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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Of Healthy Noodles, Seeds, n More

Six Minute Noodles
This is Wendyl Nissen's version of 2 minute noodles, which although it takes 4 minutes longer, is not full of fat or too much salt or MSG or the other additives. It tastes pretty good too.

1 cake of Highmark Egg Noodles fine cut.
These take 6 minutes to cook in the microwave per cake.

1/2 cup of low salt soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of chilli sauce
1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil

Keep the sauce in a bottle in the fridge. Wendyl Nissen says add 2 tablespoons to cooked noodles - but I found 3 teaspoons was enough.

Growing Our Own Mulch

banana grown from seed - ready to plant out

We can't seem to get enough mulch at this time of the year without resorting to buying it - and it is essential here.
We think we have solved the problem. The ornamental banana palm that we took out after it had flowered has provided us with hundreds of new plants which we are going to make a jungle out of over the soakage field. At present that is covered in thigh high kikuyu, so we hope the bananas will crowd this out, whilst growing quickly and providing lots of vegetation to mulch.

I've had really good success with growing seeds that I have saved. It has given me heaps to give away, mainly of parsley, basil, hanging basket flowers, coleus, pumpkins, lettuce, sunflowers, rengarenga lilies and calendular.

First sunflower out today - grown from saved seed.

I'm about to replant the asian greens that went to seed before I knew what to do with them too.
From now on I will be trying to buy only heritage seeds that I can save productive seeds from, as opposed to hybrid seeds that are sterile.

Unusual Goings On
The other day I heard voices across the valley and the sound of tools clanging and a weedeater in the bush. Having read that police are expecting cannabis growers to be busy planting now I was alert to this possibility, so was covertly checking them out with the zoom on my camera, but could see nothing. 
A little later I heard vehicles leaving so zipped out and got a photo......note the hives on the back of the truck.....not so illegal after all haha.

No wonder we have a lot of bees around here.

So Cool
We love old books here. Derek collects 'em, I use 'em for art - but not his books. So I just love this - sorry can't credit it to the artist as I found it un named.
Village of Books

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Weddings, Making a Few Things

Greening Weddings
One of the cool things about playing in a band is that I get to go to lots of weddings. Most of the ones we see are not huge elaborate affairs, but a lot of thought and effort go in, usually with help from friends and family.
 The one we played at last weekend was beautifully done in an old community hall. They had hired a marquee liner, had chandeliers even. It was all in white with touches of orange and black. But it had touches of green too - in that they had provided actual hand towels so that paper ones weren't necessary, and the gifts were little pots of strawberry jam (the bride grows strawberries for a living). The tables were decorated with bowls of goldfish - all to go in their pond later (and none were harmed), plus orange flowers. It all looked gorgeous!

It's nearly time to send out Christmas cards, and Derek and I like to make our own. I've just made a few out of the liner of a cigar box that a kind friend donates, knowing that I like them ...I have plans. Meanwhile here is a pic of the card - I decided on Scandinavian style simplicity.

My pyrethrum daisy has flowered, and the flowers are now drying. All I have to do is pulverize them mix the powder with water, strain and I have insect spray. Hmmm, will post here how that goes. 

pyrethrum daisies

 Nut Butter
We don't keep peanut butter in our house due to an allergy - and sometimes I miss it. Today I made myself up a batch of almond and sunflower seed butter, throwing in a little oil and salt to the mix in the food processor. I used pre-roasted, unsalted almonds, and I suppose I should have toasted the sunflower seeds. It's still nice. It's so good on toast, and again saves another purchase of something premade, with packaging, for just a little work.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Home Made for Christmas

The Greening of Christmas
As part of my slow living proclamation, I want it to reach into all aspects of my life. I want our Christmas gifts to be green, wrapping reused or reusable, ethically responsible - and last but not least -  enjoyed by the recipient. Phew!
So today I have been making a batch of Christmas cakes to give.
My ex- husband's mother used to give one to all of her family every year - and they were consistently great. If she was still alive I would ask her for the recipe. So that's the great thing about having a blog. My descendants will be able to reach in and pluck out the wisdom (?!) and recipes for many years to come.
I have enjoyed using this ancient cake tin today - which has been used for Christmas cakes in my family for decades.

