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Monday, 30 June 2014

Chai Latte and Mail Art

A while back I posted a recipe for Golden Yoghini Drink, made with turmeric, which led me to thinking that would be a good way to make Chai Latte.
My version doesn't actually have any tea in it, but there is nothing to stop you putting some in.

Chai Latte Spice Tea

2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons of ground ginger
1 tsp  ground cardamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
ground cloves to taste - I used 6, ground with mortar and pestle or you can just buy already ground.
Mix these all together and store in an airtight jar - makes enough for 3 cups.

Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a little saucepan and add of 2 tsp per serve of the spices,stir and cook until you can smell them. Take care not to burn them, it is quick. Add milk and bring to a simmer. Add honey if you want to sweeten it a little.
Use your milk frother if you want froth, or pour from a height into the cup.


Mail Art

I look for excuses to send mail, so when my friend wanted my Busy People's Bread Recipe (which comes from the lovely tv chef Annabel Langbein), I thought I would send it via snail mail. 
My friend Anne doesn't use the computer, and she has been going through a second round of I hope it will bring a smile to her face when she opens her letterbox. She is an artist, and I know she likes the quirky.
I hope people aren't too horrified that I have used an old book cover for the postcard - haha, too bad! It was a discard from the library, and I liked the design inside.
Mail Art postcard from an old book cover

I have sealed the cut edge with my home made washi tape...made from an old atlas and double sided tape. (There I go cutting up books again).

Home made washi tape

I Have Been Campaigning...
There is a little suburb of Kamo nearby, which the retailers like to call a village. I shop there a bit because I like the small businesses and the people are nice. Yesterday I spoke to the Chairperson of their Retailer's Association about the possibility of giving Kamo a green focus as a point of difference to encourage people to shop there. Particularly reducing plastic bag use, but also promoting the second hand shops, the garden shop, and The Binn Inn, where customers are welcomed to take their own containers to fill, and the butchers, who will paper-wrap orders. I'm going to keep feeding them ideas and see where it goes, but I got a good reception. 

part of the Kamo Christmas Parade

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Refashion Reveals and a Hunk

 Nearly every day I am making something that we used to buy, which is what my "slow living" is all about. Derek asked me this morning if it was still ok, making things instead of buying them...but that is just life now, and it makes me happy to do it.
Now that I have made things so many times over they are familiar and much quicker to do. When I find a good recipe I make a double or triple batch to save time.
My slow living gives me a full appreciation for what Mark Boyle achieved. He's the author of The Money-less Man about his year of living with no money (by choice).

I think this book is reassuring, in that should we need to, we (personally) could probably survive with what we have. Mark wanted to not only survive, but thrive, which he did. I am waiting for his second book The Money-less Manifesto to arrive at our library. 

Mark Boyle - The Money-less Man 

I seem to be on a green book binge at present, but I figure if I get something from each one it all helps. Sometimes it is a reference to another book or website, sometimes it reinforces that I am heading in the right direction, sometimes it reminds me that there is a long way to go. 


Ok, so I've been talking about refashioning what I have instead of buying clothes (it's been 9 months now since I bought any clothes).
I've done a few refashions, but I'm a bit shy about modelling them, and my selfies aren't the best, so here goes..

take three tops that are too short etc...

Put them together with lace at the bottom...
Now I happily wear this top - I think layers are so much more interesting - don't you? And that goes for everything - layers in art, decor, music, life...

The next refashion is an idea I saw on Pinterest (love that site) making a skirt from old t-shirts.
This is the pinterest version by

There were no instructions so I just winged it. I wear this most days at home now as it is really comfortable, and covers up areas when I'm wearing leggings (in case anyone comes for a surprise visit or when I'm out biking)
Here's my version. Note Munta posing in the background.
I'd love it if you leave me a comment and I'll visit you back. Anne.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Pasties Recipe and Snippets from Auckland

Last weekend we had lots to do in Auckland, including a trip to the Auckland Art Gallery. We walked past Pauanesia - a Kiwiana shop -  and I just had to pop in because they stock clever handmade items. I was really impressed with their displays, using painted nikau fronds.

