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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

So, What Have You Been Up To?

Yesterday I had lunch with sixteen of my ex-colleagues, in honour of one who has returned briefly from USA to visit. It was her first time reunited with many of us for about 24 years, so there was a lot of noise and catching up.
Someone asked me what I had been up to - and it's so hard to put it into words, so here is a pictorial.

Mondays are for walks on the local beach, exercising the dog and myself, plus picking up plastic etc.

The garden has been keeping me busy - raising seeds, getting them into the garden. There's corn, beans, garlic, lettuces, spring onions, peas, spinach, beetroot, cucumbers, courgettes, strawberries, kale, silverbeet, tomatoes, coriander etc..

The tamarillo trees that I raised from seed are getting planted out

This is a fishing float, a bit worse for wear that I rescued off the beach. I decided to repurpose it, rather than throw it out.

Today I have been making Guava Moth traps. I will wait until these are proven successful, then post the recipe. I'm not sure where else in the world they have these blighters, but they do so much damage to fruit.

Guava moth traps - reportedly very effective

Today I have also spent a couple of hours packaging meat for the freezer. I buy it paper wrapped from the local butcher. It is a way to reuse the small amount of food packaging that I still get. The paper wrapping all goes into the compost. 

An update on my No Junk Mail Signs that I hand delivered (from about 4 posts back) - there are now three up out of the fifteen or so delivered. Yay, three less households getting all that Junk Mail! 

It's a quiet life, but busy enough. Now - on to my sax practice!

My two saxophones - that's a vintage car in behind there at a gig we played in a workshop

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Green Drinks, Black Pools (of Ngawha)

Last night we finally managed to get to Green Drinks. If you haven't heard of this before it is an international movement where like-minded greenies get together to network and socialize once a month.
See here for Green Drinks International
In our instance the convener has a large green top hat so that newcomers know which table to gather at.
There were about a dozen people there, 30's and up, of varying shades of green and degrees of involvement in projects, or not. It was great meeting new people. After someone had inquired after our Plastic Bag Free project and I mentioned that we were really needing more people to help us  - two people volunteered!
The only disappointment was that my drink turned up with a plastic straw in it. Really?! I think that is getting sorted.

A little arrangement that I made for a friend yesterday - totally from my garden plus recycled. I so love being able to do that.

I finally got to deliver those No Junk Mail stickers yesterday that I mentioned here

I delivered about fifteen to my daughter's neighbours' letterboxes. I had to go back there a few hours later and was happy to see that one had been put onto a letterbox immediately. I'll keep you posted, but even one letterbox free of junk mail makes that worthwhile in my eyes.

Ngawha Hot Springs
Those temperatures are celsius of course

That is pronounced Nar-fa. (Maori word meaning a boiling spring).
I have mentioned Ngawha briefly before but didn't have any photos.
Ngawha is about ten minutes drive from the township of Kaikohe in Northland, New Zealand. 
Ngawha's other claim to fame is that it is the site of Northland's prison.
It's a shame you can't smell the place - it has a very strong sulphur odour, which is why people should only use old swimsuits - you can't get the smell out.
The pools are known to be therapeutic for various ailments like arthritis and eczema and lots more.

The evening that we visited it was drizzly - perfect conditions to sit there in the steaming black pools. The bottom of the pools is gravel, the sides are made from old railway sleepers. If you put your hand under the water even an inch you then can't see it, so black is the water.

There's nothing glamorous about these pools, but they are a true Kiwi experience. I wouldn't normally enjoy sharing my bath, but there are often people chatting away to each other about all sorts of things in there. Many are local, some tourists - so it becomes very social.
The warmth penetrates to your bones and stays like that for hours. Bathers are advised not to shower for a day or so to let the minerals do their work. 
When I was young there was a big colonial hotel at the Springs next door (which burnt down years ago) where would stay every year for a few days with my mother and grandmother during the school holidays so that Gran could soak, as did we and much enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Teaching Natural Beauty Recipes

 Katie (15) asked me to buy her some Sea Salt Spray for her hair to encourage her hair into ringlet type curls. I felt a bit mean, but I took a photo of the label of the product in the supermarket (@$18) and said I would like her to try one that I make first, and then if she's not happy with it I would buy her one.

