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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Accepting That Trying is Better than Nothing. Healthy Snack Recipe.

Some people might look in my shopping trolley judgmentally, me with my reusable grocery bags, and see items in there that are not zero waste.
I don't live by myself though, I buy items for Katie and Derek too.
I think it's important not to drive them crazy with my ideals. 

Shopping is not perfect zero waste yet

We get the yoghurt sachets (which are better than plastic tubs) and cereals that come in plastic bags inside their packets, but at least I reuse both of these things to freeze the meat we get from the butcher that comes wrapped in paper. 
My trolley also has plastic bags with the veges and fruit, but they are ones that I take back time after time and refill, that is, when I'm not getting to the farmer's market. 
I made another step of progress this week though - got the supermarket to paper wrap a bulk order of sausages for me - the nice, low fat ones that I can't get from the butchers.
It's better than not trying at all.

Lunch at the Beach
My friend Di came out for a visit this week - we used to live just a street apart and both miss that easy drop-in availability.
She knows I'm a bit of a greenie and tells me that she now uses her own bags at the supermarket. We went for a walk on the beach, picking up the fishing lines and plastic out of the loads of washed up seaweed as we went. It's nice to have friends join in, who weren't particularly bothered before, just by seeing what I do.
a recent beach pick up - I was amazed by how much nylon fishing line there was.

After that it was a stop for lunch in a beautiful spot with a glass of my home made cider (link to recipe here) which is getting better and better every week. Di was impressed.

No Bake Energy Bites
 I found this recipe in Mother Earth News magazine.
Katie made it up last night and they are yum - maybe just a little sweet for me, and I think they would also be nice with dried cranberries replacing the chocolate chips.
No Bake Energy Bites

Combine in a bowl:
1 cup of rolled oats
1/2 cup nut butter
1/3 cup of honey
1 cup of coconut flakes
1/2 cup of ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini choc chips
1 tsp of vanilla

Chill 30 minutes then roll into balls.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

How easy is that?! Especially when someone else makes them hehe.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Perfect Popcorn, Free Range Eggs

When I was in my twenties, I would phone my Mum often to ask her things - and she always knew! I love that my twenty year old daughter now texts me asking things like..."how do you cook mince?" And,"help my toe's gone numb, I'm scared it's going to fall off!" (it didn't)
The days of asking my Mum are gone now - but fortunately we have Google.
So I have been cooking popcorn, as a more healthy snack and totally non-packaged item, as I can buy it with my own container at Binn Inn.
Except that I have been having trouble getting it right when cooking it in a saucepan, and had to use the method posted below for cleaning up burnt saucepans.
So after googling it I now have the secret!
So if you want to know too (and it is clever) go to simplyrecipes - perfect popcorn
How to cook perfect popcorn on the stove

Cleaning Burnt Saucepans

Sometimes when saucepans are badly burnt I know of people who have thrown them out. But all you need to do is cover the bottom with water, throw in a big tablespoon of baking soda, bring it to the boil, turn it off, then let it sit overnight. The next day the burnt on stuff will have lifted right off.

Free Range Eggs

There has been a scandal in NZ recently with an egg farmer prosecuted for selling caged hen eggs as free range at twice the price...which has led to a lot of discussion as to how do you really know. I've just read Wendyl Nissen's newsletter (see the link to her blog on my page) where she suggests using Google Earth to zoom in on the egg farm you buy from to see if the hens are running around outside. I tried that, but honestly couldn't tell, so have done a search on the producers (mine are from Quail Valley Farms, Belgrove) and they look legit and responsible from what I have found. They market under Sungold Organics.

Thanks for visiting my blog! 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Just getting over a bug here, so I think it is a perfect excuse to potter about. I had a go at making these paper feathers that I had seen on Pinterest, which would look quite nice as an addition to a gift wrap. It was a first attempt, so could improve on that I'd say. That is an old shoelace sandwiched between two old book pages.

I spent yesterday mending (I get all my daughter's mending to do too), and made a collage in one of my art journals, just for the fun of it. 

two things that i love...

