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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.


Reducing the Cleaning Bottles – Carpet Splotches

4 Jul

I spot cleaned my lounge carpet this morning. Squished raisins and bits of jam had taken their toll. For my own peace and sanity, we are not a family where the children eat at the dining table for every meal. Occasionally* they are not perfect, and spillage occurs.

To clean the mucky bits, I used:

  • A little water poured onto the spot.
  • A lemon duster to gently rub the spot.
  • Extra white vinegar from the spray bottle for the tricky spots.
  • A towel to soak up any excess moisture after cleaning.
  • Coffee to (carefully) drink afterwards while nodding appreciatively at the clear carpet.

It worked extremely well – although the proof will be in a couple of weeks, whether the mucky patches come back (this happens if you don’t clean the carpet right through the fibres to the base). There will be future stains like red wine and chicken poo that may not come out so easily. Always interesting to have new challenges.

‘Carpet Spot Cleaner’ is now another cleaner I don’t have to fork out for. Gradually I’m reducing my cleaning cupboard supplies. I hope to just end up with lemon dusters, baking soda, vinegar and bleach. It’s remarkable how much money we spend on cleaning products which are unnecessary.

*quite often

The Art Studio Made from Recyclia

27 Jun

I visited my sister today, who is in the final stages of furnishing her new art studio. She and her husband have built it using mostly recycled bits and pieces from around town and what they could find in their community (but not stealing). The kind of things they’ve recycled are:

  • Rimu flooring
  • Windows
  • Door
  • Corrugated iron cladding
  • Furniture
  • Plywood

Loads of the gorgeous little bits and pieces inside are also second-hand. Hard to pick a favourite thing, but I think for me it’s the steampunk light switches. No dreary Mall Trawl involved to furnish this beauty. I am thankful my sister is also a Sustainable Wench.







IMG_1142  IMG_1152

Lazy Way to Clean a Microwave

21 Jun

I nicked this from Pinterest, tried it, and it worked ok:

  • Put half a cup of white vinegar and half a cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Zap it in the microwave for 10 minutes.
  • Wipe down after (no elbow grease required). Steam clean BAM! No weird chemicals.

Shortest Sustainability Wench blog ever. No photo because I don’t want to show you a ‘before’ pic of the inside of my microwave. Ewww.

Door Sausages

20 Jun

I made door sausages today. Both the front and back doors have big gaps underneath them. If you place your hand by the floor, you can feel the rush of air. This week that air is freezing. Using a homemade door sausage works by:

  • keeping drafts to a minimum
  • saving electricity
  • using materials that might normally be chucked out
  • saving money (you don’t have to buy one at the shops)

The front door sausage had to be particularly large because it has a little step up. I folded an old towel in half and hand-stitched around it, leaving a gap. Then I stuffed it full of old sheets and cloth, and sewed up the gap. The back door sausage is a bit smaller – I was able to rip an old towel in half lengthways then stitch and stuff that. Not having a sewing machine shouldn’t be a reason not to sew. Hand stitching can work perfectly well. Especially when you have coffee and the tele on.


Snow Prep

18 Jun

Apparently it’s going to snow lots over the next few days. Christchurch as a city gets a bit panicky in the snow. We’ve had snow in the city every winter for the past few years – not a whole lot – but it’s still a big novelty. Most things shut down. Which must be hugely entertaining for the Canadians I think.

I thought it best to get the garden ready this afternoon. The thing about gardening though, is that weather happens. You can only do so much to help the plants. Sometimes they die. That’s life.  My task list was pretty small:

  • stake all the large broadbeans (a couple of months ago it snowed and they got hammered). They look a bit wonky in the pic below. That’s because I ran out of tights to tie them up. I will have cold legs.
  • pick all the ripe limes, lemons and mandarins
  • tuck the seedlings away in their house
  • put the shovel and secateurs close to the garage entrance
  • admire my winter garden while it still looks good . . . because next week it may all be under water
  • open the doors of the house to give it a big dose of fresh air before we hunker down


What’s quite good about this Sustainability Wench bizzo, is that if the shops shut, I can:

The hardest bit will be keeping the small fry entertained.

Knitting for the Love of Coffee

15 Jun


I started knitting yesterday. It’s been awhile. I had some knowledge of knitting when I was about 10 years old. I tried again a number of years ago, but without the knowledge of how to bind off, it was doomed to fail. Or go on for all eternity. Either way, it was too hard.

I want to keep my coffee hot in the morning. Sometimes it’s awhile before I get to drink it. A friend gave me the idea of a plunger cosy last year, and with the days still getting shorter, the time had come To Knit. So I found some cheap yarn, practised lots*, and followed YouTube tuition on how to knit a buttonhole and bind off. A friend got me started, showing me how to cast on. I found a large button to use behind the dishwasher (I’d seen it fall down a few months ago).  As you can see, it’s a particularly magnificent creation. My friend Kirsten suggested we call it a Coffee Onesie. There’s a reason you can’t see the buttonhole. Best to keep that bit round the back.

I’ll be knitting more, especially in the winter. It’s therapeutic for active relaxers like me, it’s cheap, and you can create stuff.

*Had to start again quite a few times