Whoa! Not sure where to start to be honest. I haven’t done an empties post in some time, so I have a LOT of stuff I’ve finished up. Let’s ferret through the trash!

Cleansers. I polished off the final bottle of the DermaE Vanilla Bean Cleansing Mousse: Age-Defying Facial cleanser. I like this cleanser despite the very strong vanilla scent. I had two bottles of this American brand cleanser, enjoyed using them but won’t get another one. Why? Because I’ve found my holy grail cleanser. I also knocked off another tube of South African brand, Justine, Balancing Gentle Face Wash for Normal Combination skin. You can read a previous review here. I have one more tube to go, then I’m done with this product. I don’t dislike it but it’s just meh.

I finished up a cleanser and toner from Oasis Beauty. After trying some samples, I bought a full-size bottle of the Chamomile Cleanser and really liked it. But wouldn’t you know it – it’s been discontinued. I loved the subtle smell but it wasn’t effective at getting off all the makeup, so I used it as the first cleanser in a double-cleanse regimen. I also finished their Fig and Grape toner for normal to combination skin. REALLY liked it as it was gentle and didn’t strip the skin. But…also discontinued. I might get round to trying the new range of stuff from Oasis Beauty but, for the moment, can’t be bothered since they discontinued these two items.

Skincare and exfoliators. I finished up a tube of NZ brand, Skinfood, Light Moisturiser. New Zealand has great skincare brands and Skinfood is very good. I really liked this moisturiser as it’s light-weight and contains peach oil, manuka honey, avocado, elderflower and marshmallow extracts. I would certainly buy it again. I also tried out Yes to Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturizer with SPF 30. This is my first Yes To product and I liked the refreshing feel and that it’s petroleum, SLS and paraben free. I will buy again once I’ve polished off my current moisturisers. I FINALLY finished The Body Shop’s Wise Woman Vitality Serum – I have to admit I’ve had this for quite awhile. I really wasn’t excited by it and I think there are far better products from The Body Shop.

I knocked off more NZ  skincare. Well, one I couldn’t finish up due to the fragrance; WAY too overpowering for me. This was the Linden Leaves Miraculous Facial Oil with organic white tea and organic rosehip oil. Honestly, I expected more of this facial oil. It was hydrating but I didn’t see any obvious results and I really didn’t like the smell of the oil. I’ve not tried anything else from Linden Leaves and, given this experience, I won’t be rushing off to try other stuff.

Another bottle of the Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover is gone. I’ve been through countless bottles of this extremely effective and gentle eye makeup remover. It never fails. For the moment, I’m giving it a rest as I have discovered The Body Shop’s Camomile Gentle Eye Makeup Remover – talk about a wonderful product. It doesn’t irritate the eyes and it gets off every bit of stubborn eye makeup.

Also gone is Eau Roma Water from LUSH. The 250g bottle seemed to last and last and I’ll certainly be buying another one once I’ve knocked off my rosewater toners. Eau Roma Water contains lavender and rosewater and is a delight to use. Soothing and refreshing.

Finally, a moisturiser sent to me from CroatiaAfrodita Cosmetics Hydra Thermal Natural Mineral Water Hydra Active Concentrate. This is an excellent product containing natural Hyaluron, beta-glucan, aloe vera and jojoba oil. Very hydrating and lightweight.

Oh wait, finally – another brush for my Clarisonic. This is a deep pore cleansing brush head. I’m now using the Sensitive brush heads but either is great for exfoliation. And speaking of exfoliation, I polished off a tub of Let The Good Times Roll by LUSH. This is a facial cleanser that smells divine: a bit like a caramel doughnut with a dusting of cinnamon. I don’t use my Clarisonic on the nights I use this LUSH product. I’m pretty sure it’s now part of the permanent LUSH collection, although I can’t find it on the NZ website. Should I be worried?!

Hair stuff. More cans of Batiste dry shampoo – two cans of Wild with the leopard print and I tried out the Tropical scent. REALLY liked the coconut whiff of the Tropical shampoo but I favour the oriental scent of Wild. The problem with Batiste is that a can doesn’t last all that long; I seem to go through them fast. So I’ve swapped back to No Drought from LUSH. It’s really easy to fluff some of the lemon-scented powder through the hair and it gives good volume. Easier to travel with too.

