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I’m no hippy but I hate chemicals. And I have very little $$ to spend on beauty so what better way to beautify myself than with natural products.

At the moment my hair is driving me crazy; frizz-city! I have straight hair and usually it behaves itself but lately I have been waking up with a natural afro. And not a cool one either. I was sharing this vital information with my friend the other day and she suggested heating up some good old-fashioned olive oil and plonking it on my head for a bit. Pa-ching! A light went on (not sure if that’s the sound of a light or a cash register but anyway).

I got on the good old interweb (as we call it in our house) and had a google. My eyes were opened, a revelation swelled in my soul and I discovered that stuff from the garden can help my skin, my hair and even my teeth. So why-oh-why do people spend so much money on beauty products when all they have to do is mush some veggies, pick a leaf or pour hot (warm) oil on their heads?! Mind boggling.

So, today I share what I’ve learnt from a brief googling around. There’s heaps out there so you can find the exact solution to your beauty problem in a click (or few clicks) of a button. Here are my top favs from the interweb:

  • For dry hair (MINE!): Microwave some olive oil or coconut oil then put it through your hair. Leave on for one hour then shampoo it all out.
  • To de-frizz hair (like MINE): Break off the leaf of an Aloe Vera plant and put the gel through your dry old locks. (Haven’t tried this one but I will… you just wait).
  • Hair mask: Mash up whatever fruit you have lying around, add some olive oil or coconut oil. Then plop it in the old hair, keep it on for 30 minutes then wash out.
  • For dry skin: Eat an avocado then rub the inside of the peel on your face. Leave on for 15 minutes then rinse.
  • For puffy eyes: Use a few slices of good old avocado and rest them on your eyes for 20 minutes. Have a little nap then wake up with super smooth peepers.
  • Exfoliating: Mash a banana, add some oatmeal and rub on your face. You can also add honey to oatmeal for a similar but softer option.
  • Saggy skin? Beat an egg yolk and apply to your old sad elephant skin with a cotton ball. Rinse after 15 mins.
  • Peeling skin treatment: Mash some pawpaw and apply it to your flaky skin. Then wash it off after 10 mins.
  • Natural teeth whitening: Strawberries! Mash them, smash them and apply to your teeth. You can also use mashed up basil for this too but strawberries might taste better!!! Ground basil has also been used as toothpaste! Go figure.

And then there’s cucumber and Witch hazel and Pepto Bismol and Milk of Magnesia. But start simple, get googling and have some fun with these cheap alternatives to those overpriced beauty products.

What’s your favourite natural beauty treatment?

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Picture this you’ve been awake for 30 hours straight, travelled 13 hours and spent 10 hours waiting in an airport in foggy London. Add to this 5 extra plane hours full of gurgly foul tummy motions and a single vomit and that’s how I arrived in Cairo!

We hopped off our BA flight to be met by our ‘tour guide’ (or WAS he?). Off he tottered with our passports, tickets and tour coupons as we stood dazed in the Cairo international airport. Ding dongs. The first rule of travelling is do not let go of your passport. But there you have it.

We were lucky. Our smiling guide strode back with all our things in hand and we were whisked past eager taxi drivers to our minivan. We were off. It was a tense time in the Middle East. Bombs had just started to drop on Egypt’s next-door-neighbour, Iraq the day we arrived and we were not sure what reception us Westerners were going to get.

We arrived at our fancy pants hotel and found ourselves staring at a king sized bed, wondering what the dickens it was… ah yes… a bed! We took a quick glance out our window at the glistening Nile and fell into a deep sleep. In the morning we arose with a spring in our step… sort of. We had a down day at the hotel and it was here we met our first Egyptians.

The cleaner came in around umpteen o’clock with a smile on his face. I swear  I could see dollar signs reflected in his eyes. We soon realised that a lot of Egyptians thought Westerners = cash! How wrong could they be!? The poor fella tried everything from us teaching him a little bit of English, he teaching us Arabic to gifts of sandy pyramids and other impractical travelling the world, can’t take home prezzies. Then he brought a friend along for some more English lessons and that’s when we called it a day. We had learnt our lesson. The door gently slammed shut on that chapter.

The following day we met our real tour guide and our other fearless fellow travellers. Poor Egypt. Instead of having a full tour of 30 people, our group was down to 8, which was good for us. People were just plain scared to come to the Middle East with bombs and such. Not us!

