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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Christmas Glimpses

Wow has this year gone fast for everyone? Here we are at Christmas's door, doing what we can to reduce the commercialism of the holiday, yet trying to maintain the celebration. So here are a few pics of how we've gone about it this year.

The Christmas Tree

I find myself over the effort that I have put into trees in earlier days - the bought-from-charity pines, and the wilding (weed) pine even, that I kept green in our hot summer by misting with water every this year's tree is low maintenance...

Found driftwood from our stash and decorations from the collection that gets hauled out every year. I have to say that I found inspiration for these ideas on Pinterest.

I have admired the cute little scenes with a Christmas tree tied atop a vehicle in snow - even though we don't have a snowy Christmas, I'd like to see one one day. My tree is a piece of rosemary, and the snow is epsom salts - which will be recycled out to the garden for the tomatoes and citrus later. The light is a rechargeable that plugs into the USB port. The old car is one we found on the beach.


My daughter's partner Logan is into landscaping - and on his Christmas list was "native plants". It just so happens that we needed to clear these off our bush path, so I hope he likes them!

We've only lost the droopy one - the rest are looking good

Our dogs will be getting a stocking - Munta will be getting a new spare lead, made from the strap of a damaged-beyond-donating handbag.

Twitch (Logan's dog) will be getting all the tennis balls that we have found on the beach, because Munta has no interest in them whatsoever. Plus some packaging free dog treats each.

Derek and I have agreed on a $10-limited something fun from the op shop each, because we have bought ourselves an experience gift of a few days away with a music concert included.

We might not have a snowy Christmas here in Paradise, but we have Christmas colours in our flax flowers, with the added bonus that the birds and bees love it.

In case I don't get back here before Christmas - Merry Christmas everyone, and a safe and peaceful holiday to you all.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Green Parking, In the Sewing Mood

One of my goals for this year was to quit getting those plastic parking tickets from the parking machines. 
I'm ashamed to say that it has taken me far too long, but I have now logged on with and it was easy.
Now when I go to a carpark, all I have to do is log in on my phone and say how long I want to park for and pay. The beauty of this is that if I overstay my time, I can log in from wherever I am and extend the time without having to rush back from somewhere, or risk getting ticketed.

No more of these for me

Even after years ago deciding to stop using new plastic, I am still reducing plastic out of my life. 
Do you have this parking payment mode where you live?

We're finally getting sorted after our return from holiday. It has been hectic; preparing houses for new tenants and coping with the loss of Derek's 95 year old mother, just weeks after our return. Also our gardens were overgrown and seeds needed starting. 
I was hankering for a week in the studio, just pottering. Yesterday was the first day I managed...and this is what I got up to...

Sewed a button on daughter's boyfriend's pants (button was lost -  mum'll have one)
Made 10 produce bags (for the Boomerang bags stall at the Vegan Expo this weekend)
Repaired 2 teatowels - because I like mended stuff
Patched a pair of leggings that snagged on a stick while gardening - they now have a piece of black lace covering the mend, on black leggings.
Made a sewing machine dust cover - finally, after how many years??
Put a zip into a single use vacuum cleaner bag, so it's not single use any more. The zip was salvaged from my old work uniform.
Made an avocado ripening bag from an old blanket scrap. I'm dubious that this is going to work, but will post it if it does. It's meant to hasten ripening ++
Made a draught stopper snake from some knit fabric and scraps from the overlocker. It looks like a python that swallowed a villager, I think the next one will be an improvement hehe.  

It has been unseasonably cold today and I have been back in there again much to do. I figure that if I complete lots of projects then there won't be so much to stash and tidy.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Packaging Free Snack, Upcycled Belt and More

The Packaging Free Snack

What do you grab when you want something with your glass of wine? I've been going for this (see below) lately as it comes packaging free and stops me wanting other wicked things (corn chips). 