Two volumising sprays were finished up. Firstly is (or was) my Holy Grail – David Babaii for Wild Aid Bohemian Beach Spray. I say was because it seems to have been friggin’ discontinued. No sulphates, parabens or nasty petrochemicals in this spray and the pina colada scent was fantastic. I’ve been through too many bottles to count over the years but now can’t find it. I’ve seen references on some websites to it being discontinued. If so, this is very sad as it was a great product. I’m currently trialling L’Oréal Paris Elvital Volume Collagen Root Lifting Spray – it’s okay, does the job but not as good as the David Babaii product.

I also used up the Sei Bella Hot Iron Prep Spray from Melaleuca. Not worth talking about, meh.

Body Oil and deodorant. All gone is The Body Shop’s Shea Beautifying Oil. LOVE and already onto another bottle. So many ways to use this delightfully scented oil: chuck it in your hair the night before washing it; use as a body and hand oil; slick a tiny amount onto dry hair for a lustrous shine.

For years, I’ve used a natural crystal deodorant with no aluminium. I saw a spray deodorant from Aussie natural skincare brand, Sukin, and decided to try it. It’s aluminium-free and does have a very subtle, pleasing fragrance (a blend of tangerine, mandarin and lavender oils). I very much liked it and would consider repurchasing but I like the ease and convenience of a simple crystal stick.

Shower gels. It took me about four months to get through a huge bottle of Rose Jam from LUSH. Rose Jam is limited edition and released at Christmas time or Christmas in July. The main ingredient is Rose Absolute from Turkey but it also contains Egyptian geranium oil, Sicilian lemon oil and vanilla. I can’t tell you how divine this shower gel is. When Christmas in July products became available online here in NZ, I snapped up two more bottles. By far my favourite shower gel.

I also finished the last bottle I’ll ever buy of St.Ives body wash. It was the Creamy Vanilla Moisturizing Body Wash and it was indeed creamy with a subtle vanilla scent but….it contains nasties like Sodium Laureth Sulphate.

Mascaras and more. So many mascaras finished up! Another Dr Hauschka volumizing mascara in Black. This is a holy grail mascara for me – great for sensitive eyes, never clumps and glides on like a dream. Only drawback is that it’s expensive in New Zealand (around NZ$47.00-50.00), so I normally buy it off Strawberrynet where it’s a little less expensive.

I also finished up my first ever Laura Mercier volumizing mascara in black. To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact name as it was a gift with purchase thing. It was an okay mascara, nothing sensational. What is sensational is the Essence I Love Extreme mascara in black, which was sent to me by my Croatian blogging pal. In fact, she’s sent me about six Essence mascaras, so I have a good stockpile. I love the fat brush and how it plumps up the lashes.

More mascaras knocked off were Innoxa’s Lash Define in black. I think this was my third or fourth tube. It’s a wetter mascara but I like how easily it glides on and makes the lashes look long. I also used up a deluxe size mascara from Korres, the Greek brand. This was the Provitamin B5 & Rice Bran mascara in black. I’m a fan of Korres but not of their mascaras; I find them too dry and this one was no exception.

I’m tossing a bronzer from Pur Minerals. I’ve had this for ages and I can’t tell you what it’s called as the labelling has worn off. It was a bit too crumbly for my liking and colour payoff wasn’t that good. So it’s tossed along with a Revlon Diamond Lust eyeshadow. Again, really ancient and no idea of the shade. But I can tell you there was an awful lot of glitter happening. No idea why I bought it in the first place.

Soaps and hand stuff. I’ve found a fabulous soap – Fringe Studios Black Peacock bar soap Mulberry Lily. The packaging alone is amazing with a beautiful white peacock against a black background. The Mulberry Lily fragrance is wonderful and the bar is creamy and moisturising. A bit pricey here in New Zealand at $NZ15.00 per bar.

