Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The Made in New Zealand Christmas Gift Guide

This Christmas why not shop small and support local artisans from all over New Zealand. There are so many talented makers, doers, creators and artisans out there producing some amazing things - in sheds, spare rooms, home offices and workshops.

Here, in their own words, are just a few:

 My Pink Basket

My tiny business is handmade toys. I make them out of socks, but they're bot standard sock-toys. I create my own patterns and make them look really pretty and stylish. I also take great care for every detail to make them absolutely safe for babies (such as no buttons, doubled seams etc). Though I believe my Sleeping Buddies are good enough for any age! You are very welcome to visit my Facebook page - www.facebook.com/mypinkbasket

Puzzle Beetle

Puzzle Beetle puzzle and crossword books - great little Christmas presents

Volume 2 is jam-packed with theme-based crosswords to keep the brain cells whirring. Plenty of fun wordy challenge.

Volume 3 is a fiendish mix of original word puzzles, with a couple of crosswords thrown in for good measure. Bound to put a bright spot in the day.

Only $14 each (plus P&P). Perfect gift for summer holiday chill-out - for friends and family or just for you. www.puzzlebeetle.co.nz/order-puzzle-books/

Uku Chic

Uku Chic is synonymous wuth creating kids clothes ans home decor, but I have recently branched out into decoupage and upcyclying of household detritus.

Take a wooden dish, used NZ stamps, paint and the dish no longer looks like something from the 70s. Sticking down stamps is no fun, but loving this style of decoupage and no luck finding scrapbooking paper it was time to make my own. Two themes of NZ stamp collages are now available to papercraft fans everywhere - as a digital download. Expanding on this theme I now offer my first set of "kiwiana" cards see ukuchic.com

Classic Cool

Classic Cool started with a pair of Hightops and a word of encouragement. I had a love of Crochet and I wasn't 80 years old! I found a pattern that incorporated the Classic art of Crochet, with the Cool fashion of a Converse look-a-like Hightop boot. After a friend saw them and asked if I sold them, it was then that Classic Cool was born. Over the past 3 years that we have been around and my babies have grown, we have broadened our range from just baby shoes and sandals to Cowl Hoods, Beanies, Christmas creations adult wear. The latest range being soft toys - Maarley has been a hit!

My Pinterest boards are jammed full of idea to expand Classic Cool into the realms of jewellery, scented toys, high-end crown and so much more, It's just about finding the time - Always the way! 

Little Lil - lil' bit knotty

Little Lil - lil' bit knotty is a small business making unique handmade necklaces which are suitable for every occasion. The necklaces are simple in design, yet striking in appearance. This is especially due to the contrast of bronze metal and brightly coloured cord. The inspiration comes from past and present cultures as well as current happenings and nature. The are certainly fun to wear.

Mud Mates

The Mud Mates personalised Swim Bag is a multifunctional drawstring bag ideal for togs and towel, using as a sports or activity bag, a library bag or even an overnight bag.

Available in a range of bright colours to stand out from the crowd and customisable with your child's name to help them identify it easily and others to return it to them if it gets lost!

Proudly handcrafted in New Zealand.

Busy Me

My love affair with tie dye stemmed from a trip to America. The festival stalls selling baby tie dye caught my attention. They were completely different to your average baby clothes. I decided then that that's what I would like to do.

Three years later I delved in. Busy Me was born and I haven't looked back. Please visit my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/busymetiedye/

Alba Rosa

Alba Rosa for carefully handmade small-batch soap and skincare products.

Soaps to create an indulgent bathing experience - creamy and bubbly. Naturally coloured with herbs, flowers, spices, teas and clays. Fragranced with pure essential oils.

Balms and salves to heal and soothe. Beard oils and balms for manly grooming. Luxurious bath treats.

The Hive

The Hive - New Zealand's buzzing online shopping destination. One shopping cart - one checkout, but more than 140 Kiwi businesses and over 1500 products to choose from.

