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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Woman in The Wilderness, Foraging

Most mornings I try to ride 8km on my spin cycle (exercycle). This requires good reading material as it's a pretty boring activity.
I found this book  "Woman in the Wilderness" by Miriam Lancewood in the Hospice shop and swooped it up excitedly as I had seen her in a tv interview a couple of years back. 

It's a fascinating tale of living for years in the wilderness of New Zealand, just coming out every 2-3 months for supplies, and how it has changed the author. She has spent that time with her husband, who is 30 years her senior. They spent much of it living in their tent - even through winter, in the snowy South Island and hunting for meat. She walks everywhere, even in winter, in sandals.
It made me realize that we have native plants in our back yard that we have never utilized. So began my research into kawakawa and manuka teas.

Kawakawa plant. The caterpillar looking thing is the fruit.

This plant is related to the Kava plant from the Pacific Islands, which is made into a sedative, anaesthetic and euphoriant drink.
Kawakawa does mildly have some of these properties and is/was used as per this excerpt from Wikipedia

The root, fruit, seeds and especially the leaves of the kawakawa plant were favourite medicinal remedies of the New Zealand Māori. In fact, the kawakawa is one of the only plants still used by the Maori people today. Externally, Kawa Kawa was used for healing cuts and wounds, as an ingredient in vapour baths, and also as an insect repellent. Internally, it was found to be effective as a blood purifier in cases of eczema, boils, cuts, wounds, rheumatism, neuralgia, ringworm, itching sore feet, and all forms of kidney and skin ailments. The leaves were chewed to alleviate a toothache. The bruised leaves drew pus from boils and skin infections. A drink made from the leaves helped stomach problems and rheumatics when rubbed on joints. The leaf, if dried and burnt is an insect repellent.
The name kawakawa in Maori refers to the bitter taste of the leaves.

Surprisingly, the tea is quite palatable, and the leaves can also be used in

cooking to add a peppery taste. For the tea, scrunch up 3-4 leaves per cup and 

let them brew for 5 minutes. 

I'm looking forward to trying the fruit in summer when it ripens.

Manuka (Teatree)

Manuka seedling in front of the trunks of the mature trees.

This has been used as billy tea for centuries. Captain Cook used it for his crew

 to help prevent scurvy. The leaves are high in antioxidants and vitamins, so I 

was really hoping to like it. Apparently fresh leaves have more benefit and taste 

than dried. We used a teaspoonful per cup and were aware that it would be very

pale, but not to brew it too long as it would be bitter. (And not to brew it too 

strong as it was used as an emetic like that - ie can make you sick!) It was quite a 
delicate flavour, so I think my way to use it will be to replace the green tea that I 
currently buy 
and mix with my favourite Earl Grey tea.
This is also a multi-use plant. We use it for firewood and garden stakes plus it is famous for Manuka honey.

This all might be not much use to my readers from other countries...but what do you have in your backyards that you've never tried, that maybe your indigenous people have known about for centuries?

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Milk Powder Yoghurt, Chocolate Chia Pudding

 Most of my readers will have probably perfected DIY yoghurt years ago, but this is for the ones like me who have had not-so-good results for years.
For a long time I wouldn't even try making yoghurt, other than from using sachets in the Easiyo maker, because I didn't think there was any point if I had to buy milk in plastic bottles. Since we can now get milk in glass I've tried again, but could not get it like the bought stuff, and ended up making a lot of chocolate chia pudding with the less than perfect results (recipe to follow). 

This recipe makes thick creamy yoghurt - from milk powder

Original poster Lisa Rogers says... Super easy! I know there are other ways, but this is how I do it in an esiyo maker (I always see heaps for cheap in op shops).
1. Use the FULL FAT blue milk powder - fill to the 450ml line on side of the esiyo jar (or weigh 200g)
2. Cover with luke warm water, add a dash of water from kettle that you need to boil anyway. Not stone cold, not too warm, just take the chill off. Put lid on and shake to mix.
3. Add 2 Tablespoons of FULL FAT UNSWEETENED GREEK yoghurt as your starter & top to litre line with water.
4. Mix again and place in esiyo maker with boiling water for 6-8 hours, or until set. Put in fridge - any liquid that forms on top can be poured off or mixed in.
You can then sweeten or flavour as you wish.
**Remember to save 2T from your batch to start the next batch.
**If it "cooks" too long it may go a bit lumpy, just whisk together in bowl and re-jar.
Cost: You can get 5 litres of yoghurt from a 1kg bag (Pams is about $8.80 at Pak n Save) === $1.76 per litre of yoghurt πŸ™‚ Super cheap!

