Emporia Cocoa and Shea Butter Facial Tissues

Image credit – emporiatissue.com.au

Emporia Cocoa and Shea Butter Facial Tissues

Heaven…. I’m in heaven….

My, oh my, tissues have never been so soft and useable! I have just emerged from the snotty depths of a horrible bout of flu, and these supreme tissues – picked up by my mother-in-law at Coles – made life that much more bearable. They are the softest tissues I’ve ever used, beating even those aloe-infused Kleenex inventions! I am pleased to say that my nose did not develop any of that annoying chafing that can happen with extensive nose-blowing; no, these were pure comfort right to the last snuffle.

They are not the cheapest tissues on the market – $3.85 for a box of 125 – but they’re worth it. If you see them go on sale, stock all the way up. Heck, put some away for next winter. Trust me, these are just the bees knees of the tissue world.

In Short:

5 out of 5, get the tissues.

Diva Cup – Guest Review

Image source: https://www.menstrualcupsaustraliaonline.com.au/product/divacup/

Diva Cup Review

Guest writer Natalie Cooper shares her experience of the Diva menstrual cup – an environmentally conscious alternative to pads and tampons

After seeing several ads on Facebook for menstrual cups, I finally decided to give one a try after I turned 40. Part of me wishes I’d tried this years ago – I’ve likely only a few more years of needing to use such products, but considering I’ve basically eliminated the need to purchase sanitary products…

Based on statistics on http://www.sustainablemenstruationaustralia.com.au/greener.html, the average woman uses around 12,000 pads and tampons in a lifetime, contributing to approximately 120 kg of landfill. From a financial perspective, the average period costs around $7.50 a cycle (based on 3 regular pads and 1 overnight pad per day for a five day cycle every 28 days) which rounds out at just under $100 a year, and roughly $4000 in a lifetime.

One diva cup costs around $50-$60 and if taken care of well, will last up to ten years. That’s a saving of $940 – not even mentioning the reduction in landfill.

And here’s where it gets personal – if you don’t want to know the detail, skip to the bottom for the pros and cons, and some tips (though frankly, I think there needs to be more open conversation about periods – they are a fact of life, and shouldn’t be taboo).

My personal journey started about four months ago – towards the end of a period I decided to bite the bullet and fork out the $49.99 for a Diva Cup at Chemist Warehouse. In Australia, the Diva Cup appears to be the most accessible menstrual cup from retailers, though there are a few others with limited retail sellers. Other cups are more easily available online. My choice was mainly due to accessibility. The Diva Cup comes in two sizes – one for younger women who haven’t had children, the other for women who have given birth, or are older. Muscle elasticity changes with age and giving birth, so I went with the suggested size for my age.

In the box, you get the cup, a little cloth bag, and an instruction leaflet. First and foremost – you need to wash your hands before starting, and give the cup a wash with some fragrance-free soap in warm water. Because I had spent a little time online researching the cup and how to use it, I wasn’t going in blind with my first try – I did read the instructions in full (it’s important to do this as they can vary from brand to brand), and managed a successful insertion on the first try.

There’s two different folds you can try for insertion – either squish it flat, and then fold it in half, or you can kind of fold in the side from an angle. The instructions suggest the first as your initial try, then the latter if the first doesn’t work. Since the first one worked for me, I didn’t bother with the second during that cycle (I have since, but prefer the first). The angle of insertion is a little different too – rather than more of an upward angle, you insert it pointing the rim towards your tailbone. Once it’s in you need to run your finger around the base to make sure your cup has opened – you might need to pull it out a little and give it a twist (anything from a quarter twist to a full 360 degree turn). I find that I know it’s opened fully when I feel a little bit of suction, basically creating the seal. (Note that some cups don’t have to open fully – another reason why you need to read the instructions in full before starting).

The leaflet says you’re not supposed to feel it (the bottom of the cup basically sits almost flush with your vaginal opening, unlike a tampon which is pushed further in). On the Diva Cup, there’s a little stem that protrudes from the base of the cup. I can feel it when it’s first inserted, but then pretty much forget it’s there, but then Ialways could feel a tampon string too, so it doesn’t really bother me. You can actually trim some of the stem off the bottom, but as it hasn’t caused me any issues, I’ve left mine attached. It also has a few grooves that can help with the removal process.

