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Friday, 13 September 2019

A Boot Refashion and Four Great Salvages

Hi All, this post is all about saving things from going to waste. I believe that we should treat everything as a resource, sending them to the landfill should be the very last thing, when there's no better option.

These Boots Were Made ....Shorter

These leather boots had languished in my wardrobe long enough. They were mid calf length - which is an unflattering place for a boot to end on me.
They are pull - on, so no zip to deal with. I just cut them to where I wanted, allowing for some turn over. I glued the lining down first, then glued the leather. I use the Bostik glue that I have been using to mend wetsuits - because it sticks really well and has a lot of give in it.

I've worn them more already since I did them.

The next rescue is something that I imagine most people throw away.
The protective mesh from a duty free bottle

I was trying to think of a use for these and came up with ......
 A padded coathanger

Tell me if you've come up with a good use for these.

A wonderful rescue was made by a relative who works in the recycling industry. He often comes across treasures put out with the rubbish and knows what will appeal to us.

Vintage shop sign

 I understand that Au Bon Pain is now a chain in the USA, but this one looks very authentic - we love it and it has pride of place above our coffee machine.

Our last rescue is a food rescue. One of my ex work colleagues mentioned that the fruit was falling off their trees and going to waste. They weren't able to keep up with picking, due to ill health, and none of their family wanted it, as they all have their own fruit trees.

Derek and I went there on two occasions, picking this much each time, nearly all of which we gave to our city's Food Rescue. They also receive donations of food from various businesses and it is redistributed to where it is needed. 
Most suburbs in town have a Pataka Kai (1 minute video) - or a community food stall - for people to help themselves.

And lastly, I want to link to Cynthia's blog "I'm Retired - Adventures Of A Simpler Life", which I follow. She took some great photos of an exhibition of artworks made with discarded plastic. This is one of my favourites.

Artist Sayaka Ganz

 They are so clever - thanks Cynthia.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Sorrel, Orange Peel, 2040 - the Doco.


Disregard the spelling mistake!
The other weekend I went to a plant and seed swap (just wonderful to do). The generous garden owner shared a taste of his sorrel and I couldn't believe that I had never tried this before - tangy, lemony goodness in a leaf! He kindly dug out a piece for anyone who wanted some. I can't wait for it to grow big enough to divide and make more plants, and to add to salads. It looks a bit like a weed at present so will need to stay well marked!
It's a plant that you don't need to keep planting - it just keeps on giving.

How to grow sorrel by Garden Lady at Sow Small Garden

It's full of nutritional goodness - read this link Benefits of sorrel leaves by

Orange Peel

On my journey to use that-which-is-under-my-nose I wondered why I was composting our orange peels. We have a tree of the most divine navel oranges. I started saving the peel, by re-peeling them with a very sharp knife to remove the pith, then laying it on a splatter guard on top of a kitchen rack which I have been placing on our wood-stove at night. I don't leave it overnight though as it is quite flammable. I'm collecting it all in a jar and will powder this lot in the food processor. This first lot (above) I pulverized with the mortar and pestle.

I've been using it to add to teas, sprinkled in homemade muesli, in baking and added to my tooth powder (tooth whitener). It gives a delicious orange flavouring.
It too appears to have multiple health benefits...Health benefits of orange zest by Pioneer Thinking

I'm also soaking peels in white vinegar for a couple of weeks, then adding the vinegar to water and a few drops of castile soap for a spray cleaner.

2040 - the documentary

Have you heard of this documentary? It's just new out. It is a positive spin on how the world could be despite climate change. It is a bit utopian, but hey, hopefully it will all catch on. There were lots of people viewing it, and the first movie that I've heard a round of applause after.

So yes, recommended...get along and see it, or tell me what you thought if you've seen it already.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Woman in The Wilderness, Foraging

Most mornings I try to ride 8km on my spin cycle (exercycle). This requires good reading material as it's a pretty boring activity.
I found this book  "Woman in the Wilderness" by Miriam Lancewood in the Hospice shop and swooped it up excitedly as I had seen her in a tv interview a couple of years back. 

It's a fascinating tale of living for years in the wilderness of New Zealand, just coming out every 2-3 months for supplies, and how it has changed the author. She has spent that time with her husband, who is 30 years her senior. They spent much of it living in their tent - even through winter, in the snowy South Island and hunting for meat. She walks everywhere, even in winter, in sandals.
It made me realize that we have native plants in our back yard that we have never utilized. So began my research into kawakawa and manuka teas.

Kawakawa plant. The caterpillar looking thing is the fruit.

