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.


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

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.


  • 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


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.


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.

Black Banana Loaf

23 Jun

Officially, this isn’t called ‘Black Banana Loaf’, but I always stash marginal-looking bananas in the freezer.  When you pull them out to defrost, they are black and squishy. Calling it ‘Soggy Black Banana Loaf’ might not quite appeal though.


This is a classic New Zealand Edmonds recipe. It’s cheap, easy, and you can do most of it in an ad break. It also uses those manky bananas that the kids won’t eat. I had to use rice milk and dairy-free margarine in it when my son was a baby, and it worked just as well.

In a large bowl, mix:

  • 1 3/4 cups of self-raising flour (or I use 1 3/4 cups of flour and 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder. Silly to have another flour in the pantry)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

In another bowl, melt 75 grams of butter. Then stir in:

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • a couple of mushy bananas

Add the banana mix to the flour mix and stir. Put it in a loaf tin. Bake at 180 deg Celsius for about 45 minute or until cooked. Often mine only takes about half an hour so keep an eye on it.

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.