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Sunday, 30 August 2015

In the Garden


Spring-ready

We are heading into Spring here, so in preparation for our busy garden season Derek and I have started our night time patrols. It's actually quite pleasant once we get out there - usually not too cold, and we can hear the night birds and surf breaking in the distance. The patrols have been very productive so far, with the last one netting 400 slugs and snails, which we pop into a container of boiling water with a wee squirt of detergent. It is far more effective than trying beer traps or snail bait.

Time well spent slug and snail hunting


Hopefully by the time my seedlings are ready to go in, they will stand a chance.



I prefer to grow my plants from seed to save getting a pile of plastic containers, and it's way cheaper, plus there is more choice. I just love the sense of achievement too. I have a recycled sheet of plastic that I throw over them all like a tent to get them going.
This year I'm putting a reminder on my phone to tell me when to put in more lettuce and cucumber and bean seeds, because I find that I always forget to do it and have a big gap.

Maria's Balinese Courtyard

Because I haven't been up to too much else I thought I would put in a pic of the landscaping I am doing at my daughter's place.

Early stages of the tropical courtyard, with the bamboo solar lights.


The plants are all freebies -bromeliads, banana palms, philodendron, clivea, taro, strelitzia, to name a few, either from my place or my friend Di's (thanks Di). I am waiting for the rain to stop so I can lay bark around the plants, over a layer of soaked recycled cardboard, and a path of river stones up to the bamboo screen. (We had a couple of good strong landscape men to do the hard stuff.)
I'm thinking in 12 months we will probably need a machete to keep it under control. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Bamboo Solar Lights, A New Softie.

Don't you love it when you've got your pressing commitments out of the way and you are free to play.
Here are some of my creative projects from this week now that the tax books are with the accountant and the curtains made for the rental house.

Bamboo Solar Lights

We've had a box of solar lights sitting in the garage for a couple of years, so when my daughter said she wanted to get some for the Balinese-style courtyard that we are making for her place, I had an idea to improve them, using some bamboo that was stored under her house.



It required a little work with a handsaw to make a pointy end and using the drill to make a hole to sit the light into. In no time I had 6 whipped up.
I then made the table version, which I had originally intended as tealight holders, using some of the off-cuts and rope found on the beach. They are wired together under the rope for stability.



I have read that if solar lights stop working they are fixable, by unscrewing them and replacing the AA battery inside them.

Something for My New Great Niece
I rather love making dolls. It is a good way to use up those little pieces of material that have moved from house to house with me. 
The pattern for this one came from the More Softies book from the local library.



So here she is....


And a final happy note, I am pleased to report that there are four less possums around to eat my garden. I have taken to burying them near our citrus trees so they can give back a little of what they have taken.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Small Green Moves Every Day

Crazy Letter Writing Lady

Some posts back I wrote myself a list to help get remotivated (motivation shake up). On it I prompted myself to do something extra for the environment every day. This morning it is too chilly to leap out of bed, so instead I have been emailing people with a few suggestions.

First one was to a local cafe. While I was painting at my rental the other week I got a coffee to go in my reuseable cup, and a nice big slab of carrot cake. Before I could stop her, the girl serving me had put the cake into a styrofoam container. It's not her fault, she was only doing her job. So I've sent an email to the cafe owners suggesting some alternative actions and reminding them that their customers do care.



Similarly I have sent one to the supermarket where my 91 year old father-in-law shops to ask them to consider not put everything into plastic bags before putting them into the reuseable bags that people bring along to try to stop taking plastic bags home.

It takes time and effort and may be viewed as crazy eh, but oh well.

Boots - A Penny Spent is a Penny Saved

A visit to the Cobbler in the last few weeks left me poorer by $45 per pair of boots, but as he kindly pointed out, it was my own fault. I had let the heels wear down to the point that he had to replace the heel blocks, hence the extra expense. So I am going to save someone else the extra expense by passing on his advice.
Expensive boots are not necessarily made with quality soles. The cobbler says they put the quality into the boot upper, so we need to get along to the cobbler after just a few weeks of wearing these boots to get a good piece of rubber put on the heels to save wear and future expense. Before you wear through that thin first layer.


You can see clearly on this boot heel that it is nearly at the point of extra expense, so it will be going to be repaired before it wears into the darker coloured heel block.

I hope that saves at least one of you some money :-)


Monday, 10 August 2015

A Book About Slow Living and Another Eco Purchase


My second parcel arrived last week (the first being the sodium percarbonate as in the eco cleaning post).
There has been general moaning around here of there not being enough plastic containers to pack lunches (yay, I'm winning). So to satisfy those who have to pack lunches I searched for some stainless steel lunch containers.


I have ended up buying them from Amazon($50/set including postage), which made them still cheaper than NZ's Fishpond . I had looked around the shops and couldn't find them anywhere. I think they are expensive but they will last forever, so long as nobody loses them. They are not watertight, having no seals, but perfect for salads and such. 

When I saw saw "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There" by NZ author Wallace Chapman, on the library shelf, it called me over.


Billed as a manifesto for living the slow life, if it taught me nothing new, I thought it would validate my lifestyle.

Early on Wallace Chapman (a tv personality, columnist and broadcaster) states "It's worth pointing out that living the slow life might not leave you with more time on your hands" Tick - he got that right.
What he points to throughout the book is how slowing down and simplifying life can be so enriching. 

Wallace Chapman's five principles that underpin slow living, which I abbreviate here, are
Holistic View - the connectedness between mind and body

Elegant Simplicity - Having enough to be fulfilled while avoiding waste and excess. It's about valuing quality over quantity.

Savouring - This is about fully engaging with your experiences in ways that are enjoyable and life enhancing. Enjoying the sun on your face at lunchtime. Watching the waves break over the shore on a chilly beach.

Distinctive and Tailored - it values the bespoke and handmade over the mass-produced and champions the authenticity of interpersonal relations.

Environmentally Sustainable - environmentalism is a far wider issue than slow living, yet goes to the heart of the international slow movement. 

Lots of interesting stuff in this book, well worth picking it up.
I must point out that I am not being paid to endorse products - just spreading the good news about books and products that work for me.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Eco Friendly Oxygen Cleaner

One thing I love about being at home is having time for a bit of research, which has saved me a whole lot of money over the past two years.
A few weeks back I was looking for an eco friendly way to clean slimy decks and concrete. Coincidentally I came across this article Four Ways To Clean Your Deck in a backdate of Green Ideas magazine, which compared all the available methods.
What came out a winner was 100% sodium percarbonate, (oxygen cleaner) which can be bought on Trademe for $41 for 5 kg, which includes postage. 

Sodium percarbonate breaks down to soda ash and oxygen, so was perfectly safe for our concrete drive, from which runoff goes straight into the river.
But it has so many other uses too - I've cleaned up the whole of my rental house with it, including soaking the drapes as it doesn't damage fabric.

For cleaning the deck and concrete, I dissolved 1 cup of sodium percarbonate in 4 litres of very hot water, then applied it to the deck with a mop. It needs to sit for an hour, then I gave it a little scrub with a yard broom and hosed it off. 
Here's the before and after shots!



Since then I have discovered that I can buy sodium percarbonate at my local Binn Inn (duh, should have looked there first) for about the same price, but can use my own container.

Just a brief post today - I'm off to do a quick paint between tenants.