Off we toddled to our first couple of  sites: The Pyramids at Saqqara and the ancient city of Memphis. For this part of the tour we had our very own bodyguard with an impressive looking weapon. And this was the moment I embraced the travelling thing and  decided to (pardon the Egyptian pun) live in denial (de Nile!?!).  I love history so I was not going to cancel this tour, unless something major happened… and it didn’t!

After this we headed to … wait for it… The Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx (pronounced Spinx in American). This was bloody amazing. Beautiful, old, tall, strong structures. It was awe-inspiring. You have to go! But I must say, the Nile does not flow past the pyramids – that’s just a Hollywood thing peeps. The Sphinx was so special. It was a moment in life I will never forget.

Back we went to the hotel. And, to tell you the truth, I would have been happy with just that day cos it rocked. But we had 9 days ahead of us… Stay tuned to see what other Egyptian adventures we had. Watch this space…

Image by chensiyuan

Twas the time before children, and all through the house not a young adult was sleeping, they were leaving their house. They had packed their backpacks with care, in the hopes that it would carry their things with great care.

Rhyme over! Yes it was 2003 and we were off on our first overseas trip. First stop was Hong Kong to visit my lovely sister in law. I have always been a slightly nervous flyer and as it was taking a long time to take off, I said to my hubby, in a shaky voice, “This is a long taxi” and he came back with, “No it’s not, it’s an aeroplane!”. He thinks it’s the funniest thing he’s ever said but I say, it was, now it isn’t.

Moving right along. We land in sunny Hong Kong to be greeted by my smiley sis-in-law! We sit, drink and catch up then catch the bus back to her home on Lantau Island. Dooowwwnnn the narrow, winding roads in the darkness. But I wasn’t too concerned. This was only the first part of our 5 month adventure and I was determined to enjoy every bit I could! We arrive at the apartment and go to sleep.

The next morning, after we have slept like the dead, we join a group of 12 of S.I.L’s friends eating YumCha for breaky! When in Hong Kong. It was the best, cheapest breakfast ever! Everything was delicious except for the chicken’s feet that had nice tasty skin but then there were these weird bones. Didn’t know what to do with them so I just had a little gnaw and a giggle and plopped them on the plate.

Then off to the city – the zoo (sad little place with green concrete for the apes to roll around on!) and then up the peak of a kind of a tram! A beautiful day in Hong Kong.  The next day was a touristic romp through museums, towering skyscrapers with bamboo scaffolding (eeek) and finally our feet found rest when we had High Tea at the Royal Garden Hotel. 3 hours of food: dumplings, pastries, salads, antipasto, scones, pancakes, donuts, coffee and ice tea! Take me back!!!

When we headed back to the ranch we participated in a refugee simulation. We walked around the streets of Lantau, our only guides speaking to us in a foreign language. We didn’t know where we were going or when we or what we would eat. It was a powerful experience run by the incredible team at Crossroads International (http://www.crossroads.org.hk/). We ended up eating on the floor of a small room, all jammed together.

The next day I began to get silly. SARS was all around us. People were paranoid so I decided to join them. I had cut a piece of sticky tape (for my travel journal) between my teeth and some of it was stuck in my throat. So I started to cough, as you do. Then I was convinced they wouldn’t let us on the plane because of my sticky tape cough. Oh dear. Silly, silly me.

The next day we worked at the Crossroads warehouse then headed into the city for some Egyptian food with S.I.L. We were due to fly out later that night and they actually let me on the plane with my sticky tape cough! Phew!!! It was a great start to our trip and I can’t wait to go and visit again. This time with the kids!

If you ever want to do something to help your fellow man, the poorest of the poor, check out Crossroads.  They are always looking for volunteers with a variety of experience and skills, long term or short term! Go on, have an adventure!

Next time, we head to Egypt!

Image by Whit Welles

Fear. Dread. Anxiety. Terror. Things that go ‘bump’ in the night, or the day, or in your head. What scares the nickers off you?

The tangible: spiders, snakes, lizards, whales, donkeys, hippies, carnies, clowns, fingers and/or toes. For me, it has got to be spiders and whales. Imagine a spider whale or a whale spider… (she shivers). I don’t mind cockroaches or snakes or sharks unless they’re crawling over my face as I sleep or trying to bite me to death. Nup, it’s the hairy, multi-eyed, crawly little eight legged bug and the huge lump of blubber that gets my heart racing. What about you?

