Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bay of Plenty Beauty

Stunning Autumn leaves overhead
We took a walk.  Not a common occurrence for me.  'Twoud be the ruin of me, to become sporty!  But I am known for occasionally partaking in a moderately-paced walk.  No strolling or slow meanders.  Must be a point to it.  Get fit.  Collect rubbish.  Destination.  Return.  To what?  To work of course!

I know not whence this attitude took hold in my life.  To take time out to walk is considered as frivolous in my brain.  Somewhere, sometime, this thought took hold and became my mantra.  Better to be hard at work than to take time out to stroll.  Heaven forbid!  That would be tantamount to idle time!  I always have to be busy.  There really has to be a point to what I do.  Sad?  Well, I guess.  If I missed walking.  Or strolling.  Or meandering.  But I don't.

Very odd, but that's just it.  I always enjoy a walk but never really plan to make time to walk.  My walking is an accidental stroke of enjoyment!  But here I digress, as the point of it all, began about taking a walk!

Mike and I walked along at my normal brisk pace.  Down our driveway and 20 mins due East to the harbour at the end of our street.  Talk of breath-taking views!  Well, once I had managed to catch my breath, it was simply stunning and we marveled at how lucky we are to live in such stunning surroundings.  I recorded my visual treasures along the way (this was the reason for the walk - remember, there has to be a reason for me to walk!).

Is there anything more apt to announce Winter, than skeletal bare trees?
The fetching view across the harbour, with the morning sun bright in the sky was achingly beautiful.  Made me wonder why I don't do this more often.  Take visual shopping trips for the eyes.  I was glad of my cheap little camera to record the moment.  To own it and reflect on it later when stuck indoors while the rain pelts down outside.
 It gives one a sense of how large and beautiful the world is.  Right on our doorstep.  Never take it for granted.  Just across the road from this view a mammoth retirement village is being constructed on pastural land.  Forever changed.

Mike and I joined 30 volunteers a couple of Saturdays ago, to plant 1000 native plants along the coastal margin of a reserve in Katikati.  Such a wonderful opportunity to connect to other members of the community and to help preserve the biodiversity of the area.  We worked like Trojans and came home to rest, marveling at the idea that many hands make light work or can achieve a goal in one day that would take one person 30 consecutive days!  Makes you think..........

The tidal estuary that drains into the harbour at low tide

Lichen on tree trunks 
I have read that the presence of lichens on a tree indicate a source of fresh air, as they are extremely vulnerable to environmental changes and pollution.  Seems there is a lot of good air to breathe here - lichens on all our trees in the reserves!

As co-incidence would have it, I happened to go to a talk the following week, by Peter Kagayama, author of a book called "For the Love of Cities".  He talks about becoming involved in raising the "fun factor" of where you live and gives examples of how people can do crazy things, without official "permission" and which end up tilting the "feel good" factor of a place and increasing tourism and local interaction.  Sounds like a good plan, Stan! I love the idea of seed or yarn bombing (like grafitti with knitting and crochet work) vacant or unloved places!   What a hoot!  I feel heartened by our Kati KaiWay project, planting fruit trees in an unused, unloved reserve within our town, with the aim that one day local families or visitors can go down there for a walk and collect seasonal fruit!

Beauty Abounds in every direction

Simply stunning, take-your-breath-away beauty

I love the blue-purple hills in the background
Apart from community engagements, I have been trying to come up with ideas to recycle some of our waste.  2 ideas shared with me via the internet and a mum at kindergarten are worthy of sharing here:
The first is an old credit card - usually we bend them forward and backward in a chaotic frenzied manner fit to beat a disco competition, until they break down the middle, or snip them clean through the middle with a tough kitchen scissors.  They end up in landfill.

Take one old defunct Video Outlet card
There are some amazing ideas out there in the world wide web of information, of what one can do with expired credit cards but most projects require more than one, so this one appealed to me; I simply traced a guitar pick outline on the back of my old Video outlet card and cut them out with that super-tough kitchen scissors.  Voila!  4 guitar pics.  $1 each from the guitar shop, thus this project saved us $4!  Will gift them to my guitar playing son when next I see him.
Take your pick
Next:  my love-to-hate-tetrapak dilemma!  My husband, in his bid to move away from the cruel practices of the dairy industry, has begun to drink oat or soya milk.  What to do with the tetrapaks?  Not recyclable in our area, they all end up in landfill.  They are a composite of heat bonded cardboard, aluminium and plastic.  Nasty, when you think of them taking a few decades (or more) to degrade!
This little idea came from a kindy mum.  Turn them into coin purses.  Neat idea!  These were my first attempts, which I gifted some helpxchange friends. Great when you can give away your rubbish!!

I didn't have instructions, only a ready-made purse to try to figure out and make my own but I have found instructions online at  if you have a lot of patience, as it painstakingly takes 26 photos to describe what could have been done in 3 or 4 pics.  I did not use tape to bind it or velcro for closing.  Mine has a little stitch in the middle to hold it together, and an old button to close it with, winding the thread once or twice around the button for closing.  A novel way to reduce tetrapak waste.  Give it a secondary life purpose.

Hand-made hand balm.
Made some more hand and body balm.  Honed this to such a fine art, takes about 20 minutes to make 5 tins of it.  Beeswax, olive oil, sesame seed oil and essential oils of choice.  Stunning to use!  All over Bliss!  If you can eat it, you can wear it!  No nasties in it.
Also made another batch of pita breads - such an easy flat bread to make.

3 cups plain flour
2 tspn sugar
1 tspn salt
1 3/4 tspn yeast
1 TBSPN olive oil
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
extra flour for kneading

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well, add oil and water, stirring till it forms a soft dough.  Turn onto bench and knead for 5 mins till smooth and springy.
Return to oiled bowl and cover.  Leave to rest in warm place for 1 hour, till doubled in size.
Turn dough onto floured bench and knead lightly,  Cut dough into 8 pieces, rolling them out into circles 3mm high.  Allow them to stand for 10 mins while warming the oven at it's highest temperature, adding a flat baking tray to heat up in the oven.
When circles of dough have risen, chuck 4 onto the hot baking tray and place in hot oven for 3-4 minutes, till they puff up and turn light golden.  Remove from oven tray and repeat process for remaining 4 breads.
Stack them on top of each other, covering them with a tea towel till cool.
Very delicious and easy!  A firm favourite in our house.

Hand-made pita breads, with poppy seed
And lastly, to make a delicious dessert out of manky soft bananas, peel 2 soft bananas, cut into half and lay onto a greased baking dish.  Stir half a cup of coconut cream into a 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of carob powder.  Add a few drops vanilla essence and pour mixture over bananas while sprinkling chopped cashew nuts on top.  Bake for half an hour at 160degC.  Very deceptively delicious!
Decadent vegan chocolate banana desert
Beauty all around!

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