Things are pretty busy at the moment. We are waiting for the birth of Zeph’s puppies. More on this in a later post. I’m a bit nervous given the last time. I’ve also been busy at local markets selling our T-shirt range and soaps. I’ve designed our website and that should be up around April/May. I know I haven’t told you much about all this before – 2014 was all about getting the business name trademarked, working on our T-shirt designs and supply and getting an agreement with our soap manufacturer in Bhutan (100% natural soaps).

Meanwhile, we’ve been having glorious sunrises with vibrant apricot, pale yellow and mauve tinges. Just had to show you but the photo doesn’t really do it justice.

IMG_4061

We had a wonderful next-door neighbour in Australia – Jenny. She later moved to the Cessnock area and we kept in touch with her. In fact, when we left our house in April 2010, on the way to moving here, we spent the night at her new house before going down to Sydney. Jenny had a poodle called Winston. I didn’t think he’d still be alive but was a bit shocked to hear how he might have gone. She let him out to go to the toilet early one morning and he never returned. She suspects a large hawk carried him off as many lambs had also gone missing in the area.

So it was with great excitement that we welcomed her last week for a four day visit. She adored Zeph and Zsa Zsa – I mean, who wouldn’t?! – and loved the peace and quiet. She’s now on a two week bus tour of the North and South Islands.

Before dropping her off at the hotel, we took Jenny around Christchurch and to Governors Bay. We were THIS close to buying a property in Governors Bay but I’m kind of glad we didn’t. The area took a hit in the February 2011 earthquake and, during Summer, the roadway into Governors Bay can be busy.

The scenery though never fails to take your breath away.

IMG_4012

I’ve been powering through products and have a lot to tell you about. I’ll categorise as best I can.

LUSH stuff: Snow Fairy shower gel – pink, sparkly and bubble-gummy. You know I love it and will always repurchase. American Cream Conditioner. Love this vanilla and citrus-smelling conditioner. One of my favourites and will always repurchase. Feeling Younger Skin Tint. You want glowing skin? You use this product. A little pot of pearlescent wonder. Will repurchase. Jackie Oates Colour Supplement – a light and soothing base for fairer skins. Evens out skin tone and is very buildable. I will repurchase once I’ve finished up my Natio BB cream.

Shower stuff. Apart from Snow Fairy, I used up ANOTHER Nivea Natural Oil. I thought I only had one left. Nope, it appears I have another three. A delicate, pleasant scent but it takes me just one week to use up. I won’t be buying any more.

Body Shop stuff. I’m a great fan of The Body Shop (TBS) and I finished up a serum from their Nutriganics range. It’s called Drops of Youth Concentrate and is targetted at the first signs of ageing. I’m WAY past that but the sales assistant I usually chat with said it’s for any age range. REALLY like this serum although it is a little thick and I sometimes had problems with the pipette clogging up. Wasn’t enough to detract me though. I saw a huge improvement to my skin – looked clearer and firmer (although could be my lively imagination). I’ve already purchased another bottle.

I also finished up the matching eye concentrate, which has a roller ball applicator. Very handy tube for travelling but I thought this product was a bit meh. I like a thicker eye cream although I did find the coolness of the roller ball very soothing to the eye area. I think for the price (which was around 50 bucks from memory), I was expecting more product and a better-performing eye cream.

Vanilla Spice Body Butter. You know I LOVE TBS body butters and this one was years old – I think from the 2006 or 2007 Christmas collection. Every Christmas, I go berserk over the vanilla spice range (which is now called Spiced Vanilla I think) and I bought about four of these body butters. Because I use the Shea Butter one on a daily basis, the Vanilla Spice was put away in a drawer for safe keeping. Then I forgot about them LOL. I doggedly made my way through one tub during December/January and I never get sick of its cinnamon-y, gingery, vanilla goodness.

Hair stuff. Apart from American Cream, I finished up a Fudge Dry Shampoo. I decided to give Batiste a rest and try something from Fudge. This dry shampoo is very good I must say but what is REALLY annoying is the nozzle. It gets clogged up. Regularly. The scent is a refreshing coconutty smell and it does a good job of absorbing the oils in your hair. A bit pricey at NZ$25.00 (from my hairdresser) so I’ll be sticking with Batiste and Lush No Drought.