I knocked off yet another bar of my favourite Pearl natural sandalwood soap from Fiji. Although this soap also comes in English Rose and Gardenia scents, I stick with the Sandalwood as I’m a sucker for anything sandalwood. These bars are enriched with 100% pure coconut oil and they have no animal fats or sodium laurel/laureth nasties. The soap bar fits snuggly into the hand unlike another soap I finished off – Castabel Laranja Orange Fragranced Soap from Portugal. My Portuguese mother-in-law gave me many soaps last year and this was one of them. The bar is HUGE and isn’t easy to hold on to in the shower. But who the heck cares because it is the most wonderful soap – creamy and with the most seductive orange blossom smell. Lasted for ages too.

Then we have a bar of Neutrogena Facial Cleansing soap. I don’t actually use this for the face; I just like it as a shower soap. It’s a transparent soap I remember from my childhood, although I think the soaps back then were glycerine soaps rather than the Neutrogena one. I buy a bar of this soap when I see it because it’s gentle and effective.

After two years, I finally finished a small tube of hand cream from Marks and Spencer. This was given to me by an English colleague I worked with in Rome. It was okay and I was determined to use it up. I much prefer hand cream from Neutrogena or Aveeno.

A large bottle of hand wash from NZ natural brand, Ecostore, also bit the dust. This was the Rose & Cardamon hand wash and it’s really lovely. In fact, the entire Ecostore range is pretty good and there are no nasty chemicals. I would probably buy this again but I think that Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps are better value. The Castile liquid Soaps come in a large 32oz bottle and can be used as a shampoo, body wash, hand soap, fash wash, dog shampoo and dishwashing liquid. I buy Dr Bronner’s from Vitacost and the 32oz bottle costs around $NZ19.50, whereas if you buy it in Christchurch, it can cost $30.00-32.00.

Toothpaste. Yet another tube of toothpaste with no SLS. This time it’s Red Seal Natural toothpaste with twelve herbs and minerals. Red Seal is a New Zealand owned and operated company and this toothpaste is delightful with its mild minty taste.

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Tomorrow, September 1, is officially Spring!! Yeehah! Winter hasn’t been all that bad really. We’ve had a couple of nights with wet flurries but no huge dump of snow. Temperatures haven’t been icy cold either. In fact, Winter has been pretty mild. It’s just that it has seemed looooooong.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa are spending more time outdoors. When it’s cold, you’ll find Zsa Zsa, in particular, under a fleecy blanket or two or Zeph in front of the fire. The last couple of weeks though, the days have been so sunny and bright – Zeph has been sunbaking during the day, lying on his pet bed outside in the sunshine. Zsa Zsa spends her days chasing butterflies and sniffing the cheery daffodils that are popping up all over the place.

The horses are already shedding their winter coats. When I groom Saffy, tufts of blonde hair fly around and all the horses are enjoying morning sleeps in the sun. Every time I look at Saffy, she has a ray of sunlight shining down on her. Spring favours such a pretty horse angel.

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Spring shines down on sweet Saffy!

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The dogs are spending more time outdoors.

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Cheery yellow Daffodils are springing up all over the property.

 

 

Zsa Zsa would like to update her concerned followers. She recently told you about a weird spot or lump that had appeared on her nose. Out of the blue. At first, it bled (which alerted her human to the situation) and had a crater-like appearance. About a week later – during a course of antibiotics prescribed by the vet, who thought it was an infection – it seemed to be larger and more raised. It also looked like it was filled with liquid.

The human (that would be me) decided to research and found out what else it could be. Canine wart was high on the list of possibilities. Then again, it could be an infection and it was taking a bit of time to clear up. Given that Zsa Zsa always has her nose in a bale of hay, it’s possible that a sharp piece of hay pricked her nose.

I had my bets on the canine wart (which is very common with dogs) and found that boosting the immune system is a first line of attack. I also found that Thuja Oil is an alternative treatment because warts may also be caused by vaccinosis or a reaction to vaccinations. Zsa Zsa had her annual vaccination in late April. Thuja Oil contains northern white cedar and arbor vitae, which means “Tree of Life” and it is recommended to give your pet a dose of Thuja Oil within two hours after a vaccination.