I can’t remember how many hours I had it in for the first time – probably around six to eight. I must say, it’s one of the most refreshing periods (pun intended) of my life! As someone who frequently gets rashes due to things getting claustrophobic and up close and personal with plastic for hours on end, being able to wear whatever underwear I liked and letting things breathe was like a breath of fresh air (there’s those puns again…).

I think removal was kind of a worse experience than insertion…or maybe just different. Again, starting with clean hands, you have to get your fingers up there a bit, pinch the cup to break the seal that forms around the rim, and pull it out. If you don’t break the seal properly, there’s a weird suctioning feeling from your insides – not painful, just very odd and a little uncomfortable. It also takes a little care to keep the angle and balance right so you don’t end up with blood all over your hands or the floor (or heaven forbid dropping your cup in the toilet – it hasn’t happened to me (yet), but it has happened to others!). It was at this point I discovered that long nails aren’t recommended for this process – pinching things down there can get a little unpleasant!

A quick wash in the sink with some fragrance-free soap and warm water, and it went back in, again, without any issues. Overnight was just as comfortable and leak free. Morning removal and wash were performed in the shower, and back in it went after I dried off. In all, I wore the cup for two days and two nights, and I was a convert.

Between periods it’s a good idea to sterilise your cup – I usually do mine twice; once immediately after my period finishes, and again a couple of days before it’s due. If you feel squeamish about putting a cup in your cookware, buy a cheap small saucepan for the express purpose of sterilising your cup. Cover it to about 1 cm above the cup, then boil for about five minutes. Be careful taking it out of the water – it does retain the heat for a few minutes. Let it air dry, pop it back in its little bag and you’re done. (I usually sterilise the bag at the same time!).

I enthusiastically rhapsodised to a friend about the diva cup the following week. “It’s like being a vegan, but you can eat meat!” My friend laughed at me because it’s true – most menstrual cup converts will rave about their experience if asked. It’s not a topic we generally raise in conversation (something that needs to change, because if something feels “not normal”, lack of communication might mean you don’t follow up something that could be harmful).

I always felt like I had excessively heavy periods – feeling like on days three to four of my period, cups of blood were coming out rather than the average couple of teaspoons. After using the Diva Cup, I had a way to measure my flow (the cup has a couple of measurement markers on it, if you’re interested in tracking your flow). Turns out mine is average. Maybe I’ve just got sensitive nerves which make the volume of blood feel like more than it actually is.

If you’re interested in what it “looks” like, don’t get freaked out that you might see two layers of liquid – the plasma and red blood cells separate naturally from sitting in the cup for hours on end. I was frantically googling the first time I witnessed this, and greatly relieved when I realised it was perfectly normal! There are also likely to be stringy bits, globs and stuff – it’s just the lining of your uterine wall shedding.

Period number two was due to start the day I flew interstate for a work trip. Being able to pack light in terms of sanitary products was a relief. I wore my cup for the flight up (just in case), and again the next day at work (again, just in case), but my period was a day late due to having been ill the week before. For whatever reason, I didn’t wear it the third day, and of course, hello shark week. Unfortunately, I also hadn’t put the cup in my bag either, so I raced to the nearest pharmacy, nearest supermarket, convenience store, and eventually the Go Vita store at Southern Cross Station. Sure, I could have just forked out for a packet of pads, but it was the principle of the thing!

Wearing the cup throughout a full period was fabulous. Not one single pad or tampon was used that cycle, no rashes were experienced. Previously, I’ve never been able to swim during a period, even using a tampon (for some reason they never worked effectively for me, and I’ve always had to wear at least a light pad as a backup), but this time I could swim. You can wear the cup for up to twelve hours at a stretch. I find that mine shifts a bit when I pass a stool, so I usually remove, empty and wash the cup then too and re-insert after.

Cue period three – and I finally had a couple of days when my lady bits were just like…”nope”. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the cup to sit right. The first day I used it anyway, had a little bit of leakage but nothing major, the second day I reverted to pads. I’ve had days like that with contact lenses too – maybe I just get uncoordinated. The rest of the period was fine. I did discover that the positon I held my body when inserting made a difference (like with tampons). Find your comfortable position and if it works, stick to it.

Between that period and my current one, I did fork out some money for a couple of pairs of Thinx undies. They do give me that little bit of extra reassurance that if, for whatever reason, I do get a little bit of leakage, I’m covered (so to speak). Having said that, there’s been no leakage to date!

