Sunday, 19 March 2017

Beware Ordering Items From China

When I'm not in flow making your skin care products I'm off playing little miss detective.  Perhaps I was a detective in a past life (if there is such a thing?)

While looking at ladies fashion trying to figure out what style of clothes I like I stumbled across an Australian women's fashion online website.  At first I was in awe of the pictures because the dresses are so well made and feminine.  I started to browse, making a mental note of dresses I liked; looking at the instructions, sizing charts, about us, contact us and terms and conditions.  Supposedly order processing takes 3-5 days and then up to 12 working days to post (max 3 weeks).

While they don't outright say it they elude to being based in Australia yet have no business contact details aside from an email address (which didn't strike me as odd since it's not unusual for online websites to only have email contacts).  I looked up their business name and found they have an ABN and a street address in Sydney yet the business has been listed by a Chinese name (person or company).   They had another business in 2015 under a different name that no longer exists - what happened to it?   Couldn't find any information on it.

I sent them an email enquiry about site info and received an email back that did not originate from Sydney, they copied and pasted a standard response from their website and didn't answer my question.

It was time to look for reviews and sure enough I found some on their Facebook page, 99% of which is negative.  Mostly regarding the long postage times over 1-2 months, low quality clothing not looking like the pictures and incorrect sizing. All comments are replied to with courtesy responses.  Tracking of orders is done via an overseas (China) courier company.

This lead me to wonder even more about the company.  How could they claim to be based in Australia while selling low quality items they ship in from China?  This is false advertising and the very least.

My detective work took me here, there and everywhere and I ended up finding out about dodgy (scam) companies that set up websites in China using photos they've stolen from other websites and selling second rate items.  Items made in sweat shop factories where employees are asked to replicate items pictured on the websites.  Judging by the quality of the work often reported, the employees don't seem very skilled and quite often have no idea how to replicate the product well.  From there I looked around for other sites scamming the Australian public and was horrified to find that there are many and when the companies are confronted about their dubious existence they close their websites down, change business names and open new websites.  I was further horrified to find reporting these companies isn't very easy leaving me, and no doubt others, unsure as to how to actually do it.

Customers who report dodgy products to the companies have emails ignored, phone numbers don't work, items are often lost in transit, arrive second rate and have to be returned in order to receive a refund, which often isn't given.  There is no way to chase the company down, reporting them is tricky and often futile, returning items is costly, so many just cut their losses and China gets it's money from ripping off other countries with fake items: clothing, jewellery, electronics etc. These companies have infiltrated not just Australia and the US, but France, the UK, Thailand, India... just about every corner of the globe!

Now this isn't to say ALL companies from China are illegitimate fake scammers; numerous people have purchased knockoff items they're happy with, but BEWARE and do your homework.  If unsure ask for more information because somewhere out there someone knows.  One thing to look out for is photos that also appear on other websites (you can do a reverse image search), this is a sure sign the photos are fake, and fake photos mean fake companies!  Also not having standard photo styles, such as consistent background colour, product placement etc.

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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

One Chicken, Six Meals

While this article isn’t for our vegan friends it is about helping those who wish to reduce their meat intake. More people are becoming aware that the way we produce and consume meat has a largely ill effect on the earth and our bodies; the vast quantities we consume, the suffering of animals and the environmental impact of raising animals for meat.

So if you’re moving towards eating less meat this article should help.  Also chickens have less environmental impact on our earth than other animals (see diagram).

Using one whole free range chicken this is what I did to make one bird feed our family (of four) for six days.

Remove the two breasts/chest area and place in a freezer container. No need for impressive knife skills, just do the best you can. Remove the wings, drumsticks and thighs (I like to separate the thighs from the drumsticks because there are more pieces to go around). Two batches of chicken ready for freezing and using later on in the week. 

Place the remaining body of the chicken in a large pot, stuff and onion into the cavity, and cover with water. Add some flavours if you like such as peppercorns, cloves, garlic and bay leaves and add salt to taste. Cook on a very low heat for at least three hours. 

When the chicken stock is done allow to cool before removing the body of the chicken and strain the liquid into glass bottles. This makes several (recycled) wine bottles of homemade chicken stock which you can freeze and use at your leisure.

Meal one: remove the bits of chicken from the bones that have been slowly cooked in the chicken stock and use in homemade backed beans. Tinned beans (strained) cooked in a 800g of crushed tomatoes with sautéed onion and the chicken pieces. 

Meal two: slow cooked chicken Italian style. Wings, drumsticks and thighs slow cooked in 800g of crushed tomatoes with Italian herbs and some home grown olives. Served with brown rice (or mashed potato if you prefer).

Meal three: use one bottle of chicken stock in a vegetable risotto. 

Meal four: the chicken breasts were cut into bite sized pieces and used in a yummy homemade butter chicken sauce, served on a bed of brown rice. 

