Category Archives: Touch

Pohangina Village Art Exhibition at County Fayre

The local artists (including my good friend Neighbour N) organised to transform a room in our local village cafe (County Fayre) into an art space. For the first exhibition, they invited lots of local people to display arts and crafts – and I was one of the invited.

My first response was panic, I had been doing my long-distance art course for a month when the idea was broached, and didn’t have ANYTHING at ALL. Literally. Not one piece. Everything I had done to that point were exercises. But I thought hey, this is such a great idea, and a great opportunity, and I’d be daft to turn it down, so I managed to make a few things, and then stressed myself out completely trying to frame them (honestly, that was evil. It took days and I ruined so many frames. I need some skills, STAT) and then it worked! I put 4 paintings in, and my mother put a whole bunch of her amazing handmade candles, and we were both happy! I took some photos on the opening night (yay, wine, food, music and friends) 🙂

My mothers candles, on the shelves. Sorry for the poor quality photos, I was tired and the light was bad.

2013_03010071

The wall with my stuff on! SQUUEEE! My paintings are the 4 on the right, the large orange framed one, and the three small bird paintings (which are done in nail polish, mostly!).

2013_03010074

I also adore that whale tail quilt! It has tiny clear beads for the water drops. Amazing. The cute little red and black mixed media trio to the left of my orange pond is by the other person I know doing the same art course, it’s brilliant. Buttons on fabric and more. Clever!

Closer, because I’m just so excited to have my paintings on a wall, and one sold, and I’ve only just started. It’s really nice validation, and I KNOW I’m not supposed to need external validation, but psychology can’t get through to my inner tribal ape on that one 😉

2013_03010076

So, a huge thanks to Neighbour N and the team at County Fayre and Artists, I so appreciate the opportunity, and the evening was amazing. Good show, chaps and chappettes!

Have a great weekend

Ami

Advertisements

Diary of a Hatching Chick – contains real hatching photos.

This morning, I was fortunate enough to have another chick hatch while I was holding it. It’s always a special time, the beginning of life – and sadly with chicks, very often it’s the end of life too. Birthing is always the cusp between life and death, which is one reason it is so sacred, I think. However, I also thought I might be able to share it with you, as I was sitting reeeallly close to my camera. 😀

This is how it looked when I took it out of my incubator. It had made the air hole, and started to open the shell (this takes thousands of teeny pecks by the chick to do, they are incredibly strong animals). Sometimes they seem to peck a trapdoor, and they tend to be slow hatching. Ones that do the flip-top shell thing like this one did can arrive in a big hurry. Perfect!

Once the shell is mostly pecked through, the chick starts pushing up with it’s head, to lever the top off.

You can see it’s wing poking out here…

Wing!

And now it’s made a big enough gap that it has a wing out, and it’s foot. MUCH more leverage this way. You can also see that in the shell, there’s not a lot of space left, and it grows for the last week or so with it’s head tucked under it’s wing.

Then, pop! Top comes off, and its head and neck start to straighten. It’s a really good idea to be as hands-off as possible. I do tend to pick mine up once they are at the flip-top stage, but only for a few reasons: my incubator has no humidity, I get around this by squirting the eggs a few times a day when I turn them. In the last 3 days before hatching the eggs need about 80% humidity to hatch, and I try to replicate this roughly by wrapping a warm wet tissue around the shell, but ONLY when the airhole is present, and I keep about 1/4 unwrapped to try not to change the tensile pressure of the shell. So, once it’s at the stage in the first photo, if I can I take off the tissue and hold it to keep it warm and humid. (plus, you know, baby!)

Another important point: chicks are designed to have to fight their way out of the egg. It’s hard to watch, but necessary. They have a complicated network of blood vessels, and the fighting to hatch closes these off. I have read of horror stories of people trying to help a chick hatch, only to pull off a piece of shell and have the chick bleed to death. Yuck. Poor chick, poor people. You can see a vessel here, on the chicks back. This was severed by it wiggling while in my hand, and obviously a shut down one, anyway. Hard as it is to watch, let them be. 🙂

blood vessel from the top of the shell to it’s back – this was fine, but its a VERY good idea to be as hands-off as possible. Lots of information on the net for the more curious 🙂

Then, out of the bottom of the shell with one big kick, and there it is, in my hand. Hello, chick!