I was fairly confident - and she's happy with it. 
It's good to look up all those chemicals so that you know what they do when you are copying a product. Most of these are preservatives and for keeping the solution in suspension. We can just shake the bottle.

Sea Salt Hair Treatment

Sea Salt Hair Treatment
1 cup of warm - hot water
1 tablespoon of sea salt (rock salt)
1 teaspoon of glycerine
6 drops of essential oil (we used ylang ylang)
1 dessert spoon of jojoba oil
Dissolve together, pour into a spray bottle(which we already had), shake before each use.

I want her to think about sustainable ways of achieving what she wants, and with her whole life ahead of her, she will save herself a lot of money if she's not sold on having to pay money for products for them to be successful.
This follows quickly after a nasty rash she developed after using a disposable plastic razor, one that had moisturizing chemicals on it. It was a fine opportunity for me to buy her a reusable one that just requires standard blades. She had tried my Sugaring Wax, but found it too difficult to manage. The reusable razor is a success.

So when Katie was wishing for some Lush Bath Bombs to add to a friend's birthday present I told her she can make those, because I've done it successfully before. She hopped online and found a good recipe, and whipped these up.
Bath Bombs

The large ones sell for $10 in Lush, so she made $50 worth of bath bombs with what we already had in the house - citric acid, baking soda, epsom salts, coconut oil, colouring, essential oil. She tried one out last night - it worked perfectly.

I just wrote a letter to the editor of the Sunday Star Times after reading this article about how to get rid of bumps on the back of your arms. 

They recommended two products costing $79 and $46.99 respectively. I suggested that they could run an article on natural products, such as organic coconut oil that would smooth the whole body for months for about $12. Now that would be a real service to women and the environment.
One of the advantages of making beauty products for yourself is that you know exactly what is in them, and in this day and age we do not need a cocktail of more chemicals.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Junk and Junk Mail

I have been reading two books simultaneously (as you do) and between them they have prompted me to action.
The first is 

I was interested to learn that US Route 411 becomes a giant 250 mile long junk-a-palooza known as the Highway 411 Yard Sale, for 4 days every Fall (Autumn).
What fun that must be! And on the other side of the coin, a great way to have a clear out. 
Both Derek and I appear to be collectors, not hoarders (much), but we're going to have to work on sorting it.
The second book is rather tongue-in-cheek...

In which I found this quote that I rather liked...

"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
                                             - Albert Einstein

These two books have been directly responsible for my sorting the spare bedroom ("Oh there is a bed in there" says Derek), my potting area and the studio.

Of course, having everything left out around you promotes creativity. The neatness will only last so long I'm afraid.

Junk Mail has been on my mind since we had a fill-in postie a few weeks back and I found this pile in our letterbox. 

We had put a halt to junk mail a long time ago.  Most people get this amount several times a week, which set me thinking... Several years ago I joined a campaign to reduce junk mail in my suburb, by taking these stickers around, but I was supposed to canvas people before giving them out. Well my parents became ill at that stage and I didn't get far, so still have the little pile of stickers. 

I have decided to just deliver them to letterboxes in my daughter's street, then monitor how many actually go onto those letterboxes. Ironic really, as I will be adding to the junk mail, but I'm only going to do a little bit and then see if it is worth it. 
I think junk mail should be something people should have to opt in to, rather than opt out of, as many people just let it keep coming by not doing anything, and it promotes needless consumerism and waste. Rant over. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Beetroot Joy and Non-Stick Bakeware

This year I have grown beetroot for the very first time. It was by accident really, as they were a free packet of seeds that came from Koanga Gardens, where I order my seeds online. 