My Christmas cake for giving

I thought I had better look up how to store Christmas cakes properly, as I have always just put them in a tin, and then they disappear pretty quickly.
This is what I am going to do...
Keep them in the papers they were baked in (3 layers of newspaper, 1 of brown paper, 1 of baking paper), then wrap one layer of greaseproof, two of tin foil, then either into a tin or in gladwrap. That bit doesnt sound very green, but they are all going to go into a decorative tin for gifting.
Once a week they will be pierced with a skewer and be drenched with a little more brandy. If anyone would like the recipe, just ask in comments and I'll post it.

The Butchers
After years of buying meat at the supermarket for convenience, yesterday I picked up our order from an old fashioned butcher. Not only was the steak full of flavour, the whole order looked unlike that from a supermarket - which looks like it is made in a factory. The sausages are labelled "real beef", as opposed to those beef flavoured ones.

The service was great, and the whole order came wrapped in compostable paper and a cardboard box.
And probably no more expensive than the supermarket.

Flowers to town
The calla lillies are producing well here - in fact more than I can use at home, so yesterday I made an arrangement up and took it to my daughter at her work.
The container is one that someone gave me knowing I would reuse it. The bud things are unopened agapanthas, there's an aeonium schwartzkopf in the base,and some pittosporum and flax for greenery - all from the garden. 
Daughter was delighted, work mates impressed.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Whananaki Baches and A Little Art

Last weekend we visited the little coastal settlement of Whananaki (pronounced far-na-nakee). It was some time since either of us had been there - it used to be my place of choice for camping every summer. 
What I love are the little old baches, beautiful bays, safe swimming, places to gather seafood and laid back casual Kiwi feel of the place.

Baches on the Estuary

The estuary, Whananaki North

My favourite - I have painted this one

Otamure Bay, Whananaki North, where the DOC campground is - just back from the dunes.

Ah, happy memories.

I went searching for the photo of the bach painting referred to above, and when I found it, I thought I might add a few more that I had done a few years back. They are all sold now. I must get back to painting when I am not so busy hehe.
Bach Whananaki North acrylic on canvas

Frangipani acrylic on canvas

Outdoor art for fence or wall acrylic on sign board

outdoor art for fence or wall, acrylic on sign board

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Whangarei Markets and Crackers

Ok, so Whangarei is not actually a small town - it's a small city with a population of approx 50,000 people. It's in a basin with hills all around and the markets are held on a disused bridge at the Town Basin - where there is a marina as the city is at the top of the harbour. There are a myriad of beautiful beaches within an hour or so from the city.
The market is an artisans market, and there will also be a food market there on a Sunday, with a variety of foods from different ethnicities.

Whangarei Artisan's Market

Whangarei Artisan's Market

But What Do You Do All Day?
It makes me chuckle when sometimes people ask me what I do all day. I think they might imagine I watch a lot of daytime tv. Slow living means my days are full - there is always more to do and I never get bored or lonely.
For example, today, among other things, I have spent 2 hours in the garden, taken the dog to the beach (where I found 2 coins and 2 sinkers with the metal detector before the battery ran out), made lemon drink, muesli, Bob Each Way Spread (butter and olive oil - find it on the search on my blog), crackers (recipe to follow), bran biscuits, rice pudding, yoghurt...and dinner. 

