A new family member

This week I was going to do a review on Clinique’s new miscellar cleansing gel (will get to it next week) but we had a big event which overtook everything else. We have grown our family by one special four legged member! Now to round off the line-up of a geriatric incontinent Dalmatian, chubby Jack Russell who’s living her best thug life, and an escapee hamster we now also have a pony. 


Her name is Lucky. I really wanted to make a YouTube video of us surprising Moo with her new pony (those always make me teary!) but that critter is way too sharp to miss a trick, and pretty difficult to surprise. Nonetheless they’re busy making friends, while I, the bearer of the fly spray and deworming accomplice, am still under deep suspicion. 


The past week has been a roller coaster and a huge learning curve which frankly ended up with my rescue remedying myself to sleep at night and taking anxiety medication to try and get my heart rate down, but I truly hope Lucky is going to be happy and feel loved with us in her new home. 

I will be getting back to beauty related stuffs next week when I’ve mentally processed that my childhood pony dreams have finally come true… and washed all this carroty equine slobber out of my hair.

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The reality of 87 litres per day

All the way back in March I managed to get our water usage down to 8,000 litres per month (equating to 87 litres per person in our household) and have stuck with that for the past seven months. Quite a few people asked me at the time to share how I’d achieved it and give some water saving tips. The answer is, you’re not going to like what you hear. Most of it requires being just a bit unhygienic.

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Weirdly beautiful but terrifying dam pictures…

Everyone in Cape Town will know, or should know unless you’re a total git, that we have level 5 water restrictions and are limited to 87 litres per person per day. Our water is scheduled to run out completely by the end of March and this is probably just going to get worse as we get into summer. It’s starting to feel like we live in apocalyptic times.

If you’re serious about saving water and sticking to the rules then the reality is probably going to be unpleasant. Here’s how we’ve done it:

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The taps on all our toilets have been turned off. If you need to flush a toilet, you get the bucket of grey water and flush it manually.

Toilet flushing only happens for number twos, so we just have to deal with there being some degree of wee in our toilets at any given time. It’s disgusting but I reckon if you can’t deal with your own family members’ wee then you need to do some team building exercises or something.

I wash dishes in a bucket (as infrequently as possible) and use the dirty water to water my three remaining plants. Even water from cooking that is normally drained (like when boiling pasta) gets collected in a bucket for these herbaceous beacons of hope. I’m determined that they, like me, will survive this.

laundry-stock-today-160808-tease_8816217b49c15bf3fc07bbcd6558c2dbAll clothes except underwear have to be worn more than once. Unless they have a gigantic tomato sauce stain on the front, they go back in the cupboard and not into the wash. Because laundry is done once a week, and when the machine is full, it’s full. Laundry is probably the biggest single user of water in our house, and it’s very difficult when you’ve got kids to keep washing to a minimum. Moo’s school uniform, underwear and anything that is really sweaty or dirty takes precedence. Bedding, towels and other clothing makes it in when there’s spare space. Before the drain cycle I scoop out as much grey water from the washing machine as possible to use for toilet flushing. I really, really miss having my weekly clean bedding. 😦

c700x420Probably the most difficult reality to accept has been banning baths and cutting our showering down drastically. A hot shower has become the ultimate luxury in my life. I now only shower twice a week when I need to wash my hair (coinciding with horse riding days because I get pretty grimey). The other days I have to make do with a bowl of water, a face cloth and dry shampoo. When I do shower, I collect every drop of shower water to use for flushing the toilets. And my daughter has exchanged bathtime every night for an occasional shared shower and her monthly hair wash. I’m probably a bad parent, but she seems quite happy and doesn’t smell funny.

Pool-drainOur swimming pool no longer exists (well, it does, but it’s got about 30cm of water in it which is too low to filter, so it’s a disgusting green swamp). Our lawn is a giant sandpit and the only surviving plants are the three pot plants which live off dishwater. It’s depressing and our garden looks ugly but I guess in crisis time appearances no longer matter.

Lastly I have a few general tips. There are some places in Cape Town like the brewery in Newlands where you can collect free spring water. My parents who live nearby wait in the queues and collect really big bottles full to use for drinking and cooking etc. If you live near the beach you can collect sea water. It’s a schlep hauling 10 litre containers across the sand to your car, but I’m going to be using this for toilet flushing this summer. Then there are the usual things like brushing teeth with a cup of water, water saving shower heads etc.

