Our Lilliput Library!

We’ve been moved in a few weeks now.

The boxes are (almost!) gone from the hallway, the kids (all four of them!) are settled in, and things are looking sorted. So on the weekend it was time to put up our own new Lilliput Library.

Here it is, looking lovely at our front gate:

Lilliput Libraries are a community project, started in Dunedin by Ruth Arnison a few years ago. Our own library is No 109, so there are a fair number around Dunedin now! You can view their locations around Dunedin on Google Maps.

The project has a WordPress blog, also run by Ruth. The Libraries also have a Facebook page and an Instagram page, with some lovely images of the various libraries around Dunedin. Take a look. Some of the artwork is absolutely beautiful.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

This is my friend Lhizz Browne’s Lilliput Library.

Lhizz’s Lilliput Library is up and running at 186 Pine Hill, so drop by and grab or add a book to this lovely library.

The library below has Diane Smith as its Guardian. She commisioned artist Jack Pillans to paint her fence to match, and the result is stunning. You can view the Lilliput Library – and the fence artwork – at 71 Newington Avenue:

Diane Smith’s beautiful Lilliput Library and fence artwork by local artist Jack Pillans.

Sharing books is a wonderful thing to do!

Lilliput Libraries are based on the concept of book sharing:

Take a book now…
Return or donate a book later.

Whenever you see a Lilliput Library, feel free to open the door and have a browse. Choose a book you’d like to read. You can keep the book for a while, or forever – Lilliput Libraries are cost-free, and there’s no membership required.

Then, if you are able, share a book back to any Lilliput Library when you can.

It’s that simple!

Becoming a Lilliput Library “Guardian

If you’d like to become a “Guardian” of a Lilliput Library in Dunedin, contact Ruth Arnison via the Lilliput Libraries blog. She’s a lovely lady and is incredibly helpful.

If you’re an artist or have carpentry skills, or can donate paint or woodworking products and you would like to support the Lilliput Libraries project, please also contact Ruth.

If you live in another city and would like to start up your own Lilliput Libraries scheme or build your own independent Lilliput Library, I can’t think of a lovelier way to encourage community and reading!

Minimalist makeup: Five products. All done.

I don’t wear a lot of makeup. Not quite ready to go “full hippie” 🙂 and avoid makeup altogether, I’ve still managed to get my makeup products down, over time, to five easy products that do the job well and help me look great with minimal fuss.

I’d like to share them with you. And no, I’m not getting a kick back – these are just great products that work and make life easy.

1. Sunblock. A necessity. Most sunblocks double as moisturizers, did you know? Mine is a cheap supermarket brand suitable for both face and body – Olay’s Complete defence daily UV moisturising lotion SPF 30+. Whatever else you might consider a necessity, sunblock is absolutely on the list. Choose one that is broad-spectrum and affordable enough that you won’t skimp.

2. BB cream. I’m currently using Garnier’s BB cream miracle skin perfector for sensitive skin in “Light”. I’m very happy with this product, it’s affordable (can you tell I like good value products?), excellent quality, and another great supermarket find.

I use BB cream instead of foundation or powder and here’s why: as you age (I’m heading towards 50), heavier formulations will sink into tiny lines and creases and make them more noticeable, while lighter products such as BB (beauty balm) creams have light reflecting ingredients that really do make your skin look better. And if you have dry skin (like mine), powder will emphasize every little dry patch. Ugh!

3. Eyeliner. Mine is friendly to contact lenses, and the soft grey color is suitable all year round. I use Clinique Kohl Shaper for Eyes in “202 Blackened Pewter”. It has a sharpener in the lid section, and goes on nice and soft. Most brands of contact lens-friendly eyeliners are quite good – I just like this one. Grey eyeliner is a softer alternative than black if you have blue eyes (I do) or your eyes are on the small side (yep, that too).

4. All over color. I use Clinique’s Chubby Stick Cheek Color Balm in “01 Amp’d Up Apple” for cheeks and eyes. It’s lovely and soft, and an excellent way to give all over color in one easy step. I find I don’t need anything more, and have even used this as a lip balm on occasion when I don’t want a full lipstick, such as in high summer at the beach. The BodyShop and ELF make similar products if you prefer to avoid the cosmetics counters.

5. Permanent lipstick. I’ve been a fan of L’Oreal’s Infallible 2-step in “312 Incessant Russet” for a couple of years now. It lasts all day, and feels fantastic on. Maybelline and Max Factor also both do permanent lipsticks in identical formulations to this one, so have a look and find a color that works for you. Strongly recommended.

Minimalist makeup. Five products. All done. Too easy!

Minimalist makeup. Five products. All done. Too easy!

No, I don’t wear mascara…

In case you noticed, there’s no mascara on the list.

I don’t wear it because I’m an allergy sufferer with sensitive skin, and I’m also not fond of the “panda eyes” look that mascara invariably gives me after a few hours of wear. I don’t think it’s healthy putting anything that close to my eyes, so I’ve been avoiding it for a while now.