Ages ago I posted on how to make no-fail popcorn. Now popcorn can be a little dull, therefore I have discovered that combining it with wasabi peas (which I am able to buy in bulk in my own container) changes the game completely. 
I also add a bit of salt and vinegar flavouring (which I make myself by saturating rocksalt with vinegar and letting it evaporate off in the sun or a warm oven.
If you really want to go all out - try adding snips of nori sheet (sadly not packaging free) and I also throw in some bits of crackers that have broken when I've made my knackebrot crackers

The Upcycled Belt

I have felt inspired by the belts and straps that I've seen on Pinterest made by Amy Hanna, as seen on
I have finally got around to making one myself using my old PU belt that was getting to the end of it's life.
I have also taken the opportunity to make it just a little longer, (ahem, it must have shrunk).


It was fun to design as I went along. It probably won't appeal to the straight line brigade, but I like it.

A snap of the witch I made for Katie's Halloween party - using an old black umbrella. It's not as good as the ones I saw on Pinterest, but oh well, it was a quick job and she liked it. 

There's no top half in case you're wondering

I thought I'd leave you with a pic of a bright spot in my garden. I grew these Sweet William flowers from seed. They have been lovely to pick and give. Note to self - grow more flowers. 

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Holiday Asides, Simplicious Flow, A Buzz

Hi All.

Remember before I went on holiday, I had made these passport holders from my stash of things, so they cost me nothing - I just wanted to say that they held together perfectly and were a delight to use. A win for DIY.

Another aside from my holiday..I am fond of reading magazines on the plane, but that can get to be expensive. I try to pick up reasonably new copies in our op shops before I travel, which is also more enviro friendly.
I had a laugh when I opened one to find that someone had commented in pen a few times throughout the magazine -  funny/ witty comments. I only saved one to post.

Don't be afraid to do this if you are passing a magazine on - it had me chuckling away.
Also, if you go to Dubai - a magazine will cost you an arm and a leg (I walked away without buying). A common Australian Woman's Weekly was $30NZ, and all others were even more!

Have a look at this newly-out cookbook, Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson, of I Quit Sugar fame.

I was impressed to see that she's dealing with the subject of food waste - giving recipes that use up all of the ingredients, plus addressing the use of plastic wrap and plastic waste. I've never seen that in a cookbook before - it's definitely different.
There are of course some great healthy recipes in there too that I'm looking forward to trying.
Oh, and look what else is in there...exciting! 

Yes, that's a mention of my little blog with my adapted recipe for Miracle Pan Grease.
You just never know what's going to happen next in this life.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

It's Good To Be Home

We've been flat out since getting home two weeks ago, but oh what a wonderful holiday - 6 weeks in England and France. We visited friends and family and just ambled through those beautiful old villages in both countries, then a week in Paris to finish off.
It's difficult when you live on the other side of the world to those wonderful places - it increases our footprint a lot by doing all that travel, and all I can say is that we try to do what we can to balance it back.
Some of our souvenirs included vintage items we found in the markets. 

Some unplayable instruments that we lugged home to add to our wall decor

I bought no new clothes for myself and popped into a lot of thrift shops, finding that an interesting insight into different countries. I must say that I think ours and Australia's stack up pretty well against those that I visited. 
The produce markets in France were just gorgeous. Such beautiful displays with no plastic - I wish ours were that good.

The market in Bordeaux

Now that we're home I have hurriedly planted all my seeds, but I'm a bit late with them so I've been scouting around looking for plants that don't come in plastic punnets (found some lettuces) - will try our local Sunday market.

There's nothing like going away to make you appreciate what you've got.
Yesterday's walk on the beach coincided with low tide, so we picked a bag of pipis - which I cooked for my daughter's lunch today - much to her excitement. (Seriously, she loves them)

Sorry I've missed a lot of others blog posts while I've been away and still not caught up - I'll be back with you all soon.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Some Novel Ideas and Some Travel Plans

I love to see unwanted items reused for a different purpose, so when we saw this wall decor in a cafe in Auckland, I had to get a shot.

