Sunday, 22 April 2018

This and That...

this week.

The Princess and I did a bit more work on clearing her room. The Cowboy said her room now looks like she could "up and go at any moment". I have been cleaning, doing laundry, sorting, pottering and fluffing.

Crown Lynn Fashion Rose jug and Hibiscus from my garden
It's school holidays. Enough said :-)

My order from Book Depository arrived. There is nothing like the smell of new books. I am reading the April book for the online book club I joined. The book is Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi and I am obsessed with the story. It is the story of the African slave trade and follows 300 years of a family, from the African slave trade side and the Amercian slavery side.It's horrifying, thought-provoking and makes you question the humanity of mankind. It is a challenging read for me because of the many characters and settings but I have stopped worrying about recalling what I have read and just going with it. Fortunately, it has a family tree at the front of the book which I refer to when I get muddled.
The Cowboy and I been binge watching Designated Survivor on Netflix and now eagerly await the weekly release of each new episode. We have been talking about if it is really like that in the White House or maybe it is the White House staff trying to corral President Trump!
I also started watching Rita, which I can't recommend enough, especially to my teacher friends. I am so not a Rita teacher but kind of wish I was! Disclaimer - not every aspect of Rita's life though haha

My poor Cowboy has been so sick and miserable with a horrible head cold thingy.
The Cowboy's boy came for dinner after work on Thursday, which is a weekly event. He showered here and I laughed when I saw how beautifully he had left the monogrammed towel I gave him as part of his 21st birthday present. If you are stuck for a gift, go for monogrammed towels!
The Princess went to the Halsey concert on Thursday. She looked so cute wearing a denim pinafore. Naturally, she wouldn't actually let me take a photo of her wearing it! She laughed when I told her I was so happy she didn't look skanky haha She came home with this bright yellow hoodie, isn't it such a happy colour.
It is not the Princess but it is her denim dress/pinafore from Factorie and her happy Halsey concert hoodie. The white lump in the mirror is the Princess - hiding - grrrrh

Some of my uni/teacher friends came for lunch on Friday. I made a Chelsea Winter Self-Crusting Spinach and Feta Quiche. Really, really good despite me forgetting to take it out of the oven once it had cooked! The prep time is 15 minutes or in my case one hour!

If alternative living fascinates you, check out Jinti Fell on Instagram and YouTube. Jinti, her husband and little girl lived and travelled Australia in a van, a very little van. They are vegan, into Yoga, meditation, self-development, carbon footprint and beaches. They are currently living in Bali. I love watching Jinti on YouTube, her voice is so soothing and she radiates inner peace and good health. Aspirations (not living in a little van though!)

My hairstylist, yes I have had my second haircut in a year, put me on to this L'Oreal hair product. I call it "Spray Away the Grey", it is a serious game changer for short people like me who always have adults and children looking at the top of their greying head - haha.
I am also obsessed with this L'Oreal Sugar Scrub. The colour is kind of offputting. NZ people, think Karitane Yellow! Oh, my goodness, it is so good, I am using it every second night and my skin is super soft and looks brighter. BTW, I am not a die-hard L'Oreal product person but recently good things from them have come my way!
We have been out for coffee and necessary supplies including ice cream and wine.
The Cowboy is watching motor racing.
The Princess is in bed watching something.
I am here, drinking herbal tea and blogging. I'm also clock watching. Very, very soon I am going to pour myself a big fat glass of red wine.

Thanks for reading.

p.s This little girl cat thinks this bedroom is hers. She does kind of suit the decor!

Friday, 13 April 2018

L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime - My Review

Sometime last year I joined and in December I was lucky enough to be chosen as part of the trial team for the new L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime. I was sent four full-sized products to trial and write a review on how they performed during the 4 week trial period.

I am still using these products so thought I would share my review with you.

