Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cleaning Recipes

Both Greg and I have decided a long time ago that we wanted to live differently. To live simply- making as much of our own stuff as possible.Living self sufficently. Perhaps the appeal of the Good Life snuck into my psyche a long time ago. Still living and making what you need is really a very rewarding way to live. I must add I cannot just do a batch of laundry - I have to make sure I have made a batch of my own laundry detergent first. I never quite realized how heavily laden with chemicals and scents some home products were till we did laundry for some visitors to our home- they brought their own laundry powder - a store bought version. The strong smell filled our home long after the laundry was done and returned. It was over powering and really too much. It made us even more convinced that making our own cleaning products not only saved us money - but was all round better for us.

Here are some recipes that I use or have collected. I hope you find them useful. If you have any more - please message us and I will add them to the collection!

All Surface Spray and Wipe

1 tsp baking soad
1 tsp dishwashing liquid
1 tsp essential oil

Put into your spray bottle and fill with warm water to dissolve the baking soda. Mix Well.
Spray with smug satisfaction!

Vinegar Spray

2 cups of white vinegar ( cheap stuff will do)
5-10 drops of euclyptus oil ( we use homemade oil)

Combine in a spray bottle and use to clean bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Use in well ventilated spaces and it can be strong for some people.

Fabric Softener

1 cup washing soda
1 cup white vinegar
a few drops of essential oil

Mix in a bottle and use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per washing load.

Stubborn Stain Remover

50gm of Borax

600 ml of cold water

Wearing gloves in a well ventilated room - mix in a spray bottle.Spray on stubborn stains. Leave to dry, then wash as usual.

Microwave Cleaner

We dont use or own one but this is for those of you who do.

2 cups of hot water
1 tsp baking soda

Dissolve the baking soda in warm water.Put bowl in microwave and cook on high for 5 mins. Remove and wipe the inside of microwave with a damp cloth.

We hope you have found this useful!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Landscapes of life.

A Gift of Freedom
Reflections from a hiking trip in the Nelson Lakes National Park, NZ.

The steady rhythmic crunch and thunk of my ice axe and boots is the only sound in the white silence of first light as I climb steadily towards the ridgeline.
I am focused on placement, secure purchase, rhythm, balance, breathing, the pull of muscles. My body is in tune with my mind and my soul. All are present and vibrantly alive, working a cohesive unit to overcome the fear of the icy void beneath my feet and enjoy the spectacular alpine world through which I am travelling.

It is an awesome experience, one made possible by my Dad. No, he is not with me. Nor has he paid for this but I could not be here in this moment of physical and spiritual oneness unless my Dad had taken me into the mountains as a boy and taught me how to traverse steep snow slopes, handle an ice axe and have confidence in my ability and strength.

 If my Dad had not pushed me to face fear until I am master of it I would have turned back yesterday when the cloud was down and the deep soft snow was threatening to avalanche with the screaming wind. But I pressed on, and this morning, while it is still frozen hard I climb out onto the summit of the range and revel in awesome views and the sheer joy of living near the edge of fear yet confident in myself to overcome the challenge I have taken on.

Five days in the mountains in the depths of winter, alone but for the occasional adventurer like myself. Alone in the great leveler of mankind, wilderness, mountains and silence. Only those who accept the challenge wilderness offers and walk in their own company conversing with fear and doubt, pain and exhaustion can experience the ecstasy of freedom.

True freedom, I think, is found within oneself and comes when all the confining trappings that we daily fool ourselves with are stripped away. A wilderness challenge can do this, as can imprisonment and loss. Anytime one finds oneself stripped of everything but courage and faith it is then that one discovers loves ability to conquer fear and so step into the blinding light of true freedom.

My Dad gave me that. Yes I have had to discover it on my own but he opened the door for me and I am grateful beyond words.  Grateful for the freedom that he showed me and for his encouragement to pursue it. Although I have often been guilty of bending to others expectations and subjugating my freedom to popular opinion I have maintained an almost underground pursuit of my own individuality that in recent years has become important, urgent even in its desire for expression. It was this urging that led me back again into the mountains. For it was in the mountains that I first found that expression and there in the silence and grandeur of their magnificence I find my true self.

