Jan 29, 2008

lions and tigers

Here is Miss1 having a ride in her new trolley, which her godfather made for her birthday. I am very impressed by his woodworking skills - and I think he is too! Miss3 loves being able to trundle her little sister around and around the house, and so far Miss1 loves it more. Long may that continue... You can see here Miss1 is wearing one of the 'tiger slippers' that Miss3 made for Miss1 for her birthday. Better photo tomorrow of the slippers if I remember.

In other cuteness news, Miss3 brought home a painting of brown and green from Kindy yesterday and told this little story to go with it...
"Once there was a poor old man who wanted to hunt a lion and he wanted to kill him. And he had no-one to go with him. No-one that is, except his sister. And then he went with his sister and the sister went "don't, don't don't," because she was going to be eaten. But he was the last lion, and all the other ones had been killed and eaten up, and then there'd be no lions. Then the lion saw them coming and he ate the gun that they were going to shoot him with and he ate them up. And they kept going on. And then the lion was still alive. Hooray! He was still alive! He was the happiest lion in the world. Because no-one wanted to kill him. Except the brother. The brother wanted to kill the lion too, and he went all by himself and then he saw the lion go "prowl, prowl, prowl," at him, and it was a big Mummy lion, and she was wanting to eat him. He ran back home, shut the door, locked it, so he wouldn't be eaten. Yeah! He stayed alive! And then he lived all by himself. And that's the end of the story."
The painting can be pictured as an aerial view of a forest with brown paths through it - the story is accompanied by pointing out where the lion and the people are walking around the forest. As soon as i realised what a gem this story was I got her to tell it to me slowly so I could write it down word for word. Read more...

Jan 27, 2008

Shell CEO admits Peak Oil Could be Here in 7 Years

Surprise! Some acknowledgment from the industry about what many of us have known about for some time. Treehugger's news clip on it here. Read more...

Jan 26, 2008

Pic of homemade nappy

Well, here it is - the soaker pad on the left is made of a single flat nappy folded into quarters and then sewn as you can see. It gets folded into three, along the central seams, then inserted into the pocket you can see at the top of the fitted pocket portion.

The fitted bit was made from two flat nappies - two layers each side of the pocket. So baby has 16 layers of flannel to soak up the mess.

The nappy gets put on just like a disposable - the front portion comes up between the legs and the tabs reach around and wrap over at the front, but instead of pins of anything, we just put a sturdy Velcro-fastened overnap over the lot and away she goes.

The main saving from doing it this way is the folding. This set-up will take next to no time to get from the clothes line onto a bottom, whereas the flat nappies by themselves take a little more doing. Folding nappies is Merl's job, so this will free up maybe 15 minutes every 2 to 3 days. Not a huge saving in that light - but I'm thinking of giving some to a friend who has a much lower 'inconvenience tolerance threshold' than we do - this might just tip her over into considering cloth! I'll take some to show her and see what she thinks. Read more...

Jan 25, 2008

home-made fitted cloth nappies

Or 'diapers' for those who live in North America.

Today I made some pocket-nappies all by myself :-) Out of some old flat cloth ones that were way too thin to be useful the way we normally fold nappies. I looked up a bunch of different free nappy/diaper patterns online and then figured I could probably manage it from scratch myself.

It's past my bed-time right now, otherwise I'd take some photos and do a big tutorial on how I did it and pass on the free-pattern goodness. Maybe over the weekend.
[Find later blog post with pictures and explanation here]

My friend AB who went into hospital on Wednesday has been told she needs to stay there until the baby is born - up to 11 weeks away! So her son JB will be joining us for three mornings a week until further notice. If you are interested in following her progress and musings while in hospital her Livejournal is here. She's writing a paper diary and her hubby is typing it in for her each evening.

My baby will be Miss1 on Monday, so preparations are afoot. Miss3 decided that she'd like to give her baby sister some 'tiger slippers' for her birthday - so we bought the fabric and yesterday and today we together sewed them up on the machine (Miss3 helping by pushing the 'reverse' button as required). I'll post a photo of them too - after monday, cos they're all wrapped up just now. Used a 'charity pattern' found here.