THE REVIEW - January 2018
I was immediately impressed with the packaging of  L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime which is very luxurious and high-end in appearance. The products are showcased in silvery/purple metallic boxes, gold script and red accents. The actual product packaging is equally luxe, with the day and night cream being in heavy glass jars topped with silver/purple metallic lids. The serum is in a glass pump bottle and the eye cream in a tube.
The serum is silky in appearance and easy to apply requiring one or two drops depending on skin dryness. It promises to reduce wrinkles, tighten pores, even and firm skin. On first applying the serum I found the fragrance to be off-putting, reminding me of men's aftershave.  However, I like this product and my skin appears to have improved in evenness and does look firmer.
approx $50NZD
I found the moisturiser to be very thick and heavy in appearance but light to touch. It promises to improve skin’s quality, fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet. It also promises to firm, increase denseness and give the face a redefined look. It states to massage for better absorption. When I first started using the day moisturiser I was impressed with the overall improvement in my skin, however, as the days became hotter, I struggled to use this moisturiser let alone massage it in. It slides around my face and ‘sits’ on my skin. It has reduced the improvement I first experienced when using the range. This moisturiser would possibly be better suited to a drier skin rather than the normal to oily combination of my skin.
approx $45NZD
Like the day moisturiser, the night cream is very thick and heavy with a smooth consistency, hence the ‘mask-cream’. It promises by morning your skin will look new, smoothed and tightened. It will visibly reduce wrinkles and repair, re-texturise and transform skin. In performance, it massages well and immediately leaves the skin feeling incredibly soft and smooth. Until I started having problems with the day moisturiser, my skin did look great in the morning.
approx $45NZD
This is the star of the range! It is a lovely lightweight eye cream, easy to apply by using the cooling metal doe foot applicator. It promises to smooth the skin around the eye area, reduce bags and refresh the look of eyes. It promises to reduce wrinkles, firm, tone and lift the eye contour area. My crow’s feet are definitely less defined and smoother looking and my eye area does seem firmer. I love this product and will be re-purchasing!
approx $45NZD
Overall, L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime is a good, affordable skincare range for mature skin. I have been using the range for four weeks and despite problems with the day moisturiser, I have experienced an improvement in my skin tone and smoothness. My skin feels plumper, firmer and looks brighter. The crow’s feet around my eyes are definitely less pronounced. Now if only it would fix the groves above my top lip! 

UPDATE - April 2018
Since I first started using L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime in December, I feel my skin has improved in tone, texture, evenness and brightness. I am still using all four products including the day cream which I persevered with. It definitely performs better now, which I think is partly due to the cooler weather. I have repurchased the serum and am about to repurchase the eye cream. I love it! There is about half of the product left in both the day and night cream, a little goes a long way.

In New Zealand stockists of L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime are Farmers, The Warehouse, New World, Pak N Save and Countdown.

You can read other reviews at and if you want further information you can also check out L'Oreal Paris here.

And finally - no filter, no foundation, photo evidence of my 53-year-old skin after using L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime for 4 weeks.

January 2018

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Where it's at...

2017 panned out to be the crappiest of years. The Cowboy and I, and both our families had some really traumatic stuff happen. It felt so good to kick 2017 to the curb and start afresh!

Family things aside, the year passed in a blur of appointments and therapists, routines and exercises, binge-watching Netflix shows with the Cowboy and not remembering what I had watched the night before, discovering makeup videos on YouTube and finding it strangely soothing watching people apply makeup, good days and bad days and just life.

This year has been crazy busy so far, especially the month of March, where we had birthday celebrations for what seemed like all month long, including the Princess turning 15 and the Cowboy's boy turning 21. 

My cricketing Cowboy in batting form.
The Cowboy himself plays cricket (not for Australia - haha) and for the last year or so has been practising hard and talking a lot about getting his match fitness up to par. He really loves it, but oh my goodness I never realised what a dangerous game it is. He always seems to be bruised, I'm talking massive bruises, sprained, torn, twisted or 

broken in or on some part of his body. Anyway, he is currently away for the week with his team, the 'Never Weres', playing in the 'Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018' cricket tournament in Christchurch. He is having a lot of fun but the injury reports being texted to me are increasing on the daily. 

This girl, who hates her
photo taken, turned 15!
It is really strange being home alone. We realised I have never been in this house alone. In saying that, there are some things I am really enjoying such as the free reign of the TV, the towels remaining straight in the bathroom and closing the windows and curtains when I want to. The Princess comes home from her Dad today and the Cowboy comes home on Sunday and I really can't wait to see them both. 

From dark furniture and a gallery wall
to white, bright, clean lines.
We have slowly been working on turning the Princess's room into a sophisticated teenage girl room. This has involved sorting through her belongings and passing things on that she no longer needs or has outgrown, stuff she has had since at least 4 years old! She does not have a hard time letting things go whereas I can find sentiment in anything!

