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22 Sep 2014

One of the things I love most about Instagram is that it exposes me to plethora of amazing online stores. (“I mean, I know that sounds bad, but whatever.”) I’d say a third of the accounts I follow are simply rockin’ babes who showcase their amazing handmade gear on Instagram to advertise their online business, such as stores on Etsy or ShopCartel.

Enter Di Depux.

I discovered Despina of Di Depux about a year ago, through one of the candy-haired tattoo models I (also) obsessively stalk on Instagram. The necklace the model was wearing was a gorgeous laser cut piece that spelled out ‘Best Day Ever’.

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Needless to say, I was hooked immediately.

I’d toyed with the idea of a custom necklace for ages. Simple, gold calligraphy? A plated bullet, complete with inscription? Nay. My motto (well – one of several) is ‘go big or go home’ – so naturally, I finally decided to click through to the Di Depux online store and chose the most ludicrous, OTT design imaginable.

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I ordered a custom laser-cut necklace that reads MJ Valentine (complete with lipstick and a kiss) and a pair of small laser-cut rainbow earrings, which are so unbelievably sweet I could die. I’ve had so many comments and questions on both pieces already!

From my initial query (“Can you do pink-on-pink? With a gold chain?”) through to the final stages of the order (“I know I only placed my order two days ago, but can you please tell me when it might arrive?” [forget the fact is was coming fro GREECE]) Despina was 100% exceptional. She answered every question gracefully and always responded to my queries within 48 hours – even though she was on holiday at the time!

The package arrived one chilly day in August, and I opened it with paramount glee. A glimmer of neon pink through the wrappings – and then -

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The care that Despina takes to ship her jewellery is phenomenal. The box was carefully packaged and the jewellery padded with tissue paper to ensure it was safe throughout it’s considerable transit. The quality of the pieces is evident – the necklace was made exactly to my specifications and the earrings appeared exactly as they did on her website. The posts on the earrings are very sturdy and the rainbows are very lightweight, so I have no fear of them snapping off.

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If you’re in the market for a custom-made piece of badass jewellery, I implore you – go and check out her store. I can’t sing Di’s praises highly enough.

And guess what – she has a special offer for all you Valentine babes! Up until the 30th of September, just mention my name in the comments of your order and she’ll send you a freebie! How amazing is that?!

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I plan to rock my necklace at every client meeting I take. Thankyou so much to Despina of Di Depux – I will be purchasing from you again for sure. <3 #kawaiibitch

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*This is not a sponsored post. I purchased these amazing treasures with my own hard-earned moolah!  

You are hereby cordially invited to join the most BADASS club on the inter-web, hosted by none other than yours truly!

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Welcome to Club Magic: a badass gazette for real-life magic makers!

I’ve toyed with the idea of a newsletter for months. A way to offer all my lovely, magic-making babes a little something extra, a special thankyou for those committed to our message and determined to manifest joy in their lives, and the lives of those around them. The trouble is, most newsletters are spammy, boring as shit, and totally engaging.

This is not just a newsletter.

GET IN ON THE GOOD STUFF

 Image by Nick Klau

Club Magic is a secret army of champagne drinkers, a tattooed tribe of sex appeal and awe. We are the strong, the fiercely independent, the celebrators of joy and champions of the underdog. We are the twirlers, the dancers, the geeks and the star gazers. We are the livers of love and makers of magic – and there ain’t a thing they can say or do to bring us down. 

Club Magic is a way to stay connected, learn new mad skills and never miss a beat of the happenings here at mjvalentine.com. It is, basically, the most badass gazette on the net for true seekers of joy and madness.

You’ll receive an edition of the Club Magic gazette at the end of every month. Not only will you get a lightning-fast recap of all the good stuff on the blog, but also exclusive recipes, giveaways, makeup tips and tricks, snapshots, updates and all kinds of crazy-cool things! By the way – did I mention it is 100% FREE?!

Sound good?

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The first edition will be out at the end of September – you don’t want to miss it, believe me!

Welcome to the club, babe. We’re so excited to have you.

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Hey there gorgeous friends!