Sesame and Oregano Lavosh - a la Annabel Langbein

Like all Annabel Langbein's recipes this one is easy and turned out as predicted, although I think I could have rolled them even thinner.
Sesame and Oregano Lavosh

1 cup plain flour
1/3 cup wholemeal flour
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp finely chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup of water

Preheat oven to 165C
In a mixing bowl stir together the flours, sesame seeds, oregano and salt. Mix the oil and water together and add to the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each out as thinly as possible. I use baking paper to sandwich the dough as I roll it.They need to be virtually see through. Cut into strips and place carefully on the baking tray.
Brush lightly with extra oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until crisp and golden - about 15 - 18 minutes. Cool fully then store in an airtight container.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Bite sized pieces

This morning I was up early gardening as it's going to be a hot one. While cutting back the flax so that I can mow without getting it all caught up in the lawnmower blade it occurred to me (not for the first time) how wonderful it is living in New Zealand where there are no snakes to frighten me in the undergrowth - and indeed no nasty bitey things at all - well none that will kill. We do have white tail spiders which bite (thanks again Australia), and our native weta can nip, but it more just gives the recipient a fright. Personally I find them too creepy to get up close to. Oh, and like everywhere there is the odd shark - but attacks are a rarity here.

New Zealand weta

So I laughed at the expression on the face of our weekend visitor from England as she was about to get into a kayak on our river when she saw Derek nailing up this sign he got from Australia...."You don't have those here do you????" 
No we don't have any - it's just for fun.

I am one of these. N. A person who has learnt a subject without the  benefit of a teacher. A self-learner.
I always have my nose in a book looking for new ideas.

10 Ways to Boost Flavour and Nutrition in Fresh Food is an article that I came across in Mother Earth News - and bless them, they have reproduced the whole article online. 

Who would have thought that tearing lettuce into bite sized pieces and storing it like that would improve it's nutritional value? And that it pays to chop/ crush your garlic 10 minutes before you cook it to get optimum food value. For the reasoning behind these and more ideas go and check out that article.
And just when I needed it - an article in the latest NZ Gardener magazine (thanks Kaylee for the loan) with recipes for natural treatment for the likes of powdery mildew. I just did this yesterday with baking soda spray as my tomatoes have got it already, but their recipe is:-

Powdery mildew spray recipe
1 tablespoon of baking soda
500 mls of hot water (not boiling)
small squirt of detergent
250ml full cream milk (I'm going to use milk powder)

Mix the baking soda to a paste with a little hot water and detergent. Mix in the milk and remaining water. Thoroughly coat all leaves - undersides too. Apply several times a week as heat and humidity increase.
It won't cure it but should stop it spreading.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Hairspray and Spiders

A while back I wrote how I used hairspray to remove permanent marker pen marks from something - which is scary when you think that those chemicals go on your head. So, today I made some natural hairspray to try out.

Ingredients for hairspray

Lemon Hairspray
2 lemons, sliced 
2 cups of water  

Boil these together for 18 minutes, but watch it for the last 3-4 minutes.
Strain and pour into a spray bottle add 2 tablespoons of vodka, which acts as a preservative.
It doesn't make the hair sticky, and does seem to work.
If all else fails, I thought I could add lemonade and drink it. 

The first batch I made was a disaster, because although I put the timer on, I then turned the music up and went outside to sweep spiders (more on this later).
Fortunately, I know that to clean a blackened pot you just add baking soda and water and heat it and the black stuff just flakes off.
The second batch was also nearly a disaster, as the recipe said to boil it hard for 20 mins, but at 18 minutes the pot was dry and I just saved it by adding more water and reheating it.
I kept the lemon pulp, not wanting to waste my precious lemons, and added white vinegar to it. After straining it I now have a powerful lemon/vinegar spray cleaner.

And on to Disposing of Spiders
They have made homes around the eaves and in our covered patio roof, with an abundance of baby spiders appearing.