I’ve shared my experience with my sisters…though they are all older and either experiencing or approaching that stage of life when things like menstrual cups aren’t necessary! I’ve since encouragedthemtotalktotheirdaughters! Imaginethereductioninwasteandlandfillifwecouldget people onto using menstrual cups or other re-usable sanitary products at an earlier age?

All in all, my experience has been positive – I’ll never go back. I keep a few pads and tampons on hand for backup, but I doubt I’ll be buying more than a packet a year for the remainder of my reproductively fertile days!

TL; DR;

Pros – reduction in waste, saving buckets of money, not having to carry or store stuff for a week, or being able to anticipate (start wearing it the day your period is due), ease of travel, it can stay in for up to 12 hours!

Cons – can take a bit of practice, some days it might just not work, you get VERY familiar with your lady bits, getting blood on your hands (get used to it!)

A few tips:

–  Research and make sure you’re purchasing the right size – most cups come in different sizes, and your needs will vary depending on age and whether you’ve had children or not.

–  Research some more – there are blogs and blogs out there, and even some somewhat graphic videos on YouTube.

–  Guess what? Do a little more research! Cups aren’t the be-all and end-all of reusable menstrual products. Reusable pads, period-proof underwear (I’ve already mentioned Thinx)
also exist. And if you want to stick with pads and tampons, research biodegradable products – Tsuno is one great brand I’ve tried in the past, it’s available on subscription order (so you get an automatic delivery each month) and they contribute half of their profits toward charities that empower women living in poverty.

–  If you decide to try a menstrual cup (and I hope you do!), there are a few different brands and shapes out there. It may seem like a lot of money to fork out, but if you can make a cup last six months to a year before buying a different type, you’ve likely saved yourself some money already.

–  Disabled toilets can be your friend during this time – they usually have their own sink, so removal, emptying and washing the cup doesn’t have to be awkward. Having said that, you can (at a pinch) just wipe it out with some toilet paper, provided you give it a proper clean when you empty it next.

Coles Dental Floss

Coles Dental Floss

Who knew you could get excited about dental floss?

Tonight I tried out the Coles own-brand dental floss. It was there in the cupboard, new, unopened, inviting me with its fresh cleanliness. I ripped open the packaging, pulled out a length of floss, and began cleaning my teeth. MY GOODNESS! I don’t know what they’ve done that’s different to any other type of dental floss, but Coles have created a magical tooth cleaning product!

Perhaps it’s the thickness of the floss; perhaps it’s the extra grippy surface that clings on to those gunky bits between your teeth. I don’t know. But I can tell you, my teeth haven’t felt this clean since my last check-up at the dentist! I thought my toothbrush had done a reasonable job, but this floss scraped out every last blob of goobers. Oral B, Colgate, and all you other wannabe floss contenders, you’ve met your match.

I’m not sponsored by Coles. I’m just a girl, revelling in the feeling of a supreme dental clean.

In Short

5 stars – it’s $3 and it’s fantastic. Just try it.

Ecoriginals Nappies

Ecoriginals Nappies

I can’t praise these highly enough

Nappies are always a hot topic in the parenting world. Every parent wants to know: which ones work the best, have the best value, are kindest to bub’s skin? Everyone has their favourite – and least favourite – for fit, absorbency, price. Add in environmental considerations and the quest for the perfect nappy becomes even harder.

Ecoriginals – an Australian designed and owned brand – has the answer. I discovered these via a baby expo, where they were handing out free samples, before my now three-year-old was born. Put simply, they are the best. Let me tell you why! (And no, I’m not secretly an employee, or paid to write this, I am just blown away by the awesome properties of these poo catchers)[But yes they do have a funky referral system – use the code REFQKTOJZWQNH at the checkout and both you and I will get $20 credit when you place your first order of $70+!].

First, let’s start with absorbency – one of the most important factors when it comes to toosh-huggers. These babies hold a lot of liquid! My daughter was always a very heavy wetter, but leaks were rare – generally limited to that period shortly before I realised she was ready to go up to the next size. Each size lasted a long time before we had to move her up. They were excellent for overnight in particular – one of the key times you’ll get leakage problems. No other nappy came close to the weight of urine that these could hold, which meant that these became all we used for our daughter, as they’re the only brand that would last overnight unless we used a size s big it came to her armpits.