 

Hello, world.

(Important! I didn’t have my hand open for the duration, keeping birds warm is VITAL. I was being an honarary hen, and keeping it in the warm and dark of my cupped hands until I took a quick photo.)

Back in the incubator to fluff up and warm up a bit more… which also makes them look cuter 😀

And after 20 mins or so… it’s silver! This is my first silver chick – not sure of it’s parentage, dad is Blue Orpington, mum may be Light Sussex, but I’m not completely sure.

Then, my patented ‘being a mother hen and still having a life’ trick – I tuck the end of a bandana down my top, and fold the rest up and over the chick. So chick is now tucked up against the skin of my throat, warm and dark, and I can use both hands.

I know, taking a photo like this is dorky, but it’s for a good cause, right? And I didn’t go get dressed up for ya all, so you’ll have to take me as I am 🙂

I make sure there is plenty of air for the chick though!

And then, once I’ve carted it around for a few hours it’s cute, strong, fluffy, steady on it’s legs and ready to go under the heat lamp in the box with my other chicks that have no mother hen. Of which I have 12 now. Holy Moly. *quiet panic attack*

Have a lovely day
Ami 🙂

Rock grinding… just for fun!

So, ok, it’s not all nail polish in my life. I wish 😀 No, sadly, I do a fair amount of other things; as do we all – mine is usually pretty boring and would come under the heading of ‘LIFE’. However, another hobby that is sneaking up on me is jewellery making: I have always loved jewellery, and have been obsessed with gemstones for a long time – and made my own with beads and wires rah rah for ages. No news there. However, one previously unexplored area of interest has been actually working with gemstones in their raw state, and recently Mr Husband Man bought me a TOOL which I can use for that!  Its a grinder/engraver/cutter thing, and I love it. My mother lent me a couple of her opalite stones in raw rock, and I have spent some hours grinding away the rock and polishing the opalite. So, I’m not any good at it, but I love it, and will get better with time! Here’s my latest:

Top, before…

Top after

Bottom before…

Bottom after

And against a black background: top..

bottom.

It’s a lot smaller now: there was quite a bit of non-pretty rock to remove, and I did break this one. Whoops. I thought I would – opal / opalite is a very soft, water filled stone, and the rock around it is a LOT harder.Still, I am pretty pleased with the effect – you can see the colours a lot clearer, especially on the black background.

Have a great day

Ami

This mornings surprise visitor.

Got up early, quick shower, then sitting at the computer trying to see if WordPress would work so I could load this mornings post, before our day trip to Wellington.

Tickle tickle, on my leg – mid thigh – under my trackpants. Oh dear, that had better be the cloth tickling! Tickle tickle – so I check, and this is who I found.

Poor thing, I think I hurt her when I rubbed at the tickle, trying to pretend it wasn’t a critter. I managed to conquer my oobies enough to pick her up, take the photo, then put her outside. Proud of myself, I really like spiders UNLESS they are on me, in which case it’s squeal like a girl time. But not today!

I think these are called Brown Vagrant Spiders, and the girls are fuzzy, thick bodied and brown and the boys more grey with really long legs. They can get MUCH bigger then this, they bite if stood on (fair enough!) – ouchies but not toxic. And they are FAST. When they run under the arch of your bare foot to hide it feels like a mouse – they’re fuzzy. All things I have become experienced with since living out in the country. Puts hair on me chest. Veet is gonna LOVE me. hehehe

LUSH Lustre Body Powder Photos and Review

Yep, I found a reason to go to Lush anyway, in spite of doing the anti-animal testing petition online. Was pretty simple, along the lines of  ‘I wanna go!’ I still have some Lush vouchers left over from my birthday – assorted family members chipped in and got me a heap, I am so lucky! Thanks again, you guys. All of you. You know who you are 😉

First and foremost among yesterdays purchases was Lustre, a brand new addition to Lush’s range. Its a shimmery gold body powder, scented with their Lust perfume – i.e a whole heap of Jasmine, a touch of Ylang ylang and Rose, and a subtle hint of vanilla and sandalwood. Sandalwood is my favourite essential oil in the whole wide world (although I have a soft spot for many of them) – and I wish there was a bit more Sandalwood in it. But I do like this blend! My mother hates Jasmine with a passion, it smells like cat pee to her. Huh. Takes all kinds, right? 😀

Here is the bottle pic, with all it’s fingermarks. Please ignore those.

