Follow by Email

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

A New Project

Monday mornings are to be celebrated by those who have jumped off the mainstream workforce in my opinion. So happy to have my man along on those good times now.




This is Frogtown beach, a short drive and a 2km walk from home. We had it all to ourselves and enjoyed a glorious late Autumn morning there. We picked up a shopping bag of plastic and such, which makes it a walk with result.

I'm excited to say we have a new project on the boil for Plastic Bag Free Northland. We've had approval from the Countdown Regent supermarket manager to have a stall at the supermarket entrance to promote reusable bags and to promote their soft plastic recycling bin that is in-store.

My newly painted signs. The background mountains are the view from Whangarei Harbour

We have a month's trial starting June, and it will be very interesting to see what kind of response we get. At present there are very few reusable bag users at that supermarket - we want to change the trend.
We are not using nice handmade bags, as we just can't supply enough, but have sourced a supply of the ones made from recycled plastic, that should save at least 100 plastic bags each in their life, if used consistently. We do have calico ones too, but they are $2.50 each. 
I'll let you know how it goes.


Feijoas


Ah well, it's feijoa season again and I'm off to do something with all these...I have recipes for low sugar feijoa loaf, no churn feijoa icecream, and some will go into the freezer for later in the year. 
I'm delighted that my guava moth traps seem to have worked, we've had no bugs in any of our fruit this year.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Refreshed post Travel

After 3 weeks in Tasmania and Melbourne, home's still a great place. I'm so grateful to have a home, having seen how many homeless people are out there. It's not really something we see in my local city.

My first discovery was on the plane. I wasn't fully prepared to deal with the disposables on the plane, but had taken my own water bottle, which can be filled pre flight once checked through security, and my reusable cup. Both of these were useful on the flight, with the flight attendants cheerfully filling my own cup for a hot drink. Next time I will be taking the plastic cutlery we were given as I would have been able to refuse these on the Qantas Flight, they didn't come automatically with the meal.


Tasmania has banned single use lightweight plastic bags since Nov 2013 and it was such a delight to see so little plastic in use. Why can't every country do this? I traveled with home made carrier bags, and used them every day.

Op-shops in Australia are fabulous! It is hard to tell them from an actual retail shop - beautiful, colour coordinated window displays and no op-shop odour. Lots of designer clothes. Good prices too.

My $5 leather bag


I learned to use the macro setting on my camera while I was away. This shot is from Nelson Falls in Tasmania, also the video..

Moss, macro shot

video


We visited the Van Gogh exhibition in Melbourne. We were able to get up so close to the masterpieces. I found it thrilling to be able to stand in front of each piece, not only admiring the work, but knowing that van Gogh himself had stood in front of each of those works all those years ago. He would never have imagined their impact on the world. 

Derek has the best shots ever


I loved this quote of his...






Thursday, 20 April 2017

Musings on Travel and Blogging

Driftwood screen
The above pic is one of two screens I whipped up to cover the utilities in our carport when we were expecting lots of visitors, and it is an area they need to walk past. 
I thought it was good use of a couple of free pallets and some of the many fine pieces of driftwood we have accumulated. It's not everyone's cup of tea, but I think better than looking at the rubbish bin and worm farm etc.

This post is going to be a bit of a mix, as my head is in preparation mode for our imminent trip to Tasmania and Melbourne, where we will be holidaying with my siblings and their spouses.


Travel is not environmentally friendly, and it makes the little things we do to help the environment seem like a drop in the ocean. Never the less, we will continue to do them, and use the travel as an opportunity to learn more. 
I'm looking forward to visiting Tasmania, where I understand they have quit plastic bags in many parts. 
I have my reusable bags packed. I also managed to stop the travel agent giving me a plastic folder and more plastic luggage tags.

Why Blog?

With some of the bloggers that I follow deciding to stop blogging (and then starting again when they missed the outlet and their online friends), I thought about why I love my blog - here are a few reasons...(none of which are for money)

1. Just for myself - so I can find my own recipes and references - I've used this heaps. I can log my own progress too.
2. So that one day, should my daughter or step kids ever want to find a recipe or heaven forbid - even find some of it interesting - it will be there. I would have liked to have something like this from my mum.
3. A surprise aspect has been getting to chat with other lovely bloggers.
4. Maybe I'll inspire someone.

OK, the next blog will be when I get back - so until then - so long.

 






Thursday, 6 April 2017

The World's Best Cracker Recipe

Pretty intriguing title huh. My friend Di sold me on this recipe with some she had made - better than anything you can buy.
The recipe comes from The Australian Womans Weekly, a recipe from Wendyl Nissen. It is so simple to make, makes about 3 packets worth of crackers, and they keep, perfectly crisp in an airtight jar for weeks (If you don't eat them all first).

