Water cooler: fun with soap, why NZ avocados are very special, and chicks for Ag Day

This week in the water cooler, there’s some delightful witchcraft going on at bath time, we find out why NZ avocados are very special (and get two delicious recipes from Nadia Lim), celebrate a very happy dog life, and look at death and life in the hen house.


I love winter (any excuse for an early night, warm blanket, and a book!) but for the past couple of years, winter hasn’t only meant hearty soups and heaters but a lovely bout of eczema. This year I decided I would show my skin some TLC and switch to as many natural products as possible in an attempt to avoid the dreaded e-word, and so far so good!

NB – I found these to be great for sensitive skin, but I’m not recommending them for treating eczema.

Here are a few of my favourites.

My first stop was Lush, mainly because I’m obsessed with their bath bombs. The Dream Cream is a self-preserving hand and body lotion made with oat milk (another at home tip was to soak in a bath with oats, so this seemed far less messy). I love this cream; it’s absorbed easily, lasts all day and it’s kept my skin feeling moisturised without irritating.

I also picked up their Whoosh Shower Jelly which I’d seen on viral internet posts for no other reason than I wanted to play with it.

Don’t ask what kind of witchcraft this flubbery, wobbly, squishy soap is but I am obsessed. For kids or a big kid at heart, this is the best $8.50 to spend. I’ve been using it (read, playing with it) for a fortnight and it’s like new.

Trilogy’s new range for sensitive skin is fragrance-free, dermatologically tested and certified natural. I love that the cleanser doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight and dry but nice and soft.

When I’m not playing with the Lush shower jelly, Nellie Tier has a natural body wash with shea butter and cocoa butter in in three scents.

More stories you might like:
How to future-proof a lifestyle block or farm with 6 design strategies

With all of that effort to treat my skin well, it’s only right to do the same with make-up. The Dr Hauschka Volume Mascara is 100% natural and 100% the best mascara I’ve tried: no clumps, no smudging, no testing on animals. It’s a win!

For lovely lippy, Antipodes Moisture-Boost Healthy Lipsticks are vegetarian (something I’d never considered with lipsticks), all-natural and with New Zealand names.

I’m partial to an Oriental Bay Plum (pictured above) and West Coast Sunset.

Cheree Morrison
NZ Life & Leisure


“An avocado a day keeps the doctor away,” says CEO of Avocado New Zealand Jen Scoular, beaming with excitement at new research released this week.

New Zealand-grown avocados have double the amount of vitamin B6 and 20 per cent more folate than those grown in other parts of the world according to scientists at the Plant & Food’s phytochemical and health labs. Previously it was thought health properties would be universal and all fruit would test the same as the California-grown samples. Not so.

“New Zealand-grown avocados are the Ferrari of the avocado world,” says Nic Gill, associate professor of sport and recreation at Auckland University of Technology (he’s also the All Blacks strength and conditioning coach). “High performing individuals eat avocados throughout the day because they provide nutrient-dense, quality fuel.”

So why are our avocados so good?

It may be it is the same reason that New Zealand’s manuka packs a very powerful punch. Manuka RX, makers of a manuka-oil skin balm, say the high UV levels in New Zealand’s sun require our plants to have extra-strong protection and this translates into bioactives which are health-giving.

Avocado ambassador Nadia Lim advises using avocados in daily salads with roasted chicken, pumpkin and greens or toasted walnuts, a smidge of blue cheese, lots of salad greens, sliced fresh pear and a raspberry dressing.

Roast pumpkin, pear and avocado salad with blue cheese and raspberry balsamic dressing at left; harissa chicken, pumpkin and avocado salad with mint yoghurt dressing at right.

Get these two delicious recipes from Nadia Lim here

More stories you might like:
How to plant willows and poplars

Best advice of all from Nadia: “Avocados can be frozen. They will only be good for smoothies, chocolates sauces or guacamoles but buy when they are a reasonable price and freeze on trays.”

The avocado harvest is about to start. Export receipts grew a whopping amount last year to $280 million and are expected to triple by 2023.


Three years ago, a little black dog with a blue merle muzzle came running out of a kennel, gave me a drive-by kiss as she zoomed past, and has been a blur of love ever since. Evie was joined almost exactly a year later by Biscuit, and there was the amazing discovery that two dogs are more than twice as much fun as one.

This time last year I wasn’t intending to get another dog. But every day suggestions for dog rescues came up on my Facebook page (NB – I was voluntarily subscribed to them all).

A drive to Cambridge and I met a wiggly, happy 18-month-old ‘heading’ dog. An hour later, Jazz jumped in the back seat without giving her tearful foster mum a backward glance, gave me the biggest smile, and we were a three dog family.

The older I get, the more clichés seem to come true. ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd turned’ out to be a thing, just as my wise dog trainer warned me. Integrating Jazz has been a big effort and tested every corner of my dog-loving heart.

Someone, somewhere in her parentage may have been a smart, obedient, focused kind of canine, but Jazz mostly acts like she’s had a couple of glasses of wine at a party and really needs to get some dinner into her. This is her thought process.

“Pawsome idea! Go!!!”

Fun at the dog park with, from left, half of Evie, Biscuit, Jazz.

However, she and her sisters have gifted me something very special: they’ve taught me the best part of being a dog.

More stories you might like:
Recipe: Lemon Pistachio Loaf

One day at the dog park it was pouring with cold, lumpy rain and I was sheltering under a tree, hoodie down, face buried in my phone. The dogs were running around at a thousand miles an hour, then suddenly all three turned and ran towards me, three delighted faces beaming. It was impossible to resist. I put the phone down and spent half an hour in the moment.

There’s a lot of joy in being like a dog.

This family was made with love thanks to:

The Animal Control team at Hamilton Adopt a Dog

Natalie and the volunteers of Retired Working Dog Adoption NZ

Donna and the volunteers of New Lives Animal Rescue

Nadene Hall
Editor, NZ Lifestyle Block


One of my chickens died yesterday. It was dramatic and traumatic.

A friend had come to visit and we went out to see the chickens. I noticed one was hiding and looking in a sad state. When my friend picked it up, it immediately started dribbling fluid from its mouth and its eyes began to glaze over. I ran for the axe – I didn’t want to see if suffer – but as I returned she said not to bother. It had gone. 

There’s a first time for everything. This was the first death on our block, and the first conversation with my three-year-old about what it meant. My friend said the chicken was now sleeping, but I jumped in and said no, it had died. It is important to me that he learns the truth of mortality sooner rather than later.

But life goes on and, coincidentally, today I am picking up some tiny chicks for my five-year-old son who has chosen to raise one to be his pet for Ag-Day.

We sat down and read the chapter on caring for chicks in NZ Lifestyle Block’s special edition How to Care for Your Poultry. We talked about their basic needs and this is what he wrote in his Ag-Day diary.

You need all of the basics: food, water, warmth, and also the special ingredient – love.

Rebecca Needham
Art director, NZ Lifestyle Block


Send this to a friend