Crazy adventures in Cairns

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I’ve been doing a fair amount of traveling in Australia these past five months, but I can positively say that I saved my best adventure for last: a weeks vacation in the one-of-a kind, breathtakingly gorgeous, Great Barrier Reef. And I was lucky enough to experience it in all its glory with my little brother as part of his high school graduation present.

Being the adrenaline-junkies that we are, we planned an epic jam-packed week full of all the activities that no one else back home dared to do with us. Due to rules about no air travel after scuba diving, we started the week off with our biggest feat: sky-diving. It’s been on both of our bucket lists and with the gorgeous Cairns weather it seemed like the perfect day to jump out of a plane. We jumped with the company Tandem Cairns, who offered not only a higher jump than most (14,000 feet), but we also got nearly 60 seconds of free-falling with views of the Great Barrier Reef before we landed safely on the beach. Both our instructors were incredibly upbeat and positive, constantly making jokes and keeping the mood light which made the whole experience extra enjoyable. And my instructor even let me steer our parachute solo which was an awesome experience!

Day two we tackled another big jump: bungee jumping from 164 feet at AJ Hackett Cairns. Despite having just fallen out of a plane less than 24 hours earlier, both of us shared the sentiment that bungee jumping seemed much scarier than sky-diving. And it definitely played out that way. I think it was having to walk up several stories of stairs to get to the ledge that made it much scarier. You could see just how high you were getting, knowing that you were going to have to willingly jump off. Meanwhile, with skydiving everything was so small from the plane it didn’t even seem real, and any second thoughts you were having didn’t matter because the instructor made the jump out of the plane.

Because of a special going on when we booked our jumps, we each got to jump twice for the price of one. However, after my first jump I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to handle a second! For everyone’s first round, you have to complete the original swan dive. But for your second jump (and any other jumps), AJ Hackett is unique in that it has a bungee jumping “menu” where you can choose from 16 different styles of how you want to jump off the bridge, from riding a BMX bike, to going completely nude, they literally let you do it all. My brother was braver than I and took his first jump like a champ, which meant he qualified for doing the roof jump, which was an additional 12-15 feet higher (estimate) from the original platform. And instead of jumping off, they put you in a full harness so that you could run and launch yourself off, carrying your own rope. After the screams from my first jump, they absolutely would not have let me do that one. But after calming down a bit, I did work up enough courage to go for my second time (which even surprised the workers if that tells you anything) and I opted do the “pendulum” jump, where they lower you down backwards and then drop you. You would think it would have been scarier, but in fact it was much easier to do since I didn’t have to look at the ground and someone else got to drop the rope instead of me convincing myself to jump. Matt and I both agreed that our second jumps were much more fun than the swan dives, and turned the experience around.

Our last big adventure involved swapping our bird’s eye view for an underseas perspective, and jumping into the wide blue ocean waters of the Great Barrier Reef. As the largest coral reef in the world, diving there has always been a dream of mine and it was everything I hoped it would be! The water was incredibly calm and clear so visibility was perfect. The corals were bright and abundant, there were incredible looking fish swimming right in front of us, and our guide even showed us Nemo hiding in the anemones.

Looking back on all the photos and videos it doesn’t even seem real that we got to do so much in just one week! I accomplished more on my bucket list in that short time than some people get to in a lifetime. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have had such amazing opportunities :).

Have you guys done (or want to do) any of these things? Which one was the scariest and which was your favorite? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

<3 Ash

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Too Faced Love Palette || Review

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Too Faced always has the most amazing releases, and their Love Palette that came out earlier this year was another product that surpassed all expectations.

The palette includes 15 shimmer and matte shades with a beautiful array of colors from pale pinks to bronze golds. There are significantly more shimmer shades than there are mattes, but I feel the distribution works well given the particular colors that were chosen. I love Too Faced created a palette with very wearable shades that aren’t just a variety of neutrals. Now usually I tend to wear only nude and neutral colors, so it’s nice to have a palette released with an assortment of colored shadows that can be easily worn as an every day look without feeling over the top or too flashy. For someone like me who generally avoids really bold eye makeup, I feel the color choices are brilliant.

Another perk about the palette is that its design has the colors already organized, making it easy to choose which shadows will pair nicely to create a full eye look. However, the shades also flow easily between sections making it equally as easy to mix and match the different shades together. I feel that the wide variety of warm and cool shades also makes it an eyeshadow palette that’s perfect for every season. The palette also comes with a large mirror, a waterproof eyeliner, and a card with various eye looks you can create if you need a little inspiration.

I’m always impressed by Too Faced products, and this one was no exception. It’s the perfect palette to add more color to your eye makeup look without having to try anything too bright. I definitely think this is a must-have product!

<3 Ash

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Brisbane Botanic Gardens

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I have always had a bit of a green thumb thanks to my aunt and grandma always encouraging me to help in their gardening when I was little. Now I’ve grown up with a great appreciation for flowers, green plants, and the beauty of nature, so visiting the Brisbane Botanic Gardens was a must-do since I first arrived in Australia!