Strangely perhaps it is not just the presence of the mountains in which I find my freedom but in the challenge of walking among them, climbing over them and experiencing the often extreme climatic conditions that one encounters. It is in the secret undiscovered beauty of the chasms and icicles, flowers and birds, fish and game and the wonderful cohesive co-existence of everything that I find the truth about life in all its beauty and harshness.

Life is about discovering freedom. The freedom to decide if you will laugh or cry, rejoice or grieve, conquer or succumb.  I find the physical and mental challenges of wilderness provide the doorway into the spiritual or soul where the true me exists and so I go back again and again to this gift from my father.

The landscapes I travel through, be they mature towering beech trees, alpine bogs or snow covered peaks, each is represented or mirrored in the landscapes of the heart. There are seasons of growth and grandness and seasons of cold windswept barrenness. All are part of the eternal essence of humanity just as the changing landscapes of the mountains are part of that eternal wilderness.

It is humbling to stand in the silence of the mountains and feel loved and included whilst acknowledging that actually the mountain has no vested interest in me or my feelings or survival at all. To just be a apart of the oneness that is the world in which we live and pass our existence in is enough, overwhelming, exhilarating yet calming and secure all at once. It is where I feel most at home.

I hear the song of the mountain stream
It calls my past into my dreams
The song it sings, calls my name
Come dance with me, come dance again
Old am I, and gone to roost
A missing pack, ice axe and boots
Don’t look for me, I’ve gone to dance
One last time with the mountain stream
I’ll laugh and dance and lie down to sleep
And let the snows cover me deep
There I’ll be gathered to the old mountain men
Who sing the song of the mountain stream.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Zealand WhiteBait Patties Recipe

 There are not many Kiwis who dont get this far away look of delight when you mention hot whitebait patties. Its a well loved treat and a seasonal , almost spiritual experience. White baiting is a culture .With people along the coast staking out their favourite spots , setting up their little huts and nets and waiting for the catch. Its a social thing with folk knowing each other from white baiting over the years.

Here in New Zealand , whitebait are mainly caught in the lower reaches of the rivers using small open-mouthed hand-held nets although in some parts of the country where whitebait are more plentiful, larger (but not very large) set nets may be used adjacent to river banks. Whitebaiters constantly attend the nets in order to lift them as soon as a shoal enters the net. Otherwise the whitebait quickly swim back out of the net. There is a fair amount of sitting and waiting with many whitebaiters setting up little camps alongside their nets.

Typically, the small nets have a long pole attached so that the whitebaiter can stand on the river bank and scoop the net forward and out of the water when whitebait are seen to enter it. The larger nets may be set into a platform extending into the river from the bank and various forms of apparatus used to lift the net.

Whitebaiting in New Zealand is a seasonal activity with a fixed and limited period enforced during the period that the whitebait normally migrate up-river. The strict control over net sizes and rules against blocking the river to channel the fish into the net permit sufficient quantity of whitebait to reach the adult habitat and maintain stock levels. The whitebait themselves are very sensitive to objects in the river and are adept at dodging the nets.

There are many purists who swear by one recipe or another but it all depends on what you like really. White bait is costly with a kilogram selling for $120 NZ.

Greg and I have lovely memories of stopping for whitebait patties  on a long drive back from the North Island.Here is one of the many recipes there are for great whitebait patties. Its best washed down with icy cold Kiwi beer.

  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 500 g whitebait
  • 2 tablespoons light vegetable oil (for frying) or 2 tablespoons butter (for frying) or olive oil

  1. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then mix in the milk.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Lightly beat through the flour & baking powder to ensure there are no lumps. Add the flour slowly - the mixture should be thick and  runny
  4. In a colander, rinse the whitebait and pick out any river stones or other debris.
  5. Drain, and mix into the egg mixture until well combined.
  6. Heat a frying pan on medium-high heat, and once heated, add the butter/olive oil.
  7. Drop in dessert-spoonfuls of the whitebait mixture, and cook until the pattie is set ( starts to go golden on the underside). The whitebait will normally have gone white at this stage
  8. Turn, and cook on the other side until golden.
  9. Keep warm in the oven until ready to serve, in my house they get eaten as fast as they are cooked!