We can buy milk powder packaging free here - so it's perfect. 
My lukewarm water was 35 degrees celsius (I have a thermometer) 
The culture can also be frozen as apparently it will only last for a few times of remaking before the culture becomes too weak.
Also I have read that it shouldn't be left in the fridge for longer than 2 weeks or the culture will die.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

1Tbsp of rice syrup (or 3-4 dates soaked and chopped)
4 Tbsp of chia seeds
1 cup of milk (or failed yoghurt)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all with a food processor or stick blender and put in the fridge for 3 hours or so to set. 

2 Tablespoons of Chia contain:
 64% more potassium than a banana
 2x the antioxidants of blueberries
 41% of your daily fibre
 5x more calcium than milk
100% more omega 3 than salmon
3x more iron than spinach
32% of your daily magnesium
info from

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Plastic Free July 2019

I love to read about the plastic-free movement and how many people get switched on to it starting with a pledge to try Plastic Free July.
I've been gradually working towards being as new-plastic-free in my purchases as possible, and I'm still not there. Let's face it - it's hard.

One of my goals this year has been to find a sandwich bread recipe that is virtually no knead, like my other seed bread recipe Busy People's Bread. I have failed to find one, so this week I have bought a new-to-me bread machine. The first loaf was pretty good, and I'm on track to save bringing home 26 bread bags/year. I'll still be making the seed bread, four loaves at a time in the oven. A plus with the bread machine will be easier pizza dough.

My lovely helper holding the container - labels on the underside

A new thing here is being able to take a container to the supermarket and they'll make a bit of a drama about taking it away to clean it, then we can get items from the deli packaging-free.I'm loving buying feta and gouda like this. Just ignoring the drama..("have you got any other shopping to do...I'll be 5 minutes cleaning this" kind of comments). So I got them to put three things in it. It's a bit dearer to buy like this, but the feta's nicer than what I was getting.

My next change for P-F July has been making my own custard powder. Yes, I know you can make it with eggs etc, but it has to be sustainable and I'm not the only cook. The bulk bin custard powder was horrible so we reverted to packaged Edmonds. My challenge was to make something convenient that had to be as nice...success...recipe follows.

DIY Custard Powder

1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 cup of cornflour
1/2 cup of milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste

Grind all to a fine powder with a stick blender or similar. Store in an airtight container. 
Use as for regular bought custard powder, but I did find I needed to use more. I'm going to try adding more cornflour to the next mix. You can also add a couple of drops of yellow food colouring if you want it to be more like the bought stuff.

Our last innovation, which isn't a plastic-free one, has been to change most of our light bulbs to LED. They have come way down in price recently (now only around $3-$4/ bulb) and should pay for themselves quickly with energy saving and they'll last longer, plus they don't give off heat. If you haven't done yours yet, look into it. #money-saving 

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Sweet Little Footlets

In order not to burden the world with more clothing, I try not to buy new...but there are some exceptions. We all have our own limits that we set and mine are socks, underwear, swimwear, night wear. So I have set out to try making my own versions of some of these.
I found a free pattern for footlets/ socklettes here on Sometimes it's the Little Things and although the first ones didn't fit my size 8 feet, it wasn't hard to scale them up.

I used some scraps of stretch material and lingerie elastic that I'd inherited from my mother's stash. So far it's cost me nothing but a little time - I'm thinking they only take about 15 minutes to make a pair, once the sizing was sorted.
I'm never going to be a foot model!

I merrily put them on with some shoes and the first thing that happened was that they scrunched down under my feet - oh no!

Now my bought footlets have a piece of silicone on the heel to stop them from doing that, so in town the next day I whipped into Spotlight and bought a small amount of swimwear elastic. It's rubber and could be bought in small amounts off the card.