What I will continue with though is the Fudge Think Big Texture Spray. Wow. OMG. Great product for giving my hair a bit of oomph. It’s an ultra-fine spray but, again, the nozzle gets clogged up so I have to wash it and make sure the can sits upright. I’ve already repurchased though.

David Babaii for Wild Aid Bohemian Beach Spray. This is a discontinued product. I’ve been mourning its loss and attempting to find a good substitute (I think the Fudge Sea Salt Spray is pretty good but doesn’t have that lovely pina colada scent I so loved). I had a half bottle of the David Babaii spray left and was hanging onto it but….decided it had to go. I used it up. SAD.

Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray. Yeah, it was okay. I hated the spray gun nozzle design. Big and bulky. I also didn’t notice any dramatic effect on my hair, although I admit my hair wasn’t dry to the touch. I might try it again but I’m in no rush.

Moisturisers and toners. I rarely use anything but rosewater as a toner and I finished up the last bottle of Dis-Chem Rosewater and Glycerin toner. Dis-Chem is a South African chain and sort of like Priceline in Australia. This is their own brand of rosewater and the glycerin really leaves my skin super calm and soft. I have now ordered Grade A rosewater from India and waiting for it to arrive.

Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum. This is my first Paula’s Choice product and has intrigued me enough to probably buy some more from the brand. The lightweight serum absorbed well into my skin and I think it did result in a brighter complexion. Is it any better than the TBS serum I used? No, so I’ll stick with TBS and maybe try a cleanser from Paula’s Choice.

Cleansers. Nellie Tier Face Cleansing Oil. This is a New Zealand brand and I use the facial oil with frankincense and rose. Really like the facial oil but hated the cleansing oil. One word: MEH. Well, more words – smells cheap and is a cream cleanser rather than an oil. I tossed it into the shower and used it in the mornings. Refused to waste it but certainly won’t repurchase.

Logona Age Protection Cleansing Foam. I think this is a German brand and I liked this cleanser. Because it’s a foaming cleanser, I thought that using two pumps to cleanse the face would mean that I’d go through it pretty fast. In fact, it lasted for three months and it’s not a big bottle. There was a slightly disagreeable smell – sort of like alcohol – and sometimes my skin felt a little tight. I wouldn’t buy it again although it’s not the worst cleanser I’ve ever used.

Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Hypoallergenic Facial Towelettes. I bought these to travel with. To take off eye makeup mainly. Does the job and the towelettes don’t dry up like old prunes.

Eye creams. Aside from that TBS roller-ball eye concentrate, I finished up a Babor Extra-Firming Eye cream. Luxurious and silky smooth. I bought this at some duty-free store somewhere in the world. A very expensive eye cream so I would not buy it again. I am very happy with my current favourite.

Kiehl’s Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Eye cream. I had a sample of this product and it lasted for a couple of days. I’ve been wanting to try Kiehl’s Creamy Avocado Eye Cream and, if this sample is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be disappointed. This cream was lightweight, absorbed fast and seemed to really plump out those wrinkles.

Foundations. Finished up two – Revlon Colorstay Makeup in 150 Buff and Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation in No. 52 Vanilla. I liked both but would not repurchase either. The Colorstay foundation is the older formula and smells like plastic to me. You have to work very fast to blend because it can dry quickly on the face. Good, long-lasting coverage though. The Bourjois foundation was also good but nothing sensational.

Face stuff. I had a little bit of the Clarins Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch primer left and finally finished it. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this product but it’s currently love. I do think it’s a very good primer even though it seems to slide off my skin a bit. It’s not as silicon-y as the Too Faced Primed and Poreless primer for example and sometimes I’m not convinced it covers the pores enough. Doubt I’d buy it again.

Essence All About Matt! Oil Control Make-up Base. LOVE. In fact, anything from Essence is an instant love affair for me. I have another two tubes of this lightweight gel ready to go. It really helps to cut down on the shine and glides easily under foundation.

Rachel K CC Cream Blemish Balm Original. I bought this at a Watson’s pharmacy in Hong Kong last year. It’s a thickish white cream that helps to balance out skin tone. It’s best to pat into the skin rather than rubbing it (the latter method will end up with a cake face). Really helped to tone down my redness. Will certainly repurchase once I’ve used up my Essence CC Cream.

Art Deco Eyeshadow Base. This is a good alternative to MAC Paint Pot in Painterly. Even though it’s not as thick or creamy as Painterly, the small tub is more travel-friendly and eye-makeup stays put. I think it was around NZ$16.00 and I’d certainly repurchase.

