Monday, 7 November 2011

White Coleslaw

Here in New Zealand the barbecue season is just getting started. Our weather is getting warmer and the spring lamb and summer fruit and vegetables are starting to appear in markets.

Summer pot luck barbecues are a bit of an institution in New Zealand, so I thought I'd write my next few posts about barbecue season dishes. Every summer I seem to be scratching my head for a new salad or dessert to take to a barbecue - last week I used an old recipe I had forgotten about, and it was a hit! It's certainly simple and green! It's also healthy, tasty, and very easy. Perfect to take to your next neighbourhood barbecue.

White Coleslaw
300g white cabbage, shredded
1 green capsicum (bell pepper), sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp horseradish cream
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
pinch cayenne pepper
chopped fresh dill, to taste
Toss the prepared cabbage, capsicum, celery and spring onions together. In a small bowl, mix the mustard and horseradish with the Tabasco sauce and white vinegar. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, then add the mayonnaise and cayenne pepper (I also added a spoonful of wholegrain mustard). Season and toss the dressing through the salad, adding the fresh dill as you go.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Gifts for Babies

From Linda Woodrow from The Witches Kitchen

In the community I live in, we have a tradition of making a quilt for any new baby. We choose a theme - for this one it was native animals, but others have been nursery rhymes, things that fly, beginnings, circles - and a background colour, and invite people to make a square. (Mine in this one was the native mouse eating a grass seed). We generally aim to have it made and ready to give a few weeks after the baby is born, at the first stage when parents are usually ready to bring him or her out to meet a largish group.

There are so many magnificent quilt makers online, and within the circles of people who contribute to this blog. This isn't that kind of quilt! Squares are made by kids and teenagers, men, women of all generations, people with no real needleworking skills. They are appliqued, embroidered, fabric painted, found, made from recycled fabrics and salvaged buttons and beads. Often the sewing together and backing is a real challenge to make stretch fabrics and non-square squares fit together.

Usually four or five of the better sewers have a "Sewing Together Day" to piece it all together, and that's the best fun. It is amazing how beautiful they always turn out. There is a moment when they are all first sewn together and laid out to admire when I always get a sense of wonder that the sum is so much more than the parts.

Mostly the quilts are used as play-mats rather than bed covers. The variety in the textures and colours, the images and connections are rich stimulants for a baby's play and imagination. Stories can be woven around the characters and language practiced on naming the animals. It's a lovely soft toy with no "Made in China" tag.

And I guess the no "Made in China" tag was the inspiration for this story. The shops in my town are filling up with toys in the lead up to Christmas, and it just seems so wasteful that so many of them, especially those designed for babies, are destined to end up in landfill in a matter of months. Mass produced soft toys with no character, art or craft to them.

Older kids are harder to do the handmade thing for. They have very particular and specific desires, and friends to compare with. (Although, having said that, my daughter's very favourite childhood gift was a hanging rail with a dozen handmade Barbie dresses, all on little wire coathangers - I was very proud of that one!)

But babies and little kids are such a joy to make gifts for. I'm making a list and checking it twice. I'm collecting ideas.

Friday, 4 November 2011

keeping warmer

by Francesca @ FuoriBorgo


One problem with living in an ancient stone house built directly above a chill, humid wine cellar is that, though it's wonderfully cool in summer, heating it in the cold season is hard.  To keep heating costs down (while not freezing to death), we've found some simple and efficient ways to stay warm - which I wrote about on FuoriBorgo last year (I've linked the relevant posts below).

hot water bottle

-    Hot water bottles - a time-tested and yet vastly underestimated method of keeping warmer.
-    Felted blanket curtain - we added a thick layer of insulation to our largest double-glazed window.
-    Warm slippers - yes, warm feet do make a huge difference!

How do you keep warm in your wintry house?

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Cloth baby wipes and cleaning solution

by Amanda of Amanda Brooke

It has been 10 months since our youngest was born and I am still dedicated to using re-usable wipes and my own cleanser at change times. It may sound strange to some, but I really enjoy nappy change times, using handmade products that I have blended and experimenting with materials for wipes.

The recipe I love most for cleansing bottoms is:

1tsp natural/organic SLS FREE baby bath wash (I use the Little Innoscents body wash)
1tsp almond oil
250ml cooled boiled water
Mix in a spray bottle and shake before each use.

I spray the cloth wipes and then use, but you can spray directly onto an older baby's bottom. This mix needs replacing regularly, but I like that it is fresh each time I make a batch. You can also make up tubs of cleanser and soak your cloth wipes in the solution, but I would recommend that you replace the solution daily for this method.

Some other ingredients that can be used in this recipe in small quantities are:
  • Manuka honey (1/2 tb in the above recipe)
  • Vitamin E capsules (1/2 capsule - not synthetic E)
  • Essential oils (only oils that are safe for infants and use only as directed at the right ratio babies and the solution base)
  • Pure Aloe Vera gel (1 tb)
Or you can just use plain water without any additives!

My favourite wipes are ones made from upcycled flannel baby blankets and bamboo velour. I just throw the soiled ones in with the nappies and the wet ones go in with the baby's clothes. Wipes are really fast and simple to make and don't need to be any special. Just a square cloth that has been over locked around the edges is fine but I make mine double sided with top stitched edges to make them last. I also use terry cloths, but I much prefer the softness of the flannel and bamboo velour variety. You will need at least 24 to 36 wipes for your baby.

