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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Little of Northland, a Refashion

I have been slacking in the blogging department as of late - but it's summer here and there is so much to do. 
I have been back at my sewing machine a little too, when it gets too hot to do anything outside it is a good respite.
So here is a little of what I have been up to...
Firstly, one example of why I am away from the computer - a rock pool at the river mouth, accessible at low tide as the sea washes it clean twice a day.

 After kayaking there and back - 30 minutes each way with the tide - we came home with enough mussels for two meals, and had a lovely picnic lunch out.

Next, our band has just played at "Picnic in the Paddock" - organised by a Northland musician/farmer. It was a lovely day, with about 200 people turning up to listen to a variety of musicians. Everyone took picnic dinners, bottles of wine, sat on hay bales under gazebos or umbrellas. 
I had planned to wear something that was black and white, but Derek suggested  "be a bit more colourful". I'm not sure if he was sorry after he saw what I came up with. I found three pairs of colourful pants, which I have tapered appropriately as they made me look like SpongeBob Squarepants, being vertically challenged. There are lots of instructions via the internet on how to do this.
They are all good quality labels which I got for a song. 
I will just put the green pair on today as I need someone at home to help take some decent after photos - but I thought they turned out pretty good.
The before photo doesn't do true justice to the atrocious emerald green these pants were, but they got a dye job in cobalt blue, which has improved them.

Before dye job and tapering.

The singlet top was also a conversion, from a tee shirt. I've decided standard round tee shirt necklines don't suit me, but I liked the graphic. 

And there I am wearing them (and playing tambourine if you wonder what I am doing)

To finish off, a couple of shots from Northland of the kind of things Derek and I love when we go travelling around...tumble-down buildings and public artworks.

Shack at Hihi

The bike fence at Mangonui - just because

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Saving Clothes from Ruin, Eco Sticking Plaster and Tomatilloes

Kia Ora! Welcome.

I am concentrating on the little things in my life, living the slow life and trying to make our place a little greener every day, year in and year out.

So here are a couple of my latest little discoveries...

Time to get rid of the plastic sticking plasters, although not quite so easy to keep other family members on track yet. I gave it some thought and came up with this alternative...

Paper Tape and Calendula Petals

Calendula petal dressing

It's barely noticeable

It is fairly simple, and although I think I created this myself, I'm sure someone somewhere would have already tried it. The paper tape is biodegradable, and onto it I stick a couple of calendula petals, which prevent the wound from sticking to the tape. You could add a little square of cotton gauze if you need extra absorption. It works a treat, wounds heal well and the dressing can then be thrown into the (non-food garden) compost at the end.

Clothes - Saving Grease Stain Removal

Grease mark before treatment

Grease mark has gone!

I don't know how many clothes items that I have discarded in the past because they got a grease stain on them that I couldn't get out - but now I have the answer! Even old stains that have been through the wash!
I read online that one solution is to use dishwasher foam on it - but we don't have that product here. 
The one I used was to spray CRC on the old stain to rewet it then scrape chalk dust onto it, which really took up all the oil. Make sure you put a layer of cardboard in the teeshirt to stop the CRC from going through to the back. I then rubbed a little dishwashing detergent into it before throwing it into the wash - now no stain!
As you can see by the little hole in the teeshirt that I tried it on something old (and not mine) first. 
To take out a more recent oil mark that hadn't gone through the wash, I just used the chalk and detergent and that worked.
I don't think CRC is probably that earth friendly, but we already had it in the shed. Maybe coconut oil would work in the same way on an old stain.

The Tomatilloes are Ripe.

I was all excited to find that I could grow tomatilloes here, even though I had never tasted one, I was certain from all the recipes I saw that they would be useful.
I tried my first one yesterday...and I didn't like it. 

The one on the left is perfect, on the right - over-ripe

I then went online to check, as I suspected it may have been over-ripe, and sure enough I found instruction there on when to pick them. So I needed to pick them when the pods were full and still green, instead of waiting for them to drop off like a Cape Gooseberry. Eaten like that they are tangy and pleasant.
My plants were supposed to be purple tomatilloes - I think I will need to talk to the seller on Trademe about that.
Woohoo - making salsa (as soon as I can lay my hands on some lemons or limes).

