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Friday, 31 May 2013

One man's trash...

Family arrived last night, and Michael produced something he thought we might like that he found after someone had thrown it out. He knows us well - it is a pile of old LPs, to add to our collection. Real classic rock etc - Genesis, Elton John, Paul Simon, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart and more!. All look to be in pretty good condition and I'm going to enjoy some new (old) soundtracks to my work routine. Why would someone not just have donated them to a charity?? I don't understand the throw away mentality. 




I made some date scones,(on request from Derek as they are his favourites) for morning tea. This is a really easy (peasy) recipe that I have adapted from one of Jo Seagars.



DATE SCONES

1 cup dates
75g butter
1 1/4 cups milk
3 cups self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt - optional ( I don't put it in unless making cheese scones)

Set oven to 220 Celcius

Pour boiling water over one cup of dates and leave them to sit.

Heat the butter and milk in the microwave approx 2 minutes until butter is melted.

Drain then chop the dates, add to the milk/ butter. 

Add the flour. Mix will be quite wet. Place heaped desertspoonfuls on a floured baking tray quite close together.

Bake at 220 for approx 15 mins, or fanbake for approx 9 minutes.



Thursday, 30 May 2013

Incoming....pizza

We found out yesterday that lots of family are coming for the long weekend - yay!
Plans of moving my worm farm into a better residence have been shelved in favour of cleaning up the studio in preparation for use, general cleaning and food preparation.
Living out of town (only 35 mins), I try to only go in once a week, to save time, energy and petrol. So it means being prepared for surprise guests.
It's amazing how fast the days go, with slow living!
I'm making pizza for tonight, which takes a bit of effort. It's so much nicer - but probably not really cheaper in this instance.

PIZZA DOUGH

1 Tablespoon of active yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
300 mls warm water
3 cups high grade flour
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mix yeast, sugar and  water in a bowl. Leave in a warm place for 10 mins until frothy.
2. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.Add yeast mix and oil. Mix to a soft dough and knead for approx 5 mins.


3. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover (clean tea towel will do). Stand in a warm place until doubled in size - approx 45 minutes.
4. Push fist into the middle of the dough. Knead for 1 min.
Roll out to 2 bases. I roll them fairly thin to crisp up, and they rise a bit when cooking.
Ready to go in the oven



5. Apply toppings and cook at 220 C for approx 10- 15 mins.
6. Pour self glass of red wine.


It's now 5 months since I gave up my job (happily), and I have not missed it at all, nor have i been bored. It's a pretty safe bet that it will continue to be like that. There's always so much to do - I love it!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Luxury and Riches

   "He who knows he has enough...is rich" - Lao Tzu 

Today has been beautiful. I have spent most of it working out(side). As I sat this morning with my coffee, planning my day, I was overwhelmed by the feeling of my luxurious life. To some people that would be world travel, top hotels, designer clothes etc, but to me luxury is a treat to all five senses at once. So here we go:- coffee and  homemade banana bread (smell and taste), peaceful silence (auditory), warm sun (touch) and this view (sight).



Today I dug up our kumaras. I wasn't sure there would be any, as they had no special care and had run riot in the garden. I only put 5 plants in, so even though there weren't a lot, it is something.

 I wanted to make room for the garlic. This year I have bought new bulbs, as last year I planted what I had saved, and the crop was pathetic.
I spent a good hour cutting back flax (that you see in the first photo), so that
we can get around in front of the deck again. Bonus from this is the basket of flax flower stalks which make great kindling.

I have been working on cutting out containers from my shopping. I have decided no more kitty litter for spoilt cat who stays in at night, so yesterday filled a plastic bin with scrapings from under the teatree, sand and woodchip. I've left them in the shed to dry out a bit - and hopefully any bugs will leave.
While stopping in at the Kerikeri markets a few weeks back I bought some handmade soap which was recommended as shampoo soap. I've been trying it, and it's doing the trick - hair feels and looks good, so I will not be going back to shampoo, providing I can get visiting kids to cope with it.
I hope it's fine tomorrow - I have a plan to do with my worms (garden).




Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Vanilla Dream

While looking around on the net I found lots of recipes for making your own vanilla extract - and the good thing is  - you can have it forever from just buying the vanilla beans once.
Now, I believe this, because when I was a teenager on an exchange trip to Tahiti, I bought some vanilla beans for my mother - and she was still using the same ones to flavour her sugar over 25 years later! 

