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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Microwave Cinnamon Porridge Mix and more

...And there is the odd day when I do just about that. I'm almost over feeling like I shouldn't.

Today was one of those days - but not much creating. The dog and I went off to Whangaumu Bay for a muck around: dog running everywhere, me finding coins (6) with my metal detector, and chatting to people.
On the way I spotted this cool letterbox stand.


Now I thought everyone knows how to make porridge in the microwave, but as I have recently come across a few who don't, I will put this in.
My daughter who is flatting, buys sachets of flavoured rolled oats to microwave. All very well, but it is a more expensive way of making porridge when it is really so easy, so I have made her up a jar, with instructions on how to cook, and also how to make it herself. It goes like this.


2 cups of quick cooked rolled oats
3 tsp  of cinnamon
4 tsp of brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt, if desired

To cook for one serving, place 1/2 cup of the porridge mix into a medium sized microwave bowl and add 1 cup of milk, or milk and water mixed. 
Cook on High for 2 minutes and stir, then cook another minute - done!

Just to finish off...I love how some of the fashion in the shops looks like they are trying to emulate upcycled clothing. 
for a mere $299 and is 60% acrylic (winter 2014)

NYFW Autumn/Winter 2012/13

Monday, 26 May 2014

Dog Tucker

Continuing on my path to making as much as I can and buying less packaging and chemicals, my latest effort has been to make dog food. 
It is not hard to please our dog - he will eat just about anything, not so the cat.
That's Munta - he's a character.

I remember reading that dogs should not be fed onions or garlic as it can poison them, and google research has confirmed this, so there will be none of that. I have read that pumpkin is really good for dogs, and that they love it - I'll try that next time.
I have been buying ground chicken off-cuts from the butcher at a good price, they come frozen in 1 kg blocks, which the butcher runs through the meat saw for me.
It can be a good way of using old veges, and in this case some outdated cornmeal.
This is what I did, but I think you can just make it up as you go along, the dog won't mind....

Dog food ingredients (that's a recycled plastic bag)

Melt some fat saved from cooking other meat (sausages in this case)
Brown the chicken meat - or chopped liver or what-have-you.
Throw in chopped veges - silverbeet and herbs are good (remember, not onions or garlic)
Add a cup of cornmeal or rolled oats.
Cover with water and let it cook 20 - 30 minutes.

Store excess to current need in the freezer.
It's economical, better for the dog than tinned food and hey - no containers.
Now, if only I can persuade the cat to like it too...

I remember decades ago, my mother making dog biscuits for our pooch. They had lard, rolled oats and ground up liver, among other ingredients that I can't recall. I will go look through her old recipe books, as I remember how the dog loved them. We used to make them into bone shapes. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Mystery Kitchen Implement and Hair Styling Gel

Mystery Solved

vintage kitchen implements 

I bought these kitchen implements a while back in a charity shop, because I rather like wooden-handled kitchen tools - they have a lovely worn look. But I didn't know what they were, and despite googling around, I couldn't find out their purpose. Recently I saw a friend had a plastic one and she told me it is one of her favourite kitchen tools, used for coring quartered apples and removing stones from peaches for bottling. She had been looking for another one without success as she was worried her plastic one would break. She is thrilled that I have an extra one to give her.

Cider Saga
bottled cider

It's not really a success story, so I'm not going to put the recipe up. The cider smells a little boozy, but never really fermented, and is pretty sweet. I have decided to bottle it and see what happens. It could be because I doubled the recipe? Or maybe it just wasn't kept warm enough, I don't know.
I am storing the bottles in the bath with a ply cover for a while as I'm scared they might explode.
It doesn't taste unpleasant, so I could always add fresh lemon juice and ice and I think it would still be drinkable. 

DIY Flaxseed Hair Styling Gel

I have tried a few experiments recently, first trying New Zealand flax seed to see if it worked in the same way - let me tell you, it does not - no gelling.
Next, because I only had ground linseed (flaxseed) on hand, I tried that. It worked a treat, made gel easily, but smelled rather of linseed oil, definitely needed essential oil to cover the not-so-pretty smell. And it was not a clear gel.
So now I have followed the recipe.

2 cups of water
1/4 cup of flaxseeds (linseed)
essential oil

1. Combine water and flaxseeds in a small saucepan on the stove on medium heat.
2. Stir often with a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer until the mix begins to thicken.
3. Leave the pan on the element with the heat turned off. Stir as it cools. When it resembles the consistency of egg whites take it off the stove and cool completely.

