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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Small Town NZ Raglan

Raglan is just a couple of hours drive south of Auckland, on the west coast, but I had never been there before.
It has been getting a lot of publicity for its recycling business, managed by locals, and for its artists and alternative lifestylers.
We timed it wrong to visit the recycle shop and also struck a weekend with no live music, but apart from that it was great.
There was a vintage car rally on, and school holidays, which meant accommodation was not so easy to get.


We finally decided to stay at the old pub in the centre of Raglan, having been warned that there are no ensuites and you can get a lot of noise from the pub downstairs.

Turned out to be a good choice, and there was no noise. We just loved the character of the old pub. Their meals were pretty good too.

Inside the Harbour View Hotel

We had dessert at one of the local cafes, and I loved the arty table number...

Not the best of photos, but you get the idea.
Just a walk to the end of the street and we were at Raglan Harbour

Raglan Harbour
Then a short drive out to the coast and we could see why Raglan is one of the best places in New Zealand for surfing.

A wild day on the Raglan Coastline
That was just a taster ...I want to go back, one night wasn't enough.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Kale Chips, The Moneyless Manifesto

They deem me mad because I will not sell my days for gold; and I deem them mad because they think my days have a price.
Kahlil Gibran

I've just finished mowing the lawn on the most beautiful Spring day - it felt like a privilege - if you know what I mean, with the sun, the view, the birds singing and getting free exercise to boot.

newly mowed

When finished I felt that I deserved a glass of my home made cider (it's really easy), which initially I felt was a failure, but as it has matured it has lost it's over-sweetness, and definitely has an alcoholic kick. Will be making that again for sure.

Kale Chips
Kale in my garden

I must be the last person in the world to try making kale chips - but if you haven't tried, this is for you. I had never grown or eaten kale before this season, but was inspired by my daughter (she who barely cooks anything), who raved over these kale chips that she had cooked!
I don't have a photo of the cooked chips, because we ate them up, but they were light and tasty - and healthy!
The recipe I used said to cook them for 15 - 20 minutes, but I have seen other recipes where they say cook them for 7 minutes. I can vouch for 15 though.

Heat the oven to 190C (375 F).
Rinse 2 bunches of kale and dry (in a tea towel or salad spinner)
Remove the stems and tear the kale into chip sized pieces
Toss with 2 tsp of olive oil, plus minced garlic and flavoured salt to taste.
Spread on a baking sheet.
The recipe said to stir once or twice, until crisp on the edges and slightly brown.  I didn't bother to stir them and they came out fine, but I did have them in  single layer.

A great way to get your kids to eat their greens I would think.

The 12 months of not buying clothes is up!

I slipped twice and once was for an actual slip to make a dress more wearable. The other slip was for an outfit for a fancy dress, which as an entertainer, I felt needed to be appropriate, and although I haven't worn it yet, I knew that if I didn't grab it, I wouldn't find another recycled one as good.
I have made a mental list of what I need, and once I have those items, using the guidelines from Greta Eagan's book "Wear No Evil" to buy ethically and sustainably, I will most likely go back into another 12 months of not buying any clothes. I found it freed me from the addiction, and saved me a lot of time and money. It also made me get creative, which made me happier than just being able to shop.
While shopping at Encore Designer Recycle in Ponsonby last weekend, where there was a market day going on, I snapped this cute pic outside..

Ponsonby (Auckland) street market day

The Moneyless Manifesto

This is the follow-on book to The Moneyless Man by Mark Boyle.
The Moneyless Manifesto was more intense to read, but good all the same. It was interesting to get a picture of where he had gone after his year of living with no money. The quote at the top of the page is one I found in this book.
Loads of information on living sustainably in here, although I do draw the line at using roadkill pelts for clothing.
This book can be found in the Whangarei Library (when I return it). 
I love how you can request books from your local library and they will get them in for you. Good moneyless strategy.

I hope you have found something of interest in your visit to my blog. 
Kia Ora.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ecosolutions, Paper Works

Yesterday I popped in to Ecosolutions in Whangarei to see if they knew how to dispose of old smoke alarms, which have toxic chemicals in them and shouldn't just go to the dump. They hadn't been handed any before, so took them to dispose of with the IT waste, which they charge a few dollars to get rid of for people.
It's great having people you can ask your eco questions of - like can you use eco-friendly lightbulbs with dimmer switches? (turns out you can if you use LED bulbs)

They sell some eco-friendly products there, and I bought these net bags to put my fruit and veg in at the market and supermarket. Apparently certain supermarkets are happy for them to be used - mine included.