And an ingredient list.. the label is covering Radiant Gold Lustre. I wonder what that is? Lush Speak for glitter, possibly. Don’t quote me on that, I’m guessing. 😀

Close up of the powder in the lid, to show off those glimmers – multicoloured in some lights!

And this is how it comes out – you shake it GENTLY and it falls out in little lumpy mountains like this. Cute. Be resigned to sparkly palms. Highly Edward 😀

But once blended in, it takes on a subtle sheen, very pretty, and a lovely fragrance.It also has a lovely soft talc feel to it, thanks to the cornflour and, er, talc. Soft without being greasy!

Click to see more shimmer!

I bought this because I love glitter – and could see potential for a front-of-shin shimmer (to make legs look thinner, it’s a trick apparantly!), collar bones and cheek bone highlights. Also, for my hair! I tried this yesterday, and it worked really well. My hair did have a bit more shimmer, and it smelled really nice. It also contained my frizzies a bit without that horrible gunked-up product feeling, so it’s a triple win for me, am super happy I bought this! Was $20, and I think it will last a long time as I only need a tiny bit.

Thanks, Lush, for not only being ethical re. animal testing and education, but also for continuing to bring out new products for us to check out. 😀  You can get their goodies from their website, too, if your local shop isn’t so local! NZ site here, otherwise there is bound to be one for your country, just spank Google for the info 🙂

Hope everyone has a sparkly happy day!

Ami 🙂

LUSH Snow Fairy Shower Gel and Anti-Animal Testing Petition

Good morning! Quick one here, I’ve got a road trip to be on. Yup, yay!

Ok, this is Lush shower gel in Snow Fairy – its limited to Christmas, but when it’s in, go and get it.

First up, it works. Lush do use a number of surfactants (bubble makers) that can be drying to the skin, so perhaps get a sample first (just ask for one, they’re lovely in there!). But the same surfactants make it an effective cleanser – you will want to moisturise after though. (Hey Lush, do you make a moisturiser with the same fragrance??!)

Second and important: this smells beautiful. It smells happy. It smells… pink. Its not a complicated fragrance, it basically smells like raspberry and sugar… sweet, happy, pink.  Makes me feel good on those not-so-good days. Also, it’s not so ‘Christmassy’ that you feel silly using it in June.. it’s an all-year-round puppy, not just the silly season.

One thing.. I wish, wish, wish that there were more sparkles in it. Look at them! So far they’ve stayed down the bottom of the bottle and I can’t shake them through the gel.. pretty. I want. I’m sure I’ll get there, but in the meantime.. more glitter, please!

And last but pretty much the whole point of me writing this now: Lush are running a petition against animal testing – (http://www.lushnz.com/shop/info/9/animal_testing) – from the 17th to the 26th April. Now. Go, read, if you think you’d be keen, sign. It’s a strong statement, especially banning the sale of new cosmetics that have been tested on animals, and I know some people won’t like that.

I do. It makes me feel sick when I’ve seen the results of the tests – and I’m not saying pictures or anything gory. Just wee statements like ‘does not cause genetic abnormality in generation tests on rats and mice. Does not cause occular damage in 12.5%, 25%, and 50% strengths’. Oh yeah. Lets deliberately set out to see if we can kill and cripple the foetuses and babies of other animals. People don’t like rats, I do. Nonetheless, it is an intelligent, living, feeling creature – and not only are we hurting her, we are hurting her babies. Oh, and its not just rats or mice – its also commonly bunnies and beagles: ‘they dont bite, they’re nice tempered. Lets drop chemicals in their eyes’.  I really think we need to know what goes on, and take a hard stand to stop it. I also think that looking ‘pretty’ at the expense of another being’s pain and torture isn’t pretty at all. And if you agree, petition at Lush! And if you don’t, hey, thats cool. At least I’ve said my piece 😀

Making liquid soap from solid soap – using Ecostore Coconut Soap

Here’s another thing probably everyone else does, but in case you want to and you don’t know how, here’s an easy way to make liquid soap.

