Monday, 27 May 2013

So shoe me!

In the Opp Shop:
Lucky me!  I walked into an Opp Shop and saw these cute little shoes, just my size, waiting for me.  Yep, I definitely have a weakness for character shoes!  They were almost brand new, no signs of wear and tear and at $8 I could not leave them behind, waiting sadly on the shelf for someone to love them!  It was love at first glance!

Little hobbit-ballerina shoes
I took them home with excitement.  The next opportunity to go out (my home shoes tend to be a pair of ugg boot-ish slippers or gumboots for the Great-Outdoors-Backyard), I slipped into them and off we went.  It was a match made in heaven!  So comfortable.  No pinching, no tightness.  After walking in them for about 10 minutes, I began to realise why someone would have given them up... there was a nasty little stitching catchpoint around the ankles that poked into my skin with every step.  Eeeek!  Definitely not what you want in a shoe!  Acupuncture with every step!  The next day, I cut out 2 felt strips to glue onto the top edge, over the annoying little needle-like stitching.

My solution to the acupuncture shoe

New look felt edged hobbit-ballerina boots!
I have worn them since, twice to kindergarten - no better test as you are on your feet all day, rushing here and there and everywhere..... Eureka!  My lil' shoes were made for walking and that's just what they gonna do!  Life before landfill......

On the internet
And talking of which, I have just ordered Mike's and my next summer sandals on a Winter sale, from an ingenious Kiwi shoe-maker who uses items from trash to make into beautiful handcrafted shoes - works of art!  Trash footwear is based in Raglan and the brain child of Ben (surname unknown) but you can find him and his wonderful assortment of shoes and boots on Facebook too!  I asked if I could come and make my own shoes but until he is geared up to run workshops, I will have to make do with a pair he has handcrafted out of bits of of-fcut leather and an old conveyor belt.  See pic below!  I am sure he won't mind me copying and pasting his shoe pic - seeing as I have bought the pair!  Check out his range - you might just find a pair made for you, and it won't be made in China!  Seems he can post just about anywhere too.  Spread the word - Kiwi-made shoes for the likes of me and ewes!  (that's kiwi slang!)  Summer's sorted!

My summer sandals!  Can't wait to test them out
in our tropical holiday location!
Lilly-white feet, but then it's nearly winter!
Past the Shoe Store
I think because I am happy to wear pre-loved, pre-owned clothes that come at a price that won't bankrupt me, I have this little weakness for SHOES!!!   And even more, I LOVE BOOTS!!  Definitely a boots-kinda-gal.  I have a pair of winter boots on layby .... it's been 5 weeks already!  I wait (im)patiently for their arrival.  They are bright red, with lace-up fronts and lined with sheep's wool.  Mmmmn, nearly fell asleep in them while trying them on in the shop.  I saw an ad and I was hooked.  Just HAD to have them.  I begged Mike.  I even handed my 3yr old pair to my daughter so I could plead my case to him - poor me!  Boot Poverty.  No boots to winter me through the harsh Kiwi Cold.  He relented, when I gave him the little lamb-lost look (meak, demure,cold and hopeless).  So maybe I'll get to wear them in another week or two when they are finally paid off!  Our mortgage will just have to wait!

Feels like Christmas and Birthday wrapped up in one day!  My trash footwear sandal arrived in the post today, and Mike brought my boots home too today.  I arrived home to find them in their box on our bed, with a big hand-drawn love heart.  I am shoe in love!!
Falling in love!  I mean, who wouldn't??

Monday, 20 May 2013

O, live! I Love! Or Olive!

On the Health Front
Hey,  I just had an epiphany!!  All these words can be found within olive:  I Love.  O, Live!  And indeed, for us, every meal is accompanied by 3-4 olives on the side, plus a generous splash of organic olive oil.  The Tree of Life, indeed.  I explored an option that I am going to experiment with this winter: Olive Leaf Powder.  
Have you ever purchased olive leaf extract at a Health Shop or Pharmacy?  It's as bitterly expensive as the taste!  When Mike and I were pruning our olives the other day, the idea hit me like a freight train at top speed.  Why not make our own?

After some thought, I decided I would experiment with actually drying and grinding the whole leaf, rather than steeping and making a tincture.  Easy.  Take a bowl of olive leaves, place in dehydrator and 4-5 hours later they crumble in your fingers.  I then placed handfuls in our coffee grinder and within half an hour, I had a kilogram of olive leaf powder!  A half teaspoon mixed into a half cup of water, with a tiny dash of honey to sweeten - goes down easy, no bitter after taste and it just leaves a "green" taste in the mouth.  Not unpleasant at all.  Now if I can just remember to do this each and every morning, I should sail through this term at kindergarten laughing in the face of all the bugs are passed from one to another!  A MAJOR boost to the immune system.