I spent yesterday morning with Nate’s Mum at a beautiful old cinema in Adelaide. We went to see a showing of Andre Rieu’s famous yearly June performance in Maastricht, Holland. Maastricht is Rieu’s hometown, and each year it is lit up like a fairy tale as his orchestra serenades thousands with jubilant, haunting spectacular performances. The stage is set like something from a dream, complete with coloured ball gowns and tails… the whole time, I couldn’t get the image of Anastasia’s fantasy ballroom out of my mind.

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It may come as a surprise, but I truly love orchestral music. I sat in the theatre yesterday bawling my eyes out, aria upon aria – the costumery, the emotion, the colour… it all just gets too much for my little Geminian brain to bear.

After the show, I started thinking about other things that it may surprise some people to know about me. I try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to sharing stuff with you all, but I’m sure there are a few fiddly little details I’ve missed! So, without further ado, here are some other things that (I’m pretty sure) you may not know about MJ Valentine!

1. I absolutely, totally, 100% hate baked beans. The texture, the weird sauce, the smell… ew! Ew, ew, ew. Even the sound of the can opening makes me want to retch. When my siblings and I were served baked beans as little kids, I would protest and wail that I hated them, always to be told I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until everything was eaten. While I did (and still do) truly care about the starving children in Africa, I’d mentally apologise to all of them before stuffing the horrid little chunks of goo into my mouth, running to the bathroom, spitting them into the loo and flushing, before returning with the utmost innocence to the table. They say your tastes mature as you get older, but I swear – I’ll die hating baked bean. Yuck!

2. I 100% believe in online dating. I met my first boyfriend via a pen pal website in 2003 and after chatting to him both online and on the phone for four years, I flew to London to meet him in person. I don’t know whether it’s the excitement of speaking to someone who is 100% objective about your life, or the lure of unrequited romance, or what – online dating is a fantastical world no longer reserved for the ‘friendless’ or socially awkward. I have many friends who participate on Tinder, eHarmony and the like and despite the ridiculous stigma that still surrounds online dating, I think it’s wonderful. While my relationship didn’t last, the memories and the confidence i gained in that time will sat forever. I flew to the other side of the world at eighteen to chase a dream I eventually woke up from, and I don’t regret a single second.

3. I have major complexes about my body. This might seem ridiculous, because obviously a) I’m a girl, b) I champion self-confidence and c) I’m a girl, but it’s true. I struggle every day with my idea of ‘the perfect body’ and feeling as though I’m not good enough to go into certain stores or buy certain clothes. Strangely, blogging has forced me to come to grips with this issue in so many ways – like volunteering to have my picture taken, or model shoes and bags for Clutch Those Heels. I hate the fact that I feel like in order to be successful, I also have to fit in with society’s idea of the perfect body – even though this is constantly changing. It’s like begging for punishment, really. Both of my sisters are slender, fit and gorgeous and this plays on my mind continuously – but I suppose it’s just one of the inadequacies that I’m slowly over coming, and I think it’s making me a better person.

4. I hate reality TV. Australian Idol, X Factor, Survivor, Next Top Model, Masterchef, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser – I hate them all. I find them scripted, false, common, sensationalist … but what I hate most of all is that they feed on failure. Someone has to be voted out. Someone has to lose. People pretend to be friends before turning on each other and ripping each other to shreds for entertainment value. I really, really hate it and I disagree with every principal. The only show that comes close to my appreciation is The Block, because nobody gets ‘voted out’ – but in the end, all their hard work, their vision, their passion, their labour of love comes down to a monetary value. Perhaps it’s my bohemian tendency, but I believe that the money you earn isn’t a true representation of your passion and hard work. (Hello – full-time blogger. DUH.)

5. I drink. A lot. I’m no Billie Holiday, but it’s pretty rare that I’ll go to bed without having a glass of wine, or go to lunch and skip the bubbly. I know that I’ve gone through phases in the past where alcohol has fuelled a lot of negative thinking – I used to drink to drown problems, pick fights with ex boyfriends, mull over various woes with friends and get myself to sleep. While that’s not the case any more, the fact is that I do love – and appreciate – a great glass of wine, cocktail or a really, really good scotch. I make no apologies for this anymore – I am twenty five, after all, and entitled to my youth – but I know I drink more than most of my friends, and I’m trying to find a line to toe.