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Collect as much rainwater as you can. We are getting a tank installed, but up until now every time it has rained I run outside and put buckets under the downpipes. There are also flexible roll-up hoses you can connect to your downpipes to channel rainwater directly into your pool, garden, or storage tank. If I’d known about these at the beginning of the winter our pool might actually still have been full enough to run the filter…

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I don’t even use the car wash anymore. My car looks pretty bad, but then again what’s that compared to a dead garden, an empty pool, dirty windows, unflushed toilets and bi-weekly showers? This I’m afraid is the reality of 87 litres per day.

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Stem cell sunscreen from Dermaceutic, Double Wear Nude Water Fresh SPF 30 and a whole new mall

I’m playing catch up here because none of the above are hot off the press exactly, but they’re pretty newish and, well, new to me specifically this month. At the end of September a new mall opened around the corner from me, Table Bay Mall, which they managed to sneakily build without my even noticing until a week before opening day. Shows how happy I’ve been in la la land. So people on the West Coast finally have an H&M on their doorstep, just in time for updating summer wardrobes, not to mention a Dunkin Donuts for those who don’t care that their summer wardrobes will be a size bigger than last year. Woohoo!

The mall is really nicely done and a breath of fresh air (all we had before was Bayside Mall, the mall where you can get basically nothing) but irritatingly some shops like Cotton On, Typo and Baskin Robbins aren’t actually open yet and there is still a major lack of decent cosmetics counters. I did see the Woolworths had a Stila and a Smashbox, which is quite nice. Better than a smack in the face. Ten points for the awesome toilets though, and the walls around the lifts are giant video screens playing undersea and panoramic Cape Town views.

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Artist’s impression

Anyway, getting to the point, I recently ran out of foundation. I was looking for something new without having to schlep to Canal Walk for one of my favourites which aren’t available near at hand (hey Table Bay Mall, how about a Red Square at least?) and I happened upon a new iteration of Estee Lauder Double Wear, the Nude Water Fresh version with an SPF 30. Summer is around the corner after all, but more on the SPF front in a second. Excited to try it, I was a bit bummed when I got home and found they had given me the regular Double Wear in 2N1 desert beige, instead of the one I’d asked for. Not being a quitter I ordered the new one online along with some pump dispensers (more on that below). Apologies for the rubbish pictures, but frankly picture taking is one of the reasons I stopped blogging… I despise it.

 

If the regular Double Wear is like a black tie wedding then this version is like a lazy summer picnic. Last year around this time I did a review of the Double Wear Nude Cushion Stick which I really liked, except that I forgot it behind in a hotel over New Year. This is a thinner, more lightweight version of Double Wear but with a decent medium coverage. It’s less flat and matte and feels fresher on the skin. It takes longer to dry down but does. With the regular Double Wear I can feel it sitting on my face, whereas this version feels pretty weightless. It contains antioxidant red fruit extracts, including watermelon, lychee seed and apple, and costs R585, same as the regular Double Wear.

I was very excited to notice that the Estee Lauder online store now sells a pump for the Double Wear bottles, making life much easier. They are R50 on their online store. While it’s annoying that you have to pay extra for an essential part of the packaging, after so many years of trying to pour the foundation out of the bottle I was like, hell, I’ll take two! Which I did, as my regular Double Wear and my new Double Wear Nude now both have nice colour coordinated pumps.

 

Now, back to the summer and SPF theme. I’ve been using Dermaceutic for nearly two years now and my skincare shelf is basically one long line of Dermaceutic products from serums to moisturisers to mask to daily sunscreen. I really love the brand because they’re effective. As simple as that. They have a new formula of Sun Ceutic out, my everyday SPF50 sunscreen. The new version contains a stem cell stimulator, something I’ve never come across in a sunscreen before, as well as now being an SPF50+. Because Sun Ceutic also contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera it’s really soothing and moisturizing and whenever my T-zone is going through an oily phase I use this in place of my moisturizer, and when my skin is feeling dry I use it on top of my moisturizer. Basically it offers high protection for all skin types as well as anti-aging benefits. I guess sunscreen by definition is ‘anti-aging’ since sun exposure is the biggest cause of premature skin aging, but this actually has a stem cell stimulator to, and I quote, “accelerate epidermal restoration and smooth out the appearance of wrinkles”. Bonus.