Revlon Colorstay Eyebrow liner in Blonde. I used to go crazy over these pencils but I now find them too harsh. I prefer the powder formula of Essence How to Make Your Brows Wow.

Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer and Treatment cream in Light. Really sorry this great concealer came to an end. I love how it’s in a sleek round case that is very easy to travel with. The concealer itself is a lovely creamy consistency that glides on the under-eye area. Although a tad orange at first, it blends into the skin. I would certainly repurchase as it was a joy to use.

Mascara. Essence Maximum Volume in black. I so love the Essence brand any mascara from their range is good but I do prefer the I Love Extreme formula better. I found the Maximum Volume mascara just didn’t give me plump lashes.

Lips. Nivea Lip Butter in Caramel Cream. The Nivea lip butters are HG for me and the Caramel Cream is my favourite. I use it every night and it took me over a year to finish up the small tin. Smells great. Rich and buttery. Cheap as chips. Can’t ask for more.

Soaps. Another Pearl natural sandalwood soap from Fiji is used up. These bars are enriched with 100% pure coconut oil and they have no animal fats or sodium laurel/laureth nasties. LOVE.

Did not love the Melaleuca Alloy French-Milled Cleansing Soap. Very ordinary, meh.

Other stuff. Toothpaste – yet another tube of a Grants’ toothpaste; this time the Mild Mint. I refuse to use any toothpaste with SLS in it (aka Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Laureth Sulphate). Why? Read here. Australian brand, Grants, as well as NZ brand, Red Seal, are my go-to toothpaste brands.

Deodorant. For centuries, I’ve used crystal deodorants. Like SLS, I refuse to use any deodorant that has aluminium (or aluminum) in it. There’s no need to slap nasty stuff on your armpits when you can use a simple stick deodorant made from a natural mineral salt crystal. One of these crystal deodorants lasts well over a year. Mine was nearly at an end when I dropped it and the crystal smashed all over the bathroom floor. Dang.

Allergy relief. Go-Healthy Go Hista-Calm. I don’t get hay fever now; not since discovering this product. We have three hay fever seasons where I live – September, December and March – and you can literally see all the pollen floating in the air. Around mid-August, I start taking Go Hista-Calm. Doesn’t let me down.

Tossing. I’m throwing out a couple of skincare products. I like them both but just didn’t get through them fast enough and so they expired. Was a bit worried about using them, so it’s better to toss. Both are by Malcolm Harker (NZ brand) – Balm of Apis and Skin Dew. I think the Balm of Apis might have been discontinued – I used this around the eye area and the Skin Dew was a lovely refreshing lotion containing sweet almond, jojoba and rosehip. Nothing wrong with either product and I’m contemplating buying some other products from Malcolm Harker.

Also tossing the Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream. This is the original formula and it just makes my face look like a grease ball. Far prefer the combination skin version.

Sad to say I had to toss an eye balm. It was awful. The Manig Olies Vitamin E Eye Balm comes from a range of New Zealand natural skincare products. It’s literally a balm and I found it super-greasy. Didn’t seem to absorb into the delicate eye area and it whiffed of something a bit weird. I persevered for awhile but gave up the ghost in the end.

IMG_3890

You can see Zeph’s legs in the background!

IMG_3892 IMG_3893 IMG_3894 IMG_3895 IMG_3896 IMG_3898

I have discovered a new oil for sale up in the North Island :-) I’m not sure if it’s similar to Olive Oil LOL.

IMG_3856

I have no idea who Riley is or was but Zeph certainly has the charmed life that Riley supposedly had. Whilst Zsa Zsa has been recovering from her ordeal, Zeph has been enjoying the sunshine. We’ve had amazing weather here. I’m not complaining. Well, I am; it’s been a tad too hot for me, especially at night trying to get to sleep.

For the dogs though, it’s been out and about weather with a lot of snoozing in the sun. We bought them new pet beds for lounging around outside. Zeph decided to steal Zsa Zsa’s and make a double bed for himself so he could sunbake. LOL. The life of Riley indeed.