Meal five: after eating the Italian style chicken (meal two) there was a fair amount of very flavoursome tomato sauce left over. This sauce can be poured over cooked pasta as a rich flavoured Napoli sauce. 

Meal six: using another bottle of chicken stock cook some macaroni and a large tin of beans, with added Italian herbs and make a delicious and hearty Minestrone.

These dishes are just an idea of how the whole chicken can be used in many different, economical ways and it takes me back to a time when families were frugal with food and used every bit to make food go a long way.
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Thursday, 2 March 2017

How Far Can $120 Worth Of Food Go

Monday morning was grocery shopping morning. With a view to NOT enter the supermarkets all produce was purchased from the local businesses. We're really lucky where we live because our green grocers has a huge variety of produce including accompaniments like sauces, spices, noodles...

Fruit and vegetables came to $70. Break down: sweat potato, 5 garlic bulbs, handful of fresh ginger, 6 mandarins, bag of apples, bunch of bananas, 500g strawberries, grapes, 6 figs, 4 large carrots, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, free range eggs, trio of dips, a bag of walnuts to snack on and tomato passata.

Meat from local butcher, consisting of a handful of chicken necks for the dog, a handful of small chicken pieces and 3 chicken breasts, came to $18 (the necks and pieces are cheap).

Local bakery, three wholemeal loaves of breach came to $5.

Italian delicatessen, 3 bags of pasta, mozzarella, large bag of parmesan and large bag of Italian cookies (for school snacks), came to $25.

Monday dinssert = (Dinssert - a word coined by JOLI meaning having dessert for dinner)
Rhubarb and apple crumble.  Rhubard and apple supplied by a friend who grows their own produce. Crumble made from ingredients already in the pantry (what I refer to as staples*).

Tuesday dinner =
Pasta neapolitana. One bag of rigatoni pasta topped with a tomato sauce I made the previous Sunday lunch (before shopping) and parmesan cheese.

Wednesday dinner =
Minestrone made with the handful of chicken pieces, onion, garlic, 4 potatos (from last weeks shopping), one carrot, rehydrated chick peas* and a quarter bag of riccioli pasta.

Thursday dinner =
Stir fry vegetables with rice.  Broccoli, snow peas, garlic and ginger, with an egg, coriander and oyster sauce*.

During this time a banana cake was made with old bananas and staples. I did a quick shop on Thursday to get milk and butter because I forgot to get these on Monday.

Friday dinner =
Cauliflower and chicken soup, with one whole cauliflower, one chicken breast fillet, garlic, onion, stock and a cup of dried lentils*.

Saturday dinner =
Left over minestrone.

Sunday dinner =
Bread and trio of dips.  The bread was warmed in an oven after being lightly tossed with olive oil then served with a trio of dips.

We made a carrot cake on Sunday with two of the carrots and a cup of the wall nuts, eggs and staples.

This is to feed a family of three and by Sunday we have 4 bananas, two apples, half a bunch of grapes, garlic, ginger, cucumber and sweet potato, two chicken fillets, two loaves of bread (we must have had at least another half a loaf prior to shopping) and the accompaniments such as cheese, milk etc.

Monday dinner =
Chicken breast baked in tomato sauce with onion, garlic and mozzarella cheese, served with sweet potato mash.

Tuesday dinner =
Cucumber salad with feta cheese and home grown olives.  The last bag of pasta with parmesan cheese (with bolognese sauce made with mince from the freezer) plus home-made garlic bread with half a French stick (from the freezer).

Wednesday dinner =
Left over cauliflower soup with buttered bread.

Breakfast is cereal* and milk, lunch is a sandwhichs, buscuits, fruit and water, afternoon snack is fruit or cookies, sometimes yogurt if we have it or cake if we've made some.

*Staples = from the pantry / freezer - items usually in stock.

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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Spontaneous Breakout

Spontaneous breakouts are when your skin has been looking good for a while, blemish free, scars have healed, no new pimples... then suddenly you're in the midst of a full blown breakout again!

When this happens think back over the last week or two before your breakout occurred.  What did you do differently then that maybe affecting your skin now?  Did you eat lots of fatty and sugary foods? Did you begin to drink alcohol when you hadn't been drinking for a while?  Did you increase your dairy intake?  Did you begin using a different product, perhaps one that uses petroleum / mineral oil as a base?

To give you an example, using myself as the casualty.  For the past three weeks I've been suffering through a breakout along my T-zone - forehead, nose and chin.  Starting off with one pimple here, one pimple there and becoming a T-zone riddled with red dots that even make up failed to hide. [insert major sad face] :-(

Before then my skin had been looking great for months and I was feeling really good about myself.

Anyone who suffers breakouts knows that wonderful feeling you get when your skin is looking awesome!!!!

