Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Window of Opportunity is Closing

I carefully selected some broad beans from my harvest last year and dried them ready for planting this season. The only problem was that I put them in such a safe place that I have spent the last fortnight trying to find them. I know that these really need to be planted soon.
This morning I remembered where they were and found them along with some coriander and rocket seeds.

I had recently been given a newspaper origami seedling pot and desperately wanted to try to make some myself.  After a bit of searching I found this great video tutorial.

These will be great for the broad beans and one of the great things is that I can plant these straight into the ground if I want as there is not tape or staples holding the pots together.

I even ended up making some from half a piece of newspaper and these will be great for my rocket seeds.

It is now time to get the pots into the little hothouse to help the sprouting come along a little faster. The weather is only just starting to cool down here.

In the next week or so I will be telling you about a little project you may like to join. 
Hint: you might like to practise making some of the seedling pots in preparation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Waste?

Over the past year I have been trying to educate myself through some environmental community groups. I have been able to involve myself in two Earth Carer courses, Living Smart and an Earth Carers Kids course. One of the main messages that has really struck a chord with me has been looking at how we view waste. So much of it is to do with the word we use to describe the things we throw out.


By looking at the things we no longer want as a 'resource', we are more likely to find another use for these. Whether it is food scraps, clothes or even electronics, think about who could use it again or how it could be used. It might be something as simple as getting a compost or bokashi bin up and running. In an article in the most recent G Mag, there was a break-down of a household rubbish bin. It is amazing that according to their statistics, which are from the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, nearly half of the contents of a household bin is made up of food and garden waste. These products can be dealt with at a household level rather than being thrown away and destined for landfill. I am constantly amazed with how little rubbish goes in our bin since we started composting, worm farming and running a bokashi. I know it is a bit of overkill with all three but I really wanted to try them all.

There are so many ways to get rid of things you no longer need. Another favourite in our house is Freecycle. This is a great way to re-house something that is in working order but is just no longer of use to you. I have even managed to find a home for a microwave that wasn't working. I made it clear in my post that the turntable wasn't turning and the guy who took it emailed me back to tell me that he managed to repair it. He liked to tinker with things and he generally puts the fixed items back up on Freecycle so someone else can get use of it.

On a recent trip away we couldn't find 
any egg cups but some small jars made
fabulous substitutes.

Before the days of council rubbish collections, it was up to householder to dispose of their own rubbish. Food was often buried in the backyard or fed to the chooks or other animals. Things were repaired rather than being replaced. It was also rare for things to be single-use. Walking through a shopping centre food hall nowadays makes me feel quite anxious looking at all of the single use items, such as cutlery and cups, that will inevitably make their way to the tip.

A change in thinking is needed to make more of the things that we use. It has made me think more about where a product has come from. how I am going to get the most use out of it and where it will go when I have finished with it.

We can all be resource rescuers.

Take care

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It Worked!

I did it.

I had another attempt at Lilly Pilly Jelly and it worked.

This time I followed Mariana's very specific instructions and made sure not to rush. It is amazing what can happen with a little more patience.

Look at the colour!

The texture is so much nicer than the first version. It holds together beautifully but without being too chunky.  I managed to get about 350ml of liquid so I needed 350g of caster sugar, as well as the juice of one lemon.

Thanks, Mariana, for taking the time to give me such clear guidance.

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter.

Take care

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

I really love these biscuits as I can almost convince myself that they are good for me.

Jude Blereau is a wonderful Perth woman who runs a great cooking school, writes fabulous books and holds incredibly interesting seasonal seminars. This recipe comes from her book Coming Home to Eat. I love that much of the biscuits are made using rolled oats and almonds. They must be good for you.

This makes the texture of the biscuits so delightful.

It is really important to make sure that the toasted almonds and rolled oats are completely cooled. The first time I made these I impatiently added choc chips too early and the heat made all of the pieces melt. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as they still had the chocolatley taste, but there was not a chip in sight.

These are now one of my new favourite biscuits.

Happy holiday baking. Such a super-long weekend coming up.

Take care.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Washing Powder, Take 2

I started a post of making my own washing powder a few weeks ago when I was feeling very organised. I think I must have been preparing myself for the onslaught of work and knowing that I would barely be able to string two words together, let alone an entire sentence.

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I would be asking for help. This is one of those posts.

About six months ago I stopped buying laundry powder and started making my own trialling recipes that I had found on blogs. I was really happy with the results, feeling that I was doing the right thing for my family. While at a Living Smart course recently, we looked at 'greener' ways to clean. This is something that I thought we were doing well here with things like vinegar, bi carb, lemon... One of the ingredients we looked at was borax. It comes up in a lot of washing powder recipes and I hadn't really thought twice about as it even says on the label that it is a 'non-toxic alternative'. One of the ladies questioned the safety of it, especially as it says to 'Keep out of reach of children'.

I looked at some articles here and here. Now I know that anyone can put articles up on the internet, but it made me think.

Now I am not sure if I am over-reacting.

I found a borax-free alternative here.

There is also the soapnut option as tried by cityhippyfarmgirl.

What do you use?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dishcloth Swap On My Mind

Last week I put my name down for Rhonda's Dishcloth Swap. All I needed was time to go and buy some lovely cotton to get stated. Today was that day. 

