#KeepWarm

The cooler months are quickly approaching here in NZ which means it is time to pull out the woolly jumpers and get the fire going before the afternoon sun sets behind the hills. We’ve just moved house, and have found that it is much colder than our previous abode. Our kitty has arthritis so we need to keep him warm during the winter months so his joints don’t seize up! Having some sunshine definitely helps!

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Here are a couple of things that we have been doing so far to help keep the house warm and also some ideas to make the cooler months far more enjoyable!

Close the curtains before the sun goes down so that as much heat as possible is retained in the house. I found some really valuable info about what kinds of curtains you should get here if you feel like your house is as cold as an esky! Be sure to keep the curtains open during the day and whenever possible, have some windows slightly open so that air can circulate. This will stop pesky mould from growing and stop windows from crying 🙂

If you have a fire, use it! We have been using ours and it sure takes the chill off the air. Callum went on a mission to collect pine cones, and came home with two massive bags of them for us to use as firewood (and maybe some DIY?!). I picked up a basket for our wood at the op-shop for $3 and we also got some kindling from the supermarket. We are hoping to find some free firewood around the place to save money over winter.

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Something else that I like to do is leave the oven open while it is cooling down after cooking. This heats up the kitchen and doesn’t require any extra energy #freeheating! If you have pets or children, be sure to keep them out of the kitchen to prevent any incidents occurring!

If you live in an older house (which we do) you might have wooden windows. Well known for their whistling and banging, wooden windows can be a real hassle. Some of ours are painted shut….. Not to worry, we found some foam tape that you can use to fill in the gaps. Grab it from Bunnings or Mitre 10 Mega. #Winning!

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Remember, keep doors closed if you aren’t using rooms- there’s no point wasting energy heating  a room that no one will spend time in! We usually close the bathroom, kitchen and spare room doors at night so our wee fire can heat our bedroom and the lounge.

For a little but of ambiance get some glass jars and a couple of tea lights. They’ll burn for most of the night and are super, duper cheap. You can turn out the lights when your fave show comes on the telly and enjoy the mood lighting. Just be sure to blow them out before retreating to bed.

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I hope these ideas help you save money and keep warm in winter! Leave me a comment on how you like to reduce your power bill in the winter months.

Take care out there,

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#AprilAnnex

I’ve been feeling guilty about using products that are not cruelty free so I cleaned out my bathroom cupboard and chucked out anything that was tested on animals. I realized that I have a lot of stuff that I don’t need so anything that didn’t get used on a daily basis also ended up in the bin.

My next mission was to find some replacement products- I needed foundation, powder, mascara and liquid eyeliner but already had some blush and bronzer that were cruelty free (So Susan and Jelly Pong Pong). I loaded an app called ‘Bunny Free’ onto my iPhone and used that to check whether the products I wanted to buy were indeed being kind to animals.

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I chose NYX for my makeup needs, and Butter London as my nail polish choice. NYX isn’t very widely available in NZ so I get mine from Asos.com (it takes about a week to arrive but if you spend over $50 you get free shipping). I believe Farmers has a small range that you can purchase online but it isn’t in store yet.

A website called onceit often has Butter London on special so I grab two or three at once for $8.95 a bottle as opposed to $22.95 regular price. I love a god bargain! I find having a grey, navy blue or black and one or two bright colours gets me through the seasons.

I also found a gorgeous body wash at Countdown called ‘Only Good’ and it retails for $6.99 a bottle (445ml). Check it out and grab a bottle next time you are at the supermarket. It’s vegan, cruelty free and doesn’t contain any palm oil. The packaging is recyclable too! I reckon it would make a lovely addition to a gift basket.

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I’ll continue to add more brands to the list as I find them! I challenge you to have a look at your beauty products and replace them if they are tested on animals. Let me know how you get on- give ‘Bunny Free’ a go!