We've decided that the girls get lots of cool presents from everyone else, so we'll be low-key for birthdays. Something small but special. This year it'll be a name-plaque for her wall and a pre-loved book from the Sally Army store. I'm making the name-plaque - actually painting a store-bought shape and mounting store-bought letters. Mum had bought the letters and given them to the baby for Christmas, so actually getting them mounted on the wall will be quite special.

The birthday is going to be very hard without my Mum. Its just so wrong that she isn't here to see them grow up.


Jan 23, 2008

Oh, and the plumber...

We got the plumber's bill today.



that's a d@mned expensive cylinder insulation.

When things turn pear-shaped

Well, once again, our own nuclear family is perfectly fine and normal - no major dramas within these four walls. However, my very oldest friend AB (we were first friends when we were in the same ballet class as 5 year olds) has had a bad day.

AB is pregnant with her 3rd baby, and it has been a very painful deal so far - she's had symphysis pubis dysfunction and is finding it excruciating just being upright for the day (okay in the mornings, but agony by the evenings). But yesterday it was discovered that she has a total placenta praevia as well. So now she is in hospital on complete bed-rest - probably until the baby is born, which could be 2 months away.

And she has 2 preschool boys. And her husband S has a major work deadline all coming to a head in the next 4 weeks, for which he is the lead programmer.

So, we are of course all rallying around. I had the boys here this morning and they all played very well together. This is not usual. Usually there is fighting and tears and sulking when the 4 kids get together (well, not really counting the littlest who is too small to be a problem). But today they were great. yay.

Fortunately kindy starts back tomorrow so her oldest and my oldest will be off there for each morning of the week, which will make things easier. And her #2 is on the waiting list to start.

So, I've put my hand up to look after her #2 for three mornings a week for as long as needed. It's tricky - I felt like I should offer to do more, but I can't really justify (for example) going and cleaning their bathroom when ours is so badly in need of a scrub.

But right now the most helpful thing I can do is go to bed and get some sleep I think. I just re-read this post several times and it is no longer making sense to me - a sure sign that I'm not only too tired to be reading, I am definitely too tired to be writing. Read more...

Jan 22, 2008

talking rubbish

Well, we did it! This is two weeks of rubbish you see here - comfortably fitting into one 45L council rubbish bag. By far the biggest contributor was switching to cloth nappies for night-times. Incredible. I knew it would make a difference, but to go from slightly over 65L each fortnight to about 45L, with very little effort or change in routines surprises me.

- The biggest change has been deciding not to use disposable nappies any more (except as emergency back-up). We now use a towelling nappy at night which just soaks up stuff like nothing else. We have had no major leakages as yet, and we've been doing this about 2 weeks now, so things are looking good.

- All our vegetable waste goes into the compost heap (or, now that we have one, the worm farm!). I'm now starting to compost some paper waste that is not readily recyclable too. We had a BBQ on Sunday evening and used paper plates for people who wanted plates (and it was quite a hunt to find paper plates and cups in the supermarket - they were mostly plastic). I soaked these plates in some water and stuck them into the compost heap, so hopefully they'll break down nicely in there.

- I repair crappy plastic toys if I can now, rather than just throwing them away. Often they really are just junk, but sometimes I've been able to fix them with a bit of thought and inventiveness.

- All recyclables get recycled. We are fortunate to have a pretty good kerb-side recycling scheme here - just wash 'em and put them in a blue bin out with the rubbish on collection day. very handy.

So pretty much the only thing left in our rubbish bag is non-recyclable plastic packaging, along with some meat scraps and the soiled non-flushable nappy liners (makes for a pretty stinky rubbish bag!).

My next target will need to be trying to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that comes into the house. Which will be tricky. Vegetables come from the market in plastic bags. Rice comes in plastic bags. As does pasta, soap, raisins, toilet paper, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Could take some thought. Read more...