I had been told about a gorgeous little shop and thought that this was a great opportunity to head over and have a look, and I wasn't disappointed. It is quite a small place but in an intimate way. 

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into it this afternoon. I found a pattern that I thought looked interesting but not too complex for my beginner skills.

Take care

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lilly Pilly Update Update

Well, it worked, sorta.

I let it drain overnight.

The sugar and lemon was added to the drained off liquid and it started to boil. I had it on the heat for quite a while and slowly I could see that it was thickening, even doing the cold saucer trick.

The finished product is not quite as thick I had planned but it still tastes fabulous.  I will know next time to let it boil a little longer again. It is quite sticky and not as runny as it looks in the photo. I think the lack of pink may be to do with the fact that I used raw sugar (perhaps).

It is all a giant learning experience. I figure that I didn't even know these could be used for anything a month ago and now we have a jar of Lilly Pilly Jelly.

All fun and games.

Take care

Saturday, April 9, 2011

LIlly Pilly Update

Well, we've done it. I had a ladder and the family in the back yard this morning raiding the Lilly Pilly Tree. We ended up with a decent haul. Kids will do just about anything if it involves climbing a ladder.

Following the advise of Mariana I thought I would give Lilly Pilly Jelly a go.  I have only just cleaned and boiled them, so they are now draining through some suspended muslin. The drained juice doesn't look anywhere near as vibrant as Mariana's but the smell is quite strong. It will be interesting to see how the second part of the cooking process goes tomorrow.

Looking at the tree, it is great to know that there is quite a lot of fruit still to come.

Thanks so much to everyone for all of their fabulous advice following my recent post.

Take care

Friday, April 8, 2011

Earth Caring is On My Mind

On Tuesday night I 'graduated' from the Earth Carers course I was taking. It is a free information program, run by the regional council,  looking at waste and how we treat it.

One of the items we received in our gift bag was a file called The Useful Book. It is a collection of information and tips from past course participants. I thought you may find it useful/interesting.

There are so many fabulous tidbits of information you can pick up on a course like this, but I must say that the one thing that really got me thinking was the way that bulk rubbish is disposed. Twice a year our local council holds a bulk refuse collection where large items you no longer want/need can be placed on your front verge and it will be collected by the council. I am normally at work when this collection occurs so I never see that it all gets picked up by a bobcat and squashed into the back of a truck to be dumped into landfill. I was under the delusion that these items were taken to a sorting area and any of the reusable parts were collected for recycling. WRONG! Plastic chairs no longer needed, old televisions, mattresses all get placed into a large whole in the ground. Many of these items could be rehoused but residents think that the council will somehow, magically, make this happen. There are the facilities for these items to be recycled but they need to be taken to the local council-run recycling centre.

I have managed to do a tour of the local landfill and by seeing what the system is like, it really makes me think about waste and what happens to the rubbish that my household produces. My waste has become my problem

If your local council run tours, I strongly urge you to go and see where the contents of your wheelie bin ends up.

Take care

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dinner Inspiration

I love the inspiration you can get from blogs. I was reading about Conscious Earth's love of falafel and all of the ideas for dinner changed. We had to have pittas and falafel.

I have made a few other flat breads in the past but have never tackled the pitta. I followed this recipe and was not disappointed with the results.

Falafel is something that I had always made from a packet. I had been thinking that there couldn't be too much to it, so after a few minutes of researching I was amazed with how incredibly simple it was to make from scratch. I can't believe I had never made it before. The ingredients in this recipe are so basic that I managed to have all of them in the house.


It was all delicious and with some salad, fetta and yoghurt it was one of the most delicious dinners we had eaten in a long time.

Give it a try. Yum.

Take care.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Reading

I'm not a fan of going shopping. The idea of driving to a shopping centre, finding a parking spot and wading my way through the countless people, who seem to be there for a day's entertainment, makes me break out into a sweat.

As a result The Book Depository has become my favourite book shop.

I go through phases of online book-shopping and will end up with quite a few titles at once. Late last year, after reading The Greening of Gavin, Affluenza was one of the titles that made its way into my shopping cart. This 30 degree Sunday afternoon was the right time to bring it to the lounge with me for the afternoon.

I have only just started it but I am really enjoying what Clive Hamilton has to say: more stuff does not make you happier. I also love that it is written about the Australian way of life.

I am also reminded of The Story of Stuff, in particular the part about the work/shop roundabout that so many people find themselves on, buying more things to make themselves happier but then needing to work more to buy more stuff.

I must admit that books seem to be my 'stuff'. These seem to be the things that I buy, but I figure that I generally keep them, and quite often re-read them, or pass them on to others. They never end up in the bin.

I would love to know what other people are reading.

Take care

Friday, April 1, 2011

Home Grown Fruit is On My Mind

Friday is here already. It is hard to believe it is a week since I last played along with Rhonda and On My Mind.

Since I discovered earlier this week that a tree that has been in my yard for longer than I have been here bears wonderful fruit, I have been thinking about how great it is to have fruiting trees. We also have a grapefruit tree, a lime tree and a couple of blueberry bushes. My parents inherited many fruiting trees and vines when they moved houses. Their yard has lemons, oranges, mandarins, mangoes, grapes and a passionfruit vine.

This passionfruit is about to become topping for my breakfast.

With that many trees, I never seem to leave empty handed.

Take care
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