IMG_3858

In our front yard is a very large, looming flax bush. The other day, Zsa Zsa decided to get stuck in the very centre of it. I think she was chasing a small rabbit and, most likely, there’s a rabbit burrow smack in the middle of the flax.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa often sniff around the flax bush because they suspect secret rabbit business. I saw Zeph peering into the flax and barking, so that told me Zsa Zsa was in there somewhere. I got down on my hands and knees, parted the somewhat sharp fronds and tried to make my way into the flax. I could just see Zsa Zsa’s tail and I heard her digging. She was after something. I couldn’t get her out so decided to see if she would eventually extricate herself.

An hour or so later, she appeared and all was well. Until next morning. I let the dogs out and Zsa Zsa was acting very strangely, sitting on her rump and looking distressed. A quick investigation revealed…..swollen lady bits and a very red stomach.

I actually didn’t put two and two together at first. I was thinking bladder or urinary-tract infection because Zsa Zsa was having a hard time going to the toilet. I got some tepid water and a soft cloth and bathed her, whilst waiting for 8.00am when the vet opened. Best to get her there and nip whatever it was in the bud.

Fortunately, they had an appointment at 9.45am. Zeph came with us and slept in the car. Zsa Zsa was very scared as the vet is not her most favoured of places to visit. After a bit of prodding and poking, the vet pronounced that she had a skin allergy flare up but not sure what had caused it.

That’s when it twigged. We discussed the flax bush incident and the vet thought that this was the most likely cause of her reaction. She was given a very low dose anti-histamine and a few dog treats. She spent the rest of the day asleep on the couch and her swelling and discomfort improved dramatically.

It’s funny. Just like with humans who are sick and like to take to bed with comforts of some sort – Zsa Zsa insisted on sleeping with her favourite fluffy rabbit toy. The only toy she has not destroyed in her career as The Pointinator.

IMG_3853

Following her vet ordeal, Zsa Zsa recuperates alongside her favourite fluffy rabbit and pink blanket.

 

I’ve threatened for YEARS to do two things: write a novel and make goat milk soap. I even got Mabel and her babies with the idea of milking my own goat. But I was always worried about dealing with lye (aka sodium hydroxide or caustic soda). It’s an alkali and when it’s mixed with water, it goes through a chemical reaction and heats up. You have to respect lye and wear protective clothing. I’ve read horror stories about lye volcanos, exploding pots and pans and various injuries.

So I was kind of put off to be honest. No matter what you read, the plain fact is: you can’t make soap without lye. I’ve made melt and pour soap using a soap base and where you don’t have to mess with lye because it’s built into the soap base. But I’ve found melt and pour soaps tend not to last very long. And because you don’t go through the saponification process, I kind of feel you’re not making “real” soap.

I decided to bite the bullet and, back in November last year, I did a soap making course. There were six participants and we all looked a little nervous when it came to the lye part. We survived though and I then went on to make my very first batch of soap, using some moulds I picked up in South Africa a couple of years ago.

I used goat milk and scented the soap with May Chang essential oil and pink colouring. I don’t have a whole range of essential oils yet, so May Chang was it. The whole lye business was easier than I anticipated but I did deck myself out with goggles, gloves, long sleeves and closed shoes. I used coconut oil and olive oil to give the soap a creamy and smooth texture.

Then I put the soap on a wire rack in the laundry to cure for eight weeks. Curing soap needs to be well-aired, turned once a week and preferably left in a dark room (i.e. away from heat or direct sunlight). You can use the soap after three weeks or so, but it won’t last long.

At first, the May Chang scent seemed to disappear but, by week four, I could smell it again. One of the moulds is yellow and the soap picked up a bit of that colour – you can see this in the photo below. I think it’s possible I hadn’t washed that mould since buying it. Oops.

We’ve just started using the soaps and wow….creamy, lather well and they have a very delicate scent. I’m about to purchase some square and rectangular moulds from the States, along with essential oils like lavender and rose geranium. I’ll also buy some carrier oils such as sweet almond, jojoba and sustainable palm oil. My second batch will be lime and coconut – one of my favourite combinations.

When you make your own soaps, you know exactly what goes in them. I love the tinkering around business – planning what scent you want or adding ingredients for an exfoliating bar (such as oatmeal or poppy seeds).

My first batch is (shall we say) rustic-looking and I think they would have looked better if I hadn’t coloured them. But hey, I’ll get better at it as I make more and I might post some recipes this year.

IMG_3770_2

Yeah, my very first batch of soap using lye!

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,105 other followers