Home Decor, Gifts (for kids and adults), Toys, Jewellery, Health and Beauty, Books, Photographers, Accountants, Clothing and more. So much choice from an amazing collections and makers and doers, backed up with amazing customer service from The Hive Team.

And you can shop in your PJs!


Friday, 25 November 2016

Calendula Tea for Sore Throats

Calendula is most widely used for it's anti-infammatory and skin-healing properties, but here is the base of a throat soothing tea.

Calendula Tea

To make this you will need:

  • 1/4 cup of fresh (spray-free) calendula petals or 1/8 cup dried petals
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange peel (peel thinly so there's no white pith - it's bitter)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teapoon runny honey
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

Place the calendula petals and orange peel in a diffuser or in a strainer over a cup and cover with one cup of boiling water. Allow to steep for about 5 minutes. Strain then add the orange juice and honey. Stir well. Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper (if using). Sip slowly.

The colour of the tea will vary from pale yellow through to orange depending on the colour of the calendula petals used.

You may also like to try:
Cinnamon & Thyme Sore Throat Tea
Elder Flower Tea for allergies
Calendula Cleanser

Pieced Pastimes

Featured on Morsels of Life: Inspire Me Monday

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Soothing Chamomile Toner

To make this you will need:

Infuse the tea bags or chamomile flowers in just boiled water for 5-7 minutes. Strain as required and allow to cool.

Combine the cooled tea with lemon juice (if using) and witch hazel and stir well. Add the essential oils and stir again.

To use: apply to clean, dry skin with a cotton pad. Do not rinse. Follow with you usual moisturiser.

Soothing Chamomile Toner will keep for one month stored in the fridge.

Notes on witch hazel: Witch hazel in its liquid form is a blend of an alcohol-based witch hazel extract and water. It acts as a very gentle astringent and can help to soothe irritation, but is not suitable for very dry, sensitive or sunburnt skin.

You may also like to try:

Almond Milk Toner for combination skin
Apple Toner for oily, blemished skin
Black Tea Toner for oily skin
Lavender Toner for teenage skin
Rosewater Toner for dry skin

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Friday, 18 November 2016

Book Review: A Year in a Bottle - Sally Wise

A Year in a Bottle is a collection of over 100 recipes for making your own preserves and conserves - jellies, jams, chutneys, pickles, drinks, fruits pastes, sauces and vinegars.

The book begins with a section on practical tips and advice covering topics like sterilising jars and bottles, pectin, and testing jams and jellies for set. Included here are a few recipes for sugar free jam.

The two main sections of the book. One is focused on jams, jellies, maramaldes and conserves. The other chutneys, relishes, pickles, sauces and vinegars.

A useful troubleshooting section follows.

There are also short sections on freezing and bottling. Near the end of there is a selection of favourite recipes including soup, curry paste, potted meat, rhubarb cake and fruit shortbread.

The recipes in the book are well laid out, with clear instructions. I've made several of these recipes with great results - including Homemade Lemonade, Apricot Chutney and Onion Marmalade. As well as the usual recipes covering stonefruit, berries and the like you'll find recipes for pickled walnuts, sloe cheese and rosehip syrup. I'm planning to make the intriguing sounding Tomato Jam soon! 

If you're interested in preserving - either as a beginner or as an experienced bottler looking for new inspiration - A Year in a Bottle is definitely worth a look.

Available from The Book DepositoryAmazon and Kindle

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Deodorising Powder for Feet and Sneakers.

Unfortunately sometimes you just can't avoid smelly shoes - especially sports shoes or sneakers. This recipe for a deodoriser is (like most of my recipes) simple to make and does the job well.

Deodorising Foot Powder

In a bowl combine:

Stir to combine. 

Now add essential oil. You need to add about 100 drops of essential oil for this quantity of powder. Add the oil a few drops at a time whisking after each addition to make sure the essential oil and the powder are well combined.