Love the birds made from upcycled woolen blankets, and of course the tapa lamp shades

I liked these works at the Art Gallery by Ralph Paine... They are called Matrix; Reference; Index.  
They use New Zealand images and references; the juxtaposition looks interesting to me.

Pasties Recipe

I have been making this recipe for decades and it never fails. Apparently we can't call them Cornish Pasties, because we don't live in Cornwall, much like you can't call that bubbly wine Champagne, unless it is made in the Champagne region of France.
This recipe makes about 12 pasties, and they are great reheated in the microwave for lunch the next day.

Pasties - an economical and popular meal

4 cups of plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g (8oz) of butter
1 cup of water

I mix this in the food processor, but by hand you rub the butter into the flour and salt until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add the water and mix to a firm dough.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 3mm (1/8") thick. Cut into circles using a saucer as a guide.

250 g round steak, trimmed and cubed - but I just use prime mince.
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 turnips (I always skip these)
pinch of thyme
salt and pepper,
1 Tbsp of finely chopped parsley
3 Tbsp of water

Mix the filling ingredients and place 2 heaped tablespoonfuls in the centre of each circle. Bring the edges of the pasty together and pinch to close - I tend to wet the edges a little so they stick together better.

They can be glazed with egg yolk and milk, but I don't bother.
Bake in a hot oven, say 220c for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to moderate for a further 20 minutes.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Don't Throw That Out!

Don't Throw That Out!
Yesterday I went looking for a new battery for my camera. The old one just died, after six years of service. I was horrified to learn that the price of a new battery would be $79.00! The salesman and I agreed that the camera company probably do this to make people consider upgrading their camera for say, just $100 more, instead of replacing the I went searching online and have ordered the exact one that I need for a cost of $22 - postage included, from a company in New Zealand.

An elderly relative of ours - who shall remain nameless - commented a while back, after buying some new socks quite cheaply - "who darns socks these days anyway". After a moments silence I said..."Well me actually".
I can't see the point of throwing away something that can be repaired. So today, while I watched Dickinson's Real Deal on TV, I darned two pairs of socks, with wool I bought yesterday from Spotlight.
I wasn't able to get "darning wool" (it seems not many people darn socks these days), so for 60 cents I purchased two mini skeins of embroidery wool which will last through about thirty socks at least.


Nifty eh

If you haven't darned a sock before, this youtube clip uses the same method as me - which of course I learned from my mother.

Smart Slice

For ages I have been looking for a recipe that is healthy and turns out like a muesli bar. This recipe is one that I have adapted (by swapping 1 cup of dried fruit out for 1 cup of sunflower seeds, owing to making them for people who don't like dried fruit), from a recipe by Sophie Gray - The Destitute Gourmet.

Melt together
1/2 Tablespoon of golden syrup
41/2 tablespoons of butter (or Bob Each Way spread, mix of butter/olive oil)
1/3 cup of castor sugar

5 weetbix, crumbled
1 1/2 cups of self-raising flour
1 1/2 cups of coconut
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup sunflower seeds (or dried fruit)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of boiling water

Press into a lined baking tray.
Bake at 180c for 30 minutes

Ice when cold with 1/2 cup of icing sugar, with juice of 1 lemon to make an icing that you can drizzle over the slice.

The world needs more people like this...


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

It is Becoming More Urgent to be Green

I don't know about you, but I feel there is a lot more environmental activity - at least if you go by what is reported.
Recently a 19 year old student, Boyan Slat, developed a plan to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch - that vortex of swirling plastic in the Pacific...19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans/

Last weekend's paper reported that some electric cars have dropped in price by $30,000 for a new model.
Solar energy is becoming more affordable and of a better standard for home use.
However it is still awkward to shop in a sustainable fashion - it takes quite a lot of extra planning. When I go to the supermarket, I don't see many people using reusable shopping bags. But I am looking forward to the day when we get a supermarket like those in Germany and Switzerland, (see this treehugger article) where there is no packaging at all.

Elsewhere I read that the number of oil barrels per day produced has declined since 2009 - does that mean that we have reached peak oil then? The statistics don't seem conclusive, but I have seen another source report that by 2015 demand will have outstripped supply.