How can I part with it,
it has sparkles and fur!
I have also been working on sorting my wardrobe out my Mum will be pleased) and seriously culling my clothes. I have things in there that date back to pre-Princess that I am struggling to part with. There goes that sentiment thing again or is it just hoarding tendencies? 

I'm making some really good progress with the Post Concussion Syndrome thing. While I'm still symptomatic when I leave the house, my tolerance is far greater and once I adjust to a new environment and am not too fatigued I cope well. 

What's really nice is people at school telling me how much better I look and seem. That makes me happy!

This happened as I was in the process
of finishing this post.
At home, I think I function really well (the Cowboy disputes some areas of this)but I'm doing more and more even if I still stuff the online ordering up, mess up recipes I shouldn't and do really weird things with the coffee machine. I even did some gardening over Easter weekend, it felt so good to be out there giving the hydrangea bush a savage haircut.

I really don't have hair
but I did have to 'arrange'
my fringe for months.

Speaking of haircuts, I had one! I desperately needed it because at some point of last year I had cut my own fringe, not pretty and my hair had gotten really long. The hairdresser told me it at been 11 months and 24 days since my last haircut! 

This year I've had day trips and longer trips away to some of my happy places. At the end of January, we went to Rawene which is a four-hour drive. I was desperate to go to my stepfathers birthday party so we did it! I have also been to Mary Thistle's farm - twice, one of which was to celebrate her birthday. So good!

Port Waikato on a wild and windy day.

My little people loved this writing activity,
the title had huge appeal!

The best thing is that I am back at school parttime. Very baby steps to start with. I'm working with children who struggle to write, a bit like me at the moment! I love feeling like a teacher again and working with small people. It is great to sit in the staffroom and have conversations that are not about me!
Some other things I have achieved are reading books, doesn't matter that I can't remember what I have read, I can read without feeling ill. I am drinking again, that sounds bad, what I mean is having a glass of red wine here and there which does not seem to impact on my condition. Bubbles on the other hand... I have ventured into the supermarket and shopping malls but find it is still a pretty nasty experience. 

Beauty out on the driveway
Things I want to do desperately are DRIVE MY CAR! And, read magazines, there is something about glossy paper and the magazine page size that is still really unpleasant to look at. I really want to go into shops and try clothing on instead of buying online and then returning because they look bad on me. I also want to go shopping with the Princess. I want to be able to do needlework, I've tried to hand-stitch a hem and I can't seem to coordinate my eyes and hands to make nice neat stitches. My hem looked like something a toddler had sewn. 

Mindfulness at work
I have started journalling after receiving this beautiful journal for Christmas (thank you again, you!) and really trying to become more mindful by better looking after myself physically and spiritually. 

Just this week I joined an online book club and I'm waiting for my book to arrive from Book Depository. I'm hoping the discussions will help improve my comprehension and communication skills. You can find the book club here if you are interested.

All in all, life is definitely on the up!

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Post Concussion Syndrome update

Quite a lot has happened since I last posted in terms of my Post Concussion Syndrome recovery and life in general.

I have made really great progress with regard to my recovery. When at home my symptoms are somewhat minimised with the biggest issues still being fatigue and headaches.

The symptoms are tripped when I am out of the house. I still can't go into a store without instantly experiencing nausea, dizziness, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound and being unbalanced when I walk.

Cognitively, I am able to articulate my thoughts without forgetting what I am saying and my thinking is a lot clearer but I still find it difficult to concentrate and my short term memory is still impaired. I can read using my phone or IPad but find screens bigger than those a problem and still find it difficult to read magazines, books, recipe books, instructions and newspapers.

My lack of concentration means I only hear half a story and the short term memory means I forget what I have been told and ask for the same information over and over or repeat myself. It must be so annoying for other people!

