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Doing the Sustainability in the Chaos

26 Jul

With a large contract to work on, blogging has taken a back seat over the past few weeks. It’s also been school holidays, and the entire family came down with the cold and spew bugs in the same week. Messy.

What is interesting is how all the little sustainability projects I’ve been experimenting with have helped me get through the busy times.

The apple cider vinegar drinks helped clear our noses.

The seeds on the mantelpiece and in the cold frame have been germinating well, left to their own devices and squirts of water – giving me a little thrill to look at every time I walked past them on the porch.

Aloe vera masks with a drop of lavender oil helped my stressed skin.

My hand scrub (plus I used it on my feet) was a lovely pamper treat tonight at the end of a very crazy (but successful) work week.

It took no time at all the clean the bath and microwave, and do a quick dusting session with my sustainable solutions. These were chores I had very little time to do.

Homemade greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of homemade lemon curd stirred through has become my fast, easy and deliciously tangy breakfast.

These busy times are when I thought I’d drop the ball on being a Sustainable Wench, but I’m happy to realise that I’ve set some positive habits for myself.  Didn’t stop me from spending the money and treating ourselves to fish and chips tonight however.


Quick Pamper Hand Soak

30 Jun

Following on from the Brown Sugar Pamper Hand Scrub, I made a hand soak tonight. It’s not just about looking after my hands. It’s also about taking the time to make something purely for myself, and spend 10 minutes sitting down doing nothing much. You can make it in an ad break, or soak while reading a page of the newspaper (would have to be the same page though so that it doesn’t get all soggy when you turn the it).

In a bowl, mix:

  • Lots of warm water
  • Some drops of lavender oil
  • Gel from a leaf of aloe vera
  • Half a cup or so of rolled oats (good to whizz lots up finely in a food processor and keep them in a jar for this purpose)
  • A few tablespoons of oil. I used canola oil, but I think it would be better (and more therapeutic) with a more cosmetic-used oil such as olive, almond, or rosehip.


Soak hands or feet for 10 minutes. Think about nothing much during this time. Follow up with a favourite hand cream.

Brown Sugar Pamper Hand Scrub

28 Jun


I made a quick and easy sugar scrub for my poor chapped hands tonight. Winter doesn’t do skin any favours. This is something you can do in an ad break, while the coffee is brewing, or as the wine chills. The reasons for making it are:

  • cheap
  • fast
  • you know what’s in it
  • no stupid packaging
  • makes great pressies for friends

In a bowl, put:

  • about 1.5 cups of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup of olive or canola oil (or whatever cooking oil you’ve got available)
  • juice and grated zest of one lemon
  • a few drops of essential oil. I like peppermint oil for this, but you could use whatever is in your cupboard. If you don’t have any oil, it’s no big deal.

Mix it all up and put it in a jar. You can see that the quantities are pretty informal. When you use it on your hands, take the time to massage your skin with it. It feels amazing. I then rinse and wash it off with my homemade soap.

Using Up ALL of the Apples

16 Jun

My friend Kàren looked out my kitchen window the other day and noticed the ‘rustic’ display of windfall apples in our backyard from the tree next door. We’ve just had considerable rain which has really helped the apples look revolting on the ground.  ‘They’d be perfect for apple cider vinegar’ said she. So the seed was planted in my head.

This is what the apples looked like:


The tree next door is very big – it hasn’t been pruned for years. Consequently, the apples fall quite a distance and either impale themselves on the corrugated iron fence, smash on the little concrete pad, annoyingly placed right below the tree on our side, or the lucky ones fall into the Herb Tyres or onto the grass. I’ve managed to brew a few bottles of preserves out of some of them, but didn’t think there was any hope for the rest.

After some Googling, I found this recipe that suited my needs. There were others that didn’t include adding existing vinegar, although they seemed to take much longer to brew. I used lots of medium sized jars because I didn’t have large jars, and it’s silly to spend money when you can make do. I also used lots of chunks of good bits of apple, not just the peel and cores. There’s no conventional hot water cupboard at our house, so I hope that on top of my kitchen cupboard will be warm enough.


Soap-Making Saturday

11 May

We are almost out of soap. So we made a batch today. I bought a bag of Henrietta’s Natural Soap base a couple of months ago from a local craft shop called Hands. I think you can buy it online too. There may be a cheaper way of making soap, but I’m happy with my process. There’s no extra packaging, no messy melting, no giving money to Mr Colgate Palmolive or Mrs Johnson and Johnson. Also no weird ingredients that have numbers as names. I anticipate that a 1kg bag of soap base is going to last us between 4-5 months.

Step 1. Boil jug, put coffee and water in plunger and set aside.