This plant is related to the Kava plant from the Pacific Islands, which is made into a sedative, anaesthetic and euphoriant drink.
Kawakawa does mildly have some of these properties and is/was used as per this excerpt from Wikipedia

The root, fruit, seeds and especially the leaves of the kawakawa plant were favourite medicinal remedies of the New Zealand Māori. In fact, the kawakawa is one of the only plants still used by the Maori people today. Externally, Kawa Kawa was used for healing cuts and wounds, as an ingredient in vapour baths, and also as an insect repellent. Internally, it was found to be effective as a blood purifier in cases of eczema, boils, cuts, wounds, rheumatism, neuralgia, ringworm, itching sore feet, and all forms of kidney and skin ailments. The leaves were chewed to alleviate a toothache. The bruised leaves drew pus from boils and skin infections. A drink made from the leaves helped stomach problems and rheumatics when rubbed on joints. The leaf, if dried and burnt is an insect repellent.
The name kawakawa in Maori refers to the bitter taste of the leaves.

Surprisingly, the tea is quite palatable, and the leaves can also be used in

cooking to add a peppery taste. For the tea, scrunch up 3-4 leaves per cup and 

let them brew for 5 minutes. 

I'm looking forward to trying the fruit in summer when it ripens.

Manuka (Teatree)

Manuka seedling in front of the trunks of the mature trees.

This has been used as billy tea for centuries. Captain Cook used it for his crew

 to help prevent scurvy. The leaves are high in antioxidants and vitamins, so I 

was really hoping to like it. Apparently fresh leaves have more benefit and taste 

than dried. We used a teaspoonful per cup and were aware that it would be very

pale, but not to brew it too long as it would be bitter. (And not to brew it too 

strong as it was used as an emetic like that - ie can make you sick!) It was quite a 
delicate flavour, so I think my way to use it will be to replace the green tea that I 
currently buy 
and mix with my favourite Earl Grey tea.
This is also a multi-use plant. We use it for firewood and garden stakes plus it is famous for Manuka honey.

This all might be not much use to my readers from other countries...but what do you have in your backyards that you've never tried, that maybe your indigenous people have known about for centuries?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Milk Powder Yoghurt, Chocolate Chia Pudding

 Most of my readers will have probably perfected DIY yoghurt years ago, but this is for the ones like me who have had not-so-good results for years.
For a long time I wouldn't even try making yoghurt, other than from using sachets in the Easiyo maker, because I didn't think there was any point if I had to buy milk in plastic bottles. Since we can now get milk in glass I've tried again, but could not get it like the bought stuff, and ended up making a lot of chocolate chia pudding with the less than perfect results (recipe to follow). 

This recipe makes thick creamy yoghurt - from milk powder

Original poster Lisa Rogers says... Super easy! I know there are other ways, but this is how I do it in an esiyo maker (I always see heaps for cheap in op shops).
1. Use the FULL FAT blue milk powder - fill to the 450ml line on side of the esiyo jar (or weigh 200g)
2. Cover with luke warm water, add a dash of water from kettle that you need to boil anyway. Not stone cold, not too warm, just take the chill off. Put lid on and shake to mix.
3. Add 2 Tablespoons of FULL FAT UNSWEETENED GREEK yoghurt as your starter & top to litre line with water.
4. Mix again and place in esiyo maker with boiling water for 6-8 hours, or until set. Put in fridge - any liquid that forms on top can be poured off or mixed in.
You can then sweeten or flavour as you wish.
**Remember to save 2T from your batch to start the next batch.
**If it "cooks" too long it may go a bit lumpy, just whisk together in bowl and re-jar.
Cost: You can get 5 litres of yoghurt from a 1kg bag (Pams is about $8.80 at Pak n Save) === $1.76 per litre of yoghurt 🙂 Super cheap!

We can buy milk powder packaging free here - so it's perfect. 
My lukewarm water was 35 degrees celsius (I have a thermometer) 
The culture can also be frozen as apparently it will only last for a few times of remaking before the culture becomes too weak.
Also I have read that it shouldn't be left in the fridge for longer than 2 weeks or the culture will die.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

1Tbsp of rice syrup (or 3-4 dates soaked and chopped)
4 Tbsp of chia seeds
1 cup of milk (or failed yoghurt)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all with a food processor or stick blender and put in the fridge for 3 hours or so to set. 

2 Tablespoons of Chia contain:
 64% more potassium than a banana
 2x the antioxidants of blueberries
 41% of your daily fibre
 5x more calcium than milk
100% more omega 3 than salmon
3x more iron than spinach
32% of your daily magnesium
info from

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Plastic Free July 2019

I love to read about the plastic-free movement and how many people get switched on to it starting with a pledge to try Plastic Free July.
I've been gradually working towards being as new-plastic-free in my purchases as possible, and I'm still not there. Let's face it - it's hard.

One of my goals this year has been to find a sandwich bread recipe that is virtually no knead, like my other seed bread recipe Busy People's Bread. I have failed to find one, so this week I have bought a new-to-me bread machine. The first loaf was pretty good, and I'm on track to save bringing home 26 bread bags/year. I'll still be making the seed bread, four loaves at a time in the oven. A plus with the bread machine will be easier pizza dough.