These essential oils, either on their own or in combination, work well:

Two combinations I really like are:

50/50 blend of peppermint and sweet orange
60/40 blend of peppermint and tea tree

Allow the mix to steep for 3-4 days so that the deodorising powder fully absorbs the essential oils.

The powder can be sprinkled into shoes every couple of days or onto clean feet as needed.

Stored in a lidded shaker, similar to the one seen here, the powder will keep its freshness for up to a year. 

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Friday, 11 November 2016

18 Insect Repelling Plants

There are some insects - like bees - that you're happy to see in the garden, but if you want to keep your house and garden free of insect pests there are alternatives to chemical sprays. Here is a list of some of plants that are relatively easy to grow, can be used in cooking and home remedies, and can also be used to help keep away unwanted bugs.  I have most of these in pots or in the garden around my house

Basil - Plant basil near the doorway to help keep flies out of the house. Dried stalks can be burnt to repel mosquitoes. Most insects hate the smell of basil. Mix 10 drops of basil essential oil with 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on door frames and windowsills.

Catnip is a favourite with cats, but will help keep beetles out of the garden

Chervil - freshly crushed leaves can be rubbed on windowsills and kitchen benches to keep flies away.

Chives - plant chives in the vegetable garden to keep it free of carrot flies, some beetles and aphids.

Coriander is another plant with excellent insect repelling properties. Coriander is easy to grow and does well planted in a large pot. To make a simple, but effective, insect repelling spray half fill a bucket or large jug with the leaves and flowers of coriander, basil, rosemary, oregano, tansy or thyme. Fill the jug or bucket with boiling water and leave to stand and steep overnight. Strain, pour into a spray bottle and use as required. A squirt of dishwashing liquid can be added to the spray bottle to help make the spray "stick", but it's not essential as the spray works just as well with or without.

Citronella - is well-known for its ability to keep insects away.

Elder - an infusion of elder leaves rubbed on to arms and legs can repel mosquitoes.

Feverfew is probably best known for treating headaches, but also has insect repelling properties

Garlic - plant near your roses to keep greenfly away.

Lavender - hang a bag of dried lavender and lightly crushed cloves in cupboards to keep silverfish away. Lavender will also help to repel moths.

Lemon BalmFresh leaves can help to relieve the itching of insect bites. Bundles of lemon balm leaves placed in a wardrobe or cupboard are supposed to keep moths away.

Mint is another plant that repels mosquitoes. A pot placed in the garden will help keep the surrounding plants insect free. Don't plant mint directly into the garden or it will take over.

Oregano is another useful ingredient in homemade bug spray as, like basil, many insects are repelled by its scent.

Pennyroyal - place a few dried leaves in kitchen cupboards to keep away ants or a pot by the back door to keep out flies and mosquitoes.

Rosemary is a useful addition to the vegetable garden as it repels carrot fly and attracts bees. A simple insecticide spray can be made by mixing 5mls of rosemary essential oil and 300mls of flat beer. This can be sprayed onto plants and the surrounding area where insects are a problem.

Tansy has quite a strong smell that many insects don't seem to like. When dried the leaves can be sprinkled in areas where unwanted insects are a problem. 

Thyme will bring bees into the garden, but will help deter moths and some flying insects

Wormwood can be planted near cabbages to keep cabbage butterflies away from your crop, near the hen house to protect against lice. It may also help to keep fruit trees free of fruit tree moth.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A-Z of Herbs: Arnica

Arnica (arnica montana) is a perennial with yellow-orange daisy like flowers native to the mountain area of Europe.

It's a hardy plant that grows best in well-drained, slightly alkaline, soils. A sunny spot with afternoon shade is ideal. Seeds can in sown in late summer. Arnica can also be grown from cuttings. Well-established plants can be divided and replanted in the spring. Arnica is not drought-resistant so will need consistent watering in hotter climates.

Arnica is probably one of the best known herbs for the treatment of bruising, swelling and muscle strains. It has been used traditionally for many years. Studies as to its effectiveness have had mixed results, but anecdotal evidence suggests that it may provide relief.

