Monday 15 July 2019

Skin Deep

Let me take you on a journey of my skin and skincare and how it led to a complete turnaround in what I not only put in my body but also on my skin. It's taken me years to make the connection between the two. Yes, I am a bit slow on the uptake!
Apart from babyhood and early childhood, I've always had shitty skin. The minute I hit pre-puberty I started breaking out. Enlarged pores, nasty inflamed pimples under the skin and blackheads. I was really self-conscious about it, even though my Granny, who had the most beautiful soft, unwrinkled skin (she used nothing but soap and water and Ponds Cold Cream), tried to convince me that her skin too, was like mine as a young person and I would end up being thankful I had oily skin when I was older because I would be less lined for it. Hmmmmm.
As a teen, I used to read Seventeen magazine, which didn't help the lack of confidence I had, short, shy, glasses and bad skin, plus I was a nerd! Anyway, Seventeen magazine was full of advertising, naturally, an ad that stood at to me was Ten O Six Lotion. Does anyone remember it? I saved my pocket money and bought a bottle. It didn't give me the beautiful clear glowing skin that all the teen models had. I used it diligently and if anything it probably inflamed the already inflamed skin! Goodness knows what was in that stuff!
My Mum then took me to our GP, his fix was to have me wash my face using oatmeal soap and a Buff Puff. If you don't know what a Puff Buff is, it's an oval circle thingy with scratchy sides, sort of like a pot scrubber, very abrasive! What a bastard! Another thing he did suggest was steaming, which was to clear the pores and then splash with icy cold water to close them again. I had to do this for 5 minutes every night. My skin didn't clear up if anything it was probably worse, raw from the Buff Puff! During this teen time, a friend and I used to have beauty days where we would give ourselves manicures and pedicures and facemasks with beaten egg whites. I swear to this day an egg white facemask is the bee's knees for rejuvenating and tightening skin!
Next on my journey, was Blackmores Skincare. My Mum gave me a travel pouch of it for Christmas. From memory, it had a cleanser, scrub, toner and moisturiser. It was actually really nice stuff and did clear up my skin somewhat. I remember doing this makeup/beauty course to improve my self-confidence and the lady running in told me I had good skin. Wow! Thanks, Blackmores.
Moving into my early twenties came Shiseido, introduced to me by a friend. Just a cleanser, toner and moisturiser and a facial brush. It felt very glamorous as the range came in beautiful glass bottles with soft green tops. It also smelt divine. I used Shiseido for many years and during this time my skin was under control with the exception of the usual monthly hormonal breakouts and ongoing breakouts on my chin and cheeks.
In my late 30's I stopped using Shisdeo and moved onto Clinique, the Number 3 range for oily/combination skin. Clinique did me well for a fair few years and then it stopped 'working'. Truth be told, I stopped working on being healthy, too much caffeine, too much wine, erratic eating habits, too much stress, not enough water, no exercise, see the picture I am painting here? On top of that my hormones were completely out of whack due to severe endometriosis, so it wouldn't have mattered what range of skincare I was using, good skin is more than skin-deep!

I also became a single parent at the time, so when I ran out of Clinique and it was no longer an affordable skincare option for me I used supermarket brands that were on special, nothing wrong with that BTW or stuff I was given. My skin wasn't great but not hideously bad either so long as I consistently stuck with my skincare routine morning and evening and looked after myself reasonably well.
Three years ago, my skin really turned to crap so I bought a range of Olay skincare after doing their online skincare profile thingy and got back on top of my skin condition. Not long after this, I signed up to be a product reviewer (anyone can) for Since then I have received and reviewed numerous skincare products and ranges, all of which, with exception of a La Roche Posey cleanser and moisturiser, have been L'Oreal Paris. My skin gets really antsy each time I try a new product and I will typically have minor breakouts around my chin of little whiteheads and inflamed underskin bumps which settle down after a week.

With the exception of a couple of products I have since bought, I have continued to use the full-sized trial products until they are empty and because I diligently look after my skin, overall my skin condition has been good, soft and smooth despite the same problematic breakouts. I also have small underskin bumps on my jawline that I have had for a few years. I don't know what they are but want them gone! I think I need to go to a dermatologist or the Caci Clinic or somewhere like. After I have finished funding my dentists overseas trip haha.
At the beginning of this year, I had a complete lifestyle overhaul after visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Cairns and came home with a diet and exercise programme. I have lost a lot of weight, I have so much more energy and I just feel great. I strength train and do a little cardio and pretty much just clean eat, try to drink a lot of water and avoid processed foods.  My skin has also been so nice, in fact, the best it has ever been, aside from that babyhood and early childhood period I mentioned at the beginning of this novella!

