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Saturday, 14 July 2018

Keeping Rice Crackers Good, a Dinosaur, a Phone Holder...

Hi there. 

We were out for lunch a couple of days ago and it reminded me of a hack (that is a tip for the older generation) that I learned from my daughter. 
The grandson had these rice cracker type things, and it reminded me how quickly they go soft - but my daughter taught me that you store them in the fridge and they stay crisp - you don't even have to seal the packet! I thought maybe I was the last person in the world to know this, but seeing as my stepdaughter didn't know that - I'm sharing it.

Little grandson turned 2 a week or so back, and he's hugely into dinosaurs. We found him a dinosaur book appropriate for his age, and I made him a rice-stuffed dinosaur that can be heated in the microwave for him to snuggle. Their old villa is incredibly cold in Winter. 

I also made him a sleep sack out of scrap material with an inner of an old felted wool blanket.

While I'm on the sewing with scraps theme...
we end up with a lot of fabric scraps from using the overlockers when making boomerang bags. I don't like to throw them out, so here are a couple of things that I've made from them. 

One is just a lowly pincushion, but the fancy thing about it is that flat piece out behind -  it sits under the sewing machine so that it stays put.
The second is a prototype of a phone holder that I made by copying one I saw on Pinterest. I feel the design could be tweaked a little to get the phone to sit more steadily, but hey - it works.

And lastly, while we're still on the subject of sewing - I wanted to show you our SewGood Station.

Whangarei's SewGood Station - a community sewing machine

This is one of our donated machines, set up permanently in Ecosolutions, in Whangarei for anyone at all to use. So, if people need to do mending or want to sew their own reusable bags - it's free to use, although a koha (donation) is happily accepted. 
There is a stash of materials, threads, scissors - in fact about everything you'd need - right there. There's also an overlocker there for people to use, although it's only a 3 thread. A 3 thread overlocker is only good for finishing edges, whereas a 4 thread is strong enough to sew the seam.
I think it's great - but it doesn't get used much yet.

Oh, and do you like my new blog header? I've been meaning to do this for years, but have just had the incentive provided for me - something a bit exciting that can be revealed closer towards the end of the year. Sorry - going to keep you in suspense.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

It's A Tropical Theme

Kia Ora!

Look what we've got growing!
I try to not buy fruit and veg that come from overseas, but bananas are one item that get requested here.
Finally we have a bunch (don't laugh Australians, I know they are tiny). These are ladyfinger bananas, which are easier to grow than the regular ones. It's a start ok.
How's that sky for the middle of Winter!

And sugarcane. It has taken three attempts to get this growing. I've researched how to use it - at this point let's say it will only be in an emergency.

Plus we are just planting out the frangipani and coffee bush into the garden from their pots. I'm not great with pot plants and I figure with global warming, they'll stand more chance out there. 

The One Million Pieces Project. (Coconut)

A couple of months back I saw this project advertised and was so impressed that a company would do this!  The Raglan Coconut Yoghurt Company is trying to get to a million pieces of plastic picked up, asking groups/ individuals to send in a count and photographic evidence of the plastic rubbish collected which they reward by sending out some of their wonderful yoghurt (that comes in glass jars).
In our instance, because we live out of town, they put money into our account to go and buy some!! How cool is that?

Speaking of coffee - we're going to need those beans. Look what we just bought off a couple who are headed for a retirement village and are downsizing. 
Sunbeam espresso machine

When I saw this advertised on Facebook, within two minutes of it's being posted I had it secured for $30. I have to say that we now make flat whites at home that are better than those we've had from many cafes. A little treat every day.
Note the mug of little wipes for the milk frother, made especially for that purpose.
That had to be the bargain of the week. I'd love to hear of your latest second hand wins - that's got to be the way to go, right?

Friday, 15 June 2018

A Deodorant Save and DIY Bailey's

Deodorant dilemmas
Last summer my home-made coconut oil/ baking soda deodorant failed. It just stopped working. I suspect this has something to do with the coconut oil remaining melted at room temperature.

I needed another plastic free idea and I stumbled onto the ideal solution, which I have been using ever since. Halved lemon/lime! It works unbelievably well and we grow a supply pretty much all year round. I just keep the halves in the fridge, taking a new slice off the top occasionally.
Squeeze a little juice onto the surface and rub it on. A gap between shaving armpits and citrus application is recommended.
The trouble is - I'm going travelling soon and will need yet another solution - I'm thinking witch hazel.
we have an abundance of limes right now - hooray!

DIY Bailey's Irish Cream

We don't drink a lot of alcohol - a glass of wine here and there and sometimes a liqueur in our coffee in the evening. My choice of liqueur is Bailey's Irish Cream, which we recently ran out of. I decided it was high time to use up some of those bottles of whiskey that we seem to have been given a lot of - so I've made my own Bailey's.