When I was young my parents grew beetroot, but it was only ever used sliced and bottled in vinegar. In recent years I have discovered a whole new world of beetroot uses - first as a juice component - yum, then roasted beetroot (who knew!), and just recently grated raw beetroot in salads, and the baby leaves in salads too.
I haven't even tried beetroot powder as make up colouring or natural dye yet.
One of the great things about growing beetroot is that the possums only eat the tops, so I don't lose the crop.

These came in the mail yesterday - so guess what I'm going to be busy doing today.

Non Stick Pans
Ok, so this is a little rant.
I strongly dislike non-stick bakeware. What is that coating anyway? - because eventually it comes off - and you find it stuck to your baking!
I have been searching for some new bread pans that are not non-stick and that has been a mission.
I don't use any baking paper now that I have discovered Miracle Pan Release so I don't want that flaking surface near my food.
I have finally purchased some of these stainless steel pans from a hospitality/catering equipment shop.

They are actually the containers that restaurants use for serving food in heated counters for buffet type meals. They were $18.00 each and should last forever - and they work perfectly.
The old pans will be repurposed - probably as seed trays.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Rats, Rats, Rats!

My Dad was big on playing cards. His catch cry when he was trumped or getting beaten was "Rats, rats, rats!" - so I had to title this post that in his memory, even though it is really about those horrible rodents.

We live in the country, and no matter what we do, there is always an onslaught of rats and mice and possums. My beloved old cat died earlier this year and I miss him. While he was here we had no bother with rodents in the house walls and roof. It's not practical for us to get another cat, so a few weeks back I bought one of these sonar devices that claims to repel rats, mice, spiders and ants. 
Electronic (supposed to be) rodent repeller

Well the spiders and ants remained undisturbed and so did the rat that we hear scuttling about and can't trap. So back to the shop it went. I don't know if they work for anyone else - or are they like the Emperor's New Clothes? 

Rats are a big problem here for our bird life. They eat our native birds eggs, so they are on the Wanted List. We have bait stations that we keep filled for them.

They were also getting into my compost bins, which upset me greatly. I thought I would outsmart them by burying vegetable scraps in the garden, but then they started going there too. The only way I discovered to stop them doing that was by layering seaweed and horse manure over newly buried scraps.
Recently I put a base of chicken wire mesh around the base of the compost bin. So far, despite obvious attempts, they have not got in. 

Not a pretty blog post, but there you are - life isn't always pretty.
Anyone else got any great ways to be rid of vermin?

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Permission to Play

Hooray! I finally finished my tax books and got them to the accountant. Now that my most despised chore is done, I gave myself permission to play.

In my last post I talked about what people were artfully doing with beach plastic. Well here are a few pieces that I made - totally without any idea of what I plan to do with them. I have put brooch backs on a couple, but well, got that out of my system.

My beach plastic creations

Some time back I joined a Make Do and Mend Facebook page. Someone on there was mending tea towels. Now most of us would just say - they're not expensive, just go buy some new ones, but I liked the quirkiness of the mend. Plus who else can admit to still using them even when they have a hole in them. So this one might come under "Lady you look like you have too much time on your hands", but I like it. 

Mending teatowels

Talking about play - a few weeks back I bought this little beauty off TradeMe (our Ebay).

 Never having owned an overlocker before, I was a little scared of it. I asked for a lesson on how to thread it from the nice Chinese man (a sewing machine fixer-upper) that I bought it off. Given that he didn't speak any English, it was very kind of him. Now I have the hang of it and am using it to make those net bags for the market (two posts ago), which I can knock out in 10 minutes from cutting to threaded drawstring.
It has been great learning this new skill from the internet and a fabulous book on serging from the library. I can now use that new knowledge helping others at SewGood, our community sewing group.

Sometimes my days are so busy that I fantasize about taking a day off! And I'm retired !! (apart from playing in the band and running my rentals) Anyone else feel like that?