Where there is a will there is a way

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to completely avoid disposable meat packaging at the grocery store.

I finally did it! I secretly needed to get the videocamera fixed so I could share some of the things I have been doing - start doing some Youtube videos.

I really like the Dale Projects signature clip at the end.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Sustainable Toilet Paper (Purex)

One thing that I never posted about that our family does, which is not a zero waste thing but a sustainability thing, is choose toilet paper with an Environmental Choice logo on it.

Purex toilet paper in NZ does; it also has a Forest Stewardship logo on it. The family teases me about it, but there is only one toilet paper I will buy - and that is why. At least then our family is causing demand for the products that recycled paper is used for.

Printer paper as well, can be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council - next time I buy printer paper, you can bet I will be looking for that logo.

In a world full of false claims and brainwashing style ads, it's really great to have an independent certification that exists solely for this reason. From Environmenal Choice's website:

The New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust is a voluntary, multiple specifications based environmental labelling programme, which operates to international standards and principles. Initiated and endorsed by the New Zealand Government, Environmental Choice recognises the genuine moves made by manufacturers to reduce the environmental impacts of their products and provides a credible and independent guide for consumers who want to purchase products that are better for the environment.

From the Forest Stewardship Council's website:

FSC certification is a voluntary, market-based tool that supports responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certified forest products are verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain. The FSC label ensures that the forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources. The FSC Principles and Criteria (P&C) describe how forests can be managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of present and future generations. Developed through a strong, multi-stakeholder process, they include managerial aspects as well as environmental and social requirements.

Here is a link to a lengthy PDF about the criterion for Environmental Choice certification:

Gypsy Fair at Orewa (North of Auckland, New Zealand)

These guys travel 8 months of the year, selling things they have made via the real world only (not online). The Roamin' Snail was my favourite. I wish I could represent to you that moment when I saw them drive by an intersection where I was soon to turn. I managed to catch up and follow them as they swung into Orewa. Actually - to see that house driving ahead of me through the uniform world around them, cars all the same, houses all the same - then there was this great big truck with windows and edges all carved out of wood, cheerful gold dots decorating along the fretwork of the peaked roof ahead of me. They were a story - a magic thing that suddenly appeared, and then the ordinary world was changed while they were in it.

I was overtaken by emotion after following them through Orewa town - after they pulled in to the lot that was going to become a fair, I pulled over and laid my head down on my dashboard for a moment.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Top 3 stains: red wine, coffee, permanent marker, from popular book Spotless by Shannon Lush.

From the popular ABC radio (Australian) segment, Spotless: Room-by-room solutions to domestic disasters by Shannon Lush (and Jennifer Fleming). My book was found for $20 NZ at a Binn Inn (wholesale foods store).

I wanted to see this book ever since I heard it mentioned. The tools for cleaning any stain or mishap, according to where it happened (or what it happened on) are often natural products such as baking soda (bicarb), vinegar, glycerine and so on. Anyways, it's stain removal with expert knowledge.

From their intro: "There are a couple of tricks with stain removal. Firstly, don't panic and put something on the stain that could make it worse. Work out what's in the stain. Then work out what the solvent is. If there are several components to the stain, you must remove the protein part first, then fats, then any chemical or biological dyes, and then any resins or glues. The way to work this out is to remember that proteins are anything animal or seed based, fats are greasy between your fingers, and resins and glues are not water soluble. If you're not sure, clean with cold water first, then use hot water, then any solvents..."

Here are my top 3!

1 new red wine on carpet

"Cover the stain with a good amount of bicarb [baking soda] and let dry for a few seconds. Then vaccuum and re-apply a smaller amount of bicarb, add a little vinegar and scrub with a nylon brush. Leave to dry, then vacuum."

2 coffee or tea on fabric

"For fresh stains, use glycerine applied with a cotton ball, then wash in washing powder."

3 permanent pen on fabric

"You'll need to do this very carefully and quickly. Apply some dry cleaning fluid to a cotton bud and write over the permanent pen while also quickly wiping the dry-cleaning fluid off with a cotton ball, replacing it often. You could also spray Aerogard [aerosol insect repellant] or hairspray, and wipe off with a cloth. Be careful with fabric and test a patch first."

There was also a rotting milk method for ink stains on fabric - apparently placing the milk solids on an ink stain can bring the ink up, then you can wash it away.