I'm now super conscious about what I put into my body and have had a huge shift in thinking about what I use on the outside, and that it should be clean as well. When I started my shop last year it was with the idea of being a one-stop shop for women and part of that was having a skincare line. It has taken a while to find a product that I would personally like and use from a company that I felt good about working with.
I went to the NZ Gift Fairs in March this year, with the sole purpose of sourcing an organic skincare range. It was serendipity really, the first skincare stall I came across was run by a delightful woman who I immediately connected with, she was in my age bracket and had fabulous skin!!! Anyway, she is the distributor for an organic, cruelty-free and vegan range called La Mav® Organic Skin Science.

She sent me away armed with samples and information to digest. Since then I have spent a lot of time, trialling the products, researching the brand and reading reviews online, seriously, the reviews are outstanding. La Mav® Organic Skin Science really is a phenomenal range of skincare that is the world’s first certified organic skincare infused with proven Bio-Actives. It is also certified as vegan and cruelty-free. I love everything about this brand and the company,

I'm super excited to finally have the La Mav® Organic Skin Science, Certified Organic Anti-Ageing Range in stock online at I'm also super excited to start using this range myself, so not only will I be clean on the inside but also on the outside!
As stated by Dr TARJ MAVI, founder of LA MAV,

“No woman should have to sacrifice her health for beauty.”

Phew! If you made it to the bottom of this looooong post, well done you!

Thanks for stopping by and reading,

Saturday 13 July 2019

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul

Yesterday, a cold and miserable Friday, I made chicken soup for the first time ever. I make other soups, vegetable and pumpkin mostly, but never chicken.

Anyway, I had leftover chicken from a supermarket rotisserie-cooked chicken and having been ill all week I had a hankering for chicken soup. Since no-one had delivered the broth I needed for my recovery, here's looking at you Mummy,(I don't consider a four-hour drive an excuse!) I had to make my own.

A quick search of everyone's online best friend Google, and I found a simple recipe of which I loosely followed.

Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 8 ounces (approx 225g or 1 cup) pasta (I used macaroni and way more than that!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion diced (I used a whole onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium carrots diced (I only had one carrot)
  • 5 cups chicken stock (I didn't have it ready made so used Maggi Cubes dissolved in water)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken cubed or shredded (I used way more than this)
  • 1 medium zucchini (didn't have any)
  • diced 1 stalk of celery sliced (didn't have any, but wish I did!)
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste (I used 20 turns of the grinder)
  • Freshly ground black pepper ( I used 20 turns of the grinder)

I also added about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of mixed herbs)

How to Make It
Step 1    
Cook the pasta until al dente and then drain and set aside.

Step 2    
In a stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the onion, garlic and carrots and cook until onions are softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 3    
Add the chicken stock, chicken, zucchini and celery. Bring to a gentle boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Step 4    
Stir in the pasta and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Because I used more pasta and chicken than the recipe called for my soup was quite thick, but this made it even more nourishing! It makes heaps too, I gave a bowl to my neighbour, we had it for dinner last night and there is still at least two bowls left in the fridge.
Here's the link to where I found the recipe. I might try the Asian version next time.

bon appétit!

Thanks so much for reading
xo Rachael

Wednesday 8 May 2019

L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Golden Age Regime Review

At the end of last year, sent me three products from the L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Golden Age Regime range to trial and review. Here is the review I wrote about each product at the beginning of January.
L'Oreal Age Perfect Golden Age Radiance Serum
I was a little disappointed upon opening the serum box to find that the bottle was lightweight plastic and didn't have a pump or spray applicator.

The serum itself is a pretty blush pink colour with sparkles. It has a nice consistency and smells divine. I love the smell, it reminds me of a Shiseido Skincare range I used years ago.
It's easy to use, simply apply 2 to 3 drops on cleansed skin, massage and then pat to absorb. It leaves the skin feeling tacky which I don't like but it does provide a nice base for the day or night cream to work with.

L'Oreal states the serum will refresh and smooth the marks of sleep and fatigue. That it will intensely re-hydrate the skin to re-plump and alleviate the feeling of tightness and awaken the glow of dull skin for fresher, more radiant looking skin. Does it do this? Well not exactly. I do not wake up looking refreshed but that might be to do with my bad sleeping habits.  However, when used in conjunction with the day cream my skin certainly has a fresh rosy glow.