Answer: __________________________________________________

The intangible: failure, success, rejection, nightmares, ghosts, commitment, marriage, being a parent, not being a parent, being a nerd, not being a nerd, other people’s opinions on you being a nerd, depression, sunshine or failing friendships. This is the big section if you ask me. Because you can pretty much stay out of the way of sharks, spiders and snakes (if you’re lucky) but these are always with us. We carry these fears in our heads, throughout our lives. It’s a constant battle to keep them in check so that they don’t ruin our lives.

Fear of failure is pretty common. Especially when you take on a new job or school, most of us just want to be seen as successful. It’s humiliating when you miss the mark. It hurts. And that hurt stays with you and effects the future levels of anxiety and fear. Ooga booga.

Then there’s rejection. There’s nothing like school to instil in a person the fear of rejection. Girls especially are skilled at the nose in the air, turn of the back move. They perfect the ‘you’re not my friend’ sentiments from a very early age. Not sure why girls are particularly hard on each other. Must be something in the waters. Or the emotions.

Fear of people’s expectations is tied into the whole rejection thing, which is linked into the fear of looking daggy or not seen to be fitting in. And I bet that nearly every person is walking around with this paranoia; that they’re not good enough, that they don’t fit in. It can drive a person crazy, all this comparing clothes, cars, careers, houses, smarts with everyone else is exhausting. Why do we bother?

Our masks don’t help anyone. Rather, they perpetuate these false standards that everyone hates but strives to life up to. We’re all running around trying to be good enough, when the truth is that we are good enough, because no one is good enough, if you get my drift. We all have our weaknesses. Truth is powerful, masks are harmful.

What are your biggest fears? Come on, remove the mask and share. Cos you’re not alone out there.

The philosophy of our age is you can do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. On the surface this statement looks fairly sensible. It looks like freedom of speech, of action. But can you have true freedom with no (or little) boundaries?

‘As long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’ is a subjective boundary. You can put it where you like and justify almost anything, as long as it feels right to you. But what if my behaviour doesn’t feel right to someone else? What if I am hurting someone and they are so politically correct, so polite that they can’t say anything? And this philosophy doesn’t apply to everyone.

Take the swear word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ for instance. If you’re a Christian and someone swears with these words, it can be highly offensive but most people continue to say it regardless. And who are we to say who is going to be hurt and who isn’t? It’s subjective and we don’t know everything.

Our individualistic society is a little blind. We’ve lost a beautiful sense of community and compassion. I know the past was far from perfect but I kinda miss manners and lovely words and the respect that all brought. People were unafraid to show that they cared. They would bring meals, make phone calls, write letters and were careful (in public at least) with what they said. Or perhaps I’m remembering some kind of ‘Anne of Green Gables’ type of reality that never really existed.

To be frank, I really don’t think many of us stop to consider whether we are hurting people. We’re kind of desensitised to that kind of compassion because we’re individuals now and we have rights. The individual always trumps the group/community. It’s a stubborn, narrow view of the world in my opinion.

We are not islands. We have been made to live in community. It’s a beautiful thing. So perhaps the new philosophy should be ‘Do what is beneficial not just to you but to your community – speak life into those around you, be generous, be considerate and don’t be afraid to love.’ It’s a little long-winded, I know, but you get the gist!

What philosophy do you think the world needs to adopt?

If you had to write the story of your work life, how would it go? Traineeship, apprenticeship, university degree, family business, interview (disaster/success), bosses, payment, experience…

My work life has always been grey. After leaving school I went to University for a year. It was a sad 12 months. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was studying Communication which was cool and all but my heart was not in it… unfortunately. So I dropped out and worked in the Travel industry for a couple of years, thinking that I would be able to travel. Which I didn’t.

I just had this nagging desire for something to do with my mind, something more. So off I toddled back to University and absolutely loved my new course, Bachelor of Creative Arts. I had never worked so hard in my life, because I was finally studying something I loved… Drama, English and even a little bit of Business. (Got a ‘B’ in Accounting which was a big deal for a Creative Arts student).

After Uni, all I wanted to do was to travel with my hubby. And we did… after a year of mindbreaking, soul sapping work as a receptionist. But I did it, I travelled and loved it.

Back home and once again I was lost about what to do. I really wanted to have kids, but what to do in the meantime. So I took a job with kids, fell pregnant and was/is a mum, going on 8 years. Panic set in when my first baby went to school… gotta work… but what to do!? Had I squandered my working years, wandering around in a haze of options, doubt and confusion? I had to nail down what I loved to do…writing!