4. Strain through cheesecloth. (I used fine tulle and squeezed)
5. Stir in oil for perfume - I used 1.25 ml of cosmetic grade ylangylang.
6. Place in a jar. Store in the fridge.

hair styling gel

Just scoop some up and rub it through damp hair before styling - it gives hair body without being noticeable in any way and holds the style really well, plus smells nice.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Something For a Sore Mouth, and Coffee Capsule Refill DIY

Sometimes when I over-practice on my sax (because I have left it until the last minute), I can get a bit of a sore lip. When I saw this recipe for an oral pain salve I thought I would give it a try...and it did stop the pain temporarily, but it's not magic, I still had to wait for the blister to heal. This was reported to be good for teething infants, and would be good for mouth ulcers.

oral pain salve 

Oral Pain Salve 

1 teaspoon of coconut oil
1-2 drops of clove oil
1 drop of peppermint oil

Just mix and apply.

Refilling Coffee Capsules

Just like to say - I don't have one of those machines that take capsules at $1 each, but I know some people who do, and love them. My friend Di is one of them, and she discovered, with great delight, that it is possible to refill the capsules, so that they cost 5 cents a time, and she knows what is in them (puts in her favourite coffee), plus not buying and throwing out a lot of those little containers. I decided to research it for myself, as we are going to visit Derek's parents this weekend, and I bet they would like to know.Hey - it looks easy and Di says it works a treat, so check out this youtube clip

Hmmm, not sure that you will be seeing my cider-making on here soon, it is not bubbling away like it should after straining out the apple pulp, then adding lemon juice and sugar. I'll give it a bit longer to do it's thing though.

Well I'm off for a quick bike ride to run the dog. He still has a swim every time we go - I think he does notice that the water is getting colder though, as he was too quick for me to catch him dipping and wouldn't be persuaded to go again.
Quick Dip Munta

His swim is more of a dip, reminiscent of a lady from 1900 - very delicate.
I feel I've earned some time out having made a batch of soap and four loaves of bread, among other things today.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

All Excited about Hair Conditioner

A few times in the past 17 months of my slow living journey I have made something that has had a big impact on what we no longer have to buy in, and it turns out to be a superior product, like my own bread and the butter/oil spread I make, and my tooth powder. 
Today I made hair conditioner - and it is one of those products!
I have tried making conditioner before, with olive oil etc, but this recipe is just like bought conditioner in texture, but with the benefit of knowing exactly what is in it.

Sample bottle of conditioner for my friend Di - with the added bonus that it was a vanilla bean container, recycled - smelled divine

The ingredients are all personally safe, and environmentally safe too - check them for yourself if you think you might like to try making some.
Katie, who has long, thick, curly hair has reported that the conditioner is better than the organic one we were using, and my daughter Maria(who is pretty fussy) has also given it the thumbs up. 
The conditioner was super easy to make, and comes in at $8.43/ litre. 
I purchased the ingredients online at

Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioning emulsifier beads - 50grams
1L filtered or distilled water
2grams of Naturagard Ultra, a natural preservative
silk powder - 1/4 tsp (makes hair silky and is actually made from silk)
jojoba oil - 5ml
ylangylang oil - cosmetic grade 2.5ml

you will need a soapmaking thermometer - which I had already (also available from soapcraft)

1. Heat 1 litre of filtered or distilled water to 70 degrees
2. Add 50g of  emulsifying conditioner beads and mix well with a beater until it thickens - doesn't take long.

3. Cool to 45 degrees and at this point add your preservative, perfume oil, jojoba oil and silk powder.
4. When cool, decant into bottles.

Conditioner ready to bottle

Once you have the ingredients it is quick and easy to make

And excited about cleaning??

Limes from Di

While visiting my friend Di yesterday she gave me a pile of limes off her huge tree. One that I had picked up off the ground had a bad patch, which I cut off, then decided to use the remainder to try a tip I had just read for cleaning the shower glass with a lemon dipped in baking soda (except I used lime). Wow! Best ever - even better than my cleaning paste. Sparkly clean citrussy shower.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Synthetic Materials: Something I Had Not Considered

Yesterday I read an article in an old (Mar/April 2012) Natural Life magazine titled Greening Laundry Day, by Sarah (Steve) Mosko.