Once home I hand sewed a 55mm piece to the inside back of my footlet - and it stayed put!

So now I can make these out of anything I like - but old tee shirt material is a winner. The elastic cost me $1.75 - enough for 3 pairs. There's no buying new plastic packaging or synthetic materials. What a great gift idea too.

So not only is this a win for me - but if you have footlets that slip down - give the elastic fix a try!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Weeding out Possessions

This year I decided my big mission is reducing our surplus stuff. It's not Konmari style (tip - her blog is quite interesting) - more like Swedish Death Cleaning. This isn't really something new - I know, because my mother did it. 
It seems we get to our 60's and have just accumulated so much stuff ! Our kids aren't going to want it - it turns out we've both bred minimalists. 
So if we want our stuff to be disposed of appropriately we need to do it ourselves while we are fit and able and of sound mind. It takes a lot of effort.

So recently I have got rid of: - 
my vintage china collection and hollow stem champagne saucers and old bone handled knives (and made a tidy profit), a spare fridge/freezer and a lawnmower via Facebook Marketplace.

a huge carload (including daughters' x 2 clothes) at the local boot sale. What was left went to a charity shop, and the only thing they wouldn't oil filled electric heater with a little rust, went to someone on the Pay it Forward page. When we found that person was raising her sister's four children and they had nothing..we threw in some old toys, balls and art supplies.

a bag full of books and CDs waiting to go off to the Zonta Booksale.

my silver cutlery set to my daughter;

a tray of plastic plant pots that went to a market plant grower - and there's still another tray to go. Most of these were found washed up in our river, or rescued from someone who was going to throw them out.

Some sets of snorkel gear are set aside to take to the people of Vanuatu. We are stopping there on a cruise later this year, and I want to make some use of that trip by taking supplies for the people there  - but more on that later in the year.

It has caught on with step-daughter Katie's - she's had a huge clear out too. A lot of glitter got put out to go...I considered throwing this out as it is a pollutant - microplastic - but after discussion with friends it's going to the local drama society. "They would be buying glitter anyway" was the comment - so it seemed like the best option.
glitter - being packed off

a lot of my material stash of small pieces has been cut into pennant shapes ready for a stand we're doing at our local Multucultural Family day, where we're helping people to make bunting and produce bags, plus promoting Boomerang Bags.

We even gave Derek's old caravan away - yes the one we did up. One of those pics has been repinned 3k times on Pinterest! It was getting run-down and we weren't using it. Our neighbours happily took it as they were living in a tent on their block of land. It was a mission to get it moving again!

This decluttering is going to go on all year! I can't tell you how good it feels. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Mending Matters - It Really Does!

While I was waiting for this book, Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh to arrive, Derek's niece Anabel arrived first. I had requested that our library buy the book in, Anabel arrived as part of her overseas adventure from England, via India.
I love this book, which is lucky as I spilled red wine on it and may end up buying it!

Anabel arrived wearing a really flattering jumpsuit - full of holes.
Before I could say Sashiko mending, Anabel offered up that she should maybe do something about the jumpsuit, which she had rescued from a fellow traveler who was about to throw it out. 
We then had a discussion on mending and went through my fabric scraps. We found some suitable patching material and the next morning I couldn't help but sew on an interior patch with hand stitching. Anabel liked the hole left as frayed, but in the Mending Matters book the holes are tidied up and the edges stitched.

Anabel's jumpsuit, Anne's wabisabi stitching.

I sent Anabel off with the patches and thread and needles. She's keen to keep adding patches in her down time - a suitable occupation for flights to the other side of the world - so long as she doesn't try to carry scissors.

Did I mention how much I love mending stuff? It's exciting that visible mending is on trend - and slow fashion is a thing.

Our last Repair Cafe (where I help with mending) was a lot more lively than the first - thanks to a bit more advertising. We had a couple of sewing mends, then helped some sweet little boys make gift bags, which they were so excited about.

 I was delighted to take my scissors along - including my pinking shears - to the man with a grinder there, and now have superbly sharp scissors - all for a donation. I didn't even know that pinking shears could be sharpened! Even the worst scissors that couldn't cut paper can now cut material.  πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ Happy dance.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Camping and Miscellaneous Art

Hi and welcome!