I was sent into the blogosphere by a friend who is a headhunter. I was wary, unsure but it was here I found my voice. But the eternal question hovers; do I do what I love as a job or should I get a local job in a shop/office just to pay the bills?

So my husband and I are both freelancers. Scary and exciting…?! You never know when you’re going to get that magical job that will propel you forward in your career. But there’s part of me that wants the steady income every week. The magical increase of numbers on a Thursday! Ping! Love that ping.

In the end everyone makes the decision to either do what they love, or what they have to do. The lucky or smart people get both. I’m hoping to one day be that lucky or smart or whatever. In the meantime, I keep plugging away at my humble blog/s (oscarclub.wordpress.com – check it out!) and hope and plan and pray that one day I can do what I love for work.

Dougie Hoswer – First Blogger featured on Television?

One simple way to make people more greedy is to guilt them into generosity. The response is usually defensive. They clutch their wallets closer to their chests, fix a frozen smile to their faces and walk on by. I know, cos I’ve done that before. I’m not proud of that but there you have it.

Collectors that go door-to-door, stand on street corners shaking their semi-empty cans or cold callers have got a tough job. But it just doesn’t seem effective. In our culture it is all too easy to turn a blind eye to the injustices in our world because there seems to be too many. We can’t or don’t want to get our heads around them. It’s all too depressing.

So when a million voices call out in need, the ears of a million others slam shut. I think we need to be smarter about this. As much as we hate to admit it, our culture is greedy. We all know by now that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone. But still people die every day from starvation. We know that. But we keep on eating.

Guilt will not end world hunger. Greed will. That’s why Op Shops are so popular at the moment. There’s no pressure to give endlessly to these charities. There are no demands. There are just a few humble shops with odds and ends, 2nd hand clothing and collectables that give us a shopping experience without the guilt. Op shops tap into our desire for more. They are a great place of recycling, of course, but their main task is to fund a charity and they do it in a subtle way so that most of us don’t have to think about the horrible situations those in need are facing and how our measly dollars are helping them.

Massive fundraisers are also hip! Because people get a good feed, they get to hear from interesting people and they get to feel like they’re doing something good for the world. Tick that box. There are also awesome prizes that once again tap into our greedy nature. It’s just fact! I’m not putting down fundraisers or op shops, quite the opposite. I think they’re smart.

The fact is that most of us love to get! I love to get. I would go so far as to say it is my love language. But I look around Sydney and I see so much wealth and gluttony and stuff. And I wonder how I can get people to donate charities in Africa who are suffering, who can’t even put food on the table for their kids. I wonder how we can squeeze stuff out of our ‘stuffed’ city and dribble it into the hands of those who need it way more than we do.

And it all comes down to greed. How do we tap into greed and subtly turn it into generosity without having to lay a guilt trip, without begging, without disturbing?

Any ideas?

Here’s one     http://ourneighbours.org/

Today I became a canteen mum. There was I with my holey but protective footwear, my bright eyes, my expectant face and a little fear of the responsibility of adding up cash correctly.

But never fear! It was a great experience. The other ladies were very nice and patient and understanding but I must tell you about the star of the day. His name, I cannot remember but his presence was unique.

I arrived 9:30 ish to find a tall, elderly man pottering around the canteen kitchen. His eyes were bright as he pottered around. He saw me and the other new mummy and tottered over to tell us something in hushed old man tones. With personal space not being his forte, it was a little confronting at first. But then he was sent on a supermarket errand and the ladies told me his story.

This man used to be the maintenance worker at the school. So each week he comes in for half a day to relieve his glory days, to sit, to drink in the familiar surrounds. It is a nice break from his home life, where he visits with his frail wife who is suffering from dementia. But there’s not a skerrick of bitterness in him. He looks like a man full of stories, full of experiences and full of hope of more life left to live.

Like any of us, he loves his weekly routine. He serves the kids at recess, often giving them freebies if he can’t quite understand what they want or how much it costs. After this he eats his chicken sandwich, yoghurt and sweet chilli chicken, lost in his own happy world.

His pottering continues with stories of being a sailor, travelling throughout Asia. I picture him with a captain’s hat on his head and a pipe clenched between this teeth, squinting into the sea spray while singing a sea shanty through his gritted teeth, urging the ship to go faster, despite the roaring waves.

Because of his lack of personal space, I would imagine this man is a brave soul. Despite his age, he still travels overseas, often bringing back presents for his ‘girls’ in the canteen.