On that happy note I am about to head into town to do my shopping, with all my containers, using the trip to catch up with friends, run all my errands and buy items like darning wool - for nights by the fire darning socks.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A Little Fosicking and Upcycling

Sunday was a lovely day here. We could hear the surf pounding, so thought a trip to the beach at the river mouth would be great - hopefully lots of interesting things washed up. We can only get there by boat, so it's not unusual for us to be the only people there. 

There was lots of seaweed washed up - the good stuff - so we got a big load for the garden.

Heading for the garden, and to mulch the fruit trees

I always hope we will find some ambergris - which we have done twice now, but no luck.
We always find bits of "shipwreck" which we like for our driftwood artworks. 
And then there is the plastic. We bring it all back and sort what we can into recycling and rubbish.

Sunday's beach clean up

To top it all off we got lots of exercise as the motor wouldn't start and we had to walk and row the boat all the way back, against the tide, approx 2 km. Lucky the water wasn't that cold.

Load That Dishwasher!
I had an idea - that I probably stole from someone - to help remind people that it's ok to load their own dishes into the dishwasher. I pick up old Scrabble games when I see them, just the ones with wooden tiles, and if they are incomplete and cheap - all the better.


This little plaque for the dishwasher is made from an old coaster painted black, then I have glued the tiles on with a glue gun, and a recycled strip magnet on the back. You know - those advertising magnets that businesses give/send you.
I would have put clean/ dirty, but there was no "Y" left, so I had to be more creative.

"The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less" from The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A Little Global Warming?, The Book of Secrets

Winter started in June, but it's hot here today. The last two days have brought heavy rain and flooding to the North. I was worried that I might have trouble getting home yesterday afternoon, after crossing one part where the water was across the road a little - but nothing like what they have had further North.

Yesterday's flooding in Northland, New Zealand

It's 22C degrees inside today (that's 72F)  - that's with the doors open and of course no heating on, the sun's out and it's humid. I don't think it is just because I am a female over 50 that I'm feeling the heat...we still have basil and cherry tomatoes in the garden. I have heard people say a couple of times.."if this is global warming, then I'm loving it". Makes you think...

The Book Of Secrets by Fiona Kidman
I'm not a big fiction reader (mostly because then I would never get anything done), but this book was loaned to me, and it hits a spot. 
It is about the settlers to Waipu, New Zealand from Scotland via Nova Scotia, Canada. 

My ancestors came with that settlement, and it illustrates why my mother's family was quite reserved, religious and dour, in my opinion.
But also it describes real slow living - because that's how it had to be. 
It is a good, interesting read without being weighty in historical detail as that is woven in nicely.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Using the Fallen Leaves and a Nana Project

The plane trees look lovely almost bare, and the benefit of this is that we are using the leaves as much  as possible to make compost. We never seem to have enough compost, with our clay soil it needs a lot of work to make it productive, so this year, after filling the two compost bins we have made bags of mowed leaves and grass, plus I've just made some with nasturtium thrown into the dead leaves.

An abundance of compost material

Making use of nasturtiums that grow wild

Ugly recycled plastic rubbish bags, with a few holes poked in them,  full of compost in progress.
A Rainy Day Nana Project

My Mum gave me one of these years ago and it was really useful, so with an old towel and a rainy day I thought I would whip a couple up. Maybe not an item of beauty...but it doesn't fall off the oven rail, and is practical.

That's a snap dome holding it

The shape of the cotton piece - cut 2
I discovered the best way to gather toweling is to use a needle and thread - toweling doesn't gather well with sewing machine stitching.
Hopefully my camera will be working again soon - these photos were taken just before it died.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Shopping with a Conscience

Shopping Again

It seems that nearly everything I need requires an eco-ethical decision. For example, I am refashioning some of my wardrobe and need more thread, but of course it is pretty much polyester, with a plastic reel, so I decided that I would try buying some from my local charity shops, so picking up second hand, partly used reels. At least they are not new plastic - except for the bags they come in.

I also wanted some black lace to finish one garment that I have refashioned. Instead of buying new, I have picked up a second hand lace skirt, so dilemma; I'm having a year without buying any clothes, and it is not natural fibre. Sometimes I just have to focus not on failing at what I am trying to do, but on what I am achieving. In the end, it is better to try and fail, and learn by my mistakes, than not to try at all.