Jan 19, 2008

Otago Museum Butterfly House

Thanks to a christmas present from merl's sister K we had a terrific outing today to Otago Museum's new butterfly exhibit. I had taken the girls once before but merl was busy working at the time. This time all of Team Wilson was along for the outing.
Miss3 nearly burst with excitement at having butterflies on her hand. I'll let the photos speak for themselves. Thanks again K.
The baby (soon to be Miss1) had a few encounters with butterflies, but she was far too interested in them for the butterflies' liking, so their interaction never lasted long enough to capture on camera. Here she is shortly after having a butterfly land on her knee.

The museum is way cooler than when we were kids. There is always cool educational stuff to do, especially during school holidays. Read more...

Jan 18, 2008

Home-made Worm Farm

Well, I've finally lived up to my blogger-name :) I was home-handymumming it up yesterday as Miss3 and I made a Worm Farm. Very exciting indeed. ("Wow! Does Daddy get to be the farmer?!")

I have been planning to use a laundry tub that we removed from our laundry when we moved in (it was too big to let our washing machine in) as a worm farm for some time. I just needed to get around to it - so with it being kindy holidays and all that, the time had come.

First, I set the tub up between two saw-horses that were generously left behind by the previous owners of our house (along with a big pile of other stuff).

Then Miss3 and I researched Worm Farms on the internet and found this good one {link repaired Dec 08} from a place in Christchurch who sells farms and worms. We found out what bedding we needed and what food we needed, and also that we'd need to make some sort of lid for our sink so the worms wouldn't drown in inclement weather. We also found out we could buy worms from our local Nichols garden centre.

So off we went to buy worms, and we bought sand for the sand-pit while we were there. And when we got home we made the lid - from some scrap wood in the garage.
Leftover paper pulp from our paper-making day on Monday went into the tub, along with a couple of handfuls of dirt and some food scraps from our compost bin

This was a bit soggy, so in went some straw to soak up the excess sog, and then the worms!

Cover the lot with some damp cardboard,

and voila! Our worm farm is in operation. Forgot to take a photo of it with the lid on, but it just looks like the first photo, but covered with wood :-)
According to that Christchurch site we found, they'll eat about a litre of food scraps a week, and will gradually increase consumption as the population expands. It will be about a year before the farm is 'established' and we can harvest vermicast, but in the mean time I'll be able to dispose of all sorts of paper waste in there that currently isn't recyclable. yippee. Read more...

Jan 13, 2008

Embrace your inner scotsman

We certainly do anyway, and it definitely helps in keeping food bills under control.

Dinner this evening was a fabulous affair, and if you're not at one with your inner scotsman you may find that itemising and costing out the ingredients in a meal to be a dry and joyless affair, sucking all enjoyment of the meal away and leaving a headache in it's place. I pity those people. But for those who find thriftiness a virtue it's an exercise worth pursuing.

The recipe: Random on Toast
serves: 3 and a toddler

Raw ingredients:
2 Onions ($0.40)
60gm liver ($0.40)
2 Tomatoes ($0.50)
1 Avacado ($0.80)
4 Eggs ($0.70)
a dozen olives ($0.50)
7 slices of toast ($0.30)
Leftover salad from lunch (free - recycling)
Butter, herbs (free)

Total cost = $3.60 (roughly $1 per person)

1. Chop onions and simmer with some butter and herbs for a good 10 minutes or so (onions *must* be well cooked before eating, otherwise they are much too sharp). While simmering, slice tomatoes and avacado. Set aside half the avacado in a bowl for your precious miracle. Finish dicing liver.

2. Add liver. Continue simmering for another minute or so, stopping when the liver is cooked (which will happen very quickly if it is sliced into tiny pieces). Set aside herbed liver and onions.

3. Add more butter and 4 eggs (at the same setting), and ignore. Start pumping toast out. When the final toast goes in, switch off the eggs.

4. Put one egg into the little one's bowl, mix well.
Using toast continents on each plate, make small city states of tomatoes, avacado, olives, egg, and liver/onion. Ring with barbarian Salad.

Random on Toast has served us well over the years, the basic formula is (proteins) + (fresh things) on toast.

Protein: Pretty much any good source of protein. Avacado, Liver and Egg were the workhorses here, but Baked Beans, Cheese, tinned Salmon/Tuna, mince or other meats all fill the protein hole well.