Well we survived the first camping trip in 10 years. We learnt what else we need to pack and will definitely be doing it again. We have just bought a second hand gazebo that will be useful for an outdoor kitchen and also as cover for when we're having a car boot sale soon.
We stayed at a Dept of Conservation campground - Puriri Bay, Northland NZ  - $13/per person/night. The facilities are long drop toilets, plentiful cold water, shower cubicles to hang your solar showers plus some cold showers. 

Me, sketching outside our tent

The view from our tent
There's lots of bird life and kiwis can be heard at night, which is not as common here as you might think.

Very friendly ducks here.

And now to completely change topic...

Recently someone was asking for upcycling uses for old CDs and I remembered that I had this photo of my Daughter from around 11 years ago, when she was about 14, modelling in a wearable arts competition. I unfortunately don't have the artist's details. The tiara and parasol are both decorated with broken cds. Sorry, the picture quality isn't that great - it's a photo of a photo.

 I posted here about the denim art of Ian Berry recently. I wanted to try making one, so, boldly, here is my first attempt. I've bought some old canvasses and have covered one ready for my next, more adventurous piece.

Denim art surfer - made from discarded denim

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Mangrove Honey, Little Balls of Energy

Hi All - look what we've got in our backyard!

They are only here while the mangroves are flowering, but maybe it will be an annual event.
Who knew you could get mangrove honey! We're looking forward to trying some, plus we needed a new honey-in-glass supplier - and he found us!

Energy Balls

I made up this recipe when we wanted a little something with our morning coffee to give us some zip to get through the rest of the chores. It's especially good when I don't feel like using the oven - because that usually means that I cook several things to be efficient with heating the oven.
The recipe is fairly flexible - just use what you've got and get it to the right degree of moisture that the balls will hold together.

Into the food processor place:
1 cup of dates
1/2 cup of nuts
1/4 cup of seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower - any of these)
6-8 pieces of crystalized ginger
1/3 cup of dark chocolate buttons, melted

Whiz them up. It should be able to be rolled into small balls - about 1 teaspoonful is a good size, then roll in coconut and store until they're gone in a container in the fridge.
They'd be good for children's lunchboxes too. Heck, the kids could make them.

Well we're off camping this week - that will be the first time in over 10 years for both of us. With our band winding down there should be more opportunities if we enjoy it (and I'm picking we will - fishing, reading, playing guitar, hopefully meeting some new people). I post a pic next time - we're going somewhere local and lovely.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

A Day of Sadness

March 15th 2019 will always be remembered here as a day of sorrow in the wake of the mosque shootings in Christchurch. Fifty lives taken as they went about their peaceful practice of prayer.

Hopefully it will unite all New Zealanders even more as they stand in solidarity with the Muslims who call New Zealand home. 
Our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to change our gun laws to no longer allow semi automatic weapons and to tighten gun ownership regulations.

We are a peaceful country so this is unexpected and shocks us all to the core.

Kia Kaha - stay strong 

Arohanui - great love  πŸ’“


Monday, 18 February 2019

A Weird Vegetable, Denim Art and a Repair for Females

A year ago my friend Bushra gave us some of these weird vegetables that I had never tried before. I decided to grow some. They are incredibly versatile and it seems that they grow like weeds.
Kohlrabi - the bulbous part grows above the ground on a stalk, looking like some kind of alien

They taste somewhat like a turnip, and if not left too long to go woody, they can be grated raw in a salad plus used anywhere you'd use a courgette - ie roasted, stir-fried, soups, casseroles and probably pickles. The leaves can also be eaten as greens - although I haven't tried that as the cabbage whites (caterpillers) beat me to them and they don't look very appealing. I've just planted more seeds, so maybe this time.

A Bra Repair
I thought that I'd posted this before - but I can't find it. It took me well into adulthood before I learnt to do this, and it's something that I'm hoping to teach at the repair cafe. Forgive me if I'm preaching to the converted, but honestly there's probably someone somewhere that doesn't know to do this.
It involves the underwires that suddenly poke out of your bra (if you wear them like that). 
This is an old mend using a tee shirt hem. Still holding up well.