I like liquid soap – it doesn’t crack and harbour bacteria in it like hard soap can, so I prefer it for handwashing. My kids also like the liquid soap: they pump that bottle until there is soap EVERYWHERE. I assume they will stop this, sooner or later. They’ve been told. The older has outgrown it, I’m waiting for the younger to learn. However, I don’t like most of the liquid soaps I can buy: they dry my hands out, cause my skin to crack, and are full of chemicals I just don’t want around. I do like Ecostore hand soap, but.. although they’re not expensive, they are out of my price range on a weekly basis. So, here’s what I do.

I buy a liquid soap (I didn’t want to have an Ecostore bottle here to confuse anyone – and tried to hide the label I did use. Badly, but I tried) – and then use it up. Ta da, a bottle for soap! Clean THAT and you’re good to go.

I use Ecostore solid soaps, always, for these. I’m loving the coconut one – it smells very sweetly coconutty, and I like to walk around the house pretending I’m on a tropical island somewhere when the kids go nutty. Coversations go like this: “muuum! Mum! MMMMUUUUUUUUUUUMMM!” and I say “boola bula booola..” (thats me, in my head, dancing on the sand on a tropical island, ok, its not good but I don’t know any good songs to sing!) and it drives my monkeys crazy. (To any concerned citizens: if you have children, you will know the difference between a “mum!” that means “I need help, right now, my brother has a good grip on my eyeball” and the “mum!” that means “I’m really bored and trying to wind you up and everytime you say ‘yes, dear?’ I go ‘blah blah BLAHAHAHAH!’ and run away.” I’m talking about ignoring the latter ‘mum’.)

So.. here’s the deal with the liquid soap. Find a container (in this case an old yoghurt container. Save them. They’re great for storage, planting plants in, all sorts). Grate some solid soap into said container: you can also use a potato peeler, it’s easier to clean, and you are less likely to start frothing at the mouth after eating your next cheese dish. Top up with water. You’ll need a really small soap/water ratio…

Soapy potatoes are always fun at dinner parties.

And fill 9/10ths  to the top. Play with the ratio – you’ll find what happens is that it seems fine at a higher soap/water balance, but then when it cools the soap sets, and you have a jelly that can’t be pumped through the bottle.*

That's how much soap I used (about 1/5th of the cake) and the amount of flakes I had in the bottom of the 1kg yoghurt container.

 

Now, put the container with soap flakes and water into a pot (or frying pan, yes) with some water in it.. and put the element on. Its not a true bain marie, but it means as the water in the pot heats it heats not only the container at the bottom,  but also up to the water level on the sides. Just a bit quicker. Stir until the soap flakes have dissolved.

High tech creation, here! Be impressed! 😀

Pour into the cleaned soap pump bottle – and done. If the soap is hot, wait until it has cooled a bit before you pour it into the bottle or do the lid up, otherwise the bottle will crumple in on itself. Not pretty, but still functional, usually.

My soap flakes didn't dissolve 100%. That's ok, it still works well!

And done! Leave the rest of the liquid soap in the container until you run out, then pour more in. The amount I make usually lasts us a good month, unless my youngest child has got at it again, in which case we could be talking days. Sigh.

I find this doesn’t dry my hands out, plus I get a good months (normally!) soap from 1/5 of a cake of soap – which itself cost half of what the liquid soap does. Usually the coconut soap sells for $3-ish, I’ll be using say 60 cents worth for a month, so 15 cents a week. MUCH cheaper, and nicer on my hands. Here’s the ingredients for the Ecostore coconut soap, as always you can get their products at most supermarkets, or online here.

(p.s I’m not saying this is better than the Ecostore liquid soap, I’d prefer that one if I could! But.. this works for me, and my family)

*If your soap solidifies in the container, add more water, put the lid on, and shake-shake-shake like you’re at a dance party on a tropical island. If it solidifies in the pump bottle, take the lid off, put the bottle into a pot with water, and reheat until it liquidises again. Remove some of the soap, add more water. Shake-shake-shake. Exercise AND problem solving, could it get any better?!

Kereru Lavender Scented Oatmeal Soap

This soap was a lovely surprise 🙂

Normally I am more drawn to chocolate and vanilla scented soaps, but this is probably the best soap I have used in a long time.

Lavender Oatmeal Soap

It looks good, it smells (very strongly!) of lavender, and it has the cutest stamp of a kereru (native NZ wood pigeon) on one side. See?