What happened?  What changed?  Well it turns out that prior to my breakout we went on a 10 day family holiday.  While on holiday I was drinking wine with hubby almost nightly (I usually don't drink often), I was also having cheese platters and iced coffees (an increase in dairy), plus I was using a mineral oil based sunscreen which clogged my pores.  During this time I was NOT cleansing regularly or properly.  In fact I didn't bring my Facial Wash at all.

I was also reading more and I'm not very good at having idle hands.  When idle some people chew their nails, some people smoke, some people eat, some people pull at their hair.  I rub my face.  Touching your face with your fingers is probably one of the most detrimental things to do when it comes to pimples/acne.  Your fingers and hands have lots of bacteria and when you touch your face you're effectively infecting your blemishes.  You also spread the bacteria from blemish to blemish which is why it's important to clean your face correctly and not touch your face.  Wearing gloves can help.

Within a week of returning the first blemish appeared on my forehead and by the end of the week I had numerous angry red blemishes.  The toxins and impurities I was putting into my body were now coming out on my skin while the sunscreen had blocked my pores.  A bad combination!  Still I did not start routinely cleansing and looking after my skin until the end of the second week because I was being lazy and not taking care of myself.

It was time to set myself a challenge.  To clean my skin routinely for 7 nights in a row and improve and heal my skin, getting it back to looking blemish free again.  This consisted of drinking plenty of water daily to flush out toxins and impurities.  Cleansing, exfoliating and toning followed by an application of Skin Serum every night.  The Skin Serum helps with skin regeneration and healing while the cleansing steps clean away the bacteria.

Six days in and my skin is looking so much better.  No new pimples to report, the old pimples are dead or dying, the flaking skin around the edges of the dead pimples has lessened, there is still some slight scarring / skin pigmentation where the pimples were, however, I can now cover these successfully with mineral makeup.

** Take the 7 day challenge TODAY using JOLI's Blemish Skin Pack - I recommend you choose Serum instead of Light Moisturiser - and share your successes with us!!!! **

Sunday, 5 February 2017

I Don't Have A Green Thumb

If gardening doesn't call to you, sing to you, leave you feeling content and happy... then chances are it's not your thing and therefore you don't or won't have a green thumb.

Gardening is much like parenting (some are good at it and some are not).  If you don't water and feed and nurture your plants they'll die of neglect.  Of if you over indulge your plants and give them too much water they'll drown in your love.  If you pay your garden or plants attention often and interact with them regularly they will thrive.

However, here is some good news for all you brown thumbs: in a forest no one is watering, feeding and nurturing those plants and yet forests flourish.


Forests have their own self care methods that keep them thriving even in the most harshest of conditions.  Take Australian bush for example, usually growing in hot and arid conditions with little rain fall.

I view gardening much the same way.  I plant shrubs and trees that require relatively small amounts of attention.  In fact I usually plant my plants and leave them to see which ones grown well all by themselves.  If they die they weren't meant to be there and I try something else.  Then I grow the smaller more needy plants around them in conditions that suit their needs.

For example the ferns are planted along the south side of the house, along the wall of the house to give them plenty of shade and a moist ground.  The succulents are planted along the north of the house because they need zero attention.  Along the east of the house are the vegetable gardens because they need lots of sun to grow plenty of produce.  I move plants around too if they look like they're suffering and in need of more sun or more shade.  As for the plants that are in full sun for most of the time but not necessarily sun loving, the larger trees give them shade and protection.

Just like a forest it is rare for any green matter leave my property.  It is all used in biodynamic ways.

Branches and leaves from pruned trees are placed around the base of the tree to give back and feed the plant from which they came.  Weeds are tossed into garden beds because they absorbed nutrients from the ground that I want to keep and give back to my plants.  A large raised garden planter serves as a compost bin in which food scraps and excess garden waste is tossed including egg shells which feed my garden calcium.  Any excess plant matter I cannot fit into the compost bin (because the matter is too large or the bin is full) I burn and then use as potash on garden beds - such as potatoes, peas, beans and lettuce which love potash.

These are just a few tips and tricks of the 'trade' and I'm happy to share.  If you have any questions let me know.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Beautiful Creative Hand Made Products

It has been almost one year since the loss of my beloved step mum Liz.  It's been a hard year dealing with her absence because she was my co-conspirator, my sister in arms, my bosom buddy.   We were often creating and developing and playing around with ingredients, colours and scents. Liz with her soaps and bombs and fabric art and me with my lotions and potions.  We'd often call each other up excitedly saying, "I've been working on something new..." then go into detail about our projects.

Liz was an artisan when it came to creating colours and scents and her products were just so beautiful and vibrant and full of delight.  Indeed I was in awe of her ability to create magical and amazing things!