Olive Leaf Powder

The olive leaves
Actually on Sunday, it was pretty exciting, we headed to another location to pick yet more olives.  An elderly couple advertised their free-pick olives in the local paper, so we will took our Helpxchange girls who arrived on Saturday, to help us.  They are elderly and can't be bothered to pick them anymore.  Our own olives and the ones we picked from a local Frenchman's farm are sitting in the kitchen, curing in daily washings of fresh water.

Simmi and Franzi in front of the olive farm door!!

Picking olives

2 full buckets of olives ready for processing
The olive grove

In the Kitchen
In the meantime,  how about making sauces and chutneys with produce you picked 2 months ago?  That's why we bought our upstanding freezer 2 years ago.  We freeze excess produce which can be processed when there is more time to do so.  So in the second week of my holiday, I pulled out some bags of frozen tomatoes and peaches to turn into some yummy tomato sauce and peach jam.

Frozen tomatoes live to incarnate into sauce

Voila! Terrific Tomato Sauce - 2x 1L bottles

Frozen bags of yellow Queen peaches

Voila! 10 bottles of Summer Time Peach Jam

Recycling newspaper into labels
Recently, an old Helxchange friend asked for our salad dressing recipe.  Having just made up a bottle last week, I thought to include the recipe as it is SUPER easy and makes any salad YUM.
Super Easy Salad Dressing:
Juice of 2-3 lemons
4 TBspn Organic Tamari or Soy Sauce
Half cup Cold pressed Organic Olive Oil
1/4 tspn stevia powder 

Salad Dressing
You can add other things to the salad dressing, like half a teaspoon mustard, or basil preserved in oil, or any herbs of your choice.  Sometimes, I add a quarter cup of tahini.  When I run out of lemons, I replace this amount with Apple Cider Vinegar and a little water, to reduce the acidity.

 Garden Harvests:
Rhubarb in the pot
I have harvested a huge bunch of rhubarb stalks - probably the last of, since they die down in winter and come up again in Spring.  In Spring, they respond to a generous handful or two of Sheep Poos.  Must remember.

Anybody who has feijoa trees, will sympathise with me.  Every day we collect at least 3-5kg of feijoas which drop onto the ground, for around 6-7 weeks.  It is a constant activity - and you have just finished when you hear gentle thuds and look around to see a whole heap more have fallen!  I have 4 small bags of dehydrated feijoas in the pantry to last us over Winter/Spring.  There are several bottles of feijoa puree in the fridge and some in bags, frozen for feijoa cake.  There are bottles and bottles of feijoa jam and chutney in the larder, so all in all, we are ready for any food shortage that may arise in the next few months!  We could live off preserved feijoas for about 2 months!!  Thankfully, they seem to be slowing down now and we collect all we can eat, without having to preserve any.
I have been taking bags of feijoas to kindergarten - the children adore them.  The local rest-home, neighbours and backpackers have also benefited!

Red and yellow guavas, plus bell chillies
The other glut at the moment is guavas.  We have been picking big bowls of them.  I have made red guava jelly and jam, frozen some puree in ice cubes to use in juices later on, and have discovered how delicious guava juice is!!  A bowl of guavas, a quarter lemon and 3-4 apples makes the most amazing juice ever!!  And of course, it is a major immune booster at the same time.  I love it when achieving health is so damn delicious!

Our guava juice is a hit, so I have made 4 lots of it over the last week or so.  I add one Monty's Surprise apple, which is purported to have the most anti-oxidants in than any other apples, just to give our juice that extra nutritional zing-shalla-boom!

Monty's Surprise Apple

Monty's Zinger Guava Juice
Note the small amount of dry pulp left over

The beautiful juice to start the morning
At the sewing machine:
I have just gone through my second credit card wallet in about 5 years.  It is a handy little piece of hardware - I keep all my "plastic cards" in there - library, eftpos, video shop ID card, loyalty cards etc.  But I thought about how the plastic wallets keep on tearing at the hinge and having to replace them - more plastic in landfill!  So this time, I created a little fabric cover to strengthen it - hopefully it will last longer than the other 2 I have been through.  Previously, I had reinforced  them with duct tape at the fold, but after time, the sticky stuff from the tape seems to get all over your cards and hands!  A very sticky situation indeed.

Plastic credit card wallet given to customers at banks
Fabric reinforced cover

The compete project took all of 6 minutes to whip up!

