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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.

Seeds go Postal

9 Jul

A bit of a thrill today when seeds arrived via courier. The reasons I ordered them online were:

  • I was getting cross at the lack of herbs my local garden shop supplied (they’re great with veges and flowers though). Three times I went there looking for German Chamomile, with no luck for seeds or seedlings.
  • Getting things in the mail that aren’t bills is exciting.
  • It’s inexpensive.

It’s good to know there is no excuse for not planting your favourite herbs. It’s also a lovely winter thing to do so you can get some of the spring planting planned.

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The Green Grocer

8 Jul

Shopping Day. Not the supermarket chore it used to be. Now it involves buying up bulk at the peaceful bulk food shop, then popping next door to the family-owned green grocer. The great thing about the green grocer, is that I know their eggs come from happy chickens near Mt Somers in Canterbury. They also give away big bags of fruit and vege scraps – ideal for chickens or to boost your compost. You get to chat about the state of the nation and the weather for free too.

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Seedy

2 Jul

More seed planting tonight while the oven heated up for lazy bread. The reasons for this were:

  • So I don’t have to splash out a small fortune on seedlings in the spring
  • To supplement my (so far very lazy) chickens’ feed
  • To provide me with something to trade with over the coming months (esp. for lemons)

I chucked seed raising mix into 3 punnets and planted more basil, silverbeet, and bok choy. These three punnets get the sunny spot on the lounge windowsill. The seedlings that were there go in the cold frame outside, and one of the punnets from the cold frame is now hardening up under the eaves. Bit like musical chairs. One is always left out in the cold.

It helps that all this is done within an eight metre radius. Not too much walking required. Then the bread went into the oven. Whammo. Sustainability Wench-ness achieved, thus cancelling out the takeaways we had for dinner (no actual scientific evidence in this theory).

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Brown Sugar Pamper Hand Scrub

28 Jun

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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.

Winter Pasta Sauce

25 Jun

The bottom shelf of the pantry is looking a bit empty of preserves. We’ve exhausted our supplies of homegrown tomato sauce and relish. Sadly, the midwinter garden vege supply is not very forthcoming. My solution is to make a massive batch of pasta sauce from tinned tomatoes. I’ve done this before in the summer, but below is my winter recipe.

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  • Buy the biggest tin of chopped tomatoes you can find, or use a whole bunch of tins (6-7 if you only have regular size tins)
  • Saute 6-7 roughly chopped onions until clear, in a dollop of whatever oil you have
  • Add fridge remnants like half a dozen anchovies, some preserved peppers, capers, spinach, broccoli etc
  • Add a good couple of tablespoons of sugar and salt to taste, and a few bunches of herbs (I used parsley, rosemary and thyme today)
  • Simmer the whole lot for half an hour or so
  • Whizz up with a stick blender if you have one (bit tidier than transferring it into a food processor), then pour into hot sterilised jars and seal

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You can see my ingredients list and measurements are pretty relaxed. The sauce is good with pasta, in casseroles, with rice and veges and all sorts of bits and pieces.

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One-Bowl Easy Chocolate Brownies

24 Jun

Time to fill the biscuit tin again. I tweaked this from the Chelsea Sugar website. It’s pretty delicious. It’s also really unhealthy, so eat it with a side salad to cancel out the calories.

In a bowl, melt 200 grams of butter in the microwave. Then add:

  • just under a cup of cocoa (this feels like LOADS, but it’s not a typo)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • couple of handfuls of choc chips
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar

Stir the wet mixture together, then add 1 cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder and mix again. No need to bring out a machine – stirring with a spoon works. Bake in a cake or slice tin at 170 deg Celsius for between 20-30 minutes (depends on the height of it in your tin).

Due to pantry constraints, tonight I made it with only 3 eggs and no choc chips. It tastes fine. I have no battery life left in my camera to take a pic, but if you imagine a dark chocolatey slab of cake . . . that’s pretty much it.