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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Live in the Sunshine

So I'm off on holiday...

Thank you to "freephotos at guru" for the image

in reality this means for the past few days I have been hard out cleaning in preparation for the house sitter. Bear in mind that our family members (including a 2 1/2 year old) have just moved to their own house this week after 2 months here and you will understand that I am busy cleaning windows.

I decided to challenge myself whilst doing the windows by doing them with my eyes shut, to see what it might be like cleaning as a sightless person, going by touch. Of course, I was able to open my eyes after each one and rate myself - I did quite well - you should try it sometime.
I use Dr Bronner's castille liquid soap in hot water, followed by newspaper to dry, and that makes a great job. I like that the Dr Bronner's I use is peppermint scented, which is known to be invigorating and insects dislike it.

The young ones have done incredibly well, selling a house in Perth, moving the family (plus cat and dog) back here, buying a new house, finding 2 jobs and childcare. Plus shipping back a car and a container of furniture etc, all within about 3 months. What a huge undertaking - I take my hat off to them. 
One of the nice things about retiring means that I have been able to help out. That is a luxury these days.

We are one week away from the start of Winter here, and last week I picked aubergines and tomatoes from outdoor plants. This is not usual here, but they are in a warm position. It has to be climate change. We seem to be more fortunate here, in our own little micro climate than so many others are around the world, where the effects of climate change have been much harsher. 

I'll be back in a bit....just off to do a bit of living in the sunshine and swimming in the sea, and maybe drinking a few cocktails as well as the "wild air". Cheers!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Ants 'n' Cinnamon, Upcycled Market Umbrella to Clothes Frame

In this post....

I always seem to be banging on about pests here, but hey - they annoy me. So when I find something that works, I figure others might like to know too.
Have you tried putting cinnamon on ant trails to keep them out of the house? 
Apparently the smell confuses them and they just stay out. I've tried it, and they've gone - yay! 

Mozzarella Failure
A few weeks back I wrote a post on making haloumi cheese is easy  I commented that my next cheese would be Mozzarella. Well! After a following a recipe for "30 minute mozzarella", which the author described as so easy that her 9 year olds make it all the time - I had a big fail! It made some kind of cheese, which I have been hiding in white sauces,(and using up the ton of buttermilk this way too) but it definitely wasn't mozzarella. I'm going to blame the rennet.

Upcycle Market Umbrella Frame to Clothes Drying Frame
I have been hankering to replace our plastic coated clothes drying frames.

Drying frame - all rust, flaking plastic and sharp edges - out it goes!

I saw a gorgeous one in an eco shop in Auckland, fold-up style and made of wood, but it was well over $100. Probably one of those good investments that would last forever, but it seemed a lot.
Where we live is prone to great sudden afternoon gusts - so when I forget to drop the market umbrella in time, it can be doomed.

The bones of a deceased market umbrella

The remains seemed too good to just throw away, so I came up with this plan to utilize the parts into a wooden frame for clothes drying.
I have to say that the end result, which now stands without leaning, is largely thanks to my lovely Derek, who redid a fair bit of my initial construction.
I think it's great! 

Fabulous new drying frame

The next one, we have decided, will be more suitable for larger items, as this one is better suited to smaller pieces that don't need so much room to hang. And maybe we will be able to make the next one a folding frame. Perhaps I will let Derek design it.

You can see some more of my upcycles in these posts dog dishesdog bed from a suitcase upcycled fish smoker from a washing machine,  upcycled jewellery

Thursday, 14 May 2015

About Kiwis and Chia Berry Low Sugar Jam

I know, people have been going mad for chia seeds for a while now with their health benefits and ability to gel up.

Chia seeds

I'm a little late catching the boat, but have been adding chia to my toasted muesli mix and bread recipe lately. What I really wanted to try though was a berry and chia recipe for jam, which thickens up with no sugar. We all want less sugar, right? 

Berry Chia Seed Jam

Strawberry chia seed jam - no sugar!

2 cups of berries
2 tablespoons of chia seeds 
2 tablespoons of warm water
2 tablespoons of honey - but I used xylitol/stevia to taste

Bring the berries to the boil in a saucepan, then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chia seeds and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until it is the consistency that you want. Add sweetener to taste and pour into clean jars.
This is one to store in the fridge as it won't keep otherwise, having no sugar. So don't make a huge batch.
It's great on toast or stirred into plain yoghurt or used in baking.
The original recipe was one I found on Oh She


Now I know quite a few people from around the world visit my blog, so this is for you. I feel the need to point out the difference between a Kiwi - our iconic flightless bird here in New Zealand, and a kiwifruit.
If you meet a New Zealander, they will often refer to themselves as a Kiwi. That's just a patriotic thing.
Recently we went to a kiwi meet prior to the release of this endangered bird into a safe area. This is the first time in my life that I have actually seen one up close, rather than behind glass in a kiwi house. They are a nocturnal bird, and flightless. They are at major risk from predators - stoats and weasels, rats and dogs. As none of these predators are actually native to New Zealand, kiwi numbers have been declining rapidly. 

Kiwi - he looks cuddly, but his handler is keeping a firm hold on those feet. Kiwis make clicking noises with their beak when annoyed.

They have incredibly strong feet and can dispatch a weasel when they are big enough.
Listen here for a kiwi call

And these are kiwifruit.

No one here calls them kiwis - maybe it's a marketing thing overseas.

Thanks for stopping by - do visit again!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The New Artisans

The New Artisans

I fell in love with this book by Olivier Dupon when I first saw it whilst visiting a friend almost two years ago. When I got back home I requested it from our library, but unfortunately someone else loved it so much that they stole it before I could have it. So when we saw it in a bookshop, I decided that it would be one that I would enjoy dipping into and Derek kindly bought it for me.

The front part of the book is dedicated to different artists, with such beautiful inspiring photographs. The back section is a gallery, divided into different types of art, such as ceramics, metalwork, textiles and jewellery.
It's a great book to pick up and dip back into - makes me want to get over to my studio and create!

It has been a busy week, but not a lot of new activity for my blog - so I've just decided to post up a few original images that I have made.

Poetry by Celia Thaxter

This is a little technique that I have taught myself from
If you don't know it already, go and have a play - it's great what you can do - mostly for free, but if you want something fancy then you can pay. 
It's fun to be retired and have time to learn new tricks.

And a journal page, with a quote I like

Altered Book Journal page

Hey, thanks for visiting!