Take care,

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#GutUpdate

If you read my post about Irritable Bowel Syndrome then you’ll know that I have been suffering for quite some time with horrendous bouts of gas, tummy aches, anxiety and overall just feeling pretty darn shitty (no pun intended).

I’ve been taking probiotics for almost 2 months and have noticed a significant difference in my well being. I no longer feel like my insides are going to drop out of my backside, the noxious gas has subsided and I rarely feel anxious in public toilets. Winning!

I’ve also stopped eating fruit. I’ll have a banana in my morning smoothie but apart from that I stay well away from the sugary goodness we like to associate with being healthy. My boyfriend was telling me that in america, apples take 14 months to get from the tree to the shelf. 14 months!! By that point, it is basically a floury ball of fructose. It’s no wonder I get a tummy ache after eating apples; although I am sure NZ apples don’t take that long to get to the consumer.

So, by cutting out most fruit (fresh and dried) and taking a probiotic every morning after breakfast I feel a whole lot better. I’ve also continued to limit dairy products although consume butter, small amounts of probiotic yoghurt and cheese occasionally.

It is quite incredible how a food group can have such a negative impact on me, even eating dried dates would send my gut into panic mode. I have since removed those from the pantry and made myself some probiotic yoghurt to snack on instead.

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#LettuceCups

I used to make this when I was a poor student because it is cheap, tasty and healthy.

All you need is an iceberg lettuce, chicken mince, 2 carrots, 2 zucchini, some raw cashew nuts and salt and pepper. You can add in some onion and garlic too if you like!

It’s easy- cook the mince with a little oil and add in the grated veges. Toss in the cashew nuts and cook until the veges are soft and the chicken is cooked through. Add some salt and pepper.

Then, carefully peel off the lettuce leaves and lay them on a plate and fill the lettuce ‘cup’ with the chicken mixture.

That’s it! Too easy.

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Enjoy

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#ChocCrazyCake

This is a fabulous vegan chocolate cake. No eggs, butter or milk. It is so easy to make and goes down a real treat at work or a birthday party. I make mine in a round tin, but my mother used to make it in a rectangle tin. I remember one year she made one and decorated it like a treasure chest- it was covered with lollies, chocolates and even a few plastic necklaces for effect.

I thought I would share the recipe with you because there is no need for bad cakes to be baked. I mean have you ever had really high hopes for the big piece of cake you are about to eat but the first bite is so dry you nearly choke? You have no need to worry about such dramas when you take a bite of this moist cake.

Here is the recipe:

3 cups flour

2 cups of sugar (I know, it’s a lot. But it is a big cake)

2 teaspoons of baking soda

5 tablespoons of high quality cocoa

1 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup oil (any type)

2 tablespoons malt vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups of water

Method

Sift all the dry ingredients together and make a well for the wet ingredients. Pour the oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and water into the well and mix until combined.

Line a tin (if you are using a circle tin it will take a bit longer to cook) and pour the mixture in. Pop into an oven heated to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 30-50 minutes. I check mine at 30 mins and then cook for longer if needed depending on the type of tin I use.

Ice with your fave chocolate frosting and sprinkle come shredded coconut over the top if you like!

Enjoy

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#Presents

Gifts. Most of us love to give (and receive) gifts. But, when the budget is a little tighter than usual it can be tricky to find presents without looking or feeling ‘cheap.’

Here are some ideas if like me, you like to give thoughtful gifts but also can’t spend too much (we are saving for a house after all)!

  1. Plants. I think plants are fantastic gifts to give. There are thousands of varieties which means you are pretty much guaranteed to find something that will suit your friend or family members style. If you have loads of pretty flowers growing in your garden already, take some cuttings and grow them up- pop them into a nice pot and add a home made card. Easy! Or, if you grow roses or sunflowers, make a nice arrangement and give the gift of flowers (I take flowers I have grown to friends places for BBQ’s or put arrangements into some nice vases if I have friends coming for tea). Or why not dry flowers and make pot pourri? My lovely boyfriend got me a Peace Lily for valentines day which is currently enjoying some sun on my bedside table.