So I gave Zsa Zsa 5 drops in her food morning and night for the first week; then dropped it back to once a day in the second week. Shortly after the end of week two, I saw a DRAMATIC difference in the spot. The lump was now flat and much smaller. This was also three weeks after the antibiotics, so I really don’t think they did a thing. Now, in week three, you can barely see the spot and fur is growing back.

English Pointers are also prone to skin conditions and Thuja Oil may help with redness and eruptions. I put Zeph on the oil too and I haven’t noticed an outbreak until last Friday when they went to day care. A couple of female Pointers were in season apparently and, because Zeph has all his bits, I suspect that his teenage hormones get the better of him. He comes back a little red in the groin area. We have found that Aqueous Cream soothes the area and, by the next day, the skin is pink rather than red. But I don’t want to use this cream too much as it contains SLS. Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulphate (aka SLS) are nasties and you can read about why here.

I’m going to experiment with a combination of Thuja Oil and ground golden flaxseed (also known as linseed). I put a tablespoon in their dinner every day. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which boosts the immune system.

For those who follow this blog for Pointer information, I’ll take some photos of Zeph’s bits (non-porno ones hahaha!) to show you how his skin can flare up. Meanwhile, Zsa Zsa is extremely happy that she is once again the world’s most beautiful female English Pointer and not looking as though she has a witch’s nose full of warts!

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Click on the photo to enlarge. You can barely see the spot now. It’s flat and the fur is beginning to grow back.

Poor Zsa Zsa. About three weeks ago, I saw her running around the property with a bleeding nose. She always has her nose stuck in the hay barn, so I thought that her nose had been pricked by what can often be sharpish bits of hay. I kept an eye on it but I thought it was getting bigger, growing.

So off she went to the vet who considered it to be an infection. Something lodged in her nose with inflammation in the area. She spent 10 days on canine antibiotics but I saw no change or improvement. The lump wasn’t getting larger but it wasn’t disappearing either.

I spent time researching and concluded that it could be a wart or cutaneous papillomas, which is the result of a virus and a weakened immune system. What can cause a suppressed immune system I wondered? More research. And it seems that the vaccinations that are given to dogs may be linked to canine warts as the dog reacts to the vaccination (called Vaccinosis). Zsa Zsa was vaccinated in April of this year. The virus itself is also quite contagious and can be passed on through pets sharing dog toys, greeting each other and so on. So she could have caught it at doggy day care. Young dogs are susceptible to dog warts due to their immature immune systems and Zsa Zsa is three years old.

The vet told us that if the antibiotics didn’t work, then it would need further investigation. I had visions of Zsa Zsa having some sort of biopsy that might only make things worse in the vet’s enthusiasm to diagnose. So I decided to try a combination of natural remedies  – Thuja Oil and boosting Zsa Zsa’s immune system. I dispensed 5 drops into her food (breakfast and dinner) for one week, then dropped this back to once a day in the second week. I also ground up about a tablespoon of golden flaxseed (linseed) and chucked that in her food. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which boosts the immune system. Twice a day, I rubbed Thuja Oil or Vitamin E oil on the spot. I bought Vitamin capsules that you can cut open and get the oil.

During the first week, I saw a change: the lump itself was not as raised as it had been the previous week. By the second week, the lump was flat and decreasing a bit in size. Hair is now growing over the spot and I am hoping that it is a wart I’ve managed to treat with alternative remedies. Zsa Zsa will keep you updated :-)

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The spot on the day Zsa Zsa went to the vet. You can see what seems to be a hole in the middle of the spot.

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Just as she finished her 10-day course of antibiotics – the lump looked to be raised and about the same size.

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Ten days into treatment with Thuja Oil, Vit E and flaxseed. The lump is no longer raised or rounded. And hair seems to be starting to grow back.

 

 

 

It’s in the air. Spring. Well, this week we’ve had a bit of a cold spell but, mostly, Winter has been pretty mild. No huge dump of snow. Just two nights of wet flurries that painted the landscape snow white the next day but quickly melted with the appearance of warm sun.

Spring in the Southern Hemisphere starts on September 1st and that’s just two short weeks from now. Some cherry blossoms are already in bloom in Christchurch and, the other day, I found one of our cherry blossoms awakening, as well as daffodil buds appearing. This is my favourite time of year on the property. It seems we have long Winters and you get sick of the rain and overcast days. Mind you, in Canterbury we can get cold, frosty mornings followed by beautiful, bright blue sunny days – so I can’t complain too much.