It's that time of the year here - seed planting time. I'm just about to start and am all excited because I found some purple tomatillo seeds. I have never tasted one of these, and they are not common here, but I have been reading about them and think they should thrive here. They should be a plant that keeps on giving if they are anything like their relatives the Cape Gooseberries (which I don't like the taste of), which grow like weeds here. They are meant to be good in salsa and in place of tomatoes in many recipes. 

purple tomatillo

I've been finding all kinds of great advice in this book that I came across in our library - Koanga Garden Guide

The Koanga Institute is a New Zealand charitable trust dedicated to saving heritage trees and seeds. Kay Baxter - the author and founder is a living treasure herself for what she has done for our world. 
I'm definitely going to order this book to keep. The Koanga Institute is also where I order a lot of my heritage seeds from.
One of the things I discovered was that I should pick out the tips of my broad beans once they were flowering, to put more energy into bean growing, and that the tips are edible in stir fries - so now I can vouch for that too.

harvesting broad bean tips for the stir fry

We are so lucky here - the broad bean flowers were abundant with bees. 

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dyeing a Little Here, The Power of Kindness


Ok, so I have a little cold and not much oomph, but it's not that kind of dying.
On month 11 out of 12 months of not buying any clothes, I thought I would change up a few items out of my - "don't wear it anymore" pile.
I was prepared to sacrifice any of them, knowing that dyeing can sometimes have unexpected results. I started with two packets of Rit dye, as I wanted to mix the colours.Purple and Scarlet Rit mixed turned out a lovely raspberry colour.
In total I dyed eight items - several were just as ugly as before, so will go, but four are improved a lot.
I separated the items into cottons and acrylics, as cotton requires salt to fix the colour, and acrylic requires vinegar.
I didn't take photos of all before sorry, but here are some pics.

Before dye

Now a more wearable colour
Thought I'd go right ahead and wear it to play in, Saturday.

A sixties lurex top that I had already refashioned 

The new colour makes it look a little more contemporary

 I wish I had paid attention when the instructions said wear gloves - I have lovely red hands, which will look interesting when I play in the band tomorrow.

"The Power of Kindness"
is a book I picked up recently. There was a reference in it to global cooling - a new term to me. 
"I am convinced that global cooling goes hand in hand with the accelerated pace in all sectors of modern life. We are under pressure - we cannot afford to waste even a second. Children are made to grow up fast and we feel proud when they can complete next year's curriculum early. Computers are faster and more powerful. Purchases are instantaneous - we can have almost immediately what we want. Employees have to be able to answer for every minute of their time. Cars are made to go faster, and speed limits are raised.
To increase profits new versions of consumer items come out ever more frequently. "Pointless" activities, like having a chat, meeting in the square or in a park, idling away the time with others, are often discouraged. If all this is happening, inevitably the room for warmth becomes less and less."

One of the things I love about living slow is that it gives me the opportunity to offer my services - if someone is throwing a party - to help cater or set up, or if they are moving house to help clean, or with a friend who is having treatment for cancer to phone her, and to drive her places if needed.
Time is a luxury.  

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bay of Islands Jazz n Blues

We've just had a gorgeous weekend up in the Bay of Islands. The weather was superb in the middle of winter. 

Blue Monkey Racket - playing on the street, Paihia.

There were bands out playing in the streets on Saturday and Sunday, so we walked along Russell beach in the sun, listening to the music and finding plenty of sea glass, bits of sea-worn copper (for driftwood artworks) and lots of worn pieces of old china. Russell is a ferry ride across the bay from Paihia.

Joe Carberry's band playing in Russell

Russell was one of the first sites in New Zealand established by Europeans, so I feel like the pieces of china are like finding little bits of it's history. Russell used to be called the Hell Hole of the Pacific as it was full of whalers, pubs and wanton women....definitely more civilized now. 