Honest, I just bought it for the lace - but won't waste what is left - I feel a shorter, less flouncy version may appear.

Hopefully soon there will be pics of the finished products.

I also wanted to buy a bereavement arrangement yesterday ...but the florist didn't have a single option that didn't involve plastic. In the end I chose an arrangement in a cardboard box, lined with plastic. I have recycled these before by giving them away with home grown flowers, so hope the recipient might do something with it too. Next time, I will take more time and buy the flowers if I don't have anything appropriate and make something myself, or try to find a green florist or take something other than flowers... I'm going to email the florist back and nicely suggest she looks into green marketing.

I just googled environmentally friendly floral arrangements - a great resource for the local florist!

Another purchase that came with plastic was a punnet of plants. Now mostly I grow things from seeds, but this time have missed putting in broccoli. I reuse the punnets though, often giving them away with extra seedlings. 

Little ways to cut out plastic

Give up chewing gum - it is plastic you are chewing on! when I was picking plastic out of the mangroves I came across a wad of chewed gum that did not look like it was going to break down any time soon.

Be aware that those face and body scrubs with little exfoliating beads - those beads are plastic! They are then washed into the waste water system. Let alone that they are in a plastic container. Our teenager was shocked when I told her about the beads and is happy to use my handmade soap now.

When ordering products online - ask them to not use plastic wrap please.

Get off mailing lists for brochures (ie Farmers and Spotlight). Every time I get a piece of junk mail I leave it on the computer so that I remember to contact them and ask them to stop mailing things out. We get pretty much no junk mail now. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Shopping Local, Moby Duck and Cider

Shopping Local

For some time I have been annoyed by the imported produce in the supermarket. For example, why do they often stock only oranges from USA, when we have so much citrus in KeriKeri? I messaged them asking (pressuring), but it doesn't seem to do any good. OK, it wasn't peak orange season here - but they were still available - I bought some from the side of the road. At least they are labeling produce with country of origin now. 
Recently Katie asked for frozen berries - do you know, not one pack was produced in New Zealand! And, of course, they come in plastic bags. Sometimes I feel a bit mean about not buying stuff, so I will buy it for the last time and explain why we will be changing, but Katie and Derek are pretty good. 
Hooray for the Farmers' Market and roadside stalls, and our homegrown fruit and veg.

I have found an interesting book at the library called Moby Duck by Donovan Hohn.

It made me want to go pick plastic out of the mangroves, which we did yesterday (see below).
I loved the way the book was narrated, rather like a travelogue in some ways, and quite personal.
Sometimes I use picking up marine plastic, and keeping our patch of road clean to assuage my guilt for my failings in keeping plastic out etc. I am working on it, but have a long way to go - it means reviewing everything I buy and finding a cleaner, better way that is sustainable. 

Most of the day's mangrove pickings - some made it to the recycling (via Derek) before I got around to taking its photo

The plant trays in the photo are something we pull out at every cleanup. We have found well over a hundred, plus a myriad of pots. They came after a big flood washed out a nursery upstream. We deliver them to our nearest nursery, who happily take them.

This weekend I also discovered a couple of cool blogs:

 The Non-Plastic Maori- a blog by Tina Ngata who is tracking her year going plastic-free. I was so excited to find a Kiwi blog like this, and I like her style!

Every Week is Green - by 23 year old Joanna, who is journeying towards a greener lifestyle, with lots of good ideas. 

We Are Drinking The Cider

It was not a total failure, so I will put the recipe link in. It makes a satisfying pop when we uncork a bottle, and although it is a bit sweet, I add juice of half a lime to each glass and top it up with iced water and it is yum. It is a bit like ginger beer without the ginger. Sooo - not exactly a success, but still nice. Goodness knows if it has alcohol content, maybe a little. It wasn't a difficult process to make it- basically freeze the apples then crush/chop them, add water and sugar, stir and wait.. - speedy cider

Home made cider - ahem, a bit cloudy, but drinkable

I'm going to try making it again, and if any one else does, I'd love to hear how it turns out.