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Sand & Sky – Natural Australian botanical goodness – my sister got me on to the Australian pink Clay Porefining Face Mask and honestly, it is gorgeous. So is their Exfoliating Treatment. With summer here basically already – it is time to get summer ready! From 15/11 – 21/11 you can get 25% off their Exfoliator kit, 35% off their Mask Holiday Kit, 35% off the Combo Holiday Kit, save up to 40% on general products! What have you got to lose? No nasties and beautiful, soft and noticeable results.

Lady Bits & Pieces

190840ae-81fa-4687-a64c-34436755e33a[1]Boody Eco Wear –  I am going through a real eco-friendly change and I have been a long-time lover of bamboo and hypoallergenic gear. Boody Bamboo wear is eco-friendly, ethical, antibacterial, anti-fungal and fits well. They also have more than just underwear, they have underwear, active-wear, baby clothing etc. With a sign up for Boody news and receive 10% off your first order and in Australia, you will get FREE express shipping on all orders over $100 and free standard shipping on all orders over $60.

2d8440be-3115-4f35-b6e9-dc8760f0f89dModibodi – Again, here is another brand I love, particularly when it comes to sustainable and absorbent, sweat-proof, curve-friendly and super absorbent underwear. Say goodbye to ugly period-panties and guess what, they are Aussie designed and owned! They are currently having 15% off storewide all day on 13-November with the code QUICKLICK and 15% off store-wide on 11/11 – Single’s Day with the code SINGLESLOVE. You can also get 10% off orders over $100.

Health & Fitness

180 Nutrition – I don’t know about you but when I f7fed75a-5e31-4251-b484-364b0b4863c5want protein or other blends, I do not want it to be full of nasties, no point getting results if you are poisoning yourself. 180 Nutrition originally began working with a small charity for people with chronic diseases, and so was born an incredible group of products without chemicals, artificial flavourings and sweeteners. My favourites? The Organic Greens Plus and the Low-Carb Vegan Protein bars (seriously, delicious!). You can save $92 with a box of super-food at the moment (8 x 1.2kg bags of superfood + free shipping!).

5.45.4 – I first came across 5.4 when I was attending my Hypoxi sessions and for macro-nutrient controlled meals they are delicious. Their meals are designed to improve wellness, increase energy and burn fat. They are protein packed, low carb (or good carb), low sugar and low saturated fat. The meals are snap frozen and have a 12-month shelf life. My favourites are the Shredded Mexican Chicken and the breakfast egg bites! Also you can use ZipPay! From 12/11 – 14/11 you can purchase a meal plan (as a new customer) and get $25 off any meal plan with the code CLICK25. You can also order a meal plan and receive 7 Free breakfast meals with the code EGGS.

Take a break..

 

9fc82e16-5a45-4d4e-bbd5-a92f683d9401P&O Cruises – honestly I love P&O, I love that you can go on a 3-day cruise up and down the coast of Queensland and barely need any time off of work to come back feeling refreshed! I love that we can get the all-inclusive package, I love the staff, love the ocean, love the trivia and bingo, love it all! For my Christmas present to Grant a couple of years ago, I bought us a three-night cruise, it was the best. They currently have a sale on a select group of their 3 Day cruises and for cruises of 7 nights or more, you can book and receive your free premium drinks package (this is so worth it, we have done it twice!).

contikiContiki – do not be intimidated by the age-demographic of this one, you can travel on Contiki up until 35. I have been on three separate Contiki trips, each a completely different trip to the other and I was thankful to have everything organised for me. I also met some of my very best friends in the world on my Contiki trips.  They have some amazing specials at the moment, with 30% savings & flight and trip deals.

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Travel Diary (Day 14) – Sogndal & Flåm

Day 14 – 3/10

This morning we woke up and the night before we had changed our minds about driving to the Geiranger Fjord as it would have resulted in an eight-hour trip (without stops), so we decided that unfortunately would not be seeing this famed Fjord as we had also missed the season of going into this Fjord on our Hurtigruten cruise.

IMG_2452Instead we decided we would catch the ferry back across the Sognefjorden and visit Flåm. With the ferry crossing we were there within an hour and a half and it was like driving into the little town of every persons dream!