Knackebrot  -  Swedish Crackers

220g wholemeal flour
220g rolled oats -wholegrain if you can
2 tsp salt
150g sunflower seeds
75g sesame seeds
75g linseed/ flaxseed
40g pumpkin seeds
700mls water
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Heat the oven to 130 degrees F

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the oil and water.

3. Oil a large oven tray (I actually use 3 trays, to get it thin enough), and pour the mixture onto the trays.

4. Spread as thinly as possible. I put a piece of wax paper over it and use my hands to spread the mixture out evenly. Don't leave the paper on there though.

5. Fan bake for 15 mins, then remove from the oven and cut it into pieces. (A pizza wheel works well here)

6. Bake again at 130 degrees until golden and crisp - around 1 -2 hours, depending on the thickness of your crackers. 

Oh bliss with blue cheese! Tell me if you make and love them!


How is it that a person can get to their fifties and discover simple things they should have been doing for years?

Please tell me if you have a bunch of things like these, that you think everyone else must surely already know. Maybe one person will not already know these - I'm writing this for you.

1. Lettuces keep way better in the fridge if you wrap them in a clean, damp teatowel.

2. Cucumbers keep crisp if you put them stalk end down in a jar of water.

3. You can wash and reuse silicone baking paper.

#3 is going to raise some comments from my daughter and the step kids about my frugality. I deserve this after making similar comments about my mother washing and reusing clingwrap. At least I don't do that (because I don't use it). I try not to use silicone baking paper much because it's not biodegradable, although I hear there is now a biodegradable one available. Now at least it doesn't have to be single use.


Thursday, 30 March 2017

More on Books

You'll find plenty of mentions of old books in my blog posts. Books are a passion of mine, and collecting old books, a passion of my Derek.
I  was excited when I recently found this book in the library - Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Have any of you been to this iconic bookshop with such an interesting story to it?



It is an English language bookshop founded on Socialist ideals by eccentric American George Whitman, where poets, writers and drifters were able to find a free bed in exchange for working in the shop.
We are off to Paris later this year - and this shop is on my list of places to go.


There are a lot of books here for me to dip into - most of them very droll, but they harbor some interesting insights into the past, such as from The Saturday Magazine for 1839, a book made of the collection of magazine articles. There are diagrams of early electricity, tales of travel to exotic lands, examples of fashion and carriages.



I read an article about a young English woman servant, who after sailing for months to Australia, quickly married a man who turned out to be an ex convict, who hadn't changed his ways. Ah Australia - we Kiwis always tease the Aussies about their convict past.

An article on dental care gave a recipe for toothpowder  - 
2 parts chalk and 1 part well burned charcoal, or another using just ground cuttlefish. 
But I wasn't so keen on their ideas for filling teeth using creosote, metal and cement - hmm. 

Derek should have plenty of time to enjoy his books now - today is his last day of work. Early retirement starts at 4pm. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

I'm Working on Straws

It's not easy to go zero waste and to be quite honest, we'll probably never achieve it. To offset the bit of rubbish that we do make, we make an effort to work some environmental improvement of our own, such as picking up beach and roadside litter, trapping pests, removing noxious weeds, giving out reusable bags at the Grower's Market....and my latest one....

Targeting Plastic Straws 

When I started to search for solid paper straws, available in New Zealand, that wouldn't collapse on use, could be bought in bulk and weren't too expensive - I came up with nothing...until I found out about The Rubbish Whisperer.
I figured that if it was difficult for me, then bar and cafe owners would probably be pleased if someone found that for them.

The Rubbish Whisperer has since sent me samples and price brochures which I have made into a little pack with cellophane. I  have been dropping these into our local bars and cafes with it - three or four every time I go into town.
In the pack I have included a little information from The Last Plastic Straw which is an organization dedicated to ridding the world of plastic straws. The line that I use is that even if they don't buy into using paper straws, would they please consider adding a sign that says straws available on request, instead of putting them into every drink automatically. 



I point out that I'm not affiliated to the company - just concerned about single use plastic.
I've generally had a good response so far from the places that I have visited.
It's just a little step, but if some take it up, then my time spent will have been worthwhile. At the very least - it makes them think. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Something to Wake You Up and to Put You To Sleep

We don't drink a lot of plunger coffee here - but our visitors do, so we are often left with opened packets of ground coffee. They don't keep forever, so we have sometimes used them to make a body scrub, which is divine, but a bit wasteful too.