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2. Books. I love reading and can definitely recommend some great reads that you can grab off Fishpond.co.nz for a fraction of the cost you would pay in a retail store. I’ll put some suggestions at the bottom of this post.

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3. Baking. If you have a friend, family member or work colleague who is turning another year older, what better way to celebrate than with cake? My favourite recipes are vegan chocolate cake and banana cake. Be sure to ice them and put them on a nice board (maybe you could buy a nice wooden chopping board from a local supplier which could double as a gift?) I’ll put the recipes for the cakes into the recipe tab so you too can make a delicious birthday cake- it isn’t always about gifts, it’s the thought that counts!

4. Photographs. If you are like me and love to take photographs why not put some of your best shots into a multi-frame (a frame with 3-5 photo slots). Just go for photos that have similar colour schemes or pick a theme. Next time you are out taking artistic photos for instagram- think about different angles and zoom in and out to get a variety of shots that you could potentially use for gifts. Don’t forget to initial the bottom or back of the frame!

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5. DIY Crafts. Pinterest is the motherland for DIY gifts and ideas. Just type in DIY gifts and hundreds of pins will be available to you. Click on my Pinterest account here for some ideas!

RECOMMENDED BOOKS- click on the images to grab your copy!

A home companion Gut 1kotzero waste

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#IrritableBowelSyndrome

I have IBS. It ain’t pretty. Basically, when it gets bad, it feels like my insides are going to fall out of my bum. There’s no other way I can describe it.

I have been in denial for about a year- simply because I love cheese and yoghurt. I found it easy enough to find a milk alternative, but the alternatives to most other dairy delights are quite hideous. So, I kept consuming dairy until last week when I realised my body was very unhappy and it was time to accept that I have issues with my gut- mostly caused by dairy, vegetables and sugar.

So, I set out to figure it out and make some sense of what was causing the bloating, stomach pains, poop issues and the worst of all… gas. A lot of tootin happens when you suffer with IBS. One of my irrational fears is pooping or tooting in public (especially public toilets) so I panic when my symtoms get bad and just want to hide away alone, and, well… sit on the toilet for a while. There have been times where I have been out running with my boyfriend and have said “oh gawd” in a distressed fashion and he’ll say “Clench those cheeks together” because I have honestly felt like I am going to shit myself. I’m lucky that I can be pretty open about these things with him and it generally leads to a good giggle.

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But IBS is no joke. Apparently 11% of the world’s population suffers from it and only 30% of those people visit the doctor for their symptoms. I know exactly why that is… because the thought of talking about your bodily functions is not particularly appealing -in fact is is quite embarrassing.

So I thought I would share my ‘experiences’ with you so that if you are suffering there might be some things you can try to help find some relief.

                The first thing I did was quit sugar. It sounds like a big feat and dont get me wrong, it isn’t easy to start with. It took about 2 weeks for me to get over the cravings and ‘need’ for sugar. After that I would have the odd coke or lemonade here and there, but I was nowhere near as bad as before (sitting down with a bottle of coke, a bag of doritos and a bag of m&m’s and getting a good way through each of them).

                I also started exercising – going for walks at least every second day. My boyfriend and I climb a hill out the back of our suburb which is basically 15 minutes of hill climbs and stairs, to a ridge at the top where we pick up the pace and run along the ridge and all the way back down. The first time we did it we took 35 minutes. Now we have the time down to 23.5 minutes and our fitness levels are increasing while our waistlines are decreasing!

                The most recent thing I have done is given up dairy. I quit dairy about 2 months ago due to the shocking treatment of bobby calves on some NZ dairy farms but then realised that I felt a lot better too since giving it up. I decided last week that I didn’t want to eat dairy due to my icky side effects so I accepted that cheese and yoghurt would no longer be in my life.