Next – fit. Huggies have improved over the last couple of years, but I used to find them too long and skinny for my girl. Other brands are reasonably good, though a few could stand to have more effective leg elastic Ecoriginals are a very soft, flexible design that will mould to baby’s body for the perfect fit every time. They have a wide middle, which helps to catch everything before it has the chance to ooze out the leg holes. The leg elastic sits snug against the skin but doesn’t dig in or leave red marks.

While we’re talking about softness, I have to say, these nappies would have to be very comfortable to wear. The inner lining is very soft, with no weird, bumpy patterns; the internal absorption material becomes gel-like and expands evenly, so it doesn’t bunch up anywhere like some brands. The outer lining is flexible and has an almost fabric-like feel; it has a naturally give to it and isn’t crunchy or stiff in the slightest.

One of the factors that initially got me interested is the environmental side of things. Ecoriginals – as their name suggests – are made with the environment in mind. They are biodegradable, free from toxic substances such as chlorine, fragrance, dioxins and phthalate, and made primarily from plant-based materials. A huge bonus here is that they are excellent for sensitive baby skin; we found that our little one was far else’s likely to get nappy rash or downstairs eczema while using Ecoriginals.

Price is where these deluxe pants struggle to compete with cheap supermarket brands. Put simply, it costs more to create a high quality product, but at least in this case you can be assured that you really do get what you pay for. And what is that price? Well, it actually varies a little, depending on which of their subscription or bundle deals you choose. The basic cost (before discounts) per nappy ranges from 38 – 56 cents, depending on size. Bundle deals have the option of coming with wipes, and there are a number of different configurations. Each bundle deal offers a bulk buy discount, making them more affordable. Personally, I think they’re more than worth it to know they are helping to avoid nappy rash, save on clothes washing from leaked nappies, and are much better for the environment than plastic nappies which take hundreds of years to degrade.

In Short

5 stars – Order a free sample and see for yourself how wonderful they are! Click here to find the free trial page 🙂

Natural Instinct Nourishing Facial Moisturiser

Natural Instinct Nourishing Facial Moisturiser

There are things I like about it, but it’s not my favourite

Facial moisturisers are a very individual item. What works for one person’s skin won’t necessarily work for someone else’s. My skin is fair and finicky: it doesn’t like to be interfered with too much, or it arks up and gets its revenge with pimples and excess oil. I prefer to put natural products on my skin, so Natural Instinct seemed like the natural choice (sorry, yes, that was a bit of a pun).

I have used Natural Instinct shampoo and conditioner in the past and really enjoyed it. I like that it is an affordable yet somewhat luxurious brand offering products that are free of some of the nasty chemicals you find in conventional brands. In that sense, it ticks all the boxes. But how did it stack up as a moisturiser?

Not quite right for my skin

The Natural Instinct Nourishing Facial Moisturiser smells lovely, and is full of goodies like essential oils and vitamin E. Initially it feels quite thick and sticky on the skin, but it absorbs well and I don’t notice it anymore after 10 minutes or so. I think that if my skin were slightly less delicate it would go on to be a ripper moisturiser, but I have found that it is just a touch too oily for me, and my skin has complained a little bit in the form of excess shine and slight clogging of pores.

In Short:

  • 4 stars – it is a slightly heavier cream, so if your complexion needs that, this is a good choice; otherwise a lighter product might be more suitable.
  • It is a good, naturally sourced product that pleases the senses.

Crystal Body Deodorant Stick

Crystal Body Deodorant Stick

Smell naturally good, without toxic chemicals

A bit of back story…
I first came across natural salt stick deodorant quite by accident. I was staying overnight at a friend’s house; the following day I had a full day in the city with my uni class. I was mortified when I realised I’d forgotten my deodorant! Sacre bleu! Even worse, I was staying with hippies who had virtually nothing in their bathroom cupboard – beside a mysterious salt crystal. I stared at it long and hard before deciding to give it a try. I wet it and applied it to my underarms. In all honesty, I didn’t expect it to do anything.

You can imagine my surprise when, after a long day in the city, walking about and generally giving my underarms a decent chance to work up a stink, I remained odour-free! It was like some kind of crazy hippy magic! When I came across a body crystal in a chemist one day I bought it straight away.