The recipe I used was one that I found here at Smitten Kitchen

It uses 
1 tsp of cocoa powder
1/2 tsp of vanilla essence
1 tin of condensed milk
1 cup of cream 
1 cup of whisky

It takes 5 minutes to mix and is seriously nice. The blogger I got it from states that it is supposed to last from 2 weeks to 2 months - and it needs to be kept in the fridge. It would normally take us longer than 2 months to drink this much - we might need to get help.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Of Chokos and Quinces

Hi All. Ok so it must be weird fruit week here.

I had not tried eating a choko since my mother served the tasteless, slimey things up when I was very young (quite some time ago).
They are often found in New Zealand in cardboard boxes with - "FREE - Help Yourself" written on them. After which they sit around and grow sprouts then get thrown out. 
He just looked in need of a face

It turns out that not many people like them.
When Derek brought one home (he likes them), I decided it was time to see if I could make them edible. You do need to peel them and cut them up small.
I tentatively added a quarter to a stir-fry....yep that's ok, can't taste it..then to a soup...again good....fritters, as a replacement for courgettes....again fine.
So last weekend when I saw another carton of free chokos...I picked one out and took it home!


This week we were given a bag of quinces. I've never cooked these before, but have tasted them in quince paste and a friend does a magnificent quince and chilli jelly.
I discovered a sticker on the fruit to say they had come from Pompallier House in Russell, so they are from a very old orchard, an heirloom variety.
I wasn't sure that they were going to taste any good, so stewed a few, then happy with the result I have stewed the lot. 
We've been eating them for breakfast, and they'll be good mixed with other fruit in crumbles etc.
Quinces are rather like pears in texture, and have a delicate but distinctive flavour of their own.

Pompallier House

photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Bishop Pompallier bought land in Russell, Northland New Zealand in 1839. The building was constructed in 1841-2 for use as a printery, also housing a tannery for book binding. (They used urine to tan the leather back then).
In 1842 it produced it's first Maori translations of religious texts.
Pompallier House is open for visitors these days. It is about as old as buildings get here in New Zealand.

.<a href=""><img alt="" src=""/></a><br/>This photo of Pompallier Mission and Printery is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The Mermaid & What I've Been Up To.

Where does the time go? 
We have been busy - cleaning out our garage so that Katie could have a 17th birthday party in there (eek - but the party wasn't too bad). 

This meant sorting a lot of stuff, so we have been to our local car boot sale early on a Sunday morning selling things off, then donating the rest. The market is pure entertainment - some real characters there. 

I've also been busy selling off the bone china and old cutlery that I started collecting a few years ago. I'm getting a good return on my investment, money going towards a big trip later this year. 
Next to go will be my crystal brooch collection - we can't keep everything right?

The Mermaid
I've decided to share the next pictures with you so that you can see it's never too late to have a bit of fun. On our birthday (Derek and I share) there was something called the Whangarei Fritter Festival - lots of bands, food is mostly fritters (for which there is a competition), and beer and wine. It's lots of fun, but not cheap at $45 each, and then you buy your food and drinks.

The Fritter Festival 2018

I saw that one of the bands was running a competition with free tickets as a prize, for anyone who would dress as a mermaid and post the pic to their page. 
Well I could tell that I had a good chance with few entered, and none following instructions... so at 59, I won my first mermaid competition with this pic.

An unflattering but winning pic haha! Tail is a piece of fabric with a spray painted flipper that we found on the beach. Oh that's a wig by the way.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Upcycles and a Refashion

Kia Ora!

Today I have a selection of things that I've saved by giving them a second life. 

The first is a leather bag of just the right size, shape and colour - and it was only $5! Unfortunately it was a bit grubby looking, but for $5 I thought it was worth the risk to see if it would clean up.
I used a little detergent in warm water (as googled), which made a good improvement. Once it was dry I applied a beeswax shoe conditioner that I already had. The colour changed immediately - as it stated on the jar that it might - but I love it. It is now usable. 😊

Fabulous op shop find of the year

The next save was Katie's broken umbrella. The cover was unsalvageable, being a clear plastic that came off in pieces - but the frame.....

Airing our (clean) washing

Sadly I bumped my favourite mug and the handle broke off 😞. It was one that Derek had bought me when away in Australia. You know how some cups are just right to drink out of and nothing else feels right?
Well I came up with this solution and I love it - it feels so right - lovingly repaired.
Hand sewn felt sleeve for the broken cup - and it's replacement

Before I did this Derek secretly ordered me two replacements online for my birthday (they are pretty special - IIttala brand), so now I have this repaired one to travel with me and not worry about it and I'm so happy to have the others.

My final piece is a refashioned linen/rayon dress, New Zealand designed and made, a $5 op shop find. The material is buttery soft and I love the colour .Some imagination was required - see the original! But all it took was shortening of the length and the sleeves. 

I just love saving money, saving things from the landfill, not using up more of Earth's resources. Don't you?