VANILLA EXTRACT
Basically all you need to do is place a bean, halved lengthwise, then into quarters into a little glass jar. I used old spice jars. Then top them up with a spirit of your choice. Rum, vodka or brandy are recommended, I used Bacardi. One site recommends 3 beans per cup of alcohol.
They need to sit in a dark place for about 3 months, shake them occasionally.
When the alcohol gets below the level of the beans, just top it up and wait 3 months again. 
It pays to have two bottles so that you will always have one ready to use.
It should go a nice golden colour after sitting for the 3 months.


ANY OASIS

While perusing for floral art ideas today I wondered about Oasis - the foam that floral artists use to keep their arrangements in place. Firstly I wondered if it is reuseable...so I have done a little research. Yes - it can be reused for a few times, so long as it is kept wet - ie in a plastic bag in the fridge. It's impossible to rewet otherwise. As an aside - the correct procedure is not to push it under the water to soak it, but to let it just sit in the water until it sinks almost under.
But better than this ...don't use it at all, and ask your florist not to too. It's made of styrofoam and will not biodegrade, ever.
Back to the olden days - when they used weighted pins, or scrunched wire netting. Maybe sphagnum moss in the netting might work ...must try that.

THE STEAM PUDDING

Yesterday I posted that I had a steamed pud on the firebox. Well it turned out mighty good. It's an old recipe called:

Wagga Wagga Pudding (sounds Australian)

 1 1/2 cups of milk                            1/2 cup sugar
 2 tablespoons of butter                    1 1/2 large cups flour        
 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda            
1 cup mixed fruit                     

Boil milk and butter, then add soda. Add fruit and sugar then leave to cool.
Add flour. Steam for 2 hours. Can be microwaved for 8 mins on high, but it goes kind of hard when it cools. And that's not really slow living.
I just used a tempered glass bowl with tinfoil over it and a plate on top, in a large saucepan with boiling water halfway up the side of the bowl. That worked a treat.


        

Monday, 27 May 2013

Best cleaning paste recipe ever

I have been experimenting to make my own multi-purpose greenie cleaning paste, after trying one that I just loved.
Well here is the result, and I hope if anyone else makes it you will let me know what you think.


I only made a small quantity as I was nearly out of baking soda, so used the mortar and pestle to mix it. That worked well, but probably the food processor would do it well too.
Grind together 1/4 cup of washing soda
                     1/4 cup of baking soda
                     3 teaspoons of white vinegar
                     3 teaspoons of castile soap. (I use Dr Bronner's peppermint as it is invigorating and wonderfully clean smelling -  $14.50 for 237 mls)
Once it is a smooth paste it is ready to use.
I buy my ingredients in bulk from our local Binn Inn - where they welcome me taking my own containers, and even ask me for my cleaning recipes.



It's a miserably cold day here today and I have had the fire going all day. It has been multi-tasking; drying clothes, heating water with the wetback and kettle, and this afternoon I have put a steamed pudding on it to cook. I'm not sure how that will turn out as I haven't done it before, so have put it in a tempered glass bowl in case I have to finish it in the microwave. 



It has been thundering today so I have let Munta (the unemployed farm dog) lie on the mat just inside the door, as he was scared and crying. He knew it was a privilege and was very good.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sunflower seed quandary

Shelling sunflower seeds.This has to be the epitome of slow living - in fact too slow for me unless I can come up with a better process.

We had a lovely little crop of sunflowers over summer, and i dutifully saved the heads, hanging them upside down in the carport in big paper bags.
This week I decided it was time to attempt to harvest the seeds to use in the muesli. It has not been an altogether pleasant experience. Firstly just getting the bag down - I was anxious that a rat or mouse may have found it an ideal home...but fortunately they were uninhabited. At least, not by rodents.
Little caterpillary bugs had invaded the fibre of the heads, but not the seeds. Rather like weevils. Next issue was extracting the seeds, as I have a strange dislike of the texture of things with holes - like what is left after the seeds come out.

I had read on the net that the seeds could be soaked in brine and then roasted. The soaking removed a lot of the debris - and i thought would kill anything lurking in there.
That done I roasted them in the oven for a short while. They came out yummy, but getting a tablespoon of kernels took about half an hour. My process was rolling them with a little rolling pin to crack the outer husk, without hopefully smashing the whole kernel.
There has got to be a better way ...anyone?