It uses micro mineral filters, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and doesn’t contain oxybenzone for anyone who is reactive to it (like me).  It does go on a bit white and scary for a second, but quickly goes transparent and absorbs. And it is great under makeup, but leaves me looking a little dewy-faced when I apply and run – which might be a consideration if you’re oily and don’t wear foundation. Long story short, if you’re looking for a new facial sunscreen that is going to be good for your skin, this one is totally worth considering. It’s R620 available from Conquest and lasts for a long time because one pump usually does my whole face. If you’re in Cape Town mail sam@conquest.co.za or Jo’burg you can contact Sonette Donker from Skin ID to get your hands on some.

The Twitter logo is ironic, because without it you’re free as a bird

In 2017 I’ve taken “me time” to the extreme. I have lived a completely switched off and unplugged life this year and learnt some life lessons that were totally obvious before the internet age. I’ve also learned what to prioritize and rediscovered forgotten bits of my DNA. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve been up to and where I’m headed. I still have mixed feelings on social media and blogging but my musings have been along these lines…

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1. You can have fun without photo-documenting the fact for the benefit of 2,000 people you have never met.

2. You don’t need to tell 2,000 people who you’ve never met what you are doing and how you are feeling several times a day. Twitter can be useful for things like real-time news, and even the Dalai Lama might have a Twitter account, but if you can’t happily leave it alone for 24 hours then you might need to take time off and think about that addiction. Gosh, it’s easy to be judgey in hindsight. 😛

3. A gift or a purchase gives you even more pleasure when you don’t need to arrange it artistically, add props, find the best lighting and then photograph it. Think about this carefully. It is actually completely bizarre behavior… for the benefit of 2,000 people you’ve never met.

4. Food tastes just as good when you don’t Instagram it before you eat it. It is a lot more social to share with the people who are at the table with you than share your meal with strangers on social media.

5. Real life includes leg shaving, dirty washing on the floor, that pesky stain on the carpet and siting in traffic. That’s perfectly okay. You don’t need to feel jealous that other people seem to have perfect interior design, wear perfectly coordinated outfits and sip constantly from coconut drinks on tropical island holidays. And if that’s you, why do you need to show off to 2,000 people who you don’t know?

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6. Nine times out of ten you start blogging because it’s fun, you like to write, and it is all about you… Then you end up becoming an advertising agency and spend all your time doing the silly things listed above.

7. Everyone is trying to sell you something. Blogs and social media tend to trap you in the bad habit of buying things you don’t need. Having said that, at some point you will need to buy things and it’s great to be able to make an informed choice. The key is reading unbiased reviews, which are few and far between in a world where “free” products from PR agencies create an obgligation.

8. If you’re not doing something for your own enjoyment, to earn money, or for your family and friends then ask yourself what your motivation actually is for doing it in the first place. For me blogging no longer fell into any of the above categories, which is why I took this year off and used my free time more wisely.

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9. Life isn’t about things, it is about experiences. I want to look back on a year just passed and think of all the fun I’ve had outdoors, not all the time I’ve spent sitting at a computer working on blog posts, or on my phone keeping up with social media feeds.

10. I’ve used my year off to do the things I used to love but forgot about and haven’t have time for in the past few years (since I became a mom and started blogging, two incredibly time consuming things). My daughter is at that typical pony mad stage which a lot of girls go through, which has reminded me that my phase never actually ended. I stopped riding for ten years while I got on with life, but now I’ve rediscovered it and it has been incredibly rewarding. Moo and I have been riding twice a week this year and not only is it something we can do together and bond over, but it’s a process of self improvement which is really satisfying. Horses, like dogs, don’t care if you’re dirty and makeup free – they want to be your friend anyway. Which is not something that can be said for Instagram.  At the grand old age of 35 I’m entering my first ever Prix Caprilli show next month (that’s like dressage with teeny jumps in it, FYI). I’m petrified but if I get a rosette I will… um, put it on Instagram *cough*.

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I might have burnt a lot of bridges this year by ignoring emails, not going to events and staying away from the plugged in world. But the life de-clutter and mental reset were totally worth it. I’m back, but on my own terms and in my own sweet time. I will get off my high horse now because I’m aware this blog post might come off a bit preachy, but life is too short… One day at the pearly gates St Peter is unlikely to ask you what your blog stats were.