Thursday, 21 July 2011

New Life for Old Objects

 Congratulations to my friend, Vera, who has just yesterday morning given birth to a gorgeous little girl called Anjie. Phew!  I just managed to make a recycled gift on time, posting it off last week.  It was a little Funny Bunny Sleep Buddy!  Made from a recycled t-shirt, stuffed and a little lavender sachet tucked into the tummy, to impart a wonderful sleep-inducing aroma to the little one.  Hope it works to calm little Anjie and not scare her to sleep!

Making personalized gifts gives me a thrill - more so when I can re-use old household objects to create new ones.  It's worth a try.

I have been reading a little book called The little Green Book of the Home (250 tips for an Eco lifestyle) by Sarah Callard.  It cost me $3 and I thought, I am sure this $3 could potentially save me a little more than the expense, so I bought it.  I have learnt perhaps, half a dozen things I could do that I am not already doing.  All in all, it was a great read, to confirm that most of what she suggests we already do in our home!

One of the tips is shopping for second hand goods from Opportunity (Opp) shops.  That has been our main shopping source for many years now.  It is amazing what you can find.  Someone's cast-off can be your thrilling new find.  I like to think of our clothes as pre-loved and test driven especially for us!  Thankfully, people grow tired of their newly acquired seasonal wardrobes and discard their clothes for more fashionable attire.  My wardrobe not only costs me a fraction of a single item of newly purchased wear but also has stood the test of time and has that worn in comfortable feel about it.  Even my husband and children have grown used to the idea, and have become avid Opp-Shoppers themselves!  It certainly is part of the Eco-Chic lifestyle!  Finding something in an Opp Shop is like fossicking for treasure in Ali Baba's cave of many wonders!

Our wonky front door draft excluder
Mike's old worn, gardening corduroy pants up-cycled into a draft excluder!

Voila!  Our new draft door sealer doing it's job.
I am sure my granny had one of these!! 
Mike's Winter Neck Warmer

Mike wears his neck warmer made from an old woollen jersey.

 Golly Mrs Molly!  This is starting to sound like a Granny's Craft Blog!!  Given the weather, I guess my main pursuits are indoors at the moment.  Yesterday I did manage to brave the cold, icy weather and prune my fence-hugging grapevines.  They produced a fair amount of grapes last summer (great big sweet black table grapes) but alas, we did not harvest them in time and the birds had a feast.  So my thinking now is to totally prune it back to the central trunks and therefore there will be less green growth, fewer bunches of grapes perhaps, but easier to net, take care of and harvest.  We shall see if time proves this theory to be of any merit.......Gardening for me always involves the risky business of experimentation.

One of my recycling projects a few weekends ago included transforming an old bottomless sand toy storage box from kindergarten, into an object of use (perhaps, not of beauty).


Still in sound structural condition, without a bottom
We replaced three of these old unsightly boxes with a more child-friendly walk in sand-toy storage shed and so these boxes needed to go.  Notices up on our parent's info board produced no takers, so after 2 weeks of offering them to parents (using my best sales skills), I decided to bring them home and give them a new lease on life.  A light sanding and a plywood bottom fitted (an off-cut from a past project), 4 block feet to elevate it and a coat of bright turquoise paint has given it a new lease on life.   I have placed one of these newly renovated boxes just outside our front door and filled it with gardening tools, gumboots and harvesting buckets.  They are protected from the rain and I don't need to walk to the bottom of the garden to collect regularly used tools from the shed.  Brilliant!   Photos to follow when I can take some in the sunshine!  Could be a while.............  The second box can wait for a dry weekend to be transformed and put to good use.  A midwinter getaway to a sunny tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is just what we need to recharge the batteries.
Rarotonga here we come!  

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Sweet Smelling Hibernation

Slim pickings in the garden but not bad for this time of year!  We are picking daffodils to brighten the dining room table and the most succulent, sweet and juicy navel oranges daily!  As I stood by the kitchen window today, looking out on the garden and sucking on some such sweet orange, I marveled at how blessed we are!  Store-bought oranges never tasted this good!  It's one of the delights of winter.  That and a warm, glowing fire!  It's great to be alive!  When we are well, we take it all for granted, but after being unwell, we rejoice in the joie-d-vivre of being well again!  Everything looks so much clearer, food tastes more heavenly and the world is a good place to be!