Some of the reasons you might like to consider using cloth wipes are:
  • Your baby has sensitive skin
  • You wish to avoid the chemicals found in most commercial baby wipes
  • You wish to save money
If you don't want to make your own wipes there are plenty of online shops that stock cloth wipes. You will find wipes made in gorgeous rainbows of colours, bamboo, organic cotton and more! Often the hand crafted websites Etsy and Madeit have WAHM's who make wipes too.

  • You can re-use some of the stronger varieties of disposable wipes by throwing them in the wash. They will last around two to three washes before starting to fall apart and this makes your dollars stretch a bit further if you use these full or part time.
  • You might like to consider some of the more natural varieties of disposable wipes. They are generally dearer but your baby will be exposed to less chemicals and this has to be a good thing. Combining the use of these or the non-natural variety with cloth wipes will save you money too.
  • For short trips travelling with cloth wipes use a good quality wet bag to store and pre-soak your wipes.
  • Cloth wipes also make great face and hand cleaners at meal times and you can upcycle them to the rag bag when you no longer require them to be used as baby wipes.
  • Hand made wipes make a lovely gift for a new mum. Make a stack and tie them with hemp string for a thoughtful, eco-friendly gift.
What are your experiences with cloth wipes and solution?

Amanda x

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Passing on what we know

Nita at Throwback at Trapper Creek is having computer troubles this week so I'm stepping in for her.  She will be back on board soon.

By Rhonda @ Down to Earth

We run by different clocks you know. Ours at home is more a seasonal time-frame, or one that revolves around meals and sleep patterns, whereas the business clock is run to the financial year and revolves around nine-to-five and the weekend - that great payoff for putting in time during the week. We have different holidays too. In the business world, time is set aside for employees to have annual leave/vacation. There is a complete break away from the normal day to day tasks of the work place. Time is spent recovering from the past year and getting ready for the year ahead. At home, it's a different story. There are no weekends, no after hours, no over time, no vacation or annual leave. Oh, and did I mention, no pay either.

I am a trained nurse and used to work in theatre and emergency. Then I got a degree in journalism, literature and communication and became a writer. I worked as a journalist and technical writer during the 20 years before I 'retired'. I firmly believe that training is required for all work, particularly those vocations that require judicious decision making, consistently good outcomes and high standards. We would never expect a doctor to perform surgery without training and practice, and we don't want accountants without training advising banks and businesses. Yet we seem to be fine expecting our younger generations to be raised by people who aren't trained. That training was once done on the job by mothers and older women, now, on the larger scale, that has disappeared. We expect consistently good outcomes and high standards from each successive generation, but we are failing now, more than ever, to support the work of those young mothers and fathers who stay at home to raise our future citizens. Oh, and did I mention, we don't pay them either.

I don't expect to be paid to stay at home and I think it's a silly notion to believe that a country can support such community welfare payments for SAHM and Ds. It would send most countries broke. But I do expect a certain amount of training to be available to those women and men who decide against a paid career and seek instead to stay at home, teach their children, shop for bargains, mend and sew, and generally do anything to scrape the money together to do it. There used to be a subject at taught at schools called 'home economics'. It was a training in cooking and home management with a little child care thrown in. That was offered in the times when mothers still passed on that information to their daughters. Now, when the motherly teaching of the art of homemaking has all but vanished completely, and when it's needed more than ever, home economics is no where to be seen. 

Well, there is an elephant in this room, ladies and gentlemen. It's the generations of children being raised without knowing how to cook or clean, let alone make a budget or bake a loaf of bread. When they leave school and have their own money, instead of saving money for a home, they have to spend most of it buying already made food to eat and chemical cleaners that poison the air all of us breathe. They don't know that soap or vinegar or bicarb could clean almost everything. They think they have to spend money to buy everything they need to live. It is not their fault, but all of us, ALL of us, suffer because of it.

Where are the responsible governments who even though they insist on training for all manner of jobs, turn their backs on this as if it doesn't mean anything. Many local governments now are teaching water harvesting, organic gardening and how to raise chickens. Why don't they see the need for cooking from scratch, mending and sewing, and parenting classes And where are all the older generations who should have been passing on their knowledge? Those older women and men who would, in the past, mentor, guide and teach. Where are our role models? All we have now are vacuous celebrities who seem to be even more useless than the rest of us. I couldn't care less if THE wedding is on or off or if that was really cocaine in her bag, I want real life, I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to know how to live well and I want home economics back in the classrooms.

I want people to care.

At my Frugal Home workshop the other day, the ladies thanked me for sharing my knowledge. I appreciated the thanks but I asked them to step up themselves and to talk about what they're doing and teach what they know about. We all have that responsibility. We are the ones who have to start sharing what we know and being part of a world wide solution. If we want a world full of thriving sustainable communities, we need to help create them. Governments rarely lead, they follow and they do what we demand of them. Demand this.

I have no doubt that learning the skills of simple living can help heal those parts of our world that suffered through the economic crisis. Slowing down, living within our means, being genuine people, living deliberately and sharing whatever it is we can teach is a significant and radical first move for all of us. If you want mothers to pass on knowledge again, if you want fathers to be the kind of role model that children respect and want to emulate, then you need to lead them to it. All of us, not just me or you, but all of us, share this responsibility. We need to share our skills and knowledge with our younger generations and by doing so, hopefully we'll get back to caring, safe, supportive and happy neighbourhoods again.

Do you know of schools that still teach life skills, particularly home economics? I'm very keen to get a conversation going about how we pass on what we know to others. Are you doing it? if so, how? Please share your thoughts on this important subject.