                Lastly, I looked into the science behind the ‘sore tummy’ and found some interesting ways to help the IBS naturally with diet. Have you heard of FODMAP’s? I had heard them in passing a few times, at health expo’s but never really took a serious look into them. FODMAPs is an acronym for Fermentable-Oligo, Di, Monosaccharides and Polyols which are commonly found in our diet. By reducing the amount of FODMAP’s in our diet the symptoms of IBS should reduce.

 I typed in ‘FODMAP’ to pinterest and it spat out some really good infographics that help to decide which foods are okay and which ones might cause issues to the ol gut. Here is a good one I have found quite useful.

I also have to be careful about the type and amount of alcohol that I consume. People think I am ‘boring’ or ‘nana-ish’ because I don’t go out drinking very much. The real reason why I prefer to stay at home is because I am convinced I am allergic to alcohol and I either get sick or get a serious bout of ‘booze poo’s’ while out in town/ house parties etc. It’s gross and makes me feel very un-sexy and VERY self conscious. I constantly worry about pooping in a foreign toilet (not at home) and it not flushing. Like, what do you do? Wait and hope that it flushes the second time? Walk out and advise the next toilet goer that the toilet was ‘soiled’ when you went in? Scoop it up and throw it out the window? The first option is normally the best bet. Or staying at home is even safer. Moral of the story here is to consume in moderation and never stray far from a loo.

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Image courtesy of Pinterest

I have also sat myself down and taken a good long look at the things I am eating. I am a sucker for a delicious lemon muffin and a bag of twisties. But those things generally cause me to get a tummy ache. Oh and ice cream is an absolute NO DEAL. So I stripped back my pantry and refrigerator to things that I know I can eat without any nasty side effects. Sustainable fish, nuts, free range chicken, low FODMAP vegetables, lean red meat, fruit (I can’t eat apples) such as melon, plums, berries, mango and bananas, eggs, oat milk and seeds are my staple foods. I tend to stay away from wheat although making a nice loaf of wholegrain bread on the weekend is a nice treat. I find the easiest way to adhere to a gut-safe diet is to make my own dinners (from scratch) and keeping half of it for lunch the next day. I’ll have a smoothie for brekky- usually with a banana, oat milk, some chia seeds, LSA and oats and also occasionally a spoon of sugar-free hot chocolate. Snacking on fruit during the day is enough to keep me going and then a walk after work and a nice home made dinner has me set for the evening.

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Image courtesy of MyRecipe.com

It all sounds easy in theory! But living with IBS is not easy- it is really, really hard. My poor boyfriend has to deal with me and all my ghastly side effects and complaints. I have to take days off work because I am so ill I can’t handle being 10 steps away from a bathroom. I say “I can’t eat that” about 5 times a day and beg my boyfriend to get me a tummy transplant on the regular.

I have started reading a great book called ‘GUT’ by Giulia Enders which you can buy here and it is really, really interesting!

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It is all a balancing act. I’m still looking for my balance but I have attained some pro-biotics which should help and fingers crossed that eating a plain diet of meat and vege will bring me some relief!

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips for me!

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#BananaOatMuffins

These muffins are the bomb-diggity (Urban Dictionary meaning: Awesomeness in its purest form; totally the awesomest, no lie) so you should give them a go. I like to think they are okay to eat in moderation too because they are not full of all the bad stuff that conventional muffins often have (loads of sugar, chocolate, icing, butter etc).

So here is what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups of wheatmeal flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 free range egg

3/4 cup oat milk (you can make your own, find the details in the ‘recipe’ tab)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup mashed bananas (or a little extra for good measure).

What you need to do:

Heat up the oven to 200 degrees celsius and grab your fave baking bowl. Pop the flour, oats, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl and mix. In a separate bowl, beat the egg lightly and add the milk, vanilla extract and oil. Add the mashed banana and combine. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and combine- don’t over mix. Evenly dollop the mixture into your muffin tin and pop into the oven for 15-20 mins. It will make 12.