I thought I had adapted to reading information by locating key words in the text, which is such a teacher-y thing to say. However, this strategy is not fool proof,

my online shopping deliveries are a testimony to this:
  • Tea towels that arrived dishcloth size.
  • Jumbo marshmallows which were a jumbo bag, not the giant ones I wanted.
  • An oversized mixing bowl which is a giant sized bowl, so big it doesn't fit in a cupboard.
  • Random food items in the grocery order that I didn't mean to order.
Oversized bowl and undersized tea towel
The treatment I am still having is:
  • Occupational Therapy - involves walks, shopping, cafes in order to overcome sensory issues.
  • Neuro Physiotherapy - involves walks, ocular-motor exercises, pilates, water resistance exercises in order to overcome visual/brain issues and balance.
  • Psychologist - a weekly session to deal with the emotional impact of Post Concussion Syndrome.
  • Acupuncture - to manage fatigue, nausea, and headaches.

The medication I still take is:
  • Codeine - headaches  
  • Ondansetron - nausea
  • Melatonin - sleep/headaches
  • Amitriptyline - sleep/headaches
  • Escitalopram - emotional - this is not new medication
  • Neurofen - headaches 

I am really hoping I can start back at school part-time before this term ends. I also want to drive my car, read a book, drink wine, visit my parents in Rawene, my brother in Cairns and my bestie, Mary Thistle on her farm in the Waikato.

I'm grateful for being able to complete a painting (almost).

Frida Kahlo inspired painting
Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Post Concussion Syndrome Therapy

I have to use this 4 x per day, 5 mins a time, keeping my BPM around 90
2 different sets  of ocular exercise 4 x per day 
more ocular exercises 4 x per day
Having Post Concussion Syndrome has given me a newly found appreciation of the health care system in our country and how lucky we are to access it.

My therapy is funded by ACC and managed by a personal Case Manager. My Case Manager is incredible, she has a great understanding of concussion and the recovery process. She makes sure the process is as stress-free as possible for me (stress hinders concussion recovery) and is genuinely interested in how I am.

My therapy is managed by the ABI Rehabilitation Clinic. My Occupational Therapist liaises with my ACC Case Manager, my GP, and my school while working with me.

Here is a list of the professionals involved in my therapy/rehabilitation:
  • ACC Case Manager - approves funding for therapy, services, equipment, and income.
  • Occupational Therapist  - fatigue, activity planning, vocational
  • Neuro Physiotherapist - dizziness, balance, oculomotor
  • Psychologist - emotional
  • General Practitioner - overall health, medication
  • Medical Specialist - diagnosis, medication
  • Muscular Physiotherapist - neck pain/stiffness, headaches
  • Acupuncturist  - dizziness, nausea, fatigue neck pain/stiffness, headaches

Until very recently, each week I had the following:
  • Two physio sessions 
  • Two acupuncture sessions
  • One Occupational Therapist session
  • One neuro physio session
  • One psychology session
and sometimes a doctor visit.  I am very lucky as the OT and Neuro Physio visit me at home. I finished physio last week but the rest are ongoing at the moment.

In addition, ACC also provides me with:
  • Taxi Service
  • Home help
ACC have also provided equipment to help with therapy/rehabilitation:
  • Exercycle
  • Laptop Stand
  • Key Board and Mouse
Since the accident I have taken the following medication:
  • Tramadol - whiplash/headaches - no longer take.
  • Codeine - whiplash/headaches  
  • Norflex - muscle relaxant - no longer take.
  • Ondansetron - nausea
  • Melatonin - sleep/headaches
  • Amitriptyline - sleep/headaches
  • Escitalopram - emotional - this is not new medication
  • Neurofen - headaches 
You can see how comprehensive it all is and how very consuming!

We really are so lucky in our beautiful country to have access to such comprehensive health care services.

I am grateful for the therapists involved in my rehabilitation.

Thanks for reading.
Rachael xo

PS. sorry about the awkward photos - it became too hard to crop and shop them to look pretty!

Monday, 19 June 2017

The face of Concussion

The face of concussion
from Mary Thistle
from Shana
from Marty and Ana

Since I'm sitting here with a wheat bag on my neck and shoulders (actually that was now 3 weeks ago!) I thought it would be a good time to talk about the symptoms I have from Post Concussion Syndrome.

