Ice, ice baby

August 27, 2014

It seems like everyone in celebrity-land is jumping on the ice challenge bandwagon at the moment, with a raft of famous faces taking part in a soggy challenge in the name of a good cause.

And it has to be said: Bill Gates has geekified the whole thing and taken it to a new level.

Do I detect a spot of deja vu? Didn’t we already do that here? OK, so our watery warriors were acting in the name of the Cancer Foundation and the northern hemisphere Johnny-come-latelys are raising awareness of ALS, but you get my drift.

For anyone who may have been residing under a rock for the last little while, the ice bucket challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on your head to promote awareness, and to encourage people to donate to the cause. If you do the challenge, you also get to nominate others.

Celebrities have taken to it like the proverbial duck to (icy) water and the ice bucket challenge has exploded on social media.

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of grumbling about it all online, with complaints about it being a waste of water, the whole slacktivism argument and reminders that we’d be better off just donating to the cause.

While I usually agree with anyone who pokes a sharp stick at slacktivism, in this case I reckon it’s pretty inoffensive. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or motor neurone disorder, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a terrible illness that offers little more than a grim and short life for those diagnosed with it. Every muscle in the body eventually atrophies until the sufferer dies

Awful, truly awful.

A friend of my in-law’s died from this disease and each time they visited her they saw her struggle more and more just to swallow, to speak. Just to breathe.

It’s also relatively rare, so anything that raises awareness has got to be a good thing. Awareness means there is more chance of research, and the more research there is, the better the chance of one day finding a cure and/or prevention.

While I’d like to hear that all those well-paid celebs uploading their cutsie videos are also chucking a few dollars at the research fund, I can’t feel to peeved about them putting the spotlight on this disease.

Slacktivism normally bugs the living crap out of me, particularly when it’s done via Facebook or other social media sites. You know what I mean: the stupid, pointless status updates about how there are people in this world with [insert illness/fear/whatever here] and how if you are brave enough you’ll copy and paste this post into your own status to show your support. Ooooh, yes, very supportive.

Or the equally stupid, equally pointless cryptic updates that involve mention of the colour of your undies, or some outrageous statement about being knocked up to raise awareness of breast cancer but with the warning to not let the men in your life in on the secret, just to make it fun. Um, sure. Because we all know breast cancer’s fun, right? And cryptic messages that we keep secret from half the population? What an awesome way to raise awareness.

Yes, that was sarcasm.

The ice bucket challenge is raising awareness. Let’s just hope it also raises some cash.

Oh, and really northern hemisphere dudes, us Kiwis were a tad tougher about the whole thing, it being the middle of winter and all!



Dr Lewinn’s Skin Perfect primer & foundation

August 16, 2014

2014-05-DrLewinnsA couple of foil sample sachets of this product arrived with my May Goodiebox subscription, and because there was so little else’s in the box to review I thought I had better give this stuff a try.

The primer delivered on its promise of leaving my skin smooth and soft and I would definitely look at buying this again. Coverage felt light but complete.

However, I wasn’t such a fan of the foundation. I ignored the fact that the colour was totally wrong for me (gee, thanks Goodiebox), and judged it purely on how it felt and how it covered. All-in-all, it looked a little patchy and felt a bit heavy, which surprised me.  I think I’ll stick to my L’Oreal CC cream.

DR LEWINN’S Skin Perfect primer and foundation (RRP $45.90 each for 30ml)


Bye for now

July 31, 2014

I’m on holiday until the 19th so am off to Aussie for a week or so. Hopefully it’ll be a tad warmer than it is here right now!

And we’ll be back, of course, in time for the opening day of the whitebait season on the 15th.


I do … in debt

July 30, 2014


According to Quartz, the taste for ridiculously expensive weddings is nothing new, but I’m finding it hard to get my head around the average spend in 2013 of an eye-watering $29,548.

I get that brides want their big day, but holy crap that’s a lot of dosh. That’s a deposit on a house, or a decent start on one.

Or a honeymoon.

Or a new car.

Quartz, says that figure represents 49 per cent of the median household income, and while weddings back in the 1930s averaged 25 per cent of household income, it’s almost worse because that was in the middle of the Great Depression, when so many were out of work and the economy was pretty much fecked. Hmm, that sounds familiar…

But I digress. Am I some sort of freak of nature? I spent a fraction of that on my wedding and even now, 18 or so years down the track, have no regrets about our cheap day: the most important thing for me was that our parents were there, and they were. We hurried along our wedding date because my mother’s health had taken a turn for the worse so our wedding went from “we’ll probably get married in the next couple of years” to “we’re getting hitched on Saturday”. That decision was made on a Sunday afternoon, back in March 1996.