This sweet little village of Flåm has since the late 19th century been a tourist destination. It currently receives almost 450,000 visitors a year and if you’ve ever researched the tourist destination spots of Norway, then it is more than likely you have seen pictures of this wonderful spot!

During our original plans we had initially thought we would do the Norway in a Nutshell tour but again the price was incredibly expensive so we decided not to. Once we got to Flåm we decided it was time for hot coffee and maybe a picnic. We had taken our own food for the day, so what we did buy was two coffees (from a machine) and it seriously nearly cost us $20. Glad we had our picnic!

We figured since we were at Flåm, and as we had saved money by taking our own food, that we would splurge on a round trip on the Flåmsbana. Now the fare itself per adult return did set us back $780 NOK (or $150 Australian each). Which, to be honest is super pricey, unless it is something you really have on your bucket-list it’s not necessary but I really wanted to ride the tail and visit Myrdal.

Here are some fun facts about the Flåm- Myrdal railway:

  • The journey will take you from stunning Fjord landscapes up to beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks;
  • The journey explains to you the history of the area and gives you a wonderful background of traditions which do date back to pagan times;
  • The journey is 20km and the scenery does meet the tourism promise of dramatic scenery;
  • When you reach Myrdal, you are 866 metres above sea-level.

As you leave the azure waters of Aurlandsfjord you will pass the beautiful Flåm Stave Church (have you worked out our love for churches yet?), and this beauty dates back to 1667!

My favourite stop was the amazing Rjoandefossen waterfall, magnificently hurling herself 140m straight down the mountainside.

Rather than building bridges, the engineers actually opted to run the river through tunnels underneath the railway line. It is incredible! There is evidence of rockfalls and avalanches throughout the entire journey and it just reminds you again how brave and incredible the people who created all of these places we get to explore now really were.

IMG_2396There is a decent 1,320-metre tunnel, the Nåli tunnel, and past this you stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall. Now I’ve had some pretty amazing train + waterfall combos in my time, but I can honestly say this one was the BEST! Especially with the fresh snow all around us!

I don’t regret the expense or the experience at all, when it comes to travel it all comes down to what you are okay sacrificing in order to splurge elsewhere. For me and thankfully for my Husband as well – we are happy to smash servo sandwiches and filtered coffee in order to spend money on experiences. For others its fine dining. For some it’s shopping. Don’t let anyone dictate to you what is it is not a waste of money. It’s your holiday, you do you x .

After our Flåm adventure we hit the road, made it back to our ferry, crossed the river. Went through that bloody 24km tunnel again and then we were home. Home for our last night in our gorgeous little boat shed loft.

Somehow, the tiny village of Sogndal has a burger and gin joint which basically screams ‘Welcome Courtney‘, so we had our last dinner there – delicious. Although there was an odd man across from us who was participating in our conversation, without being in our conversation. If you know what I mean?

I don’t think we could have utilised our time any better than what we did and I am just so thankful to have a travel partner who travels the way I do. We take turns both in being in charge or navigating or having melt downs. It’s how it should be. For those of you who travel solo, I think you’re amazing. Seriously.

My tips for the Flåm rail:

  • Choose the return trip up to Myrdal;
  • Don’t panic if you cannot get a seat on the right hand side, your view up the mountain will not be “as good”, but that’s okay – I’ll tell you why in a minute;
  • Sit nearer the doors – the train will stop for a few minutes at the Kjosfossen waterfall, you want to be one of the first off your carriage and up to the barrier for the waterfall. If you move quickly you’ll get a few snaps in before the swarms make their way!
  • The train, regardless of how crowded on its way up, will NOT be that crowded on the return trip. Many people are doing the Norway in a Nutshell, which means flicks of your fellow passengers are getting off at Myrdal. You will then have the seat of your choosing! Swap sides from where you were on the way up and have a different perspective!

For more information on Flåm you can click here.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

Please note, I have not been paid any sponsorships at all for this post, however some of the links in my blog posts may be affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click-through and make a purchase.

I only ever talk about my own personal experiences and adventures, places and locations which I love and think you will too!