This is absolutely chock-full of oatmeal – giving it a gorgeous scrubby texture, but its not harsh at all. Its also HUGE – and shaped nicely to fit in your hand, almost like a oval rock. Its very substantial. There’s something almost medieval about this soap. Despite the scent, I could almost assure you that men will use this once they pick it up! 😀

It cleans brilliantly, it isn’t moisturising but also isn’t drying, its just a perfect soapy-soap.  The lavender also doesnt linger on the skin, which is good for those not enamoured of lavender aroma. You can get it ($3.50 per soap, thats INCREDIBLY reasonably priced) from Kereru’s website. Now if only I could get one in sandalwood or cardamon and vanilla scent, I think I would be in soap heaven 😀

Ecostore Extra Moisturising Hand Cream

This handcream from Ecostore comes in two strengths – light and extra moisturising. Me, I always go for the extra moisturising hand creams. I need it!

I love this hand cream. I use it as my go-to during the day hand cream – I do use a Lush handcream and my Planet Earth handcream  as extra moisturisers when needed, but after doing the dishes or washing my hands, this is what I use to keep the dry, tight, scratchy hands at bay. Back, dry hands, I say: back!

It's a solid tube - quite different in shape to anything else I've used, very cool design!

This comes in a cute little box, which I no longer have – but the ingredients and so forth which were on the box can be seen on Ecostore’s website, here. I absolutely adore the fact the Ecostore has such a great website – complete transparency of ingredients. It makes chosing what to buy… really tricky, actually, they have a lot of appealing products. But definitely makes it more fun! Extra points to Ecostore: hover your mouse over the latin name of an ingredient, and the ‘normal’ name will show up: thats about as clear as you can make anything. I wish more companies would do that. 🙂

The smell of this is nice; subtle and warm – I think it is supposed to be Rose and Cardomon. Which I love, but honestly they are so subtle that I can smell a teeny bit of floral, something deeper and warmer; but nothing I could say ‘oh yes, thats Rose and Cardomon alright’ . Which is nice too, means Mr Husband Man can (and does) also use this without any nose wrinklage!

Sorry for the blurry, but you can see it's quite a thick cream 🙂

This is a medium-thick cream, but it is absorbed very quickly, and leaves no greasy residue on my hands. Very softening, but not at all sticky. Very nice! I’ll be getting more of this when I use it up – which is taking me ages, even with everyday use, a little does go quite a long way.

Organic Care Shower Milk – Review

Organic Care is an Australian made and owned company (Natures Organics) that make bath and body products – though I have only ever found the body washes and shampoo/conditioner in the shops. To tell you the truth (which I do try to do!), I walked past this brand for years, for two reasons. 1) the supermarkets tend to hide them on the bottom shelves (although I have noticed they are bringing the shampoos into line-of-sight now, which is nice), and 2) I thought there was no way it could be any good – I thought they were another brand cashing in on the eco-friendly trend. Cynical, and wrong as it turns out.

I’ve been right to be cynical on any number of occasions – lets just think about the number of products that have ‘aromatherapy’ in the title when they have NO essential oils in them whatsoever – and the price of the Organic Care range was so reasonable: around NZ $6 for 400ml of product.

Here is the ingredient list:

Click to enlarge! 🙂

As you can see, the vast majority of the ingredients are naturally sourced and explained, and the range is vegan, grey water safe, and the bottle is made from corn rather than crude oil byproducts – which is a lovely touch. They have also changed the bottle shaped – it was very straight up and down, and now is almost tear drop shaped.

I find this shower milk to be non-drying to the skin, an effective cleanser, and smells pretty. Very strong, fruit and coconut and a hint of floral, but it doesn’t linger on the skin afterwards.

I do wish that there wasn’t so much palm kernal oil in it, but I understand that is probably why the price is so low. I could point fingers at the fact that the only listed organic products occur in very small amounts (at the bottom of the list), but thats all being fairly picky. I do hope that one day those things will change, but in the meantime here is a company, not testing on animals, thinking about ethics and petrol-chemical alternatives even in their packaging, which is affordable. And that’s very rare, and worth (in my opinion) supporting.  I’d also love more of their products to be available to us – I’d love to check them out! I buy mine from Countdown, also Pak n Save and Foodtown / Woolworths, as well as New World – so they are almost everywhere.  You can also check out their website here: http://www.naturesorganics.com.au/haircare/organic-care.