Lately I have started drinking Iced Coffees and find this a great way to finish off packets of coffee. I make a full plunger of strong coffee and let it go cold, then put it in the fridge - where it is good for several days. My iced coffee recipe is a large glass of ice cubes, topped with a scoop of homemade icecream, a little extra sweetener if necessary - pour the coffee over, top with low fat milk, stir and enjoy.
Small quantities of leftover plunger coffee get made into coffee ice cubes to go in the iced coffee too.


I reckon it's better than most ice coffees that I have tried from cafes.
I have some metal straws that I usually use, but this straw is special - more about it in my next blog post.

If I accidentally overdose on the iced coffee then sleep can be elusive.
Derek and I have just had our shared birthday, and as part of his gift, I found this cool little antique pot, then just had to make something to put in it.


Hence...
Sleep Salve

2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
2 Tablespoons of olive (or grapeseed oil)
2 Tablespoons of beeswax
15 drops of lavender essential oil
15 drops of cedarwood essential oil

In the microwave or a double boiler, melt the coconut oil and beeswax then add the olive oil and mix. Remove from the heat and add the essential oils and stir.
Pour into a suitable container and leave to set.
Apply a little to skin somewhere, such as hands or feet, to aid sleep.  

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Upcycled Beach Debris, Rolling out the Green Carpet




My Latest Upcycle

I loving reusing something that would have been just waste - so how about this:
When I ran out of nylon for my weed whipper, which isn't zero waste, but is better than weed spray around the house and garden, I spent ages hunting for a spare reel, but there was none.
Well we live out of town, so I looked around for an alternative - finding this lump of fishing nylon that we had picked up off the beach. It was the perfect diameter, so I wound it on to the reel - and it works perfectly well!

Putting beach debris to good use


Exciting developments on the local zero waste/ plastic bag free/ environmental front.
There has been a round of emails to gather all of those working and volunteering in these fields in Northland to get together to present a unified front.
There are quite a lot of groups keeping our beaches and roadsides clean, our events as low waste, reducing plastic bag use, helping our schools and businesses to reduce waste, encouraging small coastal towns to go single use plastic free, putting pressure on farmers and the government to clean up our rivers and working on better waste management in the North.
Isn't that fabulous? Watch this space.

As if that weren't enough! Yesterday, my favourite Bin Inn bulk store in Kamo, has decided to give all shoppers who bring their own containers a 5% discount, as well as giving away a free jute bag (with no plastic liner) to shoppers who spend over $50.
Then I stopped in at the Kamo butcher's to pick up my order (in my own containers) and I noticed that they have a huge roll of brown paper behind the counter for wrapping meat purchases. The lovely young butcher proceeded to tell me that he's turned into one of us - refusing plastic bags and receipts, and taking his trundler to the market. Change is a-happenin'.



Sunday, 19 February 2017

Upcycling a Painted Canvas

I have been waiting to find one of these in an op shop for a reasonable price...
so last week when I saw this little beauty for $4, I snapped it up.


I have been seeing pictures of things made with old canvases that so appealed to me - such as covered chairs and journals, and lots of bags.

This is the work of Leslie Oschmann - www.swarmhome.com

A journal cover by Swarm

You can see more here at atelierrueverte.blogspot.

I got to work yesterday to make my own version of a painted canvas bag, using some material from my stash for lining, and an old woven leather belt that never sees the light of day for the handles. 



I love how it turned out! It combines two of my loves - art and upcycling.
I'm not sure how well it will wear, but when it has finished being a bag, it will become a book cover.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Waitangi Day Celebrations

Waitangi Day is a national holiday here in New Zealand. It commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi on February 6th, 1840. There has been much argument since then as to the meaning of what was signed away by the Maori, with there being a document that was translated for signing by Maori, not being of the same meaning as that in English. 
However, Waitangi Day around New Zealand is a day to celebrate family and the culture of New Zealand.
Waitangi is not a big place, but it is the home of the Treaty House and Flagstaff, plus a wharenui - Maori meeting house. 
Here's a quick video link from waitangi.org.nz that gives an overview if you want to get a mental picture.
Having an overseas visitor, as we did, is always a good reason to visit Waitangi on this day. 

It was a blazingly hot day, we've had no proper rain for weeks here, but it makes for a great summer.
Love the sun shade


We watched the waka,(Maori canoes) 








I got a video from my phone, wanting to catch the sounds for you, of the conch shells being blown and the calls as paddles are dipped. It isn't clear enough, but you get the idea.


video


This video bite of 3 seconds is the group preparing for the haka.


video

As well as entertainment on several stages, there were cultural groups, the NZ Navy band, markets with lots of NZ foods to try, like hangi and creamed paua, mussel fritters, flax ketes to buy.