 Our band was playing in the Jazz and Blues Festival, which is held in August every year, with about 50 bands playing in seven venues. There is such a variety, with Big Bands, a couple of school jazz bands, Dixie bands, a ukulele orchestra..and then your Blues bands, that vary widely from rockin' to smooth cabaret sounds.
Our band doing a Blues Brothers number at the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, Derek on harmonica, me on tenor sax.

Lots of fun, but I need a couple of days of doing nothing much to recover.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Broad Bean and Feta Salad, and Plastic Purge (the book)

One day last week Katie asked me "what's for dinner?" When I told her the first course was Broad Bean and Feta Salad she screwed her face up just a little. I wanted her to just try it...and she discovered that she liked it so much that she finished it all off, and stated that she would happily take it for her school lunch. 
She is such an easy kid to get on with - how many people can say that about their partner's teenage daughter who comes to live with them - I am lucky.

So here is the recipe - may it make all your teenagers happy.

Broad Bean and Feta Salad
This comes from the book - "Gorgeous Greens" by Annie Bell

Broad Bean and Feta Salad

500g frozen baby broad beans beans weren't babies, and my oil wasn't 
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil                   virgin....still good.
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt, black pepper
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced diagonally
6 tablespoons of coarsely chopped fresh flat parsley
200g feta, crumbled
50g rocket leaves, optional

Bring a large pan of water to boil and cook the broad beans as per packet instructions - or use fresh ones if you have them.
Drain into a colander and leave for a few minutes for the water to evaporate.
Toss the hot beans with the olive oil and lemon juice, seasoning and leave to cool.
Toss in the spring onions and 2/3 of the parsley. Scatter the feta and remaining parsley over the top and splash with a little more oil.
You can toss in a few rocket leaves, or serve the salad over a few dressed leaves.

Plastic Purge by Michael Sanclements

I may appear fanatical if you look at my reading material, but really I am just passionate, and I love non-fiction.
I figure if you get just one thing worth keeping out of each book, then you are winning.

I found this one really interesting, in that I learnt, for one thing, that one of the first purposes of plastic was to find a product that could replace ivory in billiard balls - there was even a huge reward offered for someone who could come up with a suitable man-made material.
Also that the energy from 9 plastic bags is enough to drive a car about 3/4 mile. Does that make you feel good about taking your reuseable bags to the shops?
This book is from our local library..I love that place!

I'm looking forward to a busy weekend at the Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival - hopefully for throw a few pics in next week.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Garage Sale Finds, Dog Kennel Artwork, A Cool Fishing Spot

A Stitch in Time  
Sometimes life just gets in the way of my blog, with things breaking down plus my usual time spent making things from scratch, and also recently self maintenance.. routine doctor, dentist and hairdresser stuff, plus sax practice.
But I'm back with a little gathering of things.

Watercress - grow it like this..
Recently I posted that I'd discovered you didn't need a running stream for watercress and planted some from a bag I bought, in a recycled fridge turned drinks cooler/planter box, and it is growing famously!

watercress crop

I also have some inside in a shallow bowl doing extremely well too.

Fishing Spot
I've just been for a bike ride and thought I would put in a pic of this cool spot that someone has built over the river for fishing.

Roadside fishing spot

On the Dog's Kennel
This is Derek's sense of humour.

Derek's artwork - bird scarer, bone and driftwood

Garage Sale Finds
Last weekend we had to make an extra trip to town on Saturday, so thought we may as well do a little garage sale-ing. It was late morning so mostly the good stuff was well gone, but I found a hanging basket for 50c, which I find handy to keep the possums out of my plants, plus some Christmas lights for 50c - you can never have too many fairy lights eh, and a stack of old terracotta pots for $1. Derek picked up a DVD player in perfect working order for $5, so we were well pleased. 

A little garage sale recycling

And lastly, a pic of the little fellow who flits around our garden, especially when I open the compost bin and the lots of little insects fly out. He's so friendly so I hope he looks out for my big black cat...

NZ native fantail, Maori name Piwakawaka

He has the cutest little peeping call.