Mail Art
One of the things I love about making mail art is the fun of taking them in to the post office to get stamps. The counter staff there always comment on them, obviously enjoying something that they don't see much of.
Wouldn't you love to get something like this in the mail that was totally unexpected? I would.

Just a simple wrap using vintage wallpaper, with a recycled courier bag inside for protection.

And A Card

It was my daughter's 21st birthday this week so I made her this card (in which to put money). Instead of having a party she is flying out to the USA tomorrow (compliments of her father and me) with two of her best friends, for a short holiday to catch up with friends and family and take in the sights - all the way to New York. I am excited for them, but a bit nervous-mother too.

I love using old maps, and this card is personalized with Maria's trip destination

You can see why every time I go to tidy up my studio it just gets worse - I keep finding little projects to work on. Anyway - must dash off, we have to get someone to the airport!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Tropical Guavas, Dirty Movie and Upcycled Jumper to Socks

I wonder what to write sometimes, but then things just pop this dirty movie I plucked out of the mangroves while out walking yesterday. It's an R18, but as you can see, it is really dirty.

Getting the plastic out of our marine environment.

Tropical Guavas
Yesterday we were given a box of these.

Tropical guavas

We have planted two trees which are still immature, but I can't wait until they have so many fruit that we are giving them away by the carton-load too.
I've only ever had the tinned ones, so I decided to stew some up to see how they are before I bottle some.

Tropical pays to eat them without crunching on all those seeds.

They have a delicate flavour and go very nicely with custard.
We have a relatively recent problem here in Northland with guava moth, which hatches grubs inside fruit, and can ruin a whole crop. I found a few, which I carefully cut out, and have put all the trimmings in the freezer before I compost them to kill anything that might be lurking in there. So far we don't have it in our fruit trees.

An Upcycle
I debated with myself about posting this one, but then I thought, no, too bad, tell it like it is. I have just been reading The Moneyless Manifesto, by Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man, which I so enjoyed. But more about the book on another post when I have finished it, but just wanted to say that I'm sure it influenced this upcycle.
I have noticed that my warm socks all seem to have walked off by themselves. Pottering about at home I usually just have sock-clad feet, so I made these by chopping the sleeves off an old soft wool jumper that has seen better days.

I thought about doing a second, tidier looking version, but this is the rip-sh*t-and-bust version. It's spontaneous but not tidy (but warm and comfortable).
I would also like to say that I can well afford new socks, but just choose not to.
Old jumper - new socks!

Well if that doesn't get you rushing out to chop up your old jumpers, I don't know what will, hehe. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Domestic Goddess

Yep, that was me today - Domestic Goddess.
I felt a little mad scientist too as I mixed up my best-cleaning-paste-recipe-ever, and made a batch of toothpowder.
Then it was out to the studio to whip up a little present for my new great niece. I thought some lovely embroidered vintage linen that I had picked up for a couple of dollars would make pretty little bibs.

I just realized the background looks a bit untidy - but they are sitting on a vintage suitcase.

Before I threw some loaves of bread into the oven, I used the warmed oven to make these beeswax food wraps that I had seen on quarteracrelifestyle

Beeswax wraps. I think you can get white wax, which might look better.

They are just grated beeswax on fabric, then pop them into a warm oven for a few minutes until the wax melts. I had some recycled tinfoil under them to save my tray. Then hang them to cool for a few minutes - done!
After looking back at quarteracrelifestyle's blog, I think I probably need to put a bit more beeswax on mine - but I'll see how they go.
They can be used to wrap sandwiches or cover containers for the fridge instead of clingwrap as they just mold to the shape of the container. They can be wiped clean or gently washed and reused. 

Last Weekend ...
was Father's Day, and we popped down to Auckland. It was a glorious day so we took a stroll on Milford Beach. I just thought I'd put a photo of it to show why I felt like rushing back to our beach.