Step 2. Pour a couple (or whatever) cups of soap base into a bowl. Add a tablespoon or so of stuff like:

  • whizzed up lavender flowers
  • oatmeal
  • liquid honey
  • coconut
  • mint leaves
  • any kind of essential oil
  • cream
  • sunflower oil

Step 3: Add a teeny bit of hot water at a time and mix until it’s a stiff mixture. Squeeze handfuls of it together to make bars or balls. Set aside on paper for 24 hours.

Step 4: Plunge coffee, sit down, drink coffee.

Today we made a gardeners soap of oatmeal, honey, and coconut, and a general shower soap of lavender oil, lavender flowers, and honey.  My last batch was mint leaves with peppermint oil, marigold flowers and oatmeal.




Sustainability Wenchy-Updates

9 May

I’ve had some great feedback and ideas since starting this blog, and also have updates on some of my experiments, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Porridge Saves the Day

Porridge and Peaches

I had some tasty and simple (in style of Sustainability Wench) ideas via my Facebook page on the topic of porridge.

My friend Joanna recommended this to me:

“Before serving porridge mash banana into the bottom of each bowl then pour porridge over the top. Continue to serve as per usual. As you eat the top of the porridge the banana underneath cooks, until eventually you eat down far enough to strike the caramelised treasure- yummo!!!”

Cindy suggested this:

“I have porridge every morning made with milk (made just for me, kids have cereal at the mo) and add ground linseed and when cook pour over frozen blueberries – yummmmmo. Sometimes I get it ready at night and let the oats soften and soak in the milk”.

And my favourite comes from Belinda who recommends:

“Sometimes I make chocolate porridge (although not for breakfast) by adding chunks of rich, dark chocolate…finished off with cream of course”.

Selling The Goods

Plant Sale

We’ve had the plant stall out by the street for five days. Yesterday an Aloe and coriander seeds got nicked. Boo to them. Will now only put it out when I’m home. One woman I met who bought some hellebores, is keen to exchange bottled pears for native seedlings. Warm Fuzzies all round.

Aloe Aloe Aloe

Aloe Face

Am still LOVING this pampering once a week, with no freaky reactions. It’s not for everyone, but it suits my skin type and is super-easy.

Crazy Chemical Free Shampoo

Baking soda

This was perhaps the weirdest experiment I’ve ever undertaken, but I’m very much still enjoying the results. Last week I had to use the dregs of the shampoo as we’d run out of baking soda. After the first wash, my hair felt all nice and shiny, but all subsequent washes resulted in limp static icky hair. Back to the baking soda.

Aphids Suck

Aphid juice

Much to my delight, this actually worked. I used the treatment three times (every few days). I kept the mixture in easy reach in the kitchen so I could Grab and Spray. Once I forgot to rinse the plants. The plants survived. No sign of aphids for the past couple of weeks at all.

Compost Love


Now the rain has been falling, my compost is a thriving hub of worms. They have used no contraceptives at all, based on the huge increase in numbers. I’ve been able to dig right to the bottom (access from the side), and use the delicious compost at the bottom to feed my broad beans. Winning with the compost.

A Day of Hippiness

2013-04-11 09.19.53

My home-brewed rosehip and almond oil has been lovely to use. Still a bit weird-smelling, but it feels great on my skin. I think it’s lifespan is fairly short though, so I’ll need to stop using it in a week or so. Next year I’ll make less, and give more away so that it doesn’t go to waste.




Clothes Shopping, Sustainability Wench Style

7 May

Today I took my friend Janine shopping at Tasman Traders – a local second-hand clothes shop. Not a fancy ‘Vintage’ shop. Not a Pre-Loved Label Boutique. Just a warehouse with loads of second-hand clothes. She’d never really been into this scene before, so I thought I’d show her around.

I love the palaver of hunting down a little treasure, then looking at the crazy-low price and getting all excited. I’m the one in the shop going ‘oh my god look at this!’ ‘oh my god look at this!’ loudly, over and over and over again. There’s also a wide range of deliciously ugly stuff that you take photos of and send to friends on your phone immediately.

Today I scored  bargains that fit into my current 1940s phase. Let me list them:

  • $4 Chic polka-dotted ’40s style blouse with pearl buttons (see my cheesy pic)
  • $4 V-neck navy fine woolly jumper
  • $5 Men’s chequered pants – the most comfy I’ve EVER OWNED
  • $3 Paul Frank green and pink crocodile bag, not strictly vintage-looking, but too cool to pass up (see my pic)
  • $4 White lace-adorned white shirt
  • $1 Nana-style shoes (see my pic)
  • $3 Thick woolly Arran-style jersey for my 3-year old
  • $4 Cross-over cardy

$28 in total. What a buzz! Janine made purchases too. Then naturally a treat of coffee afterwards. Now don’t get me wrong, I love buying something new and beautiful – especially when I get lots of wear out of it. Some people would rather Trawl the Malls all the time for the same ol’ samey sameness, and may feel a bit icky about wearing second-hand. Which is fine – more bargains for me.