A simple bruise balm can be made as follows:

Arnica Bruise Balm

You will need:

Place the oil, beeswax and cocoa butter in the top of a double boiler (or similar). Warm over a low heat until melted. Remove from the heat and add the essential oil, if using. Pour into a small, clean jar and leave to cool.

Makes approx. 1/2 cup of balm. Stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight the balm will keep for up to 12 months.

To use: apply as required to bruises. 

Do not apply to broken skin. 
Always wash you hands after use.
Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Please note that this article is not intended as medical advice. It is an overview only.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Cucumber and Egg Mask - for mature skin

Last month I shared a recipe for a Banana Mask, this week it's the turn of the cucumber. We all know that a slice of cucumber placed over the eye is supposed to help reduce puffiness - this mask will do that for your whole face. It's cooling, refreshing and helps to even skin tone. It's particularly well suited to mature skin, but can be used for all skin types.

Cucumber and Egg Mask

To make this you will need:
  • 1 medium cucumber 
  • 3 tablespoons of cornflour
  • 1 egg yolk

Chop and puree the cucumber. It looks like quite a lot of cucumber when it's chopped, but the cucumber will reduce in bulk as it's pureed. Add the egg yolk and stir to combine. Add the cornflour a bit at a time, stirring as you go, until you get a good spreadable consistency.

Apply to the face and neck. Leave for 10-15 minutes then rinse off with warm water.

Any unused mask will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

More mask recipes:
Green Clay Purifying Mask - for oily or combination skin
Avocado Carrot Mask

You may also like to try making:
Cucumber Eye Gel

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Easy to make Bath Salts - four to try

Bath Salts can be as complex or as simple as you like. It's as easy as throwing a handful of Epsom salt under running water or you can get creative with different salts, essential oils, dried herbs and flowers. They can make a great gift.

Some ingredients often used in bath salts:

Baking Soda - softens your skin and adds a little fizz. In hard water areas it can be useful for softening the water.

Coarse (or medium) Sea Salt - in a bath is said to promote relaxation and reduce stress

Dead Sea Salt - to relax muscles and smooth the skin

Epsom Salt - rich in magnesium it is said to help relieve stress and relax sore muscles.

Himalaya Salt - to soften the skin and detox

Simple Lavender Detox Bath Salts

With only three ingredients this is quick and easy to make. Combine one cup each of Epsom Salt and baking soda with 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil. Add 1/2 a cup to your bath. The remainder can be stored in an airtight container for up to 12 months.

Soothing Bath Salts

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 2 cup medium sea salt or 1 1/2 cups sea salt and 1/2 cup Himalaya salts
  • 5 drops rose essential oil
  • 5 drops lemon balm essential
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

Place the salts and baking soda in a non-metallic bowl and stir to combine. Add the essential oils and stir to distribute. 

Alternatively place the salts and baking soda in a large glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine. Add the essential oils and shake again to distribute the oils through the salt mixture

Will keep for up to 12 months in an airtight container.

To use dissolve 1/4 cup of the bath salts in running water and enjoy.

When making the bath salts pictured just above I used a mix of sea salt and Himalaya salt. I added a couple of tablespoons of dried lavender buds.

Orange Mint Bath Salts 

This is a recipe for sweet scented, skin softening and relaxing bath salts

To make this you will need:
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 10 drops sweet orange essential oil
  • 10 drops spearmint essential oil

Combine all the ingredients in a non-metallic bowl.  Mix well to disperse the oil evenly through the salts. Store in dry conditions in an airtight.

Add 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup of bath salts to the tub under running water.

Chamomile and Calendula Bath Salts

In a non-metallic bowl or large jug combine the following ingredients:
  • 1 cup medium/coarse sea salt or Dead Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried calendula petals
  • 1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
  • 15-20 drops essential oil - lavender and/or chamomile works well

Mix will to disperse the oils through the salt mixture. Store in an airtight container. Leave a few days before using so the oils can infuse the salts.

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