My lovely helper holding the container - labels on the underside

A new thing here is being able to take a container to the supermarket and they'll make a bit of a drama about taking it away to clean it, then we can get items from the deli packaging-free.I'm loving buying feta and gouda like this. Just ignoring the drama..("have you got any other shopping to do...I'll be 5 minutes cleaning this" kind of comments). So I got them to put three things in it. It's a bit dearer to buy like this, but the feta's nicer than what I was getting.

My next change for P-F July has been making my own custard powder. Yes, I know you can make it with eggs etc, but it has to be sustainable and I'm not the only cook. The bulk bin custard powder was horrible so we reverted to packaged Edmonds. My challenge was to make something convenient that had to be as nice...success...recipe follows.

DIY Custard Powder

1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 cup of cornflour
1/2 cup of milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste

Grind all to a fine powder with a stick blender or similar. Store in an airtight container. 
Use as for regular bought custard powder, but I did find I needed to use more. I'm going to try adding more cornflour to the next mix. You can also add a couple of drops of yellow food colouring if you want it to be more like the bought stuff.

Our last innovation, which isn't a plastic-free one, has been to change most of our light bulbs to LED. They have come way down in price recently (now only around $3-$4/ bulb) and should pay for themselves quickly with energy saving and they'll last longer, plus they don't give off heat. If you haven't done yours yet, look into it. #money-saving 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Sweet Little Footlets

In order not to burden the world with more clothing, I try not to buy new...but there are some exceptions. We all have our own limits that we set and mine are socks, underwear, swimwear, night wear. So I have set out to try making my own versions of some of these.
I found a free pattern for footlets/ socklettes here on Sometimes it's the Little Things and although the first ones didn't fit my size 8 feet, it wasn't hard to scale them up.

I used some scraps of stretch material and lingerie elastic that I'd inherited from my mother's stash. So far it's cost me nothing but a little time - I'm thinking they only take about 15 minutes to make a pair, once the sizing was sorted.
I'm never going to be a foot model!

I merrily put them on with some shoes and the first thing that happened was that they scrunched down under my feet - oh no!

Now my bought footlets have a piece of silicone on the heel to stop them from doing that, so in town the next day I whipped into Spotlight and bought a small amount of swimwear elastic. It's rubber and could be bought in small amounts off the card.

Once home I hand sewed a 55mm piece to the inside back of my footlet - and it stayed put!

So now I can make these out of anything I like - but old tee shirt material is a winner. The elastic cost me $1.75 - enough for 3 pairs. There's no buying new plastic packaging or synthetic materials. What a great gift idea too.

So not only is this a win for me - but if you have footlets that slip down - give the elastic fix a try!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Weeding out Possessions

This year I decided my big mission is reducing our surplus stuff. It's not Konmari style (tip - her blog is quite interesting) - more like Swedish Death Cleaning. This isn't really something new - I know, because my mother did it. 
It seems we get to our 60's and have just accumulated so much stuff ! Our kids aren't going to want it - it turns out we've both bred minimalists. 
So if we want our stuff to be disposed of appropriately we need to do it ourselves while we are fit and able and of sound mind. It takes a lot of effort.

So recently I have got rid of: - 
my vintage china collection and hollow stem champagne saucers and old bone handled knives (and made a tidy profit), a spare fridge/freezer and a lawnmower via Facebook Marketplace.

a huge carload (including daughters' x 2 clothes) at the local boot sale. What was left went to a charity shop, and the only thing they wouldn't oil filled electric heater with a little rust, went to someone on the Pay it Forward page. When we found that person was raising her sister's four children and they had nothing..we threw in some old toys, balls and art supplies.

a bag full of books and CDs waiting to go off to the Zonta Booksale.

my silver cutlery set to my daughter;

a tray of plastic plant pots that went to a market plant grower - and there's still another tray to go. Most of these were found washed up in our river, or rescued from someone who was going to throw them out.

Some sets of snorkel gear are set aside to take to the people of Vanuatu. We are stopping there on a cruise later this year, and I want to make some use of that trip by taking supplies for the people there  - but more on that later in the year.

It has caught on with step-daughter Katie's - she's had a huge clear out too. A lot of glitter got put out to go...I considered throwing this out as it is a pollutant - microplastic - but after discussion with friends it's going to the local drama society. "They would be buying glitter anyway" was the comment - so it seemed like the best option.
glitter - being packed off

a lot of my material stash of small pieces has been cut into pennant shapes ready for a stand we're doing at our local Multucultural Family day, where we're helping people to make bunting and produce bags, plus promoting Boomerang Bags.

We even gave Derek's old caravan away - yes the one we did up. One of those pics has been repinned 3k times on Pinterest! It was getting run-down and we weren't using it. Our neighbours happily took it as they were living in a tent on their block of land. It was a mission to get it moving again!

This decluttering is going to go on all year! I can't tell you how good it feels.