The following  are the symptoms I suffer from:
  • Headaches-daily, always a band around my head that gets very tight if I have to concentrate on something. I also get sharp stabbing pains and cold chills in my head. These are called ice pick headaches.
  • Fatigue- my energy levels are very low and a simple task such as making a couple of coffee exhausts me.
  • Nausea-at first this was constant however now only if I'm in a car, very tired, moving my head if looking at a screen and some of my therapy exercises - ha!
  • Balance-my balance is off, especially if I get up too quickly or turn too quickly, then I will overbalance and lurch when I start walking.
  • Dizziness-this is connected to my balance and focus, the room spins, slowly but it is really debilitating and often adds to the nausea. It seems like my world is always moving, literally.
  • Light sensitivity-my eyes are very sensitive to direct sunlight, car lights, and artificial lighting such as in shops. When I'm outside I wear a big straw hat or cap and sunglasses. I wear sunglasses in my therapists' offices and the few cafes and shops I go to.
  • Sound sensitivity- certain noise sounds like its drilling into my skull such as birds chirping, electric power tools, some voices and laughs. I have earplugs that I can use to filter out the noise. 
  • Sleep - despite the fatigue I suffer from insomnia and very vivid, exhausting dreams. I have medication for this.
  • Disconnection-when I'm out in the shopping centre or cafe I have a disconnect with what is around me, it feels like there is a thin glass sheet that separates me from the rest of the world.
  • Sensory overload-I can't go into a shop and look for particular items on shelves because I can't filter out what I don't want to see or need to see. The overload makes me feel very dizzy and nauseous
  • Memory and concentration-I have problems with my short term memory and concentrating on conversations and simple tasks if they are not for short periods of time.

I don't have all of these symptoms all the time, it very much depends on what I am doing.  For example, the headaches mostly depend on what I'm doing and how much I have to concentrate. The sound and light sensitivity is mostly when I'm outside of my home. If I don't move my balance is fine (obviously) and the room spinning is minimised.

You can see there are two sides or aspects of Post Concussion Syndrome, the physical and the cognitive.   Obviously, the physical symptoms make me feel unwell especially on days where they are intensified. The cognitive symptoms prevent me from functioning really well when trying to complete tasks and really impact on my ability to be a teacher at the moment.

I am lucky I have a team of therapists and support people who work with me  to manage these symptoms on a day to day basis as well as working on reducing them. In my next post, I'll talk about my therapy and what life looks like for me at the moment.

Hopefully, this post is helpful in understanding the complicated facets of Post Concussion Syndrome.

You can find more information here:

I am grateful for my Mum who was recently here for a week and cooked, cleaned, shopped, drove and kept me entertained. Love you, Mummy.

Thanks for reading,
Rachael xo

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Upside Down

flowers from my school
sweet Get Well notes from my students
The Cheesecake Shop yummy treat from my Pip, my classroom neighbour
part of rehab is gentle soothing activities
these two are very happy with the current situation
On March 10, I had a car accident. A guy who was texting while driving in the middle of torrential rain, think Cyclone Danielle, ran into the back of me. It wasn't a big hit but it did move my car forward and my seat slid backwards and forwards on its runner. I was looking in the rear vision mirror, watching him approach, knowing he wasn’t watching. The Princess was sitting in the passenger seat, I flung my arm across her to protect her. The guy who hit us didn't get out of his car so I got out of mine and got his number plate while standing in torrential rain with cars everywhere. The Princess didn't want me to get out because she was worried about my road rage haha.

The lights changed to green and we carried on. In fact, I went through McDonald's drive-through getting the Princess dinner, picked up a bottle of red wine and Pad Thai for the Cowboy and I. Apart from a burning sensation on the right-hand side of my back I felt fine.

The next morning I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck, not a car. I felt so bad the Cowboy took me to a Doctor who diagnosed whiplash and concussion.

Since that day I have not been back to my job as a teacher.  I have a range of symptoms that are isolating and debilitating.

My life has been turned upside down, my days during the week revolve around different kinds of therapy.

One of my therapists suggested I start a gratitude journal as I quite often feel sorry for myself even though I try not to. I have a list of things I'm thankful for and lucky to have in my life such as the Cowboy who is looking after me exceptionally well, my beautiful Princess, my family and my friends.  I'm thankful for my school supporting and a health system rehabilitating me.

I thought I would use my blog as my gratitude journal and blog my rehabilitation journey. It might also be helpful for other people experiencing the same journey.

I make no apologies for the style of my writing, grammar and punctuation, anyone with this condition will understand how hard it can be to communicate.

Today I am especially grateful for technology that allows me to sit here and talk at the screen and let the iPad do the typing for me.

xo Rachael