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest

x C x

Why I love being a Bonus (Step) Mum

The expectation when you are growing up is to meet the guy/girl of your dreams, and build your life together. For some people (not all), that dream extends to having children. To building a family, and loving that family, hard.

While I was growing up, I never had those marriage fantasies. I dreamt of far away places, of travel, of writing or creating movies. There was a small period of time where I actually tried to change my name to something horribly embarrassing. Most people laughed at me, my best friend Meagan backed me and immediately started rolling with it. Because she is amazing.

The thing is, I didn’t dream of my wedding. I didn’t dream of the family. The white-picket fence. Being pregnant. They all seemed like great things but they just weren’t on my ‘list’.

I had boyfriends. I had love stories. I had break ups. I did the thing. I have a lot of wonderful memories. The love of my life was always travel. I would work myself into the ground, saving every $ I had. Creating travel plans. Dreaming of my escape and throttling those holidays by the neck when I was on leave.

When I started to head towards thirty, something changed. I wanted that special someone. I wanted the text messages and the calls. The cuddles and the kisses. Holding hands. Being nauseatingly in-love in public, pissing-off all who saw.

I made a list. My now-Husband doesn’t know about the list. Because let’s face it, the list is something all of us girls keep hidden. Whether it’s in your diary, on your blog, in your notes, on your phone or just in your head. We ALL have the list. If you say you don’t, then you’re lying.

For me, my list looked something like this.

Taller than me. Has a job. Brown hair. Kind eyes. Great sense of humour. Likes to travel. Is honest. Is respectful. Hasn’t been married. Doesn’t have kids.

Your list might look like mine, or it may not. No judgement, #womensupportingwomen.

On my 27th birthday, I was out with my girlfriends, far from home. I met a man. He was the perfect man for me. We hit it off straight away. To say it was love at first sight, is an understatement. I KNEW this was the man I was going to marry.

The list wasn’t so much as a role-call as it was a guide. Find a man who doesn’t treat you like shit and wants to hang out with you and only you. The rest, was completely negotiable.

Fast-forward five years and I’m a Step-Mum. My dream man has two kids. Two gorgeous, intelligent, funny and loving kids. It was an adjustment. It wasn’t easy. For any of us. There are many extenuating factors when it comes to being a step-parent.

As much as you love them, you haven’t been a part of their firsts. You haven’t watched them grow. They aren’t yours. Now before you read that as a negative, I need for you to know that it isn’t. It’s anything but. Being a step parent is hard. It’s challenging, heart breaking and rewarding. All at the same time.

Do you know why this love feels insanely pure? It feels pure because there is no biological link. Your steppies are not a part of you. You are not biologically wired to love one another. The maternal instinct cannot be compared to that of a mother. That would not be fair. Unfortunately we have Cinderella to thank for the awful banshee portrayal of a step-mum. Step-dads are painted as self-serving, violent or cruel. Step-mums are painted as jealous, baron, nasty bitches.

We aren’t. When you choose to love children that aren’t yours- it shows dedication, commitment and intentional love. They are an extension of the person you love. When you look closely, you see the physical similarities, you also see the biological traits which do not match your partner. A reminder of where and from whom they were created.

You know what though? Children are innocent. Children do not choose where they come from. They don’t choose their future and they certainly cannot be expected to navigate the complexities that blended families bring.

So, in a painfully long-winded post, let me tell you this. Never shy away from a challenge. Never think that someone with children has “baggage”. You are only doing yourself a disservice. It means you have someone who can love others more than they love themselves. They are raising, loving and protecting kids and that is noble and attractive as HELL.

So….

To my two bonus-kids. I love you. I am proud of you and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. Consider me part of your cheerleading team. We all want the best for you both. I love your Dad and I love you. I could not be prouder to call you my bonus-kids xxxx

Are you a step-parent, are you a step-kid? I want to know!

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please ‘like’ or share the post so I can see! 

To follow me on Instagram click here – courtneygaye_travels

To follow me on Facebook – you can do so here – Courtney Gaye Travels FB

If you are a Pinterest fan – you can find me here – Courtney Gaye Pinterest