I do like this serum, however, I absolutely love the L'Oreal Revitalift Laser x3 Serum so it's a hard call to find a serum I love more. In saying that, the gorgeous smell alone would have me re-purchase this product if I for some reason the Laser x3 Serum was not available.

May 2019 Update
I have just finished using this serum and as time went by so did the beautiful smell. With that so did my level of satisfaction with the serum. It's not a bad serum, it's just that I feel the Laser x3 serum is more effective for my skin.
L'Oreal Age Perfect Golden Age SPF15 Day Cream
Let's start with the packaging, it's divine! Open the luxe goldy, pink box and inside is a frosted blush pink glass jar (love) and gold lid (love).

The product itself is pink, kind of a clay pink. Not at all unpleasant and I am guessing the colour is what gives the skin the promised rosy glow. It's a medium weight cream, you don't need a lot and it massages nicely into the skin. It has an SPF15 factor. It also smells nice!

L'Oreal suggests that this product will give the skin a healthy rosy glow and help fight sagging. Did it do this? Yes and No. Yes, it does give your skin a nice healthy, rosy glow. No, it is not fighting my sagging skin, I need surgery or injections for that, but it does leave my skin feeling soft and feeling nourished. My skin type is combination and this day cream is perfect, I think it would actually suit all skin types. When I use BB cream with this day cream it really changes up the look of my skin, the coverage seems better and my skin is extra smooth and glowy!

I really like this product and I will be repurchasing it when I've emptied this divine jar!

May 2019 Update
I have just about finished this product and have continued to be really happy with it. My skin always looks smoother after wearing it and I like the rosy glow it gives.
L'Oreal Age Perfect Golden Age Night Cream
I've already written about the divine packaging in the Day Cream review. The night cream comes in the same luxe box, but this time the glass jar is frosted gold which subtly distinguishes it from the day cream.

The cream itself is a thick white consistency which is what I imagine Ponds Cold Cream to be like. It has a slightly greasy feel to it and takes a bit of massaging into the skin. Unfortunately, I can't stand the smell of it, to me, it smells like shoe polish!

L'Oreal promises big things with this cream. While you are sleeping your skin will be nourished, tightened, re-densified and it will also encourage the repair of the skin's barrier. In the morning you should wake up with intensely nourished skin that is visibly fresh, rested and perfectly hydrated. Not only that but from night after night of use, the skin will gradually regain density and facial contours will be visibly re-defined.

I have used this cream night after night for weeks, diligently, despite the unpleasant shoe polish odour and upon awakening in the morning, as in dragging myself out of bed and checking in the mirror to see if a miracle happened overnight, I have been sadly disappointed. Yes, my skin is nicely nourished, but I'm still waiting for the promised tightening, density, and beautifully re-defined facial contours. I would have settled for looking rested and I don't, quite the opposite in fact, however, that might be because this skin care trial is in the hot and humid lead up to Christmas!

May 2019 Update
Despite not loving this cream, mostly due to how it smells, I have continued to use it, lavishly in fact, as I scoop out extra each night and use it on my face and hands. I'm about two nights away from finishing it and won't be repurchasing this particular cream.
Overall, I like the L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Golden Age Regime skincare. I especially like the packaging, I'm a sucker for anything luxe looking, add blush pink, gold and sparkles and I'm in!
While the products don't necessarily perform as promised by L'Oreal, they are still nourishing, my skin is smooth and I don't have major breakouts. At the price point, I would say that you can't go wrong with this range.

In New Zealand you can purchase the  L'Oreal Paris Age Perfect Golden Age Regime skincare at the following stores:
Life Pharmacy
The Warehouse
New World

The products range between $30 to $40.

You can read other reviews at You can also read my L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Laser x3 - Intensive Anti-Ageing Regime here.

Thanks so much for reading, 
xo Rachael 

Sunday 28 April 2019

This and That - April 2019

It's been a while!

I probably write a couple of blog posts each week, in my head, while I'm driving and then I get home and they are gone or I have run out of the mental energy to type them out. I had a light bulb moment this morning, light bulb for me at least. RECORD, I can use my phone to record my thoughts so that they don't get lost! Then, type them out. How brilliant is that! Oh if only I had thought of that sooner, like years ago, even. I did a wee practice this morning, speech to text recording thinking that would be even more clever as I could simply do a little editing and then copy and paste. But no, unless I annunciate very slowly and very clearly it looked like a bad English language translation and while my brain is slow, to speak that slowly would leave me forgetting what I was talking about in the first place. So dictation recording it will be, maybe I could multi-purpose and turn my recordings into podcasts. Brilliant! Not really!