Crystal

My husband and I have been using this brand for a few years now. When our local organic shop closed down and we couldn’t source it from there, we took to buying it online instead. It costs around $10 and lasts up to a year, even with two of us using it. We like this brand because it is big enough to last, the rounded shape is comfortable to apply, and it’s less likely than some other ones we’ve tried to fall into the sink and shatter into a crystal dagger. [In saying that, it does have a tendency to detach from the base as the water seems to loosen the crystal after a few weeks of use, so we have to be careful not to tip the thing into the sink]

This product has no added scent. I like that – deodorants tend to smell a bit yuck as far as I’m concerned; if I want to wear a scent, I’d rather use a perfume or body spray. Conventional deodorants tend to “cover up” smells more than prevent them, so by the end of the day you end up smelling like deodorant and sweat. Crystal body deodorant naturally kills the bacteria that reside in your pits and cause the stank. Your body enjoys the freedom to sweat, and your nostrils (and those of the people around you) and not assaulted with BO.

In short:

5 stars – Get on it! These things are good for you, good for the planet, and good for the hip pocket. The best thing is they really work! Perspire away, you won’t smell bad!

Healesville Sanctuary 

Healesville Sanctuary

Well worth a visit!

It may be tempting to think that a trip to Healesville Sanctuary, a relatively small zoo of native Australian animals, is unnecessary if you’ve been to Melbourne Zoo in the city. After all, the city zoo has things like kangaroos and other native animals there. But there is more to the Sanctuary than you might think, and upgrades made to the facilities over recent years (and continuing now) have made it a wonderful place to explore and relax.

The Animals

Koala sitting in tree eating leaves Aussie icons abound at Healesville Sanctuary. Emus, wombats, platypus, kangaroos and wallabies, and koalas, of course! You can catch the koala show at 1:30pm when the koalas wake up for lunch, and the keepers talk about koala life while feeding them and maintaining the enclosures. Also at 1:30pm is the platypus show, where you can learn some cool facts about platypus (did you know their bill is actually soft and rubbery? I didn’t, until the platypus show!) and have the chance to see one up close.

Paths meander throughout the park, weaving amongst native bush and branching off to different enlcosures. Keep your map handy as you find your way around to features like the reptile room, lyre bird forest, Tasmanian devils, dingoes, and so much more. See goannas, weird and wonderful insects, a possum that can run across windows like a ninja, and even bilbies!

Don’t miss the Birds of Prey show at 12pm and 2:30pm where you’ll see parrots, a hawk, and the star of the show, Jess the eagle. The keepers move about behind the audience, calling the enormous, powerful bird across the arena so that she flies so close you could reach out and touch her – if you dared! [Don’t touch the eagle, please]

Two wallabies

Education

As well as the various talks and shows that happen each day, there are a number of educational features. There is the wildlife hospital where you can actually watch procedures being performed on sick animals, as well as a whole imaginary play area for children to test out the veterinary skills. Dotted along the paths and exhibits there are informative signs that will tell you all about the animals, the land, and the history of the area. Zoo staff are always happy to answer any questions you might have.

Food and fun

If you’re feeling peckish or just want to sit and have a cuppa, there are 3 different cafes in the Sanctuary! Two are kiosk type things serving coffee and snacks. Harvest Cafe is a large venue with indoor and outdoor seating and they supply everything from coffee, chips and pies, to full cooked meals. I tried the Roast Lamb Pie at my last visit and it was SO good! The prices are reasonable, too; Harvest Cafe has become my new haunt when I’m feeling cooped up with the kids.

Speaking of kids – my little one *loves* playing in the sandpit at the big playground. She has fun scurrying up the steps to the giant birds’ nest, crawling through the wombat tunnel and slipping down the slide. When she’s older she’ll probably enjoy the ropes course nearby. There’s also another, smaller playground in a different area which is more like your typical council playground, with a slide and obstacle course, etc.

Shop

The souvenir shop is big and full of exciting things. Plush animals, plastic animals, hand puppets; magnets, stationary, regular souvenir fare; clothing, tea towels, bags; indigenous wares – I haven’t even seen everything they have because there’s just so much! It’s well worth a look on your way out.

In Short

Five stars – Healesville Sanctuary has become a world class zoo with plenty on offer for young and old. I love that we live close enough to just pop in when we’re feeling bored at home. With a cafe for me to grab coffee from, playgrounds for the gal to expend some energy on, and those beautiful animals to wander amongst, it’s always a fantastic experience. [Well… so long as the kid isn’t in a feral mood, but that’s not to do with the zoo!]