In the past I have used the extendable brush, with a cloth or old pantyhose wrapped around the head, then doused it with flyspray and brushed them all off. Now that I am not buying the likes of flyspray, I put drops of peppermint, neem and basil essential oils on the brush head as the spiders apparently don't like them. I must say, our place smells nice and hopefully it will keep them from coming back.

spider killing arsenal

It is advisable to wear a cap and footwear when doing this job as the spiders tend to drop rapidly, and you need to keep them out of your hair, and quickly get them with your foot. Not for the faint-hearted.
Peppermint oil is known to be invigorating - so when you've finished this job you will just want to keep going.

Another use for essential oils

Possum bait - cloves, cinnamon, eucalyptus oil on apple.

We have been having good success lately with our possum trap, which we have been baiting with apple with eucalyptus oil, or clove oil, sometimes with cinnamon. We vary the bait to confuse the possums as I think they become wary. So far they are keeping away from our fruit trees and have left the garden alone. I think it could be because we are using stinky horse poo and seaweed fertilizer too.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Kaitaia - Small Town NZ

Our band played in Kaitaia this weekend and were accommodated at the Kaitaia Motor Lodge - a nice clean place to stay with friendly moteliers.
Kaitaia is nearly at the top of New Zealand and has a personality of it's own. The people are predominantly Maori, with some Dalmation descent in there from the gum digging days of the early 1900's. The locals are really friendly, and they have a distinctly Far North accent.

Kaitaia township
Saturday was market day - and what better place to capture some of the character(s) of the North.

Check out the leg tattoos

Kaitaia market characters

Proud new owner of bike and life jacket

Greg - aka "Ibrahim"

I love the quirky things you see in small about this mosaic fronted house..

On the way home we stopped in Mangonui to buy some smoked fish and I had to take this photo for my daughter who just loves crayfish. She won't be getting any from here - this is expensive by New Zealand standards.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Ch.. Ch.. Ch.. Changes

As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice ..."If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there".

At the moment I don't have a plan of where I am going - I know that I am following the Green road, and that I have some ethical signposts that help me choose which direction to take, but I am just following the road to see where it leads.

There have been a lot of little changes to how I live in the past year - and I was already one of the greener type people. It is a case of considering everything to see if there is a better alternative.
 Today I took butter from the fridge and realized - "Oh I have bought a foil wrapped one - if I had bought the paper wrapped butter I could have composted the wrapper instead of throwing it out".
 And I have finally found a butcher who wraps meat in brown paper! That is OMAK Butchery in Kamo for any local readers.

About 6 weeks ago in an earlier blog I decided that I was not going to buy any clothing for a year, as I felt a little addicted, and I had already taken a nothing new challenge 3 years ago. I have to say that I have not bought anything, but more than that I feel freed from even thinking about shopping. I have saved time and money and it will make me revisit what is in my wardrobe with new eyes. 

A Good Investment
This salad spinner I picked up for $5 at a Hospice Shop. The beauty of it is that once I have washed and spun my salad greens or silverbeet or broccoli, I can leave it in the spinner, with the water still in it from the spin, and it keeps the greens fresh for days.

Bargain salad spinner

Organic Hair Colour
Another recent change has been shifting to an organic haircolour - because I refuse to go mousey grey. I should have done this years ago - it works really well covering the mousey grey and has no horrible chemicals, plus it works out to be quite economical. The brand I am using is Radico Colour Me Organic. I am able to mix the powders from two different colours to hopefully achieve perfection (written while waiting for the big reveal). The packaging is not fully biodegradable so I will be looking for a better one - maybe this one at where they make natural products with as eco friendly packaging as possible.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Planting Potatoes, Holistic Dental Care

Planting potatoes
This morning the sun is streaming in after a night of welcomed heavy rain. Derek suggested it would be a great day for planting - meaning the potatoes that have been sitting waiting. He's made a new garden bed this year - which took a lot of hard work as the soil was heavy and had previously been covered in kikuyu.
I had visited Julie Bonner's blog Frog Pond Farm where she was putting torn comfrey leaves in the bottom of the potato trenches when planting them, so I have done that now.

trenches for potatoes with torn comfrey leaves to help them grow

Derek had to fight to get me to put in comfrey, as I had a property before where it had escaped and become a nuisance. But I am using it flat out now for fertilizer tea.