Monday, 5 March 2018

Eating Local - Marinated Fish

While I was in town today, Derek popped over the road and caught a Kahawai for dinner. Kahawai is also known as Sea Trout - to give you an idea of the type of fish, and the flesh is dense, good for smoking, but it makes a superb Marinated Fish.
This is a well known Pacific Island dish, but it is also a much loved dish in New Zealand. I've had this since I was a youngster.

We realized that the only ingredient that came from further than 300m away was the coconut cream. The rest came out of the garden.
Here's the recipe. Just add as much or little of the ingredients as you wish.

Marinated Fish

1 firm fleshed fish - filleted and cut into small cubes
lemon or lime juice to cover the fish
coconut cream - approx 1 cup
spring onion
cucumber, diced small
tomato, diced or quartered cherry tomatoes
optional -mild chilli cut very small

Place the fish and lemon juice into a glass or ceramic dish, cover and place in the fridge for a few hours, turning the fish once or twice during this time.

The fish will be "cooked" after this, and the lemon juice can be drained off. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir to mix and serve.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Road Trip North

Wow it's 99% humidity here today after 5 days of rain - it feels like the tropics.
It is hard to find enthusiasm to do much, so time to update the blog.

Fortunately it didn't rain for the weekend a fortnight ago when we had to travel north for our band to play at a wedding. We thought it was a great excuse for a weekend away and checked out a few places on the way.

Kaeo Public Library

One stop was the little township of Kaeo (pronounced Ky-oh). There are a few shops on the main street, and there was a market happening. I bought three Agee jars for food storage for $1 each. That was ok with me, because years ago I had sold a lot of these when moving for $1 each.

There is a jandal fence in Kaeo - which is something New Zealanders seem to do. Around NZ there is a bra fence, a hubcap fence and a bicycle fence - and probably plenty more. What's their purpose? Who knows - solidarity? something quirky to do with items no longer needed?

Cottage, central Kaeo
The thing Kaeo seems to be most renowned for is serious flooding over the years, being on a river flood plain. It is also close to the lovely Whangaroa Harbour.  

The wedding we played for was further north in Oruru, which is pretty much a farming community. The 80 year old barn is on the family farm and beautifully rustic. The bar was made from an old grain silo.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Reusable Gift Bags

Isn't it funny how you always do something one way - then you discover a new and better way. This time I'm talking about gift wrapping.For many years I haven't bought gift wrap, choosing to recycle anything I already had, but insisting that it has to look attractive.
For Christmas this year I made a few fabric gift bags, something I hadn't done before. I couldn't believe how easy it made gift wrapping - and of course the big plus side is that they can be reused time and time again. Also it gets other people (the recipients) using them (hopefully), if not they can give them back.

You don't really see fabric gift bags for sale anywhere do you - apart from maybe online craft sites. So I had a great idea - gift bags for every occasion. 

Fabric gift bags

I flew my idea past a friend who runs an annual Early Childhood Education conference with an environmental theme. She loved it - they want to use them as part of the environmentally friendly conference bags.
The bags can have a drawstring threaded through them and be used to hold kids toys or even as snack bags, or they can be tied with recycled ribbons, hemp string, or even fabric scraps to give gifts in.
So, I have an order for 200 - but I have until November. I am using donated fabric remnants and recycled materials to make them.

One morning's pick

Derek's catch cry was "You can never have too many tomatoes". Well we have been giving them away, roasting and freezing them and of course enjoying them fresh and in savoury dishes. No, you can never have too many!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Little Piece of Paradise

Wow - Happy New Year! 
This is busy season for us, if you had wondered why I have disappeared.
We live on the coast, so summer is when we get more visitors than usual. It's also the time when our band is busiest, currently playing 1-2 nights/ week.
And the garden - watering, mowing lawns, picking veg and bottling fruit....and Christmas in the middle of all that! 

Visitors with camera, impressed by home baking - rare shot of self.

We had a visit from Derek's brother and his wife recently. The best part for them is if we can get down the river for the day. I whipped up date scones and pikelets to take as we stay down there for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea so that we can catch the incoming tide on the way home.

You can see our place - a little white speck on the green between our heads

We all piled into our little boat for what is a ten minute trip to the river mouth where there is the loveliest usually-deserted beach.

This year the mussels were thick, and a super low tide meant we didn't even need to swim to get them.

I just found a nice sandy place to kneel down - that's brother-in-law Jack

 With easily getting our limit of 25 mussels per person, we had enough for 4 meals of mussels - first with white wine, plus some of the fish I caught on the way home and other ingredients - a simple bouillabaise.
The next night they were done with coconut cream, and the other fish, a kahawai, was marinated in lime juice, then had coconut cream plus other things like chilli and spring onion added.
Next day mussel fritters. 
The rest I gave to my daughter who loves them.

It has mostly been beautiful weather here -I hope it holds out for Saturday, when our band will be playing in the garden bar of the Towai Tavern 

Garden bar awaiting a band