I have just gotten over a bout of winter blues - laryngitis and the cougher-zoobies!  This lasted 2 very long weeks (hence no blogging for a while) and there always comes a point during my own or a family member's illness, when I have doubts about the viability of Sustainable Living practices.  That is, I wonder if I am doing the Right Thing by dosing ourselves out of the kitchen cupboard.  Well, after one week of laryngitis, I started to question this so-called home witch-doctoring.  I was taking a teaspoon of bee pollen morning and night, drinking lime juices with hot water and honey (as we have no ripe lemons yet and an abundance of limes), taking A.G.E - a homeopathic cold and flu remedy,  and sucking on Ayruvedic cough lozenges and sage pastilles - but still, no signs of obvious improvement.  I even took 3 days off work to get my voice back on track (the voice-box is an important tool of the trade in kindergarten!) but still, the cough persisted!  So I started doubting my own witch-doctoring, until I spoke to a kindy parent who had the same symptoms as I did, it had already been two full weeks and she had 3 days to go on a 10 day course of antibiotics............and she said she couldn't sleep at night for the coughing and still felt unwell.  So I realized something important.  The body will do what it is designed to do, to re-balance itself, almost despite what we do!!  It took me 2 weeks au naturelle.  It took her a little over 2 weeks via pharmaceutical medication. 

I did get to a point where I was fed up with my voice disappearing at random moments, so I Googled a natural cure for laryngitis.  Here's what I found - a miracle cure, supported by many postings of people's evidence of having cured their laryngitis in 2-3 days by making up a gargle of 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and1 Tbspn of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in a cup of warm water.  Right, said Fred, that's just what I'll do.  So I set about making my mutti (African word for remedy) with (obviously) organic ACV and cayenne pepper.  I took a hearty big swig and proceeded to gargle loudly and fiercely.  The vinegar made my eyes and nose water.  The second I spat the gargle mix out, my throat, my tongue and my lips were on fire!  Quite comic, actually.  I tried to take a big breath but everything was afire - my family were concerned with my flailing arms and rasping breath.  I tried to speak but my lips felt double the size and what little voice I still had came out all thick and rubbery!  I felt better after about 5 minutes.  I thought maybe I shouldn't have used organic fresh bright red cayenne................

I tried the cayenne gargle once more after that - the next morning.  I guess that I had either become immune to the fire, or the cayenne's heat had settled over night.  Anyway, it was a little better.  Breath-taking but not quite as strong a reaction as the night before.  I could speak by the time I got to work.  
So if any of you out there are really desperate, you could try the ACV, Cayenne Gargle Mix, but there are probably a lot nicer ways to get your kicks or fix!

Pantry and Pharmacy of a Sustainability Freak! 

 Our family buy bulk dry goods from Ceres Organics and decant them into glass containers from the Deli of your local supermarket.  This way, we cut down not only on plastic wrappings but also it is way more economical in the long run. If you are keen to buy bulk organic goods and wonder how to do it, form a co-op with like-minded friends, so you can purchase goods to the minimum value of $300 and you can do this weekly or monthly.  Contact Ceres Organics for details -  09 574 0373.  For me, one of the abundant blessings of being married to an organic food sales account manager (we celebrate our 22 year anniversary on Friday 8th July!) includes the privilege of ordering bulk food, by-passing pre-packaged retail packs, which are way more expensive in the long run!  
Lavender flowers harvested at the end of summer
Another blessing which winter brings is Indoor Time.  This week, I pulled off all the flower seeds of my bunched, dried lavender (what a gorgeous smell emanated!) and bagged them.  The house had a strong odour of lavender.  Unlike a friend who strongly dislikes the smell, I absolutely get heady on it.   I  buy little organza bags at the $2 shop (not worth the hassle of making them) and fill them to put  under our pillows.  They make great gifts from the garden too.  This time, I filled tiny little pouches, which I then could put into each of our hotties (affectionate term for hotwater bottles) - the heat releases the gentle sleep-inducing aroma of lavender.  I also popped one inside a little soft toy I made for a friend's baby.  It smelled divine.  Hope the baby thinks so! Maybe Baby will sleep better!  The weather has been atrocious for working outdoors (gale force winds and pelting rain) for the past week, so I have been indoors, nursing the voice and getting to hibernate and sew some goodies.  In my element.  Making and creating.
Life is good!