An industrial style cafe uses old baking pans to give texture to a wall

The next item I had to think hard about whether to buy it or not. It's plastic and it's a gizmo (generally 2 reasons not to buy). But if you've read recently where I rub on sliced lemon or lime for deodorant, you might see why I found this attractive.

spray on deodorant

It gives a fine spray and the citrus lasts in the fridge for a week with the nozzle screwed in. There are two different sizes, so when I run out of limes, the bigger one will work on lemons.
There is an added bonus that no one will now accidentally use my deodorant lime, and this way it can also be used to spray on fish, salads or fruit to stop it browning. I love it.

My reading stack lately

I've been sewing with scraps

You may see a recurrent theme beginning to appear...

I think neck pillows are a great idea on long haul flights, but they take up so much space (unless they are inflatable - and I'm not about to go and buy one). So I had the brilliant idea of removing the foam filling of the one I already have and replacing it with those spare clothes that you should pack in carry on luggage, in case your suitcase goes missing.
I copied the pattern and made another one for Derek. 

It looks a bit lumpy but is really comfortable

Next was something to replace those awful plastic travel folders that travel agents give out (and we refuse). I could have bought some - but hey, I thought it would be more fun to add it to the things to do the week before leaving...

Made using materials on hand

So yes, we're off. You've probably guessed the destinations by the reading material. There's a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and a Van Morrison performance scheduled in, among other things. 
Right now I'm just sick of cleaning to make sure it's all ship shape for the housesitters.
I might not be able to publish your comments meantime. I've had to edit comments thanks to a few spammers and I'm not sure that I can do it from my phone.
 So I'll be back here in a couple of months. Until then - au revoir!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Around the Op Shops

Here in New Zealand our charity shops are called "Op shops" - short for opportunity.

I thought I'd show the interiors of a few of our local ones here in Whangarei.

There are about ten in Whangarei, of varying sizes. The three I'm showing are big, well laid out, good displays and there's no odour to them.

Hospice Op shop Whangarei

Hospice Op shop, Robert Street, Whangarei 

The biggest is the Hospice shop. It has everything, especially a great book section where I bought a book on Paris for 50cents. There's also another overflow Hospice clothes shop that I have never looked in. Our local Hospice is partially funded by the government - the rest is from donations and the shop.

The next is the Red Cross shop - again clean and well set out, but not much furniture here. I bought the little picture frame here for $3 - not a great bargain, but I have been looking for ages for a small square frame for a cool little gift card that I was given - if only I can find it now.

Red Cross Op Shop, Bank Street, Whangarei

The last is the Salvation Army store - newly revamped and not back to full stock yet I think. 
Salvation Army Op Shop - Vine Street, Whangarei

Katie was thrilled to find a pair of shoes to wear to the ball here ("they'll hardly be seen under the dress and will probably only be worn once") for $2 - and they're leather! But better than that was a pair of perfectly fitting Levi jeans for $5 which made her day.

I like to not buy new anything if i can buy it second hand, as a way of not using up the Earth's resources and of being frugal. There are a few exceptions though - people just need to do what they're comfortable with. 
I think it makes me be more creative, shopping like this.

Monday, 23 July 2018

The Towai Tavern's Creative Upcycled Decor

I have posted before here about the Towai Tavern - a lovely old character pub that our band plays at several times each year.
We played there again last Saturday, and I wanted to include some of their cool decor, which the new owners have created.

The decor in the Ladies toilet

Because everyone wants a fish tank in their piano

Bottle cap mosaic

Apologies for putting the urinals in - I didn't take that photo by the way.

Bottle cap tree sculpture
Pic of our band set-up, lead guitarist fine tuning the sound

You'd think I would have taken a better shot of my own instruments - sax just visible on the right.
oh, ok then my alto and tenor saxes and bongo drums

I didn't take photos of everything, but the pub is decorated with old bottles, old farm implements and lots of vintage pieces around the walls. 
The staff are friendly and the food is great - what more could you ask?

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?