I hired a dress (couldn’t find one I liked, didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for something I’d never wear again), bought my shoes at the Warehouse (where every bride gets a bargain …), the real estate agent did my hair for me during our open home (we were trying to sell our house at the time, and we actually bought another house that same day), and soothed the nerves of my very, very nervous matron of honour with alcohol.

All up, I think our big day cost maybe a couple of hundred bucks.

It’s not what you spend that makes it work.


Ecostore shampoo and conditioner

July 14, 2014

2014-06-Ecostore-condThis isn’t one of the more luxury brands around, but at $10 a bottle I did expect something a bit better for my dry and somewhat stressed hair.

I have no problem with cheaper brands of shampoo (truth be told, I think it’s an absolute rip off to be paying $20-$50 for shampoo and I’m sick to death of all the bullshit advertising that promises these hair detergents can actually repair your hair, but that’s a rant for another day).

These were OK, nothing more. My hair felt clean after using them, but not especially moisturised.

ECOSTORE shampoo & conditioner for dry, damaged or coloured hair (RRP $9.99 each for 220ml)


Goodiebox, June unboxing

July 11, 2014


The June theme was “Winter Wonders” and the box came with two full-sized products, two packs that contained five samples between them, a separate perfume sample (so six samples in total) and what the GoodieBox girls tagged as a lifestyle extra: panty liners.

Here’s the rundown on my June goodies. Click on the links for full reviews of some products.

DR LEWINN’S Essentials hand and nail cream (RRP $29.99 for 100g); full-sized product supplied so $29.99 value: I’ll say it once again, you can never have too many hand creams. Good brand, and a full size too. Awesome!

MEDOFLOWERS SERIES Regenerate eye cream, Replenish night cream, Revolution multi-vitamin serum (RRP 30ml eye cream $57, 50ml night cream $55.99, 30ml serum $69.69); 2 x 4g & 1 x 3ml samples, so approx $19 value): Good size little sample pots of a New Zealand-made skincare range. Am keen to try this one.

ECOSTORE shampoo & conditioner for dry, damaged or coloured hair (RRP $9.99 each for 220ml); 2 x 35ml samples so $3.18 value: I don’t know anything at all about this range but it’s always good to try eco-friendly products. Good sized samples, too: a bit bigger than the average hotel-size bottle.

JEMMA KIDD Crushed Jewel Creme Duo (RRP $27); full-sized product supplied so $27 value: Another full-sized product, an eyeshadow in an awesome dark olive green colour that comes with sparkles. Looks like fun.

CHLOE Love Eau Florale perfume (RRP $99 for 30ml); 1.2ml sample so $3.96 value: A wee spray tube of perfume. A nice size to chuck in the handbag or take on holiday. It’s got a nice, light floral fragrance without being overpowering. Nice and fresh for winter.

LIFESTYLE EXTRA: U By Kotex liners (RRP $4.50 for 30 liners); full-sized product supplied so $4.50 value: *sigh* … is this a step up from the tampons they sent last month? I’ve got nothing more to say on the subject.

My thoughts

After the pretty poor showing of the past two months, I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope. And with the price being boosted to $30 plus delivery, and being short-changed by one product last month, I was feeling a tad peeved about the whole thing. Sure, a $5 increase doesn’t sound like a lot, but bear in mind that’s a whopping 20 per cent increase on the original price.

First of all, let’s address the issue of the so-called lifestyle extra, the liners. I expect to find things that are little luxuries in something called GoodieBox … last month it was tampons, now this. What’s next? A roll of toilet paper?

Aside from that, there were a couple of decent full-sized products and the samples were also quite generous.

The missing eyeliner from last month was tucked into my package this time around but I do have my doubts about the stated value of that belated NYC eyeliner (and the lip gloss that did make it to last month’s GoodieBox), because that range is about the cheapest you’ll find in America ($2 Shop territory, a quick check online shows the lipsticks retail for $1.99).

This month’s goodies had a retail value of around $87.63 for the $35 subscription cost (which includes delivery). That’s a big improvement on the past few months.

What is Goodiebox?

It’s a subscription service where you pay a monthly fee to receive a box of beauty products delivered to your door. The cost is around $35 a month (including delivery), and for that you will get a minimum of five “premium” beauty samples. These samples are sometimes generous sizes, and often there are a few full-sized products in your little box of goodies. Click here to join.




Jillian "George" Allison-Aitken

I live in the deep south of New Zealand, where smelly dairy cows are taking over from sheep in the livestock stakes. My hometown is the small but perfectly formed city of Invercargill, which is also the hometown of the original boy racer, Burt Munro. Find out more about me here.


Click for Invercargill, New Zealand Forecast