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Monday, 23 February 2015

Greener Life Snippets

 Today's blog is snippets from living a greener life.

Green Ginger
Eighteen months ago I blogged about planting this root ginger that looked like it was sprouting.

At various times I have seen leaves come and go, and have thought - "Oh, I've killed it", but just left it alone in the pot. This summer it has come back with some new shoots. When it dies down again (which I now know it does), I'm going to repot it. I think I will be able to start taking pieces to use soon. 

Ginger plant grown from a root from the supermarket

Don't Buy New
Recently I needed to get a "new" food bowl for our dog Munta. This time I've gone for practical - charity shop, $3.00, unbreakable.

Munta's "new-to-him"  upcycled 80's ovenware bowl

I thought it was a good alternative to spending around $20 on a plastic one like this (although I know you can get them cheaper, but I don't like to buy plastic anyway)

The water bowl is also recycled - it was once a gas bottle stand.

Thank Heavens I Can Sew
I had been looking for a gauzy cover up top, when I came across this lovely one in a charity shop. 

The thing about buying preloved clothing is that often it has something strange about it, like an odd fit, which is where the ability to handle a sewing machine comes in useful. I didn't love the angel wing sleeves, but now after a trim back to caftan shape, they are perfect. 

Ooh - upside down picture - but you get the idea

Well that's it for today's post. I'm off out to the studio for another day's sewing. Yesterday I got through about ten little projects of clothes that I had put aside for altering, upcycled carrier bags for trimming, stretch headbands for bad hair I'm starting on the baby gifts.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Blackberries, Something to Make You Smile

I'm back. Another computer glitch had me anxiously awaiting a part, frustrating isn't it?


I love gathering food for free, and the last couple of weeks it has been blackberries, from a handy little spot nearby.

Wild blackberries

Derek had been dropping hints about Blackberry and Apple Pie for a while, so I made him one, told him it was part of his Valentines gift. I was really tired the day I made it, so found an easy recipe for pastry and hoped for the best. It turned out pretty good, and I will keep this Annabel Langbein recipe up my sleeve for days when little effort for good result is required.

Tender Italian Sweet Pastry

4 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar (I only used 1/2 cup and it was perfect)
3 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup of olive oil
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of ground cloves (I didn't have any - used allspice)
2 tbsp vodka, brandy or other spirits
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 170 degrees celsius.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a big bowl.
In another bowl lightly beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, spice, spirits and lemon zest.
Make a well int the dry ingredients and add the egg mixture. Using a wooden spoon, then your hands, work the flour in gradually and lightly until it comes together into a smooth ball.
Divide the dough in half, press half into a greased pie tin. 
Add your pie filling...this pastry recipe was actually for a jam tart with a lattice top.
Add the top - as a lattice if you feel like it, but being tired, I went for the easy option of just crumbling the pastry on top.
Bake for approx 40 minutes.

Blackberry and apple pie - with home made icecream

Good News

Lately I have seen a couple of gorgeous things on Facebook that just made me smile. In case they didn't make it to your part of the world, have a look at these....

Australia's 109 year old Alfred Date knitted these little sweaters for penguins injured by oil spills. Just look at the designs on them though! How beautiful is that. See a link here.

And the next story is also about an Australian - Sonia Singh, who started remaking some sad little dolls she found cast off in junk shops. Mostly Bratz dolls, she gave them a makeover by removing their faces with nail polish remover, and repainting them to look like little children. Her mother made the sweet little outfits.
I feel like she has given them a new life.

You can find the link here.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Broccoli and Another Refashion

Another fabulous day in Paradise  - my friend Di took this lovely photo at the beach not far from here (where we have been relaxing and swimming today).

We had friends visiting last weekend, and I think they may have been shocked at the, ahem, organic nature of my vege garden. No straight lines there, lots of things going to seed. But it is still amazing how much food we gather from it.

Broccoli - use those leggy heads

I was feeling a bit guilty about the broccoli - most of it went to seed. I don't normally grow broccoli, but the seed came free. I always feel that my home grown broccoli gets insects which don't wash out in those tight heads and I have to examine them v-e-r-y carefully before I will eat it.
However I have discovered some spin offs. Firstly, the green shield beetles love the seed heads, and they are easy to see and flick into hot water. I read that Kay Baxter of Koanga Nurseries uses a Mustard crop as a "catch" crop for this purpose. Secondly, I am saving loads of the seeds and am going to try it as microgreens - where you plant the little seedlings thickly and use them when they have baby leaves, full of nutrition in your salad or stir fry. Genius!
Another thing I learned recently is that there is no reason to toss out those leggy broccoli heads (leggy heads?) when they are getting ready to flower, just pick them and put them in your stir fry or steam and toss in lemon butter.

Another Refashion

I feel a bit funny about modelling these - being no model, but my blog is about being real, so here goes...
I'm back doing a little clothes shopping - not new, but of my favourite, second hand designer clothes. I love to improve what I get with my sewing machine, so here is a dress I picked up recently, which I have taken in, up at the shoulders and removed one of the layers to shorten it.

Before - Agh, should have worn make-up


Despite it being my size, it was enormous.

I'm hoping by sharing my refashions that I might inspire others to buy recycled - not because they can't afford new, but as an ethical choice. 

Monday, 2 February 2015

Home Made Deodorant, Fly Repellant, Iceblocks

According to the weather reports January has been the hottest on record here in New Zealand. I would believe that - today it has been 28 degrees Celsius inside, that's 82.4 Fahrenheit. It's humid too. So fittingly I have a few ideas to go with the heat. Those of you on the other side of the world can just keep it all in mind. I know you won't be interested now, shivering away over there.

Home Made Deodorant

I have finally run out of deodorant, and on my quest for making everything myself, I have been searching for deodorant recipes. 
I found this one at Wellness Mama, and I was impressed by the feedback she had from people who had tried it.
The recipe is simple, and in this heat it is liquid enough to go into a washed, empty roll-on bottle.

6 T coconut oil
1/4 cup (4T) baking soda
1/4 cup (4 T) arrowroot
essential oils ( I used neem and lavender oils)

I think in this instance "T" means teaspoons.

You just mix them together and put into a jar. Rub or roll on a small amount as required.
I have tried it out on this sweltering day and am pleased to say it seems to work. I have asked for family to give their ratings too.

Fly Deterrent
We haven't had a lot of bother with flies until recently as they seem to come with the rain. Today those pesky little sticky ones kept trying to land on me as I worked in the kitchen, but I fixed them! Peppermint oil. Rub a little on, either in some carrier, or straight (which you are probably not supposed to, but I do anyway). It has stopped them bothering me, with the bonus that peppermint oil is invigorating so I've been busy doing things all afternoon.

Passion fruit
A while back I put in a photo of a driftwood trellis that Derek made for our passion fruit plant.

Well look at it now!

Oops, time I mowed the lawn, but it's too darn hot.

We are staring to get passion fruit ready so today I made iceblocks by putting the pulp in the sieve, and getting the juice without the seeds (which Katie doesn't like), by rubbing them with a spoon. She has just tried one and declared it delicious.

 Juice from 6 passion fruit
Crushed up ripe nectarine
1 tablespoon of plain unsweetened yoghurt
a little sugar syrup to sweeten

Mix all together and put into iceblock molds.
So cool for after school.

This was enough to make 4 small iceblocks