P.S. After getting re-inspired about baking soda from flipping through this book, I tried a baking soda paste (and a cloth) to clean a friend's ceramic stove-top. It worked a charm.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
PSS (Dec 8) - Just now we spilled a few drops of red wine on the carpet. We used the advice from Spotless: dropped some baking soda onto the red spots first. Some of the white powder instantly turned browny black, and then we vaccuumed it away. We added a bit more baking soda, and some vinegar onto it, which bubbled. Savannah used a regular dish washing brush to scrub the soda in further, I pinched more on - and when it dries we will vacuum again. Beats scrubbing with energy for 10 minutes - and I already can see no red.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

More background on the book from the ABC store:

Shannon Lush is the ‘sensei’ of stain removal.

Her admiring radio audience around the country have complete confidence in her encyclopedic knowledge of the repair of stains, scratches and other disfigurements as the final word on surviving messy household emergencies.

This book came about through James Valentine and his radio program on 702 ABC Sydney. He asked listeners to ring in if they were having problems fixing a spill or stain around the house and then invited other listeners to give their solutions. One day Shannon rang in and answered every question. She became a regular guest and is now heard on similar ABC Radio programs around the country. ‘Spotless’ is published in response to clamorous listener demand.
If you have ever washed a jumper in the machine and horribly shrunk it, burnt a pan to obliteration or had your pet mess the white wool carpet, you will be pleased to know that there are solutions to these and many other problems. Each chapter in Spotless addresses a particular room in the house or outside area so it is simple to use and incredibly useful.

The section listing inexpensive and easily obtainable ingredients to keep on hand is unique and indispensable. Especially now that Shannon clearly explains exactly how to use them.

Whatever the problem: a filthy oven, a tea stain on the mattress, ink on the lino or just some useful hints on cleaning problem areas such as doors or window sills, Shannon has no-nonsense advice that will work.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Enora and the Black Crane (by Arone Raymond Meeks)

I read a very special story called Enora and the Black Crane, by Arone Meeks (Australian aboriginal artist from North Queensland area). In it, Enora and his family live and eat food from the forest. One day Enora sees a rainbow of colour travel through the forest, which he follows. The colours lead to a clearing where he sees the colour fold over cassowaries, scrub hens, lyre birds and parrots (all Australian forest birds). When he returns home, no-one believes him, so he returns and takes a sign back with him to show his family - he kills a bird. He brings the bird back - a crane, and his family is very sad. Then he himself transforms into a bird. But although he joins the birds, of every colour - his feathers remain black.

The artwork on each page is amazing, I love it. But I really love the story. I wish I could contact the artist to ask him if the story means what I think it means. I think I will.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November beans

Hey - I don't have to write "October Garden", and have blog entry each month that encapsulates the whole month, like a religious order! Here is my blog post for November 7, after midnight.

Today was a great gardening day. I am extremely lazy and unmotivated by nature, but Shane and I went to go look at my giant bean plants which were falling over. After a moment, we got sucked in. He said I should just remove them (I hadn't supported them properly at all) - and I agreed, as they were getting broken which was very not favourable to my OCD side. Then I also remembered that I hated beans anyways. I decided the kids could pick the beans, remembering how good it was for us to always experience that sort of thing.

I didn't know that bean plants have the most luxurious soft beds!

The beans had a strong pea plant like smell. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the task, and ripping out bean plants turned into them shelling them, and I wanting to fix a slat that broke of my raised garden. Shane saw the ridiculous way I was going to fix it, and the garden party was on - as he took over. It was so cool! Ended up bringing up the would-be wasted extra grass clippings to spread around the garden as mulch (not too close to the plants), especially the potatoes. I really got into it - and the garden didn't release me for some time, needing mint plants pulled that had fungus on them, etc etc.

Shane fixed up a fan blade I put up attempting to turn it into a windmill - turned it into a real windmill that would easily fly round in the wind. When we finished, it felt really good energy - like we had done something good. I am going to heap compost next, on potato plants - so they keep growing up in mounds that are easy to unearth (apparently), and now I can transplant my tomato babies into the fixed raised garden bed. (After I get some new compost - with my $5 a hessian sack deal with the local soil place.)

Repaired raised garden in the back awaiting tomato seedlings.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The mangrove people in Stillwater

There was a really magic day in Stillwater. I was feeling down - I decided to go on a walk with Troy and Luke. It started to rain, but we went out anyways in raincoats.

The coastline looked so cool, like illustrations of tufts of land I once saw in a children's book that I haven't been able to find again.

As I drew closer to the mangroves, I could almost see little people.

I wanted to paint the mangroves with the little Mangrove People who live right here.

When it rains, and noone is around, sometimes that is the best time for a walk. It is the time the spirits are strongest.