Milford Beach on a beautiful Sunday

Our local Northland Beach
Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Scrapstores, Reusing Courier Bags, Kaka Beaks and More

In my last post I mentioned looking for a dress for a Great Gatsby event - well I looked in the costume hire shop, and the ones in there were awful. Since then I have found one, but it has meant that I have broken my 1 year pledge of not buying any clothes by 2 weeks, ah well, that's still pretty good. I will just say that it is a beaded, black, preloved number, and if I had waited I may never have found one as good. I will post a pic when the event comes up. I am trying to persuade the boys that they should dress like the band in the movie....

I have sourced the white bow ties and fezzes - I think the boys would look awesome like this. 


Dahlia tubers - 50 cents/ clump

A couple of weeks ago we went to what was billed as a collectibles market - but really it was about 10 stalls in an old local hall. We whipped around it in about 10 minutes, but I did pick up these dahlia tubers for 50 cents each clump. Hopefully they will be a bundle of bright blooms in late summer.


We don't have these here - shops where commercial and manufacturing waste is sold for reuse by schoolchildren, artists and anyone really.
At present all those roofing scraps, pallets, bits of leftover leather or canvas or lace or cardboard just go to the dump. I have been talking to the people at Ecosolutions about getting a shop going here, and they are keen to support the idea, but really not to do the work. I am a bit worried that it is way bigger than me, so I will need a team if it is to get going...still planning. Anyone keen, apply in person.

The Parcel is in the Mail..

We all get them - items sent in courier post packaging. Sometimes just a plastic bag, other times a paper or plastic covered bubblewrap bag.
Well you don't have to throw them away - they can be reused.
I took three and gave them the treatment.



The first one is just a plastic courier bag, which can simply be turned inside out, and either a label stuck on with cellotape or written on in permanent marker.
The second bag I just peeled the old labels off and it can now be reused, using tape to seal it closed.
The third bag I tarted up by gluing vintage wallpaper over then zooming around it with the sewing machine.

And while I was on altered packaging, I decided I could make this one reusable just by sewing it shorter to remove the logo.

And here are my latest plantings - Kaka Beaks. These are a New Zealand native shrub, so called because their flowers are shaped like a parrot's beak. (Kaka is the NZ native parrot). These plants are endangered in the wild with only about 153 known plants remaining as they are apparently delectable fodder for goats, hares, snails etc.

Kaka Beaks awaiting planting

Kaka Beak flower
Phew, that was a bit of everything thrown in.
Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Changing up a Few Things

It's official - this has been our wettest winter in 68 years! 
Today our replacement outdoor window curtain is coming - hooray! One of the big storms we had blew it out and it broke the acrylic roof and gutter on our outdoor living area.

Open, but chilly

We have so noticed the difference in not having it...we use that area for casual lunching - even in winter; the dog has his bed in there; I raise seeds in there, and we even get the washing dry in there over winter, plus it adds to the warmth of our house.

These little beauties will be happy for a bit of extra warmth

While that all doesn't sound very glamorous, it can be quickly tidied to entertain too.
The huge screens are (unfortunately) plastic, so we asked what they would be doing with the old ones - and they have said we can have them back, so I intend to make cloches for the garden out of them.


As I run out of bought consumables I try to see if I can make them myself, using no chemicals and reducing packaging as much as possible. I have some recipes for moisturiser, but before making them up I thought I would just try using jojoba oil, as I have read about other people doing this.

my new moisturiser

What a pleasant surprise! Just a couple of drops and it's light enough that it isn't oily on the skin, and I can even wear it under make up. It's neutral enough that males could happily use it too. I'm going to be introducing it to my family members to see what they think, and I'm not bothering to make any other facial moisturiser. I got mine from for $25 for 250 mls. It's organic.

Changing up

One of the changes I've made from consumables is this...

Gone from plastic disposable to safety razor. This little one, which I bought online for about $30, comes apart and fits in a little travel case. It is a little bit of a trick to shave with though, I find I have to get it at just the right angle - in fact I might give the company some feedback and try to get a better model, as generally safety razors are supposed to work really well.

12 Months of Not Buying Clothes

It's almost up - only 3 weeks to go, and I really need to buy something. Our band will be playing at a glamorous Great Gatsby themed birthday bash, and I just don't have anything appropriate for a 1920's style entertainer. I'm going to start looking in the costume hire places, but I don't want some tacky, fake costume looking dress, so it might have to be vintage if I can find one, or something I make myself.
I rather fancy something like this.
Watch this space. Fortunately I have a month or so to get it sorted.