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Slow Living, But Lots To Do - Garden and Miracle Salve

The days are long and sunny here still. If it has rained so far this year it has only been a light mist, so my day usually begins with watering the gardens.
It is a good time to check everything out, and I invariably end up going back to the house to get a container of (very) hot water to give the green shield beetles a spa bath. This year I have taken advantage of their propensity to drop when disturbed and find it much more satisfying than squashing them one by one.

The morning's catch of beetles, next to some self seeded hebes (waiting to be transplanted)

Sometimes it seems like a battle against all the pests, and the possums won this year - stealing all our peaches and breaking branches on many other fruit trees to eat the leaves...grrr! I realized too late that I should have put the wire netting back around the trees, having removed it to make mowing easier.

Darned possums

The beans are doing very nicely, hanging from the arbor that Derek and Katie built, which makes them so easy to pick.

I just love my new bean arbor

Fortunately we still manage to grow enough to make it all worthwhile.

Just some of what we are growing here - beetroot destined for tonight's roast veg.

It has been a busy day today, with time spent making space for our new (to us) piano which will arrive later. Hooray, I can't wait - I haven't had a piano since I was a teenager..(keyboards don't count, they are not the same).

Next I made up this "Miracle Salve" for the first time, and it turned out great. I already had all the ingredients here, and it is one less pharmaceutical to buy, for keeping feet nice and soft. The recipe comes from where there are also printable labels, so it would make a great gift.

Miracle Salve

3 Tablespoons of beeswax pellets
1/4 cup of coconut oil
1/2 cup of almond or olive or jojoba - I made it up out of all three
2 Tablespoons of shea butter
20 drops of essential oil of your choice.

Melt the beeswax in a double boiler for about 15 mins. I used a large, cleaned pet food tin so I don't have to worry about getting it off my pan.
Then add the other oils and shea butter and mix. I let it cool a little then added the essential oils before it started to set, and poured it into a clean container.

Miracle Salve

Every night I go to sleep planning what I will do the next day. It is a great way to get to sleep - way better than counting sheep don't you think?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Gone Fishing and Iced Tea

We're just trying to keep cool here, with bright blue skies day after day, and beautiful starry nights.


Instead of bottled drinks I'm trying to go low (no) sugar, and no packaging, so have been making iced tea. I don't really have a recipe, and have been using up those random teabags that seem to accumulate, but which no one really likes hot, you know some of those strange fruit ones. I take a mix of 4 teabags and make a strong brew with them. If I need the iced tea in a hurry I pour the brew over a jugful of ice, along with some form of sweetener to taste, some mint leaves, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few lemon slices. 
If I am more organized I sit the brew in the fridge to chill and pour over ice in the glass. It makes a great alternative to water or alcoholic drinks. 

Gone Fishing

I helped Katie to make this sign for her Dad for Christmas. My part was mostly locating the things she needed and admiration. The sign was made from one of our shipwreck driftwood finds, painted using a paint pen, which makes writing easy, and strung with some old rope from a beach find.
 I think it turned out really well and her Dad was delighted. We've hung it out a few times while Derek is on holiday. We holiday at home as it is such a lovely spot on the coast and we just walk over the road to go fishing and swimming.
After putting the net out yesterday we had flounder for breakfast this morning - woohoo!

Flounder for breakfast

We get a lot of visitors over the summer, which is great but I have felt a bit distraught over the amount of packaging that comes in over this time. 
I have decided that an attitude change is necessary on my behalf, and now I see it as an opportunity for change by osmosis. Our visitors see what we are doing, and change comes in small increments...a recipe given here, a plant given there.
Then of course there has been the delight of receiving home made gifts - of divine pesto (thanks Di), elderflower cordial (thanks Erika), truffles (Trudy) and Trudy's divine broccoli salad - the best I have ever eaten - the recipe of which I will be sharing soon. And the fun of their company of course.

Thanks for stopping by at my blog today. 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Christmas NZ Style a Cool Public Artwork Underway

It's 2015! Where has the last year gone?
I started this post before the New Year but have had major computer hassles, so the posts are a bit slow coming.

This post is going to be mostly pictures - some from Christmas day - what New Zealanders get up to for a Summer Christmas.
The beach near us had lots of families out enjoying the lovely day.
The Pohutukawa trees (our New Zealand Christmas trees) were glorious.

Christmas day New Zealand Style

Christmas Day - Pataua South, Northland

On Boxing Day we visited my brother in Auckland. They had been keen to show us this mural being painted on the side of Hillsborough Playcentre. Look at the detail - even faces in the little windows.

It's not finished yet - but isn't it great!
Happy New Year!