I also used Julie's organic gardening blog advice to get the potato spacing right. We bought two different varieties of seed potato, but on the way home the bags fell open, and now they are all mixed up!
I love going to work in the the garden, with a view like this...

Saving Water
We have tank water here - and last year we nearly ran out. After a dry spell already this Spring I have started collecting the grey water from the washing machine to water the lawn and ornamentals. It's not a complicated system - an extension to the washing machine hose goes into a barrel outside.

This much water saved from one load of washing.

I know what's in my laundry powder because I make it myself - put it in the search box if you want to find the recipe.

For something completely different..
I have just read this book "Holistic Dental Care" by Nadine Artemis.

I found it contained really sensible advice - and anyone who is thinking of putting braces on their child's teeth should read it - about how braces change the shape of their face - and I would have to agree with this from what I have seen. I wish I had read this before putting them on my daughter.
 The author talks about how poor dental health is responsible for a lot of heart disease and strokes, which from my nursing days I know is true. So, I have decided to follow her 8 steps, which involve salt rinses and gum brushing with a soft toothbrush, along with flossing using Neem or Peppermint oil on the floss, and will at a later date make my own toothpaste again.Here is a video clip that gives you the 8 steps. It's a little long winded, but it's quite pretty, and the only one I could find.
I found this book in my local library.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Mulching Away

Mulch, mulch, mulch
It's getting summery here, with not a lot of rain. Our soil is clay, so plants are suffering. I get really keen to mow the lawn - purely so that I can use all the clippings to mulch my poor plants. I water the plants, then often add seaweed or horse poo, then soaked newspaper or cardboard, and finally lawn clippings or wood chip or anything else I can lay my hands on. The mulched plants thrive.
Mulch, mulch, mulch

I use grass clippings over soaked newspaper in the vege garden too. It makes a huge difference.
Bean plants thriving with mulch and sheep poo.

After reading Zero Waste Home - see books I love - I have stared using more things in my compost that I was throwing away. One of these is the contents of my vacuum cleaner bag, and a bathroom compost bin. I just don't fancy the idea of putting these in my food garden, so they have gone as mulch around one of our shelter trees, underneath the paper and woodchip.
Really Frugal or just Greenie?
I wasn't sure about posting this bit but I will say it is inspired by concern for the environment. So, when I had snipped the bottom off the vacuum cleaner bag and emptied it - I decided waste not want not and sewed up the opened end with my sewing machine to reuse it. How frugal/ green is that!

Neighbours "Rustic" Shed
Our neighbouring farmer needed to put in a shed right next to our place to house a control unit for his electric fence. Fortunately I was home when he chose to do it as I then had a say about not positioning it right by our outdoor patio. He said it would be a recycled old shed, so I though oh good - I love rustic old sheds. I wasn't expecting this though - a recycled outside longdrop toilet - with no door! Thanks Hugh. I have hurriedly put in some screening plants.

Neigbours longdrop shed! And tamarillo tree.

Garden Compost Bin Follow up
In an earlier blog I showed this great idea of putting a compost stack right in the garden - so look at the difference between the tomatoes that were planted at the same time. And that is only a couple of weeks growth. I put the plastic pot next to them to show comparison of size.
tomato plant next to the compost stack

tomato plant struggling along by itself

Fly Bustin' Follow up
A couple of blogs back was one on fly bustin'. Well the outcome so far of the essential oil deterrent is that we still get a few flies in but they are not so bad - mostly they were at the windows trying to get out. When I was cooking meat I got the jar with the oil impregnated cloth and left it open in the kitchen - no flies came in. I might even make another jar or two to open and leave in rooms on days that they are at their worst.