All entertainment and buses were free. The buses are so that you can park a distance away and be ferried to and from your vehicle.

They had made a big effort to minimize waste, with much of it being biodegradable, and having volunteers manning the recycling stations to help people recycle everything correctly.

All in all, a fabulous day.


Friday, 20 January 2017

Hangi - How To Feed 850 People

Recently we were in the Bay of Islands during the Tall Ships Race. We discovered they had put down a hangi to feed 850 people for the ceremony afterwards.
Anyone could buy a ticket for $15 and wait for the hangi to be unearthed at 7pm.
The hangi being uncovered


A hangi (pronounced harng-ee) is the traditional Maori method of cooking under the ground using heated rocks. There are a few different ways to do this, but for this particular hangi they used a digger to dig an enormous pit. Normally the pit would be dug with spades. 
The meals were individually prepared and wrapped in tin foil, before being placed over hot stones in metal baskets.The stones were preheated in a fire for about 6 hours. The baskets are covered with wet sacks, then tarpaulin before being covered in earth and left to steam for approximately 4 - 5 hours. 


The table that you can see held hangi cooked mussels (cooked in a separate pit), which besides being delicious, the shells were useful as spoons for the main hangi.
There was more than this - that piece in front is stuffing

There is nothing else like the flavour of hangi cooked food - steamed, smoked and slightly earthy. It doesn't look that attractive, but the meat is amazingly tender. They also did some vegetarian meals. All those people know - it's going to be good.

We took our meals and ate them off our knees, with a nice glass of white wine, overlooking this bay.    
Matauwhi Bay,  Russell, New Zealand

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Stone Store, Kerikeri, New Zealand

Old buildings in New Zealand are just babies, compared to the rest of the world, but this one is solidly built, and I think will be around for a very long time.
The Stone Store in Kerikeri was built in 1833. Currently it is still a store, selling wonderful well made, authentic items that would have been for sale during the 1840's.



The building next to the Stone Store is Kemp House - the oldest building in New Zealand - built in 1819.

The Stone Store, Kerikeri, and Kemp House




I bought a couple of brushes for my kitchen.




The store staff are in period costume and they take tours through the building every hour.



I loved that they even had glass jars of old fashioned boiled lollies for sale behind the counter.


Years ago Derek collected some of the hand made nails that were used in the original shingle roof, as they were tossed away by the builders doing the reroof.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Happy New Year, DIY Healthy Diet Tonic

Happy 2017! I hope it is a good one for all of you. 
For many 2016 was not so good, but personally, I had a great year. It was the year that I got in with some like-minded people to make a difference to our environment - further here about our plastic-free market project. Our band had it's best year ever, and generally, life has been sweet.

If you look at what is going on around the world it is easy to feel alarmed. I find that taking as much action as I can, and seeking out positive news helps to keep a balance mentally.

One little, spontaneous thing we did on Christmas Eve gave us such a buzz of enjoyment.
As Derek and I drove home from town, we came across a straggle of Te Araroa walkers, (more about them on a previous blog here), while they were still 15 minutes walk from our place. We decided to make a surprise Christmas morning tea for them, so as they rounded the bend, they were met with a hurriedly set up table and chairs, Christmas cake, chocolates and chocolate biscuits, stollen, cherries and iced orange drink. 



The looks on their faces were priceless, they were so excited. They were all from countries overseas, and they said they had not felt like it was Christmas (no snow for a start).
After stopping with us for nearly an hour, they trailed off to walk the rest of New Zealand, our Christmas decorations (donated) hung from various parts of their packs. 

So 2017? Well no resolutions, as usual, as I just jump in and do things as they occur to me. But this year my Derek retires (early), and we have a couple of overseas trips planned. I plan to use these trips to look at ways that other people are doing great things and clever ideas, plus have fun and catch up with family.
I plan to continue eating healthier, getting moving more, and doing my utmost personally for a better world - writing letters, being an influencer, not buying new, making as much as I can myself...
So on that note - here's my recipe (thank you Wendyl Nissen) for 

 DIY Diet Tonic

juice of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp stevia powder
1 tsp honey
10 drops of angostura bitters

Mix together and add to 1 litre of soda water (that's where my bargain soda stream machine comes in).

It's low calorie and so much nicer than bought diet tonic - let alone cheaper and more environmentally friendly if you make the soda water yourself.
Needless to say, it goes great with gin.



Cheers - here's to 2017!