It's a lovely mild day here today. Derek took this photo on his way to work. I love this shed view - it makes me happy whenever I pass it - something about how rustic it is with the verdant hills behind it - especially when the light catches it against dark skies.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Of washing, possums and packaging

Gotta love the rain when it has totally refilled our tank after a long dry summer. We thought we might have to buy in a tanker of water.. but employing some measures meant it just held on. Next summer we will start at the beginning of the season with the baby bath in the shower to catch all the water, which then goes on the lawns and flower gardens, instead of leaving it until it becomes an issue.
Lucky there's plenty of water as daughter has sent home her duvet and mink blanket to wash, as she doesn't have the facilities. This time I'm wise, and instead of leaning over the bath to do it, I got right in - in grape pressing style.
Look what's guarding our fruit trees, and I don't mean the wee gnome

We have had such problems here with possums eating the tops out of our young fruit trees, so when a friend told us that apparently calendular planted around the foot of the tree deters them we were ready to give anything a try.
Seems to have worked so far, keeping fingers crossed. 

Seemed like a good day to make a huge pot of bacon hock soup today. When I started to open up the bacon hock I found that firstly it was vacuum packed, but after that the supermarket had put it on a styrofoam tray and plastic wrapped it - why?? The first packaging was sealed and perfectly acceptable. Looks like another email to the supermarket. They probably see me coming and groan, but I feel the need to remind them that we really don't want that - and I'm sure I don't just speak for myself.
Big pot of soup just waiting to happen.


Today I had a good journaling idea. I had picked up a bereavement thanks card, with the photo and dates of birth and death. You know the ones - you just don't feel you want to throw them out, but where do you put them? I am dedicating a journal page to those family members, with the cut out photos and dates.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Letting go of perfection

THE JAPANESE AESTHETIC OF WABI SABI
that true beauty, whether it comes from an object, architecture or visual art doesn't reveal itself until the winds of time have had their say. Wabi Sabi is the splendour of things modest and humble, the charm of things unique . 

That is so us. We love vintage items - but really just the ones that have had a working life, and maybe are still useful. One of my favourites is my zester, which was my mothers. It does the best job ever. Simple, but effective.
The decorative things we display in our home follow along these lines too.
When I started taking art classes some years ago, it was like everything else - my paintings weren't that good - but gradually got better to the point where I was selling them regularly. I like this quote...
"Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly"
by Robert H Schuller
I don't paint much at the moment, as for the past decade I have been working on playing the saxophone imperfectly. I'm getting there, but may need to live to a very good age to get to where I want to be with it.
So if you see a 90 year old lady playing in a rock band - that will be me haha.
Also the art has moved in different directions, as with the piece below, which was a collaborative piece between Derek and me. He has a great eye for design.

Collaborative artwork. Shipwreck found pieces, mixed media

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Altered Books

My mother was ahead of her time. She was a Greenie before it was popular. We used to think it was just her Scots ancestry, but frugality and green lifestyles go hand in hand.
Mum had a collection of altered books, our old school exercise books were filled with art and craft clippings, hand written patterns and drawings that she used in her own crafts. They were well thumbed.
Now I have my own altered book journals that I love to bits. I store all my inspirations in them, so if I have a day when I don't have a plan, I just dip in and find something. All the websites and blogs and books I've read about and one day want to check out..my green recipes for cleaning..dreams..art ideas and much more. They would be one of the first things I would grab if the house caught on fire.


My current journal is an old diary, which had not been used, titled Women Who Dare, populated by some pretty amazing women - mostly American, and whom I had never heard of. Some of it I have painted or glues pages over as a base for my journalling, but some, like the one inserted I have left untouched. I hope you can read it - Deborah Sampson in the 1700's impersonated a man and went to war - and removed a bullet from her own leg - phew!

The Library like no other

IF YOU HAVE A GARDEN AND A LIBRARY, YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED - Cicero

I have both! And they make me feel wealthy.
My family laugh at me, calling the library in town my second home. I'm not a big fiction reader, but use the library to soak up images and ideas that keep me creative and positive.
Some of my favourites have been
 The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, in which the author leaves a legacy to his young children after he is diagnosed with a terminal illness. 
Floating Gold - the History of Ambergris by Christopher Kemp - I always wanted to know...fascinating if you are a beachcomber like me.
No Impact Man by Colin Beavan. Wow this guy is so dedicated to reducing waste - such an inspiration, even if we start to do a fraction of what they managed we would make a difference, collectively. 