Anyway, enough of that and on to more important things such as life. Since I last wrote one of these in um, August 2018... I've got a bit to write about. Let's start with...

The Princess turned 16 in March. I still have trouble wrapping my head around that. She's a good teenager, a typical teenager and a not so typical teenager. This year is a big school year for her, she is studying, Maths, English, Accounting, Economics and History and is planning on university (phew) and a degree that will end up having something to do with business. She does well at school, of which I am thankful. The Cowboy gave her a road code pack for her birthday so next up for her is going for her Learners Licence. I also have trouble getting my head around that too! She already has a car, she paid for some of it and her Grandfather the rest. Lucky girl! I'm also really lucky because I got to catch up with my oldest nephew in January and then one of my 20-year-old twin nephews stayed with us last week. I also had a holiday in Cairns staying with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephews. I'll save that for a separate blog post though. I've also been to Rawene and stayed with my Mum and Stepfather. I treasure the times I have with my different family members. Different being the word haha!

The only family members in my home that let me take their photo!

No major changes around here, although I do have plans for rearranging and redecorating, like most things, it's in my head, or on a list. We moved the lovely big bookshelf my Mum gave me out of the garage and into the dining room but I've yet to do anything with it as I am toying with painting it white. Let me know what you think, white or wood?  I'm also going to sell the dining room table. When I bought it, I was living at the castle and had the room for dark chunky furniture, but in this house it is overpowering. I'm going to replace with it a smaller lighter table that can extend and am going to add either mismatched chairs or patterned (floral) upholstered chairs. The Cowboy's boy left home, well moved his stuff out of his room, which we still call his room, but is now a bit more girly looking as I use it to photograph shop stuff but I'm thinking I'll sell the Queen size bed in there, which dates back to when I was married to the Wasband and buy a pull out sofabed or just a smaller bed. Anyway, its all just ideas, lots of ideas! The Princess's room is looking good though. It's very white, very calm and very grown up. We put up a big round mirror the other day, sourced from KMart. It looks so good. I would love to post a photo of it, but it probably would not be allowed  -haha

to paint or not to paint?

Post Concussion Syndrome Update

I think I'll save most of the details for a separate blog post because I have people that follow just because of Post Concussion Syndrome and others that won't want to read about it. While I still have symptoms, I have come such along. I managed to get myself cleared for full-time work at the end of February and with that was able to come off the financial aspect of being support by ACC, which I am grateful for but was certainly financially limiting. Other big achievements are driving four hours to Rawene on my own and flying for the first time in two years, on my own too, which involved navigating airports, customs and transfers between airport terminals.

Wow, last time I wrote about school, waaaay back in August 2018, I was only working 3 days! By the end of Term 4 (December 2018) I was working 4 days, had increased the number of groups I was taking for Writing Enrichment and was also working as the lead teacher for a Special Needs student who started at our school. That was a quick learning curve, I had to upskill myself, set up a programme for him by scratch and liaise with a whole lot of people outside of our school. I loved it and quickly grew to love him. Through him, I found my niche in teaching and special needs teaching is the area I will in all likelihood end up in. In saying that though, this year I accepted a position in my school to cover the Performing Arts role for one term which involves Music, Drama and Dance for the entire school and I also love that! I see each class in the school for an hour session every two weeks. That's around 600 children through my room. Quite the challenge for a girl with Post Concussion Syndrome but I managed it, although I would end up spending every Saturday in bed sleeping and giving in to the headache I had battled with through the week. It was great though and definitely another big learning curve as I had to do a lot of quick upskilling in the music area! I also had my special needs boy each morning before Performing Arts classes. Next term, which is next week, my boy will be at another school, which will be wonderful for him even though I will miss him so much. The Performing Arts role has been extended into the new term so I am excited about that! The biggest thing I have loved about being back at school 'properly' is being among my friends/colleagues. I didn't realise how much I missed that aspect of my working life. An added bonus is I can now be part of conversations with them again!

A warm up dance is part of programme. It's great cardio for me at the same time!