It’s the anticipation that I savour. Of seeing the pink and white pastel cherry blossoms abloom; spring lambs leaping about on the neighbouring property; canary yellow daffodils bobbing their pretty heads; and the general feeling of rebirth. It’s approaching.

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One of the cherry blossoms stirs.

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A daffodil bud.

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The large cherry blossom in the front garden usually waits until October to unfold in all its glory.

 

 

Remember I told you recently that I’ve quit sugar? Well, I don’t actually have sugar in tea or coffee but there is so much hidden sugar in food these days – we are all eating far more than we should. Especially if, like me, you don’t mind the odd cake or biscuit.

I’ve been cooking from five cookbooks that feature recipes with no sugar. The sweet stuff is substituted with agave syrup, rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey. But even these ingredients have too much sugar, so I usually ditch them. Some days it’s really easy to go without anything sweet; other days, not so easy.

This week will be a challenge as it’s El Hubs’ birthday. He has requested a birthday cake with no sugar and I’m planning doing some sort of coconut or carrot cake. Not majorly exciting but it’s the gesture that counts isn’t it!

I regularly whip up bread that uses almond meal as a substitute for flour. Wheat is the most common base for flour and modern wheat has a little something called gliadin protein that is addictive. Wheat is even called an opiate these days, so I’m trying to steer clear of it.

Not having toast for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch forces you to get creative. I make my own muesli that contains dessicated coconut, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cashews, almonds and chia seeds and I prepare almond or coconut milk from scratch. For lunch, I often whip up a batch of sunflower crackers or a loaf of bread to have with some cheese and salad. A favourite bread is chia and flaxseed.

So I’m progressing quite well with the no sugar, no wheat thing. I’m even eating dessert at nights – like apple crumble or vanilla custard. Plain stuff my mother and grandmother used to whip up and I’m enjoying the less rich food. I’ll get a photo of the cake I will bake for El Hubs but, in the meantime, here’s my fav chia and flaxseed loaf.

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Nothing much is going on dear reader. Well, we did get 14 enormous Eucalyptus trees trimmed to half their size a couple of weeks ago and that makes us feel a WHOLE LOT better. The trees were looming over the stables. The previous owners planted dozens of wretched Eucalyptus trees – I guess for firewood – but they had grown to enormous size by the time we arrived from Australia to live in NZ.

We’ve been here close to five years now and, every time there is a strong Nor’ Wester, we worry about how many trees will come down. The last strong winds took down a massive tree – you can see the ginormous root system in this post. We lost some willows and a lovely chestnut tree in that wind blast.

Over the weekend, we had super strong North Westerly winds and a day of rain. The winds had been huffing and puffing for a few days but Saturday was particularly bad. We hadn’t slept well for some nights due to the sound of windows and the roof rattling. Several people I spoke with suffered from the same lack of sleep and a touch of anxiety over trees coming down. At least we weren’t worried about those trees over the stables. Fortunately, nothing much happened – just a few large branches came down here and there.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa don’t like going out in the wind, so they lounged around inside most of the time. Saffy seems to love the wind. Whilst the other horses turn their backs to the wind, she boldly faces it. Her mane flies everywhere, she closes her eyes and firmly plants her four chunky hooves into the ground. There is a ton of shelter for the horses in the area they are currently grazing – trees and macrocarpa hedges. Nothing that is in danger of crashing down on them but, for some reason, they don’t always take advantage of the shelter.

Sunday night was eerily quiet. Too quiet. We wondered what was going to hit next. And then, Monday morning was bright and sunny. Zeph and Zsa Zsa ran to the arena to play and there was Saffy waiting for Zeph. They get on extremely well and when I school Saffy in the arena, they often touch noses and chill together. Zeph wanted to play with Saffy but she just wanted to sleep in the sun and have some quiet time after all that windy racket.

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Zeph and Saffy get on very well.

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Zeph wants to play but Saffy prefers to enjoy the sun.

 

 

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