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 :-)


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.


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


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.


One of the cherry blossoms stirs.


A daffodil bud.


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.


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.


Zeph and Saffy get on very well.


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



English Pointers, well male ones it seems, love to crouch down and lie in wait. For what I’m not sure but, in Zeph’s case, he was waiting for Saffy – the world’s boldest foal, who is no longer a foal but rising three.

The weekend was pretty gorgeous. A bit cool but a lovely bright blue, sunny day. So I decided to bring all the horses up to the stable area for a jolly good grooming session. My horses were looking more like mud people than equines, especially Miss Rosie who loves a roll in the mud.

I groomed for what seemed like hours. No matter how much I groom, the next day they’re covered in mud or have twigs tangled in mane or tail.

Saffy decided she wanted to explore. I let her off the halter to do this. She doesn’t run around wildly or flee back to the paddocks. She loves to spend time with me or, better yet, just have a good old explore. She was fascinated by the pile of wood near the tack room and the door leading into where we keep the wood.

We recently cut down about twelve staggeringly tall Eucalyptus trees and the wood is temporarily outside the wood shed. Saffy approached, sniffed, touched the wood with a front hoof. Then she slowly approached the door area and looked in. She got a bit of a fright – at what I’m not sure – but stood her ground and then gingerly stuck her head in the door.

I watched quietly as I groomed Miss Rosie and then noticed Zeph was very intrigued by what Saffy was doing. They get on very well although Zeph can be a bit active for Saffy sometimes. When she gets tired of his puppy-like enthusiasm, she pins her ears back and chases him.

Saffy then disappeared around the other side of the tackroom and Zeph decided to take up his lying-in-wait position. He does this when he’s stalking birds or chickens (which I hasten to add are faster than him and get away). When Saffy came around to greet me and Miss Rosie, Zeph zoomed towards her. She looked down on him as if thinking silly small creature. I then decided to trim all four horses and they now have lovely pedicures.

You wouldn’t know it this morning though, the horses are mud people again.


Saffy sticks her head into the wood shed – what’s in here she wonders?!


Zeph lies in wait!

Wow: another package has arrived from Croatia – chock full of makeup. Rosana and I “met” in an online beauty without cruelty group and we’ve exchanged several packages over the last year. New Zealand makeup and skincare is in high demand, so I send her gorgeous moisturisers and cleansers. Last package, I also included some makeup from Australia.

In this latest package, Rosana sent all Essence products. I first saw this brand whilst working in Italy and noticed the affordable but quality makeup message of the brand. I’m pretty sure it’s a European brand but don’t know anything about its origins. They have a website but don’t seem to offer online shopping.

The really irritating thing is that Farmers (NZ department store) has started to stock Essence but only in the North Island. They tell me they have no plans to carry it at Farmers in the South Island. Makes no sense to me – I think Kiwi gals would love to lay their hands on this affordable brand. Meanwhile, I have Rosana!


Can’t wait to use the Nude eyeshadow palette!


I facilitated a workshop in Christchurch this week. Finally, getting some consulting work in New Zealand. To tell you the truth though, I’ve been more than happy to work overseas in Italy and Bhutan. Why? Because for YEARS I was locked into full-time jobs and could never take up the opportunity to work for a short time in another country. In the late 1990s, I was offered a great job in the United States and would have lived in my fav American city, Boston. At the time, I was enjoying a great job in Australia and my mother was living on her own – so I turned the job down. Have often regretted that decision I must say but the timing just wasn’t right.

As much as I love working overseas, I have to admit I get tired of airports, airport security and the long hours stuck on a plane. Not to mention, I miss Zeph and Zsa Zsa terribly and my horses. So when this local consulting opportunity was offered, I snapped it up.

I facilitated a workshop attended by engineers, architects, developers and some local residents. The project discussed was a mixed-development area along the lines of an Italian piazza or city square. It was a great day but what I really enjoyed was the venue – Ilam Homestead. Talk about a gracious old building in a majestic setting of azalea and rhododendron gardens!

Ilam Homestead was originally built in the 1860s but burnt down in 1911. Local identity, Edgar Stead, established the wonderful azalea and rhododendron gardens. When he sold Ilam to Canterbury College, he requested that the gardens be maintained in perpetuity. The University Staff Club (University of Canterbury) occupies the premises as well. There’s a huge fireplace downstairs and wood was crackling away as I left the homestead around 5.00pm. Such atmosphere! In 1994, Ilam Homestead was used for Peter Jackson’s film, Heavenly Creatures, starring Kate Winslet.

I had to get to the venue pretty early so the photo below shows you the homestead on approach. I can just imagine how grand it would have been to live in such a stately home, which I’m told was built in the English Domestic Revival architectural style.





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