Step one - push the underwire back in.
Step two - put a few stitches in with needle and thread to close the hole.
Step three - hand sew a doubled piece of scrap knit material (off an old tee shirt is good) over the spot.
Step four - do the other side too, because well, prevention.

I've seen others use "moleskin" to do this mend, but you have to buy that. My mend is free. 

Denim Art

I came across the art of  Ian Berry online and was just blown away. I just want to share some pics with you.

Debby Harry by Ian Berry - zoom in - it's amazing

Ian Berry Denim Art

Now that's a pretty good reason to keep all your denim scraps. I'm going to give it a whirl - anyone with me? (Of course, not expecting to be that good).

Sunday, 3 February 2019

The Remakery, Bella Vacca Milk, Wetsuit Repair

Rather than feel bad about all the plastic and pollution in the world, I am cheered by the changes I see happening now on a regular basis - so to cheer you too, here's a little round up of small local things that add up.....

The Remakery...this is a new initiative about to kick off this month at 3 Woods Road Whangarei. It is being enabled by Habitat for Humanity, who have funding from our District Council to reduce waste. 
Lots of new murals around Whangarei - this one is of a Kereru, or native wood pigeon, on the building that will house the Remakery

The Remakery will include Upcycling workshops and a monthly Repair Cafe. The building already is home for Food Rescue Whangarei, Whare Bike (bike repair), a wholefoods co-op and Ano againreuse, run by a talented lady who upcycles unwanted denim into fashion. SewGood, our community sewing group will also be in there, and Boomerang Bags will hold some weekend workshops there too at times. I love this πŸ’—

We can now buy milk in glass bottles here! BellaVacca milk is rolling out to more retail stores every few weeks. It costs $8 for the first bottle, then with your next purchase just return the clean bottle, and it will only cost around $3.70 - $4/ litre. This is quite a lot dearer than milk bought in a plastic bottle - but the milk is great. I offset that cost by using powdered milk (that I can buy packaging free) in baking etc. 

Wetsuit repairs. I'm learning some new skills!
 A local Not-For-Profit Experiencing Marine Reserves asked if our SewGood team could help with wetsuit repairs - they teach snorkelling to school children, with an environmental focus. I thought I could give it a whirl, have done some research....and look what I've got to work on!
A whole carton load of wetsuits awaiting repair!

As a practice on some offcuts of old suits, I've made some arm protectors for picking blackberries, and a beer coozie and some covers for my milk bottles, to insulate and protect them. Now to get down to the real work.  

Lilliput Library - do you have one of these in your area yet? This one has just popped up over summer at our local beach, Pataua North. 
Pataua North Lilliput Library - book sharing

Such a cool idea don't you think?

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Napier and Hawkes Bay NZ

Christmastime is our busy summer season here, which is why I have not posted for ages. Gardens, visitors and a busy band schedule keep me away from blogging.
We ran away last week, booked an Air BnB in Napier (population 64,ooo)- which is 476k (295miles) from our home, and 320k N/E of the capital, Wellington. (Not so much a small town - but oh well).
Primarily we went for a Toto concert at one of the wineries, but for 4 nights so that we could have a look around as I hadn't been there since the 60's (I was very young haha).

Napier is known for it's Art Deco architecture - owing to the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake that meant a lot of the city had to be rebuilt. They make a feature of it with an Art Deco festival every year. (That's the Mr)

Vintage shopping at Charleston Chic

She also sang through the megaphone, which made it sound like an old record

Napier lights up at night with many beautiful light-changing fountains

Controversial zigzag track up Te Mata Peak - local Maori were not consulted when a permit was given to Craggy Range Winery to make the track. Locals want it removed.

We bypassed the big wineries for this one - Akarangi - in an old church. The wine tasting session was an entertainment in itself. 

The carved gateway to the Star Compass at Waitangi Regional Park,Hawkes Bay.

The Star Compass, Waitangi Regional Park, Hawkes Bay

Wineries, vintage shopping, stunning scenery and a  great concert - what's not to love?