Fresh Things: Again, whatever plant material you want to eat (within reason). We're finding that new season silverbeet replaces lettuce in salads with nary a whisper.

Food that tastes great, but doesn't cost the earth. Read more...

Jan 11, 2008

Enter the plumber...

Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems.

After the 'mild' jostling that the hotwater cylinder received yester-evening, I woke in the night aware that the cylinder sounded like it was still filling up from after the dishwashering. Upon inspection (at midnight, of course) I discovered a very small leak from the pipe leading out of the top of the cylinder. And the sound of a lot more water running somewhere else - probably under the house (where our overflow empties to).


Still, there is nothing I could do about this at midnight in my PJs (or in fact at any time in any attire, since I have zero skills as a plumber), so I put a small plastic container out to catch the drips from the inside pipe and went to bed.

About morning tea time I ventured under the house to see if the water was still flowing down there. Oh yes. Oooh yes.

One call to the plumber, 2 1/2 hours of plumbering time, and a few bits of pipe later, we have a happy cylinder again. We had inadvertently cracked the joiny-up-bit of the inlet pipe (note my extremely technical jargon). So at least it wasn't hot water that was filling up our cellar.


So, not as straight-forward as it first seemed. Nor as cheap. Nor as energy efficient in the immediate term, given that we had to empty the entire cylinder of lovely hot water for the nice plumber man to fix it. But still probably worth it in the long term.

or so I am led to believe.

Jan 10, 2008

Oh, we are soooo energy-frugal now!

Today we wrapped our hotwater cylinder. ta daa!

I read somewhere the other day that if your cylinder is rated anything other than AA or AAA you should invest in some insulation for it. I dutifully toddled off to the hot-water cupboard, and what do you know?


But of course. So today we gave our cylinder a snuggly warm coat. It was not as straightforward as it first appeared. After much wiggling of the cylinder to get the wrap to fit between cylinder and wall, we gave up on the last bit and just jammed it in place - so about 10cm of cylinder is not cosily warm, but we figure anything is better than an F.

And just don't ask about the various tapes we tried - suffice it to say that a whole roll of duct tape went into the bin as being distinctly substandard (it did not adhere, neither did it have strength), and the foil tape was just like sticky tinfoil, and just as flimsy. Yay for masking tape; is there nothing it cannot do? Read more...

Jan 8, 2008

Reuse CD cases - 14 ways

Planet Green has a list of 14 ways to re-use your empty CD cases, and also has contact details for a recycler who will take them and turn them into new cases.

Nice

One week of Zero Waste-wards

This is our waste that is going out for collection in the morning. The plastic tub is for the Recycling collection, the white supermarket bag is our mixed paper, sitting in front of our one cardboard box. The black bag is a 45L Council Rubbish Bag. Tying it up tonight was a breeze - it's already much less full than even a week ago. Perhaps those occasional day-time disposables were more frequent than I thought. I also find that I'm more careful about putting the paper into the paper recycling bag rather than the rubbish bin.

I'll probably find that I'm subconsciously hoarding rubbish in an effort to keep the bag empty - perhaps I'll stumble upon a huge pile of non-recyclable margarine containers behind the bed, or just discover that I can't find the desk anymore because it's hiding under a pile of plastic wrapping papers or something. No doubt the rubbish bag volume will stabilize somewhere above this first 'bag of consciousness', as all the things that should have been discarded this week eventually do find there way out of the house. I am determined that, in the process of trying to keep stuff out of the landfill, that this house will not become the landfill.

Tonight I'm trying the baby in a cloth nappy. Eventually I will probably do this every night, but for now I'm just trying it out. Today I realised that I'd been wanting to use up the disposables we'd already bought before going to cloth at nights, but that's just silly. They will probably get used every so often anyway - it's handy to have one in the car in case of emergencies, and tummy bugs are simply not to be contemplated with cloth (not for this mummy, anyway). If she grows out of the ones that we have, then I can always pass them on to someone else!

I think that just getting rid of disposables will drop us down to one bag every two weeks. The problem will be the smell. Our rubbish tonight is only one week old and it stinks. I forgot to rinse out the meat wrappers, but even then - what will I do about bones? I shall investigate what to do about bones and meat scraps - cos even if I boil them up for stock, I still have the bones, and lots of things I've read have said not to put meat into the compost heap.