I have a few more bigger sewing projects in my head....... just waiting for a rainy day......

Thursday, 9 May 2013

All in the Bag!

Last weekend, I made yet another "coffee bag", recycling the coffee pouches that we seem to get through whith alarming speed every month!  But wait, don't panic!  It's organic!  Perhaps we can call it a Mock-A-Coffee-Bag.  (Mocha) 
I added an Indian Tata tea pouch in front as a pocket, for a point of difference, including an over-shoulder strap.  Love the idea of using something that would normally end in landfill, to make something useful!  The lining was made from small scraps (yes, I do keep them, for precisely these kind of occasions!).
The recent bag which inspired the backpack....
Lined inside with scraps of fabric to strengthen the bag.

Tata tea pocket with cut off tags sewn into the top
These can be used to attach carabiners to hold keys or other
(carabiner?  A handy clip device)
My son and his girlfriend arrived home on Saturday morning (always a pleasure) and were inspired by the recycled coffee bag.  He decided he wanted to make a backpack along the same lines as his current backpack had just broken!  So together, this dynamic duo set about designing and sewing a backpack, all on a rainy Sunday morning!  

Cutting open the coffee bags

If you can drive a car, you can drive a sewing machine!

Rachel stands by to keep Cam on track.

Cutting out the lining to fit the exterior

Sewing the lining onto the coffee bag exterior.
Now I was decidedly chuffed that these two would choose to spend the morning being creative, and was on hand to lend advice or offer suggestions.  I helped to form the bottom, and we fashioned some temporary straps, as Cam wanted to use his old straps from his current backpack which has broken.  So we will complete the project on their next return trip home.  Well done guys, it is amazing!  You guys are amazing! You could end up making and selling these - become overnight millionaires.  

Don't worry, I'll provide all the coffee pouches!

Voila!  A zoot backpack like no other!

Flap with velcro, to close the backpack, and deep fabric pocket.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Seeds of Hope

Sushi-Spiral  Ephemeral Art on the Beach
Our local Korean-owned Sushi shop is a healthy snack option for everyone, including Vegetarians.  A selection for lunch cost less than $10 and I enjoy the fact that even though their English is limited, there is always a smile for customers.  I usually use my very limited Korean - Annyeong hob se yo!  or Hello.  And Kamm sang nee dah (spelling is not guaranteed - thank you) which they really appreciate.
The first time I called out Ann yeong, they looked surprised and asked how I knew they were Korean.  They said most people assume they are Japanese, because it is a sushi shop!  Well, probably, the 7 years we spent in Auckland, hosting various language students, helped hone my Japanese vs Korean differentiation skills!
Actually, pigs do fly here...
Now, last year some time, I was concerned to see that our Sushi shop had the usual recyclable take-away plastic trays, along with plates for eating sushi in-house.  The plates were polystyrene.  I held one up and asked if they could please consider using paper or washable plates, which were far better for the environment.  The lady, who is by far the better English speaker, understood me and explained that they do not have the space or facilities for washing plates, and that the polystyrene plates were far cheaper than paper plates.  Being a small outlet and given that I understand the economics of small businesses, I thought that it was a cut and dried deal.  I quietly vowed to never use the polystyrene plates, even if I ate there.  At times, when I remembered, I even took my own plastic container to collect my take-away sushi.
Garden Art (photo by Shayni)

photo by Shayni
Yesterday my daughter and I went for a lunch snack and upon arrival, I immediately spied the paper plates!  Given that there were no other customers in the shop at the time, I picked up a paper plate and made a little happy song and dance for them, in appreciation. I thanked them and asked if they knew that polystyrene takes a thousand years to break down (well, apparently they NEVER break down, only the pieces get smaller and smaller).  The owner's eyes widened and she smiled at my show of gratitude.  Goes to show, when you plant seeds of hope, you NEVER know if they will grow, or how long it will take!  Plant them anyhow!  Perhaps, other eco-conscious shoppers also shared their concern about the polystyrene plates.   Anyway, what a choice day!!  Sushi with a conscience!  Hip, hip - hooray!

