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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

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Bird Scarer, Down the Road for Coffee, Dr Seuss Tree.

Isn't it great when you save something from being thrown out - and finally you find a use for it.

Derek saved these old discs from the bin at his work - and last week they became bird-scarers on our plum tree. I'd always had my doubts about the effectiveness of doing this, but yesterday I stewed a trug full of plums that the birds had not touched since the scarers went up, unless the plums fell on the ground.
I have now added more to the peach tree. 

The plastic cases will be reused to house home-written cds.

It looks like we will have a bumper crop of avocados next year. Got to love avocado trees - we are still picking 2-3 fruit off it every week, and it's getting itself ready with the next crop.

I just had to show you these coffees we were served in a local new cafe/restaurant called Down The Road.

I forgot to take a pic until they were half gone!

Weird name, but it's a lovely old 1930's Art Deco style home converted. The coffees were great by the way.

And lastly...our Christmas tree. This year it's going to be fairly quiet, with Katie still in Argentina as an exchange student. This is an eco friendly, no fuss tree from the side of the road. It is a wilding pine - which is a weed here. It was chosen especially because of it's interesting Dr Seuss-like shape. 

With that I'd like to wish my blog followers and random readers a Merry Christmas, and hope 2018 is wonderful for you. We've had a great 2017 and I hope you have too (but I don't know how it goes by so fast).


Sunday, 26 November 2017

Ghost Net Art and..a New Fly Swat!

 Hi All. During a recent trip to Brisbane we visited GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art). There we chanced upon an exhibition by some Torres Strait (Northern Queensland) residents using ghost nets - those that have washed up after drifting around in the ocean.

Ghost Net Basket by Mahnah Angela Torenbeek

Ghost Net Basket with Shells by Mahnah Angela Torenbeek
Ghost Net Gear Bag, Blue Flowers by Reggie Sabatino

I just loved these  - zero waste art, plus usable too. These have been exhibited worldwide with ghost net artworks now fetching big $$$.

And for a laugh...My man was complaining that the plastic fly swats always break, so I told him I didn't want any more coming into the house thanks. Instead, I made him one from an ice cream container lid, the handle was a kitchen scraper that had started to break, and it's sewn together with fishing nylon from a reel that someone was about to throw out.

 I have to say that it works a treat.  

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A Home Made Advent

We are off to Australia again soon to visit Derek's family, and I decided to make an advent for his 5 year old grandson, to take with us.
Advent's beginnings were religious, and I hope not to offend anyone, but this is not for a religious family, but one that does love Christmas all the same.  
Warning  - it looks a bit over the top- but actually only a little of it has been shop bought. Much of it we already had, including all of the boxes and paper, which are being reused. Some items had been little gifts bought and never given that have been sitting here for years - a good time to use them up.

The part that has been bought is Lego - the grandson's most favourite activity - and it ties in with a Lego book that we've bought him for Christmas. I bought a set that could be divided into many parts and packaged each component up separately.

So I thought that I would list what has gone into it, maybe you'll see that I'm having a little clear out hehe, but things that we thought a small boy might find interesting.

Apart from Lego pieces I have packaged up....

An alphabet letter magnet (regifted) that just happens to be his first initial

A small dinosaur notepad


A knob of Kauri Gum, with a little printed out explanation for his parents to read to him. You can read about Kauri Gum in an earlier post of mine.

A minute timer - the sort that the sand runs through when you invert it (I think it came from a Christmas cracker)

Some All Blacks cards out of the cereal.

A snowman Christmas decoration and a snowman joke, plus several others along this line.

Skin Tattoo type stickers (two from a set that had been divided up already).

A joke and a paper hat (ex Christmas cracker)

A slide viewer and slides of aquarium fish. (These had been around since my youth), and the viewer was a spare.

Ooh, an antique

A Winnie the Pooh pen that lights up.

Some foreign coins from his Grandad's coin collection.

A little wooden cat and a fish in a matchbox.

The numbers came from a lotto game that I have been using in mixed media pieces.

It definitely will be a one off, one that I'm pretty sure he will love - more than one from the shop with chocolate for every day (which he doesn't like). 

I almost decided not to post this - aware of how indulgent it looks - it turned out to be a lot bigger than I had planned. We are all different in our approaches to giving gifts - and the biggest thing that went into this was a lot of my time.

The Grandson will be opening it all after we have returned home - hopefully it will remind him of his Nanny and Gdad who he doesn't see much of these days since he moved back to Australia. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Supermarkets Here Are Up to Something

As you know, my eco-warrior friends and I have been campaigning outside our local Countdown supermarket each weekend for a couple of hours with our reusable bags, trying to get people to buy bags from us, prompting them to bring their own and generally just being a reminder about plastic bags not being good. 

Japanese exchange student Kotori helped us with our bag campaign

Well a few weeks ago we were excited to hear on the news that Countdowns nationwide will be quitting plastic bags, as from 2018! Not only was that great, but only a week after that New World supermarkets announced that they too will quit plastic bags from 2018. That is pretty much all of our supermarkets, as the one other chain already charges people for plastic bags.
The supermarkets have plans for providing reusable bags - New World plans to give away thousands of free bags over the summer, and Countdown has dropped the price of theirs to $1.

We have been so excited by this because our government was pathetic, they wouldn't issue a nation-wide ban. Good news there too - we've just had a change of government to a more eco-minded one, so we are waiting to see some positive changes for our environment.