6. I am terrified of the dark. I am twenty five and still have to sleep with a ‘night light’ – being, a light on in the hallway, or my bedside lamp (at least until Nate gets home). My great-grandfather-in-my-mind, Albus Dumbledore, once said ‘It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.’. True. Even though I know what’s in the dark – kitchen, snowboard, TV, bathtub, desk, computer, bed, shoes, mirror – I still feel a terrifying, inescapable void every time the light goes out. I’ve always been afraid of the dark, but my fear multiplied times a million after I saw Paranormal Activity. I know it’s crazy, but I had to share a bed with someone- anyone – for six months after I saw that film! Even now, when Nate is at work late and I’m alone in bed, I can just imagine the flicker of the bed sheet over my feet, an invisible, darkness-loving demon caressing the cotton and preparing to savage- no, no. I have to stop. I’m working myself into a state.

7. I once aspired to be a jazz singer. Throughout my five years of highschool, I participated in six choirs, four bands and as a soloist on countless occasions. In year eleven (at sixteen years of age) I decide that all I wanted to do was go to the Conservatorium of Music at Adelaide University, where my revered vocal coach was the head of the vocal unit. I worked countless hours, refining my techniques, hanging on to every word my teachers spoke, listening to recording after recording of jazz greats. Until, halfway through year twelve when I was seventeen, everything fell apart. It was at that time I decided that I needed to go as far around the glob as possible from home until I’d start coming back again; this is part of what landed me in London. I don’t sing at all anymore, and to be honest, music has generally lost it’s appeal for me. I don’t hate it, but I don’t really miss it, either.

8. I live and breathe gay rights. in 2013 I was selected by the company I worked for to attend the Midsumma Queer Culture Festival in Melbourne. The weeks that followed my acceptance into the program were hilarious. I had countless people ask me if I was a lesbian, or if I was moving to Melbourne, or if I was only going to get a pay rise. The answer to all three was of course no. To me, GLBT culture is a wonderfully expressive, spectacularly colourful celebration of life and love. As someone who has friends and family that identify with the GLBT lifestyle, I see  GLBT culture as an incredible way for social groups to integrate. You don’t have to be gay to be a supporter, and I will march on to prove our point until I die.

9. My family is spread out across the entire country. I was born in Sydney and lived there till I was nine. Almost my entire extended family still lives in New South Wales, along with a few of my closest friends. We moved to Adelaide, South Australia, just in time for me to start year four. I travel back to Sydney whenever I can (though admittedly, a lot less than I used to). My parents separated when I was seventeen, and my Dad lived in Adelaide for a while before his career took him to Perth – the other side of the country! He travels to Adelaide to see us once every two or three months, and we always have a ball. He and my mum still have a fantastic relationship, so really, I haven’t missed out anything. I’m  just lucky to have such an amazing family (especially when it means I can jet set all over the country to see them!)

10. I’m an awful photographer. This is probably in the top ten things that bloggers should never admit to their readers – but there you go. I’ve just never been able to get the hang of photography, despite the countless articles I’ve read on snapping the perfect shots. I use an ancient (read: circa 2008) Sony A300 DSLR that I like to blame for my sub par shots – but really, I have a pretty poor understanding of light, composition and all the other bells and whistles that make up awesome photos. Not to mention, I’m terrified of Photoshop and have really only started dabbling with it in the past couple of months through my study. Thank god for Picmonkey is all I can say!

So, there you have it! What interesting little tidbits about yourself would you like to share?

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It’s all good and well for me to spout the benefits and joys of living with love and making magic, but without actually seeing my shit in action, it’s almost impossible to see how wonderful life life can really be.
I thought it might be fun to have a chat to some real-life magic makers over the next few months – namely, some of the superbabes I’ve met through blogging, makeup and general mischief making. To kick off the party, I (virtually) sat down with the gorgeous Natalie from Extra Large As Life, which is one of my favourite Australian fashion blogs! Natalie and I met back in November 2013 through Blogcademy, and I can tell you from personal experience she is one of the sweetest, friendliest, coolest chicks I’ve ever met. A true real-life magic maker? Absolutely!
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Tell us a little about Extra Large As Life. Why did you start your blog?
I started blogging on Livejournal back in 2001, but later moved on to my first blog, which was called ‘Oh! I dazzle?’ in 2007. It originated as a public way to keep my friends and family up-to-date with what I got up to when I moved to Adelaide from Sydney. I started getting people loving the fashion and from there, I decided to open ‘Extra Large as Life’ in 2009 – a plus size fashion and lifestyle blog.