The day was perfectly overcast making it a lovely temperature for some light walking in the afternoon. There was a wonderful assortment of flowers and plants, from tropical assortments to plants native to Australia. One of my favorite sections was the Japanese Garden, which was a beautifully serene area with delicate blooms, quiet waterfalls, and several bridges and benches so you could explore and view the area from every angle. I also loved their “Kitchen in the Garden” section where they grew an assortment of herbs and fruit trees to encourage people to rethink the traditional uses for their lawns to make them more practical and beneficial to your everyday life.

Albeit winter currently, it was only slightly chilly when I visited so I settled on tights, a tee shirt dress, and my trusty converse since I’d be doing a fair amount of walking. After buying my last mustard colored dress (which you can find here), I fell in love with this unique shade and purchased another dress in the same color. And I’m a firm believer that Converse go with anything, so I had no reservations on pairing them with the dress. I only added a few accessories, my sunglasses and a pink gemstone necklace, to keep the look flirty but still quite casual.

At the end of the day we walked up to the Mt. Cootha lookout that’s at the edge of the Botanic Gardens to enjoy a beautiful scenic view of the city at sunset.

Dress: Boohoo

Necklace: Charming Charlie

Sunglasses: Target

Have you spent some time in nature yet this summer?

<3 Ash

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Sydney 2016 | Outfit Diary

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On Quinn and I’s recent trip to Sydney I thought I would try something a bit different and document our activities with a mini outfit diary. We ended up having a lot of fun with it and I’m quite proud of how it turned out! Over the course of three days we toured the Sydney Opera House, took a scenic ferry ride around the harbor and under the bridge, explored the Sydney zoo, and enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at Bondi beach. Since we were only there for a short bit, we tried to get in as much of the touristy things as possible to make the most of our time. My favorite was probably the Opera House and Bondi Beach; I would’ve loved to spend more time at both of them!

The weather was a bit chillier in Sydney than it had been in Brisbane (as it’s currently winter in Australia and it’s even colder in the South) so I chose my outfits similar to how I would dress in autumn or winter in Los Angeles. I opted for lots of layers because during the daytime when the sun is shining it’s a comfortable warm temperature, but at night it got quite cold. Overall though, the weather was definitely in our favor and I’d return to Sydney in a heartbeat if I got the chance!

Here’s the link to my video so give it some love!

Be sure to like the video and subscribe to me on YouTube {SimplyAsh & SimplyAshVlogs}! 🙂

And leave a comment if you want to know where any of my outfits were from!

<3 Ash

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24 Hours in Brisbane, Australia

The last two weeks were very exciting for me, as after four months of long-distance Quinn finished up the semester and came to visit me for my birthday! The first few days he was in town we took a trip to Fraser Island, which I wrote all about herebut once we returned back to my house in Brisbane I decided I wanted to spend a full day showing him around the city. Since he was in town for nearly two weeks we took a more leisurely approach to the activities, however, our time in the city inspired me to adapt our itinerary so that anyone could use it. After making a few tweaks, I think I’ve created the perfect plan to spend 24 Hours exploring everything that the beautiful Brisbane has to offer!

Start the day by having an early breakfast at Pancake Manor on Charlotte St. As the name suggests, this cute 24/7 diner is known for their deliciously filling pancakes of every variety you could imagine. It’s definitely worth getting out of bed for!

After breakfast, take a short stroll over to the Queen Street Mall and enjoy the beautiful weather while you shop at Brisbane’s most popular shopping centre. The outdoor mall hosts over 700 stores and has everything from small tourist shops to luxury brands so there’s bound to be something for everyone.

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When you’ve finished shopping, follow Queen Street to the Victoria bridge and cross over into the South Bank Parklands. Here you can enjoy a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane, take pictures at the famous Brisbane sign, admire the scenic views across the river, and stroll under shining archways intwined with beautiful pink flower blossoms. When you reach the heart of the Parklands you also have the chance to unwind for a bit in Brisbane’s man-made beach that overlooks the city.

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For a more affordable lunch option, choose from one of the many takeaway cafes in South Bank like Burger Urge or Cactus Republic. And for dessert, stop into Max Brenner for a brownie sundae, some mouth-watering fondue, or a deliciously rich, thick Italian hot-chocolate. You’ll thank me for that one later ;).

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From the South Bank station, catch a bus to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. A trip to Australia wouldn’t be complete without an encounter with one of these fuzzy creatures, and Lone Pine is the only sanctuary in all of Australia that allows you to hold one up close. When you’ve had your daily fill of cuteness, then take the short bus ride over to the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and enjoy some scenic nature before walking to the Mt. Cootha lookout to enjoy some of the best views of Brisbane at sunset.

Finish off the day by eating at the British- style Pig ‘N’ Whistle Pub in nearby Indooroopilly. Enjoy a nice steak or some pasta with wine while enjoying the lively atmosphere. And for dessert, I highly recommend the panna cotta! And with that, you can retreat back to your hotel with a full belly and a happy heart. 🙂

<3 Ash

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