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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Road Trip North

Wow it's 99% humidity here today after 5 days of rain - it feels like the tropics.
It is hard to find enthusiasm to do much, so time to update the blog.

Fortunately it didn't rain for the weekend a fortnight ago when we had to travel north for our band to play at a wedding. We thought it was a great excuse for a weekend away and checked out a few places on the way.

Kaeo Public Library


One stop was the little township of Kaeo (pronounced Ky-oh). There are a few shops on the main street, and there was a market happening. I bought three Agee jars for food storage for $1 each. That was ok with me, because years ago I had sold a lot of these when moving for $1 each.



There is a jandal fence in Kaeo - which is something New Zealanders seem to do. Around NZ there is a bra fence, a hubcap fence and a bicycle fence - and probably plenty more. What's their purpose? Who knows - solidarity? something quirky to do with items no longer needed?



Cottage, central Kaeo
The thing Kaeo seems to be most renowned for is serious flooding over the years, being on a river flood plain. It is also close to the lovely Whangaroa Harbour.  

The wedding we played for was further north in Oruru, which is pretty much a farming community. The 80 year old barn is on the family farm and beautifully rustic. The bar was made from an old grain silo.



Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Reusable Gift Bags

Isn't it funny how you always do something one way - then you discover a new and better way. This time I'm talking about gift wrapping.For many years I haven't bought gift wrap, choosing to recycle anything I already had, but insisting that it has to look attractive.
For Christmas this year I made a few fabric gift bags, something I hadn't done before. I couldn't believe how easy it made gift wrapping - and of course the big plus side is that they can be reused time and time again. Also it gets other people (the recipients) using them (hopefully), if not they can give them back.

You don't really see fabric gift bags for sale anywhere do you - apart from maybe online craft sites. So I had a great idea - gift bags for every occasion. 


Fabric gift bags


I flew my idea past a friend who runs an annual Early Childhood Education conference with an environmental theme. She loved it - they want to use them as part of the environmentally friendly conference bags.
The bags can have a drawstring threaded through them and be used to hold kids toys or even as snack bags, or they can be tied with recycled ribbons, hemp string, or even fabric scraps to give gifts in.
So, I have an order for 200 - but I have until November. I am using donated fabric remnants and recycled materials to make them.

Tomatoes
One morning's pick

Derek's catch cry was "You can never have too many tomatoes". Well we have been giving them away, roasting and freezing them and of course enjoying them fresh and in savoury dishes. No, you can never have too many!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Little Piece of Paradise

Wow - Happy New Year! 
This is busy season for us, if you had wondered why I have disappeared.
We live on the coast, so summer is when we get more visitors than usual. It's also the time when our band is busiest, currently playing 1-2 nights/ week.
And the garden - watering, mowing lawns, picking veg and bottling fruit....and Christmas in the middle of all that! 

Visitors with camera, impressed by home baking - rare shot of self.

We had a visit from Derek's brother and his wife recently. The best part for them is if we can get down the river for the day. I whipped up date scones and pikelets to take as we stay down there for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea so that we can catch the incoming tide on the way home.

You can see our place - a little white speck on the green between our heads

We all piled into our little boat for what is a ten minute trip to the river mouth where there is the loveliest usually-deserted beach.



This year the mussels were thick, and a super low tide meant we didn't even need to swim to get them.

I just found a nice sandy place to kneel down - that's brother-in-law Jack


 With easily getting our limit of 25 mussels per person, we had enough for 4 meals of mussels - first with white wine, plus some of the fish I caught on the way home and other ingredients - a simple bouillabaise.
The next night they were done with coconut cream, and the other fish, a kahawai, was marinated in lime juice, then had coconut cream plus other things like chilli and spring onion added.
Next day mussel fritters. 
The rest I gave to my daughter who loves them.

It has mostly been beautiful weather here -I hope it holds out for Saturday, when our band will be playing in the garden bar of the Towai Tavern 

Garden bar awaiting a band

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Bird Scarer, Down the Road for Coffee, Dr Seuss Tree.

Isn't it great when you save something from being thrown out - and finally you find a use for it.


Derek saved these old discs from the bin at his work - and last week they became bird-scarers on our plum tree. I'd always had my doubts about the effectiveness of doing this, but yesterday I stewed a trug full of plums that the birds had not touched since the scarers went up, unless the plums fell on the ground.
I have now added more to the peach tree. 



The plastic cases will be reused to house home-written cds.

It looks like we will have a bumper crop of avocados next year. Got to love avocado trees - we are still picking 2-3 fruit off it every week, and it's getting itself ready with the next crop.



I just had to show you these coffees we were served in a local new cafe/restaurant called Down The Road.



I forgot to take a pic until they were half gone!

Weird name, but it's a lovely old 1930's Art Deco style home converted. The coffees were great by the way.



And lastly...our Christmas tree. This year it's going to be fairly quiet, with Katie still in Argentina as an exchange student. This is an eco friendly, no fuss tree from the side of the road. It is a wilding pine - which is a weed here. It was chosen especially because of it's interesting Dr Seuss-like shape. 



With that I'd like to wish my blog followers and random readers a Merry Christmas, and hope 2018 is wonderful for you. We've had a great 2017 and I hope you have too (but I don't know how it goes by so fast).

๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŽ…Anne

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Ghost Net Art and..a New Fly Swat!

 Hi All. During a recent trip to Brisbane we visited GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art). There we chanced upon an exhibition by some Torres Strait (Northern Queensland) residents using ghost nets - those that have washed up after drifting around in the ocean.

Ghost Net Basket by Mahnah Angela Torenbeek




Ghost Net Basket with Shells by Mahnah Angela Torenbeek
Ghost Net Gear Bag, Blue Flowers by Reggie Sabatino

I just loved these  - zero waste art, plus usable too. These have been exhibited worldwide with ghost net artworks now fetching big $$$.


And for a laugh...My man was complaining that the plastic fly swats always break, so I told him I didn't want any more coming into the house thanks. Instead, I made him one from an ice cream container lid, the handle was a kitchen scraper that had started to break, and it's sewn together with fishing nylon from a reel that someone was about to throw out.


 I have to say that it works a treat.  

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Home Made Advent



We are off to Australia again soon to visit Derek's family, and I decided to make an advent for his 5 year old grandson, to take with us.
Advent's beginnings were religious, and I hope not to offend anyone, but this is not for a religious family, but one that does love Christmas all the same.  
Warning  - it looks a bit over the top- but actually only a little of it has been shop bought. Much of it we already had, including all of the boxes and paper, which are being reused. Some items had been little gifts bought and never given that have been sitting here for years - a good time to use them up.



The part that has been bought is Lego - the grandson's most favourite activity - and it ties in with a Lego book that we've bought him for Christmas. I bought a set that could be divided into many parts and packaged each component up separately.

So I thought that I would list what has gone into it, maybe you'll see that I'm having a little clear out hehe, but things that we thought a small boy might find interesting.

Apart from Lego pieces I have packaged up....

An alphabet letter magnet (regifted) that just happens to be his first initial

A small dinosaur notepad

Knucklebones

A knob of Kauri Gum, with a little printed out explanation for his parents to read to him. You can read about Kauri Gum in an earlier post of mine.

A minute timer - the sort that the sand runs through when you invert it (I think it came from a Christmas cracker)

Some All Blacks cards out of the cereal.

A snowman Christmas decoration and a snowman joke, plus several others along this line.

Skin Tattoo type stickers (two from a set that had been divided up already).

A joke and a paper hat (ex Christmas cracker)

A slide viewer and slides of aquarium fish. (These had been around since my youth), and the viewer was a spare.

Ooh, an antique


A Winnie the Pooh pen that lights up.

Some foreign coins from his Grandad's coin collection.

A little wooden cat and a fish in a matchbox.



The numbers came from a lotto game that I have been using in mixed media pieces.

It definitely will be a one off, one that I'm pretty sure he will love - more than one from the shop with chocolate for every day (which he doesn't like). 

I almost decided not to post this - aware of how indulgent it looks - it turned out to be a lot bigger than I had planned. We are all different in our approaches to giving gifts - and the biggest thing that went into this was a lot of my time.

The Grandson will be opening it all after we have returned home - hopefully it will remind him of his Nanny and Gdad who he doesn't see much of these days since he moved back to Australia. 









Thursday, 19 October 2017

Supermarkets Here Are Up to Something

As you know, my eco-warrior friends and I have been campaigning outside our local Countdown supermarket each weekend for a couple of hours with our reusable bags, trying to get people to buy bags from us, prompting them to bring their own and generally just being a reminder about plastic bags not being good. 

Japanese exchange student Kotori helped us with our bag campaign

Well a few weeks ago we were excited to hear on the news that Countdowns nationwide will be quitting plastic bags, as from 2018! Not only was that great, but only a week after that New World supermarkets announced that they too will quit plastic bags from 2018. That is pretty much all of our supermarkets, as the one other chain already charges people for plastic bags.
The supermarkets have plans for providing reusable bags - New World plans to give away thousands of free bags over the summer, and Countdown has dropped the price of theirs to $1.

We have been so excited by this because our government was pathetic, they wouldn't issue a nation-wide ban. Good news there too - we've just had a change of government to a more eco-minded one, so we are waiting to see some positive changes for our environment.

The announcement has brought about a change of attitude to what we are doing too. The girls report that instead of our bags selling slowly - they are now flying out - they've been selling 3-4 times as many.

We've had some media promotion for our Boomerang Bag making recently (got our picture in the local paper), and one spin-off was that yesterday I got to talk to a group of Girl's Brigaders, who are embarking on making produce bags for their families.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow 

Another positive from New World supermarkets has been their Little Garden giveaways. This is the second year that they have given away these cute little pots of lots of different types of seeds.



The only non-biodegradable part is the wee name card - provided you didn't buy their stupid plastic watering system. They make a nice change from the usual plastic ticky tacky toys they give out as promotions.
People have been loving them, and now that the promotion has finished, they have donated boxes of leftover seed pots to schools and kindergartens.



This is the celery patch that is growing from last year's starters. It's the best celery I've ever grown - with very little input from me.



Well that's all for this week, a bit of happy news, eh. It's Labour weekend here, when everyone traditionally swarms the garden centres and starts planting. Not us though - we've grown all of ours from seed (except the basil which didn't come up).