The announcement has brought about a change of attitude to what we are doing too. The girls report that instead of our bags selling slowly - they are now flying out - they've been selling 3-4 times as many.

We've had some media promotion for our Boomerang Bag making recently (got our picture in the local paper), and one spin-off was that yesterday I got to talk to a group of Girl's Brigaders, who are embarking on making produce bags for their families.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow 

Another positive from New World supermarkets has been their Little Garden giveaways. This is the second year that they have given away these cute little pots of lots of different types of seeds.

The only non-biodegradable part is the wee name card - provided you didn't buy their stupid plastic watering system. They make a nice change from the usual plastic ticky tacky toys they give out as promotions.
People have been loving them, and now that the promotion has finished, they have donated boxes of leftover seed pots to schools and kindergartens.

This is the celery patch that is growing from last year's starters. It's the best celery I've ever grown - with very little input from me.

Well that's all for this week, a bit of happy news, eh. It's Labour weekend here, when everyone traditionally swarms the garden centres and starts planting. Not us though - we've grown all of ours from seed (except the basil which didn't come up).  

Sunday, 8 October 2017

What to do with Pumpkin Skin and About Viscose.

Sometimes I have a collection of snippets that make their way into my blog - this is one such time, so sorry, it is a bit disjointed.

It has been a busy weekend, part of which was playing sax in a charity event after being invited to join a few others.

Viscose for cool playing
I had some idea that viscose and rayon were plant based materials, and being natural, were therefore breathable - which is important when I'm playing in the band as it gets really hot up there sometimes.
Having picked up a viscose top recently, I thought I would check. It turns out that these materials won't wick moisture away from the body, so maybe not so good if it's really humid (and you get really sweaty), but they are breathable.
They won't give off plastic fibres when washed, but the process to make viscose/rayon has a lot of chemical/processing - much more than say, cotton.
More earth friendly if it's second hand.

Is it called viscose, or rayon?

Great question. There is some confusion between the two terms. Viscose is actually a type of rayon, even though “viscose,””viscose rayon,” and “rayon” are often used interchangeably. What started as “artificial silk” in the late 19th century became known as rayon in 1924, with the name “viscose” coming from “a viscous organic liquid used to make both rayon and cellophane.”  Rayon is “the generic term for fiber (and the resulting yarn and fabric) manufactured from regenerated cellulose by any one of six processes.” Keep in mind that modal and lyocell, along with viscose, are also considered types of rayon.

Excerpt taken from

I also attended The Rubbish Trip presentation - which consists of Hannah and Liam, who are travelling throughout New Zealand talking to audiences in every city about reducing their personal rubbish footprint.

I recommend it if you are in New Zealand and haven't seen them yet.They have another 9 (?) months to go. I thought they were awesome, just love what they are doing.
It was practical, and having researched local places to buy packaging-free made it all easier for people.  
The presentation was well attended by about 100 people of all ages. 

Pumpkin Skin - do you eat it? We normally do, but a recipe that I used recently needed to have the skin off. Previously I would have just composted it - but this time I roasted it while cooking other things and added it to the dog's food. He was really pleased.
Timely for Halloween I thought - cook up any unwanted pumpkin - dogs love it.

Munta - really, he was pleased.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Jam Drops, Plastic-Reducing Wins

Life here is a flurry of music, bag making, gardening and cooking - not that blogable at the moment but day-filling all the same.

Last week Derek wanted to shout morning tea for his ex workmates (approx 50 people) and was going to buy it all. I said "no, I can do that" (thinking reduced packaging), so whipped up date scones, my favourite cracker recipe with cheeses, cut up rock melon and pineapple and made a batch of Jam Drops. All of these recipes are quick and simple, and are staples in my kitchen.

Jam Drops

This recipe makes 35.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C

1/2 cup of milk (I use 2 Tbsp milk powder and  1/2c boiling water)
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
450g flour
250g butter

Mix the milk and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add the baking soda, then cool.
Mix the flour and butter until finely mixed. The food processor is your friend here if you have one.
Mix with the sugar/ milk mix and stir to a firm dough.
Roll heaped teaspoonfuls in your hand and place on a baking tray. Poke a well into each one and fill with jam. 
A sprinkle of coconut over each one will stop the jam from boiling over.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
I can tell you that if you forget to put the baking soda in - they will still turn out ok πŸ˜„

This recipe came from a lovely book - worth a look if you find it...

Beautiful photography, grandma-style recipes, wonderful garden and country decor.

Our team at Plastic Bag-Free Northland celebrate all plastic-reducing wins, and lately it seems there have been a few. Our local butchery, Omak, have told us that they've had a meeting and have decided to order in their own reusable bags and will be charging people to use plastic bags. They will also be actively encouraging people to bring in their own containers.
This is a result of many of us greenies shopping there, and management having just taken a Pacific Island holiday and being disgusted by the plastic problem they saw there.

Our Kamo Bin Inn now give me all the sacks that their bulk food comes in, and our Boomerang Bags group is turning them into reusable bags. They are woven plastic, but it's better than dumping them and they are strong.

A local food co op has asked if we can provide them with hundreds of these bags to replace the plastic bags they currently send out each week. It's a big undertaking, but worthwhile. I wish we had more people to sew, but we're working on it.
The Food Co-op send out five times this many bags each week

Our thoughts are with everyone around the world struggling to cope with the devastation from the previous storms and now Hurricane Maria, and the earthquake in Mexico. The world is struggling in so many ways. I can only carry on in my own small ways to try to help Mother Earth.πŸ’—πŸ’—