Visiting with my dad recently, for whom the loss has been unbearable (their bond was like nothing I've ever seen in any relationship before), he bequeathed Liz's stock and creations to me, saying, "Liz would want you to have it and she'd be happy knowing it was being put to good use and not being wasted."

To say it was difficult entering the room where all her creative endeavors took place would be an understatement. Aside from stepping in from time to time, finding it too painful and quickly leaving again, neither my dad nor I have been in her workshop since she passed.  Being in her space this time... I half expect her to be in there going through all her magical creations, sharing with me her latest designs.  I broke down reading her notes and seeing all her tags and products half finished, things she never got to complete; feeling like it's so unfair that someone so talented was lost so soon.  It almost felt like blasphemy being in there packing up her things.  On a positive note my place now smells like her, Liz was the Queen of Fragrance, and I'm finding that wonderful; kind of makes me feel closer to her.

Now I have a collection of bath bombs and bubble cupcakes Liz was working on (amazingly I began working on the same thing without knowing Liz had also been creating these items as well - two great minds - and we never got the chance to share our creations with each other).

As an ode to Liz I will be showcasing her goodies on the JOLI Natural Skin Care website where you will have the opportunity to purchase her gorgeous creations.

Bubble Cupcakes
Bath Bombs
Marshmallow Bombs

Note: while Liz was very good at keeping notes (tags) of what she made, the scents, what ingredients are in each product... I was unable to find which tag went with which product and do not have that information to hand ... so your guess is as good as mine.

The good news is you can bet your bottom dollar the products will be as sublime as they look!!!

Note also: that there is limited stock and once each product is sold out that will be the last of them because I have no way of replicating her amazing creations.

As JOLI always says... Enjoy!

Monday, 26 December 2016

The Best Moisturiser by Body Part

Which JOLI moisturiser is the best option for different parts of your body?
 rich cream moisturiser by joli

Let's break it down.

Oily, acne, sensitive, young skin, hot weather =
Light Moisturiser
Normal to dry skin, combination =
Rich Cream Moisturiesr (for him)
Rich Cream Moisturiser (for her)
Very dry or mature skin = Whipped Cream Moisturiser
All skin types = Skin Serum

Fluffy Lime Eye Cream, lime as uplifting and toning properties

Moisturising Lip Balm - long lasting wear

Neck / Decoletague:
For older skin (40+) / very dry skin = Whipped Cream Moisturiser
For younger (30s) skin = Rich Cream Moistuer
For very young skin (teens / 20s) = Light Moistuiser

Whipped Cream
Rich Cream Moisturiser
Luscious Body Butter

Whipped Cream
Rich Cream Moisturiser
Luscious Body Butter

Belly, Bottom, Thighs:
To reduce cellulite = Enliven Facial & Body Scrub
To moisturiser = Luscious Body Butter

Legs, Body:
Whipped Cream
Luscious Body Butter

Rich Cream Moisturiser
Massage Oil

Heels = Luscious Body Butter
Toes (athletes foot) = Soothing Salve

Fancy Cuticle Oil
Why is it fancy? This product contains a trio of potent oils that penetrate deep into the cuticles to nourish and enrich from within.

Skin conditions: such as eczema, dermatitis, rashes, hives, bites etc.
Soothing Salve

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Yet another product lying about being natural

The brand Basic Earth calls their products Botanicals.

When you hear those names do you get the feeling they are earth friendly, containing natural botanical ingredients?

It's no surprise if you do because those names are designed to make people feel the products are natural and safe, from the earth and full of botanicals.

Then you look at the ingredients and see things are not even nearly as they claim.

Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, disodium lauroamphodiacetate lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium chloride, polyquatermium-7, parfum, disodium EDTA, citric acid, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, colours.

Water, cetearyl alcohol, cetrimonium chloride, clyceryl stearate, glycerin, parfum, diazolidinyl urea, disodium EDTA, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, colours.

Body Wash:
Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, disodum lauroamphodiacetate lauroyl sarcosinate, sodium chloride, polyquaternium-7, parfum, disodium EDTA, citric acid, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, colours.

Body Lotion:
Water, cetearyl alcohol, paraffinum liquidum, glycerin, acrylates/acrylamide copolymer, polysorbate B5, PEG-75 lanolin, parfum, disodium EDTA, diazolidinyl urea, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, colours.

*   *   *

Methylchloroisothiazolinone has been restricted in the European Union for use in personal care products, including hair products, as it is sensitizing allergens.

Methylisothiazolinone has been associated with allergic reactions (contact dermatitis) and neurotoxicity.

Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) irritates kin and scalp and creates itching, may cause hair loss.

Note: people who use products containing these ingredients have reported hair loss.

*   *   *

Disturbingly, as with many products like these, the Basic Earth products were at a Big 4 caravan park, given to guests for free to use during their stay.

No doubt the places that stock these products have NO IDEA of the harmful ingredients they contain or the harmful effects they can and do have on guests.

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