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Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Christmas Edition

How the year whizzes by. It seems that I am doing a slow Christmas this year, partly due to recovering from a backpain episode that left me weeks behind schedule. 
Thank goodness for online Christmas shopping, as I knew that I wouldn't be up to it otherwise (all the packaging gets reused or recycled). 
I'm back on my feet now, but could only watch as the tree was trimmed. Last year I merrily bought a living tree, with great plans to use it every year - clever eh, but no - it's still alive, but not looking good enough to bring inside. So back to the beautiful shaped St John's Ambulance charity trees.




This year we decided to decorate with a marine theme in white and gold. A little gold spray paint brought these shells up beautifully - better than store bought if you ask me! 
The gift wrap followed the theme with gold starfish that I stamped on salvaged white and brown papers, making little gift tags to match, and decorating with decorations that I have bought by the bag from a charity shop, and gold crepe paper - also from a charity shop.



We are having a very quiet Christmas day - mostly just Derek and me - so we're planning a picnic lunch at this spot. The forecast is for sunshine and the Pohutukawa trees are a mass of crimson. This is the estuary - the surf beach is on the other side of the houses.


 

Then Boxing day we are off to see the rest of the family.

I've managed to make some of the Christmas presents to go in their gift hampers - quite safe saying that here - no family will read this.

Christmas Bark with pistachios and cranberries


This White Chocolate, Pistachios and Cranberry Bark is so easy and so festive looking - you can find the recipe here.

I've had a great crop of beetroot already so found a recipe for Beetroot Chutney. I saw it only scored 3 stars out of 5, so I made so many changes to it that I think I can call it my own recipe. It's supposed to sit for 3 weeks to develop, but it tastes great already. 


Beetroot Chutney
6 medium fresh beetroot
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp  ground cardamom
4 large green-skinned apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
10g fresh ginger - grated
1 cup of brown sugar
2 cups of malt vinegar (I used half malt, half white vinegar)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp coarse cooking salt
8 peppercorns and 8 cloves in a mesh bag.

Boil, steam or bake the beetroot until tender, cool a little and peel off the skins. Chop, some finely, some a little bigger.

Combine apple, spices, onion, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring at times.

Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Add the beetroot and continue to simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes, or until the chutney is thick. Remove the bag of spices.

Spoon into hot sterilized jars, seal.
Refrigerate after opening

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. May 2017 bring a cleaner, greener, more peaceful world.
xx Anne





Sunday, 4 December 2016

Calico Bags - Gift Wrap

Last week our order of 500 calico bags arrived, to sell at the market. This is part of our group's mission to have our local Grower's Market go plastic bag free.

We have progressed from sewing bags ourselves from curtain off-cuts (we couldn't keep up with the demand), to then buying reusable bags from large local stores, you know the ones - made from recycled plastic, to ordering them ourselves online (much better deal), finally getting to these better quality, biodegradable calico bags. We couldn't afford to get them printed, so they are beautifully clean skin.
I was a little nervous that they wouldn't sell, as I had invested $1200.00 of my own money, but last weekend proved that they will sell just fine at $2.50 each.

I decided to create a little promotion for pre Christmas so that people will see the bags as useful for environmentally friendly giftwrap that is actually useful afterwards, or for Santa sacks.

Calico wrapped gifts with cool little chalkboard gift tags - reusable!

If you like that deer head silhouette that I stencilled - you can make your own with the free image from Madeinaday.com

The market manager has just secured 10,000 cornstarch, biodegradable bags for the market sellers to replace their plastic bags. While this isn't the perfect solution, it is a whole lot better.
At the market this weekend 97% (my estimation) of people had their own bags or bought them from us. Plus there was co-operation from sellers to provide produce without plastic. I feel that 9 months of our effort is paying off.😊

One of the things that plastic bags were useful for was picking up rubbish in. We still get a little supply from family members who don't manage to use reusable bags 😩, but mostly I give them to the lady at the market who sells plants, so at least the are reused. I decided to upcycle Munta's dog biscuit bags by sewing on handles to them for rubbish collecting missions - they work great, being big and sturdy.

They are also great for collecting seaweed off the beach for the garden.

Just an update on the rats - I bought one of those cage traps, which I bait with home made mixed nut and seed butter on a crust, leaving the trap where we know they are going outside. We have caught 8 so far (ew). So thank goodness something is working.