Frankly, nobody has noticed 🙂

The aurora australis…

For the last few evenings, the aurora australis, the southern lights, have been visible in our skies.

It’s a stunning sight.

The aurora australis, as seen in central otago, New Zealand.

The aurora australis, as seen in central otago, New Zealand.

I’ll be out looking for the lights tonight. The sky is clear, it has been frosty and bright, and the stars have had that blue-white twinkle they old get when it is very, very cold. Perfect viewing weather for the lights.


We’re nearly 46 degrees south of the Equator. Next stop for us, apart from the town of Invercargill, is Antarctica. So it’s not surprising we can see the lights at various times during the year.

Sometimes we forget how beautiful this world is. But when we remember, we cherish it all the more.

Images of the Aurora Australis from BackpackerGuide.Nz.

Lunar eclipse: blood moon

Last night was a beautiful, beautiful full lunar eclipse.

Being on the east coast on New Zealand, we had front row seats for this rare occurence. So after a date night in town, my boyfriend and I drove out of the city to the southern beaches, pulled up the car by the sea, and waited.

It was worth the wait.

We’d been wondering whether the cloud cover would be too much to see anything, as the last few days have been cloudy, but it was perfect. We sat and watched as the earth’s shadow swallowed up the moon bit by bit, with a glorious ring around the moon, then the whole moon turned slowly to blood red, the “blood moon” that this phenomenon is named.

A beautiful photo of the blood moon as seen in Dunedin. Photo by Paul Gee (I'm not that good a photographer!)

A beautiful photo of the blood moon as seen in Dunedin. Photo by Paul Gee (I’m not that good a photographer!)

Once the eclipse was over, the cloud cover came back. It was as though the curtains were drawing back across the stage, the show over.

Beach beauty…

Even on a cold wintry day the beach is beautiful

Even on a cold wintry day the beach is beautiful

Seeing an empty stretch of sand makes me want to run forever

Seeing an empty stretch of sand makes me want to run forever

Looking down between my feet, I see ripples and patterns made by nature

Looking down between my feet, I see ripples and patterns made by nature

The beach is made up of countless tiny shells...

The beach is made up of countless tiny shells…

These photos were taken at Aramoana beach, near Dunedin, New Zealand. I hope you enjoyed them.

For want of a new hat…

A couple of weeks ago I was doing a favour for a friend who is moving to town. He’d bought some furniture in an online sale, and I was picking it up for him to store in my garage until he’s found somewhere to live.

While I was there, I noticed a beautiful old standard lamp, sitting in the corner. It was a deceased estate, and when I asked the lady clearing the house out what she intended to do with it, she answered she was going to throw it out.

I offered her ten dollars. She accepted on the spot.

The lamp had a very ugly, tatty old orange lampshade. So yesterday I went to my local hardware shop and picked up a simple cream shade to replace the old one.

Here’s my old lamp, looking like new again:

Not an ugly duckling any more...and no longer destined for the junkyard!

Not an ugly duckling any more…and no longer destined for the junkyard!

I don’t know where the lamp came from, but I know they don’t make furniture like this any more, not in my price range, and certainly not for ten dollars! The stem is carved into entwined tree branches, and is solid wood. I think it’s quite lovely, and would guess it dates from the 1960s or thereabouts. Possibly earlier. Any ideas?

It will now take a proud place as my reading lamp in my new home.

For want of a new hat, this old trash became a new treasure. Simplicity isn’t just about removing the unnecessary. Sometimes it’s about seeing beauty by just opening our eyes.

How much does your hair need washing really?

I used to wash my hair daily. I’d give a really good squirt of shampoo, a big dollop of conditioner, and away I’d go. Then I’d have to blow dry it (or course) and hot iron it straight, so it was neat and tidy and styled.

I wondered why my hair was always dry, damaged, split ends. Couldn’t figure it out.

I was straightening and blow drying my hair too much, and washing it too much. Split ends were the result.

I was straightening and blow drying my hair too much, and washing it too much. Split ends were the result.

These days, I wash my hair twice a week, on the weekend (either Saturday or Sunday, whenever I’m free) and on Wednesdays. In the evenings. I use a baby shampoo with conditioner combination product, which I buy in large 750 ml squeeze bottles, and then I use a conditioner beyond that, because I really am someone with dry hair and skin. Then I let it air dry, and I straighten it. It takes about ten minutes to do so, and my hair looks great.

Most people wash their hair too much, and use way too much product on their hair. By doing this not only are you stripping your hair of its natural oils and weighing it down with chemical, you’re also wasting money. These days I literally use the “dime sized amount” – about the size of a New Zealand twenty cent piece – of shampoo, and that’s plenty.

The less straightening and blow drying we do on our hair the better too. Twice a week is enough to keep my hair looking great. The rest of the time, when I’m in the shower, I wear a shower cap to stop my hair getting wet and frizzy. Yeah, it looks stupid but it works.

Truth is, our hair doesn’t really get very dirty. Unless you’re sweating into it a lot, or doing manual labour, it’ll be fairly clean for days on end. Don’t get suckered into the “daily wash” routine. You don’t need it.