Why do you think it’s important for women to empower each other?
Women are spectacular creatures! I think supporting and encouraging other women needs to be done more. So many women seem to find joy in bringing others down to make themselves feel better, when on the whole, I think we need to show support. Can you just imagine what we could do if we all supported one another?

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What does ‘live love, make magic’ mean to you?
Try and make the most of each day & find joy in the small things. Be kind and pass on a compliment or two, it’s easy to do and it can make another person’s day. Follow your passions, listen to your heart.

Finish this sentence: Living love means … surrounding yourself in positive energy & making the most of everyday.

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How do you make magic in your everyday life?
I make sure to spend a small amount of time to myself everyday, to sit and reflect. To think about things and visualise where I want in my future. I also love to spend time playing with my cat Tonka, its amazing how much joy it can bring interacting with an animal.

When do you feel the most lovely?
When my hair is freshly blow-dried and I’m wearing a pretty dress.

When do you think your magic occasionally slips?
To be completely honest, the start of my periods. It is one time when I find it hard to stay upbeat and positive. While I KNOW it’s just hormones and such, it doesn’t stop those negative thoughts creeping in.

What is your favourite way to get out of a rut?
I try and have a nice long relaxing bath, before a really good nights sleep. I then make sure I set my alarm for a reasonable time, with my favourite song, and start the day with a goal in plan.

natalie4What song should be on every magic maker’s playlist?
The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf

Tell us why living love and making magic is so important:
Life can be hard, and it does get you down. I believe sometimes you need a day or two to yourself to give in to yourself, but living love and making magic helps keep you on track. Having a motto to think of, or follow, helps motivate you. It’s a reminder to yourself to make the most of every day. 

I told you. Total megababe. I just adore Natalie – her positive outlook and rockin’ bod make for one phenomenal style blog!

If this ain’t enough Natalie for you, go check out her blog, or catch her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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15 Sep 2014

It’s MONDAY! And a wet ‘n’ wild Monday, too, by the looks of the sky outside my office window. Isn’t it meant to be Spring?! Boo!

What better way to procrastinate your day away (you’re allowed to do this occasionally, especially on Mondays, and ESPECIALLY when I have a tonne of goodies for you) than with the latest edition of Netfix?

  • While this post is targeted at cake bakers and decorators, I think Michelle has put down some great thought on feeling inadequate in business. Worth a read if you’re an entrepreneur who finds yourself struggling!
  • I thought Alex’s post on living with a negative partner was really interesting
  • Donut collar tips? YES.
  • I was SO ELATED to hear this news – I’m thrilled for Kat as well as super excited to see this gorgeous piece of art on shelves (albeit UK shelves) soon – Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride print magazine is coming to stores, and I hope it’s only a matter of time before this badass babe takes over the world
  • I am so in love with Gabrielle Bernstein at the moment. This guide to connecting with your spirit guides is really, really interesting and totally up my alley – check it out

“Once is the beauty of the burnished, eroded and erudite. A palette inspired by the gentle and exquisite point when a flower starts to fade and becomes impossibly beautiful in its complex decline. Combined with the subtle opulence of faded gilt layers that reveal themselves the more you blend and search. She is an incandescent moment, a poem alive and a light within a pallet of decaying decadence.” Alex Box, Creative Director for Illamasqua

  • I loved this piece on how to fuel creativity offline (thanks Pearl!)
  • I’ve really been enjoying #runwithlisa … although I do need to get out again and give it another crack! You can read all about it here (and see if you can spot yours truly!)
  • I shared this Jenna Marbles video on my personal Facebook page, because I literally could not stop laughing. I swear, this chick can do no wrong…

  • A sweet and simple reminder from Gabi that it’s okay to take a break
  • I’ve got Halloween on the brain right now – what better way to plan our Halloween party than over a salted caramel pumpkin latte?
  • Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere has some awesome advice on starting your own business. Plus, she is a total babe
  • Yes, I am already looking forward to Halloween – and have been thinking nonstop about my Halloween outfit! I love the idea of a Mexican sugar skull look… like this one by Nicole Guerriero

Well, that’s about all from me on this chilly Monday – let me know if you like the links!

I have a special guest on the blog tomorrow, so be sure to keep an ear out… I wonder who it could be…?!

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