She pointed out that studies have been done on the polyester fibres that are expelled during a normal wash into the waste water which contribute to microplastic pollution. These are the tiny pinhead sized pieces of non-biodegradable materials that, when released into waterways, are ingested by even the smaller creatures at the bottom of the food chain.You can find the whole article reproduced here - it is really interesting. I will avoid buying synthetic fabrics as much as possible. (I was going to anyway, before I read this.)

The weather has been just glorious for months (with just the odd wet spells), and today I actually got out weeding, which I have rather sadly neglected lately. 
I have picked a few things that I found lurking in there and will be using them (plus a bit more) to make a vegetable curry for dinner. The tiny little kumara are wild ones from what got left in there from last season.

This is not the bountiful harvest you see on some blogs - never-the-less it all counts

I also have loads of basil still as the weather has been mild, so will make up some more pesto.
I have been reading a book called The Wild Green Yonder, by Phillipa Jamieson, about her time spent volunteering on Organic farms in New Zealand as a Wwoofer, published in 2007.

I have felt inspired to get outside and get back into the garden.
Working around NZ as a Wwoofer was on my list of things to do, until I met Derek and the plans changed. 
I'm sure I would get a lot more done if I didn't read so much - too bad!

What's on the boil
I do have a batch of apple cider on the go for the first time, so if that turns out ok, will be put posted on here in the next few weeks. 
Last week I received a box of supplies from, so have plans to make hair conditioner, lip balm, more soap and (face) moisturiser. I have also run out of hair gel finally, and have tried making my own from linseed, which worked a treat. Along with making my usual things like muesli, dishwasher powder, laundry powder and a raft of other home made products it keeps me out of mischief.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Refashion

Okay, so six months into not buying any clothes and I'm getting a bit tired of what's hanging in my wardrobe, so am reviewing the items that I don't wear much - or at all, and seeing if I can improve what I don't like.
I saw a blog by refashionista in which she does an awesome dye job to change an outfit, and gives instructions for the technique..

Isn't that great?!!

So I thought I would try it out on a top that was waaay too red to be frequently useful..

So here's the result, sorry it's not the best of photos...

I really like it, but am a little nervous of the dye not being fast, as the blogger didn't mention adding salt as a fixative - so I just added a couple of teaspoons. 

Aloe Vera
I have been planning to get an aloe vera plant for ages, so yesterday when I visited my friend Bushra she chopped off some bits of her huge plant for me.

aloe vera barbadensis miller - has orange flower spikes

I was a bit surprised as I though the medicinal aloe vera was a small plant, but it turns out that this is aloe vera barbadensis miller, which is the one most used commercially - yay! Now I just have to get it to grow.

Stevia update
A few posts back I processed some stevia from my garden, into a powder and also into a liquid, and was a bit wary of how they might taste. The powdered leaf had a real grassy smell and I was nervous of ruining food with it, but tested it out on a little stewed ballarat (cooking) apples and found it perfectly good, so then made up apple and rhubarb crumble, using it to sweeten the fruit - family did not notice anything different! My products are not as concentrated as the white stuff you buy.

Powdered stevia - I saw some exactly the same in Binn Inn

I have also got used to the liquid stevia in my coffee and am thoroughly happy with it.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Wear No Evil, and Living the Good Life

"Know first who you are; then adorn yourself accordingly."  Epictetus

 I recently found two great books in the library that provided food for thought.
The first - Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan has a guide that will be really helpful when I finish my 12 months without buying any clothes, which ends in September.

She goes through the various ways that clothing can be more environmentally friendly, such as natural fibres, recycled materials, second hand, zero waste, locally made, natural dyes, socially supportive, low water footprint, organic, vegan, slow fashion, fair trade, convertible (ie can be worn in more than one way)  then has a system where, with style as a given, try to get as many of the other desirable qualities as possible after deciding which ones are most important to you, with a minimum of one plus style.
The whole book is worth reading.

The next good book was Linda Cockburn's Living the Good Life, 2006, about their 6 months of not buying anything (almost) with a view to sustainability. She writes with a good sense of humour about managing to achieve this (almost fully) on a suburban section in Australia.

She notes about Banrock Station - whose wines find their way into our trolley...

 "Drink their wine. At Banrock Station they use environmental management systems, and support 900 hectares of wetlands and 600 hectares of mallee woodland in the sensitive Murray-Darling Basin. They have donated $2 million since 1998 to Landcare Australia and many other projects around the world. Some of these projects have helped save the regent parrot, freckled duck and green and golden bell frog."
Seems like a pretty good reason to choose their wine.

Linda Cockburn has a blog -Living the Good Life