I like to keep a record of what I have read - otherwise when I try to remember titles and names they have gone. So, I have dedicated some pages in my journals - which are altered books by the way - to my bookshelf. It's good to look back on occasionally and remember them.
library page - Anne's journal

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Eco warriors

On our stretch of road grows a nasty noxious plant - in fact it seems quite rampant throughout the North, and it can even be seen in people's yards (usually the over-run ones though) It is Moth Plant.

moth plant


Derek and I spend time each year tearing it out before the seed pods can mature and open, sending zillions of these to take over the world. I saw these ones today, so we need to get back there - maybe with some Woody Weed Killer this time. It has white flowers and a skin irritating sap. The main issue with it is that it smothers native plants and natural areas. 

Cleaning up in our own backyards

Several times a week Munta (unemployed farm dog) and I go for a bike ride/ run. (I ride). It serves several purposes...exercise for both Munta and me, an excuse to get out in the sunshine and enjoy nature. Even though we are on a public road there is very little traffic and the scenery is lovely, and different bird life to enjoy.
oops - didn't notice what was out!
The other thing we do is pick up rubbish to keep the kilometres on either side of our place looking good. I figure if everyone cleaned up between their drive and the next, the world would be a much more beautiful place. Some of the rubbish appears to be domestic, cat food tins, milk bottles etc. I have had a good response from our local District Council about getting them to talk to the recycling contractors, as I think it flies off their trucks. The council also sent us a pile of rubbish bags to help with clean up, and asked to be informed if it was really bad, and they would send someone to clean it up. Impressed.
today's haul, divided into recycling and rubbish

Vintage recipes and hints

I seem to have inherited some of my grandmother's cook books too. 
It's fascinating to dip back into them, and some of the hints are still good.
Maybe with today's babies wearing amber teething beads it would be useful to know that in our grandmother's day they washed these in milk. I'm not quite sure why. Or if a recipe calls for self-raising flour and you don't have any:

SELF RAISING FLOUR
8lb flour
4 oz cream of tartar
2 oz baking soda

Sieve several times.

Do you have trouble keeping your celery crisp? Place it in the fridge in a sealed container with just a little water in the bottom. It will keep crisp for ages.
However I'm not so sure about the pest control suggestions which included sprinkling powdered glass to deter rats and mice - or the one for DDT to kill ants. 
If you want to know how to clean Bakelite or playing cards - just ask me!
I would welcome your comments.

Altered cookbooks, making memories

My mother passed away in 2010, in her late eighties, but I can often get a vivid sense of her when I open her old red, handwritten recipe book. There are the foods of my childhood..the liptauer cheese, the apple dumplings and the weekly baking delights. She has cut out recipes from magazines, handwritten recipes from friends and family, with comments as to what works.




My own recipes were jumbled in a file box... I had (what I thought) was a great idea - I would alter an old microwave cookbook - the sort we got when microwaves were the latest thing, and no one really knew how to use them, so instead of sending it to a charity shop, I started pasting in recipes. I'm not precious about it - really choosing an order that I like, and at the end will write up a new index. But at the moment I have kind of followed the cookbook's order. I love it! It has that fat feeling of something handmade. And I can add quirky things like stamps, recipes written on old envelopes, little drawings, quotes. It's a bit like a journal.
Awaiting an arty new cover

Altered cookbook


I want to leave some of my own recipes for people to remember me by - and in an upcycled book is even better.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Inaugural post - Welcome to my world

How exciting. A place to put all the ideas that whirl around in my life - upcycling, inspiring words, arty projects, green cleaning recipes and more.
I'm on a personal mission of slow living, which means making as much as I can rather than buying it, so I will be posting lots of examples and how-to ideas with the hope that others will want to follow. It's my little strategy to help save the world one green footprint at a time.
I'm sure my blogging skills will just get better as time goes on.
Meantime I'm going to just throw in a few photos to whet the appetite. 
We have a great supply of driftwood here - this is our fence, still under construction. There will be plenty more driftwood projects to come!
I have had to eat my words! I told Derek these didn't really produce here - but this single $3 plant has produced about 30 aubergines. We have had heaps to eat and give away. The secret must be the position - right next to a north facing concrete drive, with a corrugated iron half wall behind it. It is still flowering and producing in May - almost winter! It has been fed with horse manure, and the mulch you can see is just grass clippings.
Ever since I read in a gardening magazine about an octogenarian who used nothing but lawn clippings on his garden (and it was amazing) I have started doing the same... and our garden has been the best ever.