Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sustainable Christmas - decorations 2

I made these candleholders for the dinner table by covering the aluminium base of tealights with sparkly gold and white ribbon. Then I glued green and bronze glass beads onto that. I plan to use them next year too, just pull out the depleted wax and push in a new one.

The flame casts lovely glows through the coloured beads.

I'm thinking to make one for each person and lay on the table beside the wine glass.

Sustainable Christmas - decorations

We are hosting Christmas at our house this year for the first time ever. I brought a box from my parents' house with all the decorations we had and made as children. But I wanted to add a few new ones. I cut up old magazines for paper chains:

The pictures of Christmas food made the most colourful pieces. They look really jolly hung up.

I also made a Christmas mobile with a wire coathanger. On this one there's a string of glass beads (use a broken necklace), felt stars (I stuffed with fleece and sewed on right side with blanket stitch), and snowflakes. You can use scraps of white paper from partly-used printer paper. Just trace around a circular object, cut out the circle and fold in half. Fold in half again and as many times as you can, so you have a cone. Snip out little triangles, star and circle shapes with scissors, then unfold and hang with narrow ribbon or jute string.

It's weird having snow motifs for a summer Christmas, but it does make you feel cooler!

Sustainable Christmas - tree

I saw a great sustainable version of a Christmas tree last weekend. A friend had bought a large Old Man Banksia in a pot and decorated the branches with gold baubles. They buy one every year and when Christmas is over, plant it in the garden. What a great idea.

Their garden looked pretty good too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sustainable Christmas - wrapping

This year I wanted to avoid buying wrapping paper. Most stuff is terrible quality this time of year, anyway. It's hard to keep it from tearing, getting covered in sticky tape, and all wrinkled.

Small things I just wrapped in brown paper and jute string with a little bit of red ribbon.

However for larger family gifts I've got another tactic - fabric wrapping.

I found some really pretty Christmas tea towels at Spotlight. Now, this is wapping you can re-use an unlimited number of times - immediately!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sustainable Christmas - gifts

The most sustainable gifts are things that your individual recipients truly need. Failing that, something that can be eaten! And failing that, something either homemade or something that by its use can lead to a more sustainable lifestyle.
This year I'm giving:
homemade rose geranium sugar
homemade calendula skin salve and aloe vera cleanser
knitted long socks
non-leaching, re-usable stainless steel water flasks

This is my absolute fail-safe ecipe for aloe vera cleanser, from Josephine Fairley
In a blender, mix together 30 ml aloe vera gel
50 ml olive oil
30 ml rosewater
4 drops rose essential oil
2 drops grapefruit seed extract (for preserving the cleanser - however I ran out of this and the cleanser still kept fine out of the fridge, during the winter at least)

If you have your family, friends and neighbours saving their cosmetics containers for you, you can repackage your own creams, stick on cute labels and voila presents for female relatives.

You can make yummy-smelling shaving oils for men too - these are so overpriced commercially - by adding a few drops of an essential oil (my man likes sandalwood, but try rosemary or eucalyptus too) to 30 ml or so of almond or olive oil. A little bit goes a really long way. One of the great things about shaving oil is you don't need moisturiser after the shave.


I finally finished the dolly I was making for T's second birthday. I wrote about this in the book, but dolls are great for children to develop nurturing skills - and these shouldn't be monopolised by little girls! Instead of complaining and wondering why boys aren't as good at communicating and caring as girls, let's start giving them some tools to develop those.

This dolly took about three hours sewing. It's stuffed with real sheep's fleece, which makes it soooo much more cuddly. It's made with hemp jersey for the face and hands, but you can very successfully use a piece of cotton jersey from a t-shirt. If you need a more beige-y colour, dye it in coffee. The fabric for the sleeping bag is a small piece of stretchy corduroy that a lovely fellow doll-maker gave me, from when she made pants for her son. It's great to use corduroy or velvet for cuddly dolls, but be aware that the lie of the fabric will make it smooth as you run your hand one way and rough when you rub it the other. I made this so it was smooth as you run your hand down the front.

I used a pattern from a book called Kinder Dolls, here. The title rather cleverly crosses the meaning 'more kind' with the German for 'children'.

T had seen me sewing this, so when he was unwrapping it on his birthday and a little hand poked out of the wrap, he commented matter-of-factly, 'dolly hand!'.

I've asked, and apparently it is a 'he' and from that first day, enjoys first place in the cot with T.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Broccoli thief

What sort of garden pest do you think left this damage?

I already do a daily check for those little green caterpillars (a garlic spray - made by blending up a few cloves of garlic with hot water in the blender, then straining into a spray bottle - is good for these). But I'm not sure how to deal with the current broccoli thief...

I like how he seems to think he's a Very Hungry Caterpillar; holding his hands well away while he just uses his big new teeth to chomp into the tenderest spot of the floret.
I live in a rented house and we're not allowed to plant anything into the beautiful low-maintenance native garden. So I use these white insulated boxes that you can pick up at the vegetable store. I'm not sure what they're made of or how easily they break down into the environment (need to find out!). However, they are great for growing vegies, particularly in winter, when the material they're made of really work well to insulate winter seedlings from the cold.
It didn't matter about the loss of the broccoli in the end. Last Thursday we had a freak hailstorm with stones 3 cm in diameter, that decimated my garden. This was only a few days before the official start of summer!