These muffins are also really nice with 1/2 cup of shredded coconut if you want to add that in too. You can add an extra banana if the mixture is too dry. If you like chocolate in your muffins I would recommend 70% dark chocolate as this is much lower in sugar content than regular dairy chocolate.

These muffins are dense but really yummy for a snack if you are out and about or for morning/afternoon tea at work. And don’t forget to make some coconut cream if you are serving these for dessert!

If you have a shared lunch or pot luck coming up- take some of these along!

Enjoy!

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#CoconutCream

Okay, so I have quit dairy due to some issues with intolerance. I thought it would be hard but I found a recipe for whipped coconut cream and thought ‘Damn that sounds good!’

I was scrolling through my I Quit Sugar book and found the recipe- 1 can of coconut cream and 1 teaspoon of stevia. I didn’t have any stevia so opted for coconut sugar.

All you have to do is put a can of coconut cream upside down in the fridge and leave it for a couple of hours (the recipe said overnight but it works after a couple of hours). When you open the can, the coconut cream will be thick and you just have to scoop it out with a spoon. You can use the milk at the bottom of the can for a smoothie the next morning.

If any of it makes it to the bowl (I’ll admit, I licked the spoon… maybe more than one spoon) add in the sugar and beat it until it is thick.

Pop it into a jar and into the fridge. Leave it for about an hour to set and then eat it -off the spoon, on a scone, maybe on top of your overnight-oats!

Just don’t overdo it, coconut milk/cream is best for you when eaten in moderation. It is known to help prevent infection and viruses; and coconut water is a great alternative to isotonic drinks after exercise because it is loaded with electrolytes. Cool eh?

Now that I think about it, I might add some cinnamon to my next batch of coconut cream, what do you think?!

So much yum.

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#FebruaryFaves

February Faves

So I’ve been cleaning out  lately (wardrobe/under the bed/shoe collection) and dropping the things I no longer need or want to local op shops. I came across some of the things that I really love so I thought I would share with you the products I enjoy using!

– First off, for Christmas 2015 my mum gave me a really cool face sponge. Made by Kuu Konjac, the sponges are biodegradable and chemical free. They are a hard sponge until immersed in water and as long as you hang it up (outside the shower) it can last 2-3 months. I use mine with a cleanser or just to give my skin a boost as it is good for generating new skin cells and stimulating blood circulation. There are different types of sponges for different types of skin types and they are really affordable.
You can read more about it here 

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-I used to have long, thick hair but November last year I cut it all off! I decided a ‘Lob’ (long bob) was for me, and I have never regretted it! I decided to get some decent hair products to make sure I kept it nice and healthy so I grabbed some Eleven Hair Miracle. You use it on wet hair, like a leave in conditioner and boy does it make a difference! My hair is so much easier to manage now, and seems to be really healthy. The absolute best thing about Eleven products is that they aren’t tested on animals! Check it out here 

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-Wendyl’s Citrus rub on deoderant is a product that I have only just started using and so far I love it. It is an all natural deoderant made with coconut oil, baking soda, Arrowroot and essential oils. It smells really nice and it is nice to know that there isn’t any aluminium or other nasty chemicals going onto my body. Try it! 

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-In my January Goodie Box (http://goodiebox.co.nz/) I got a So Susan Light Diffuser compact. I love that it is cruelty free and it gives my face a gorgeous glow. The darker half is great for contouring and the lighter half is good for an all over illumiator. I dont have to feel guilty about wearing make up if it is from So Susan 🙂 Find it out here  or look it up on Fishpond.co.nz to buy it in NZ.

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-Lastly I’d like to make a shout out to my skin-saving cleanser from Lush called Ultrabland. It is really oily but it gets off make up and keeps my dry skin moisturised. It is recommended for any skin types and it normally takes about a month for the cleanser to do it’s thang. I’ve been using it for about 2 years now and my skin has never looked better. You can buy it from any Lush stores or online here

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Let me know if you have tried any of these products and what you thought of them!

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