Perhaps in the mean time I can have a 'meat waste' bag in the freezer and try to remember to put it in the rubbish bag before putting it out to be collected.

Oh, and one more thing - we're now collecting beer bottle-tops, to make one of those rattly beer-bottle stick things that folk musicians use. I think Miss3 would really like it, and it's one less thing int he rubbish bag. (so far, I've collected 1. We're not big beer drinkers - it could well take us several years to collect enough for a rattly stick thing). Read more...

Jan 7, 2008

Sunflower Race

Today Miss3 and I planted sunflowers. Merl's Mum gave us a book full of gardening ideas for kids, and today we began a Sunflower Race!

Miss3 filled up plant pots (found under the house) with some potting mix. She carefully pushed 2 seeds into each pot and watered them from our big green watering can.

We also planted some Viola seeds in a big yellow pot and some tiny wee pots we found.

Then Miss3 took this photo of her efforts. Progress is very eagerly awaited - I've had to let her down gently that the sunflowers won't be ready for Daddy to see when he comes home. But we just might see some little leaves before we next go to church. Read more...

Jan 6, 2008

I have dirt under my fingernails

Even with the gardening gloves on, I have dirt under my nails. Because... (and I'm pretty excited about this!)... I actually did gardening today.

Weeding, and trimming back the hedge so people can open the gate without fighting off the Ent. Very satisfying, although, as usual, I've left the weeding until after the weeds have set seed all over the place. But satisfying all the same :)

Zero Waste stuff:
- last night I made a cloth menstrual pad, as per instructions from here. Very straightforward instructions and easy to do if you know how to make your sewing machine do 'zig-zag' (or 'serge', as the instructions call it). I had made one ages and ages ago, using the same instructions, and do very much prefer cloth to plastic, but just hadn't gotten around to making any more. In combo with the Keeper, (which I've been using since after Miss3 was born, and wouldn't be without now) I think I'd only need about 4 or 5 pads.
- biodegradable baby wipes go all fluffy and like cotton wool if you put them through the washing machine. I have thrown them into the compost heap and will see what happens to them in time. Read more...

Jan 4, 2008

budgo catchup

Zero Waste news
- Menstrual products - the keeper and cloth pads
- Our council does not appear to recycle yoghurt pottles or polystyrene of any type Read more...

Jan 1, 2008

Christchurch doing earth day

From today's Press

"On Saturday, March 29, Christchurch will join cities around the world to take a stand against one of the planet's biggest threats - climate change.

Cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Chicago and Manila will switch off their lights for one hour to mark the first global Earth Hour.

Christchurch is the first New Zealand city to join the initiative..."


Happy 2008

Having spent all of Sunday night, and all of Monday feeling decidedly ill with a (hopefully) 24 hour stomach bug, the New Years was celebrated in an extremely low-key way in this household. Until... I woke at 12.05am to the sound of gunshots.

Now this is not the crisis that it might be in more urban parts of town - we can actually see farm paddocks from our house and it is rare but not unheard of for farmers to be night-shooting for possums (an introduced, TB-ridden pest species in this country). So after lying there for a bit, wondering what people were doing shooting things during the holiday week (and, I admit, wondering if there was a mass-murder occurring in the neighbourhood), I checked the time, did some more waking up and worked out it was fireworks.

Which was confirmed split seconds later by several "sphizzzz pop pop pop"s, as opposed to the BANG BANG BANG which woke me up.

And that was that - 5 minutes later it was all over and I rolled over and went back to sleep.

May all your 2008s be as peaceful and ultimately uneventful!

Zero Waste news:
- Cloth nappies are great, but do not contain diarrhoea very well.
- Sometimes you can fix broken useless plastic toys instead of throwing them away. Today I fixed Miss3's plastic hammer.
- Ditto for crockery cups - the handle came off one of our coffee mugs and instead of chucking it out I sealed over the raw edges with nail-polish. It remains to be seen how good a fix this will be, but in the mean-time only the handle has gone into the bin. Read more...
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