I love, love belonging to a book club, reading books I wouldn't normally read and then once a month meeting for dinner and book discussion, lots of other discussions too! It's fun! Here's a list of my book club reading since last August.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell -  Horror.
I struggled with this and went to book club and after listening to the discussion came home, finished reading it and actually ended up enjoying it.
The Power by Naomi Alderman - Contemporary Fiction
This was another book I wouldn't normally read but really enjoyed it and totally recommend it, especially if you like dystopian society type stories.
For our book club Christmas dinner we did a Secret Santa book exchange. I got the Book Thief by Markus Zusak, oh my goodness, I would rate this is one of the best books I have read in a long time. It's definitely a book I would re-read.
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig - Contemporary Fiction
Again, not something I would normally read but thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa - Contemporary Fiction
A beautiful translated story set in Japan and personified by a cat. Very moving, I wept at the end!
The History of Bees by Maja Lunde - Contemporary Fiction
This was an unusual story as in none of the main characters were likeable! However, it was a very good read and scarily thought provoking. Would totally recommend.
And this month is,
Love Life byRay Kluun - Contemporary Fiction
I have yet to start this, book club is at the end of the month and if I read it too soon I forget the story so find the discussions hard! It does put a bit of reading pressure on though. Funnily enough, or maybe not surprisingly a few of us wait to just before we meet to read the book, for that very reason.
We have watched soooooo much since August. Netflix is big in this house! Here's a little of what I have watched and enjoyed.
If you like comedy, British comedy, I recommend the following:
Cuckoo - Series
What we did on our holiday - Movie

If you like a good crime series, again British, then watch:
Line of Duty

Other stuff I have enjoyed recently is:
Dirty John - True life series
The Silence - Movie

Trips Away
Another great thing about the Post Concussion Syndrome improving is I have been able to do trips away. Last September I gave myself a little retreat and stayed at Rosebud Cottage just out of Muriwai, so not far from Auckland. Oh my goodness it was heaven. I'm going to do a separate blog post about it because I have lots of beautiful photos to share, but let's just say, outdoor bath, candles, and vintage decor.

In October the Cowboy and I did a getaway to Bethalls Beach for two nights. Again, it's just out of Auckland but I had never been and at that point didn't really tolerate car rides that well. I'll do a separate blog post about this trip too just so I can share my photos. It was fun and we enjoyed some beautiful New Zealand scenery. The accommodation was interesting though.  More about that in my future post, which will be soon, soonish!

Bethells Beach


At the beginning of January I drove myself to Rawene, a big deal for me! I love Rawene and did my usual walk for coffee everyday thing. I helped my Mum clean the church and did the church flowers for the Sunday service. Mum and I visited with a few of her friends which was fun, although a car ride to visit one was not, a nasty windy gravel road that had me dry-retching. It was worth it though because Mum's friend lives in a beautiful farm setting, she runs the farm on her own and does all sorts of building projects herself, has beautiful extensive gardens and does the most beautiful needlework as well! She is such an incredible and inspiring woman!


Church flowers, flowers from Mum's garden, arranged by me.

Then on a whim, mid-January, I booked myself a one way flight to Cairns as mentioned above to visit my brother and family. Again, I'll do a separate blog post about that, because of the photos, etc, etc. Obviously, I eventually returned, well I had to, my school and the Princess's school was starting!

Port Douglas Beach

Thank goodness they had a pool.

What Else
This year, so far, I've caught up with friends I haven't seen for ages which is really nice. I'm trying to not get back into that teaching is all consuming during term time and there is no other life! A teaching friend and I have also started a tradition of meeting once a month for dinner or a movie, or something, anything, just so that we have some kind of term life and life outside of our families. Since Cairns, thanks to my sister-in-law, I have changed my eating habits and started exercising regularly and as a result, I have lost around 8kg in weight. Physically, I feel fabulous. The downside is my clothes are too big, even my underwear, which I noticed one day at school when running after a child and had to hold my pants up haha. The upside is I have had to buy some emergency clothes to tide me over, do you like that, emergency clothes!!! I've also trialled some different skincare products as well for but will do a separate blog post about them. A separate blog post is starting to become a broken record!
No, I am not pregnant, snorting to myself here, or getting married, even bigger snort, excuse my warped humour! No, the big news is, for those of you who don't know, I opened up an e-commerce shop. Back in September actually! I'm mostly selling fashion and accessories at the moment, things I really love, but will also be branching into skincare as I also love skincare! Please go check me out.
So there you have it, a life update. A big one at that. Thank goodness for all the photos I take, they serve as a good memory jogger!

Thanks for reading, extra thanks if you got to the end!