Around lunchtime he packed up his tucker and did the kiss-on-cheek rounds to all of us, all while sharing jigsaw pieces of his life in snippets of conversation. He left me smiling. Though some find him intimidating, I thought he was fascinating and sweet.

I love that older people have such a wealth of experience to share with us. To the rest of society they may seem past it, quirky or muddlesome but when we scratch the surface, when we ask the right questions, there is gold to be found, stuff that we can learn from and admire.

 

Image by Asterio Tecson

When I was twelve I discovered music. It wasn’t as if I was deaf to the stuff before that. We were brought up with the Little River Band, Boney M and the dreaded Aled Jones. But they were my parents’ choice.

In the late eighties there was something called a record club and if you bought a certain number of records they would be cheap. You’d send a piece of paper away in the snail mail (yup, no internet then) and a few weeks later there would be a knock at the door and hey presto! your music would arrive.

This was when I met Whitney. She was a young, sometimes bald lass with long legs, a gorgeous smile and an incredible voice. She had a little bit of grunt to her, she wasn’t all sugary sweetness. My brother thought she was a bit too daggy, too girly for his liking. He ordered records such as Warrant, Public Enemy and Paula Abdul (busted! she’s a girl brother!!!!!).

So it was just left to me to dance around crazy like to the boppy tunes of miss Houston. And yes I did use the hairbrush to sing those love songs to my future love. I also used to pretend I was a pop diva like Whitney. Crowds of screaming fans adoring me for my awesome talent as I belted out a few tunes with incredible hip hop style dance moves! I thought I had a future there, but it wasn’t meant to be. Sigh.

So this week my first pop hero died, way too young, too troubled. It is so sad what fame and money  and dumb husbands and drugs does to a person. It was hard to believe that she had lost her voice last year when she came to Australia. It was like the door had closed on a more pure and beautiful era.

It was clear she had lost her way and was struggling. If only she had bought an island and lived out the rest of her life in luxury, peace and happiness. Surely that would be better than continually putting yourself out there when you know your talent is slipping away. But perhaps fame is an addiction, just like the drugs.

I’m going to embrace my inner 80s girl nerd and say thanks to Whitney for many hours of entertainment, soulful singing and hip hop dancing. So very sad that she is gone.

image by SaintEddie

I love honesty.  Except perhaps when it’s too pointed. But on the whole, I do appreciate when someone takes the time and effort to be honest.

I love hearing from people who are unafraid to be vulnerable. There’s really no point in putting on a false smile and pretending all is A-ok when secretly we’re as messed up as the next person. It doesn’t help anyone when we appear to be holding it all together, unless, of course you are the 1% (I guess) who has life all worked out.

Like anyone else, I struggle with fear and doubt and self esteem issues. I try not to let that be obvious in my day to day life but sometimes it’s good to let it all hang out. One of my favourite artists is Alanis Morissette. This is a girl who has earned a reputation for being an angry man-hater, but she isn’t. She is quite vulnerable in the way she writes. She’s just plain honest and I love it.

I want to write like that. Not songs but stories maybe, or blogs, or poetry. I just want other people to know that they’re not alone in their struggles. And I think the best way to do that is by sharing your own experiences and stories. Because basically we’re all the same. No one is perfect. No one has the  perfect life. We all have our shameful thoughts and deeds that we’d rather not bring into the light of day. But where there is light there is freedom… I believe.

So sit back, relax and enjoy some honesty from Ms Morissette. Here’s a few tasty morsels…

‘Eight Easy Steps’

“How to stay paralyzed by fear of abandonment
How to defer to men in solvable predicaments…

How to hate women when you’re supposed to be a feminist
How to play all-pious when you’re really a hypocrite…”

‘All I Really Want’

“All I really want is some peace man
a place to find a common ground
And all I really want is a wavelength
All I really want is some comfort
A way to get my hands untied
And all I really want is some justice…”

‘Thank U’

“how bout me not blaming you for everything
how bout me enjoying the moment for once
how bout how good it feels to finally forgive you
how bout grieving it all one at a time

thank you india
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence”

‘Precious Illusions’

“You’ll complete me right?
Then my life can finally begin
I’ll be worthy right?
Only when you realize the gem I am?

But this won’t work now the way it once did
And I won’t keep it up even though I would love to
Once I know who I’m not then I’ll know who I am
But I know I won’t keep on playing the victim”

 

And I could go on and on and on! Just love the creative way she communicates her heart! Ah, to write like Alanis.

Whose writing do you admire?

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