Peaches from a seed-sown pip..... the rewards
I don't want to seem like I am bragging or skiting here, but really, the power of suggestion is never to be underestimated!  I often find changes can be made, for the better, by merely suggesting it to others.  Ultimately, people want to do the right thing, and even though your suggestion is the polar opposite of what they are currently doing, they will think about it.  Sometimes a change requires a shift in gears, to accommodate the new idea and may take several miles before that change can take place, but along the road, they will encounter other people or articles which fit alongside that suggestion, till finally, they make the slow change-over.  It may concern their health or simply the way they do or view things.  We never got to where we are by accident.  We reached this point with the help of suggestions, by others, through reading articles, magazines or books, watching documentaries or listening to teachers.  Not teachers in the academic sense, but outstanding people who were in touch with what they do..... Joe Polaischer comes to mind, permaculture guru.  R.I.P.  He showed us a way of gardening and farming, that did not harm the planet or us!  Don Tolman, my health and well-being guru.  He set us straight on what really constitutes a healthy diet (even though, before meeting him, we thought we had a healthy lifestyle and diet!).  He teaches ancient wisdoms - from the likes of teachers such as Hippocrates - "Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food".  What a great way to live and be well!

Nature's medicines
These two teachers had a profound impact on our lives.  They shared their wisdom with us and I feel that it is imperative to share this with others.  Our world and it's people are getting sicker and sicker by the day!  Louise Hay is another teacher from whom I learned that we create all illnesses within ourselves.  And if you find that depressing don't!  The antithesis of that is that if you are powerful enough to create the illness within, then you have the power to un-create or heal yourself!!  I love that idea!  It is so empowering!  Before, I would gladly give my illness over to a doctor.  Now, I look to "curing" myself, whatever that illness may be.  I took back my power!  I hear so many people say, "I suffer from this........ I wonder if it is related to the pills I take for that...."  Sad.  Real medicine should cause no harm!
The sky's the limit when it comes to Seeds of Hope
We have had so many people share our home, from different parts of the world, through the HelpXchange network, and everyone is dealing with something!  Everyone!  Be it emotional, or be it physical.  Something that binds and holds them back from reaching their full potential!  I sow seeds of Hope for them.  I show them EFT, share books or DVD's with wisdoms they may not have yet come across.  We see some people changing old habits right before our eyes, or sometimes, they tell us via email, of changes they have made, for the better, and how it impacts on their lives.  I find this humbling, but so encouraging and enlightening!  Not in the spiritual sense of the word, but in hope and outlook.
Garden Visitor is fed corn seed by hand
I have always said that advice is like a gift.  You cannot be attached to the gift you give away.  When you gift someone a present, you can encourage them to open it, you can encourage them even to use it but you can't force them!  Same with advice - one can't be attached to the outcome of the advice given - you can't expect someone to implement or use the advice!  It is a gift.  Given with love.  The more love that accompanies the advice, the more chance there is that someone will find it useful!
Hopi Red Beans

Purple Yeome Beans

Saving Seeds of Hope..... Central Tree Crops Association Seed Saving Project
Saving North American Indigenous Bean seeds from extinction
Seeds of Hope.  Working with children is like planting hundreds of seeds of hope each and every day!  You watch these children take on board your advice, or provocations for them to come up with a solution and sometimes you are amazed at what their thinking is capable of.  As Don Tolman points out, "You are the sum total of all the books of knowledge of all the people that came before you", i.e, your ancestors.  These children too, are my teachers!  I have learned so much from them - to take my time and not be hurried along, to stay in the moment and enjoy each and every moment, to see things in a simplistic way and not to complicate everything, to accept things and not always fight them, to smile and laugh often, to hug everyday and at every opportunity you get,  to share your ideas, no matter how crazy they seem coz' that's how we solve problems and to never be afraid of trying - sometimes all you need is a helping hand to overcome your fear.
Life's little miracles
My husband and I always acknowledge how blessed in life we are.  We have a beautiful home, garden, family and life.  We do not live in a war-torn country, we aren't living in poverty or violence and we are certainly not hungry, hurt or disadvantaged.  So once we were financially able to, we decided to spend $100 on charities every month.  He loves the idea of sponsoring children through World Vision (having done that for 5 years a while back, at the suggestion of my son when he was about 7), I was not so sure as I had become attached to the child, Ana, from Guatemala and was devastated when they informed me 5 years later that her community no longer needed sponsoring and I did not even have the chance of writing a farewell letter.  So he sponsors 3 children in India (which means he has to write to them as well) for $60 a month (cheaper to sponsor via World Vision India, rather than through WV New Zealand, which includes admin charges here).  I get to spend the remaining $40 on charities of my choice each month.  The list changes every month - from Green Peace saving the oceans, to saving bears in India, seals in Canada, AVAAZ campaigns, pigs and chickens in battery farms or whatever cause comes to my attention during that month!  It's a great feeling to be able to sow seeds of change and hope.  
So I encourage people to plant seeds of Hope, whatever or wherever they may be!  Give away the gift of advice.  Sow seeds of Change and stand back.  Watch as they grow and blossom.