Monday, August 31, 2009

Making scrap fabric into birthday cards

I asked rhetorically in an earlier post what to do with bits of embroidered fabric that I was loath to throw out. Well, I've thought of something!

Some folded cardboard and a pot of paste, oh and a few squares of coloured handmade paper, and I had myself some greeting cards in time for Mum's birthday and Father's Day.

Since I had the paste and stuff out anyway, I looked around to see what other bits of fabric, crochet squares and buttons I could stick on more cards.

It's funny that I kept these tiny scraps of fabric and misshapen crochet done while I was trying to master a new stitch, but it doesn't feel so silly now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book signing in Katoomba

Blue Mountains Books in Katoomba is hosting a book signing next Saturday at 3pm.
I'm going to show-and-tell how to implement some of the ideas in the book.

The address is 66 Katoomba St (about a third of the way down the main drag of Katoomba, on the left-hand side of the road going away from the station.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Win a copy of the book??

I apologise for not being clever enough to have thought of this myself...
Virginia is giving away a copy of Sustainable Baby, to someone who leaves a comment on something they do to help the environment, on her blog.

What a nice idea!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fresh Wakame!!

Sea vegetables are extremely nutritious, offering many trace elements unavailable in land-based produce these days, including iodine and potassium. Iodine is important for thyroid function, and sea vegies are even a source of Vitamin B12, which vegans can sometimes lack.

Of the sea vegies, wakame is the tenderest and (if you're unused to eating seaweed) the easiest to eat. Fresh wakame, which I used to feast on every day in Japan, is even better. And - an interesting development - it looks as though Australian chefs are discovering it.

Wakame is currently classified as a noxious weed by the Department of Primary Industries. However the interesting thing from an environmental viewpoint is that wakame can thrive in polluted waters and actually improve the quality of those waters. Growing seaweed is currently under trial as one of several industries that could transform saline water into usable water, thus turning semi-arid rural areas of Australia into productive agricultural land.

If you've got wakame in your local shops, here are some ways to use it:

Wakame in Miso Soup
Real miso soup is so easy I wonder why people still use that packaged, over-salty stuff.
For good Japanese-style stock you need a piece of konbu, another sea vegetable. Or if you are a fish eater you can use several dried anchovies or dried tuna flakes, both available in Asian grocers.
Bring the konbu or fish to boil for ten minutes, then remove (I often leave them in and eat them)
Add vegetables of choice and simmer till al dente.
Dissolve miso to taste.
How easy could that be?
A wonderful and easy variation of miso soup is simply to lightly simmer a handful of dried wakame and a half-block of silken tofu, cubed. Then add the miso.

Wakame Salad
You can probably find a lot of recipes for this all over the web, but my simple, foolproof method is:
Rehydrate quarter of a cup of pelleted wakame, or a whole cup of dried wakame strips, by soaking ten minutes in cool water. Drain.
Add a chopped tomato or two.
Season with a teaspoon of tamari soy sauce mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of sesame oil. Voila!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bonzer! Review!

Sustainable Baby had a fun review in the online magazine Bonzer! - "by, for and about wise elders".

Reviewer Valerie Yule has done some calculations I never thought to make:

The priorities for this modern mother are interesting as reflected by page lengths—33 pages on home cooking, 25 pages on nappies, 19 on health, 17 on enjoying playing with baby (hurrah!), 15 on buying and saving, and 14 on tips about clothing, with appendices about making things. No need to hassle about how these sustainable babies sleep or misbehave.
Debbie interestingly gives the first 25 pages to nappies, [diapers] including useful advice about how overseas babies respond to having no nappies, and the real comparative green-ness of cloth versus disposable.

I really liked this sensible, intelligent and funny review.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Compost "Worm"

I got an amazing addition to my garden toolbox last week - the Compost Worm, invented by Dion Kentwell in Newcastle. A retired engineer, Dion named the device 'Worm' to describe the way it 'screws' down inside the material (apparently this is common engineer-speak). You could also call it the Compost Corkscrew - it corkscrews down into the compost just like into an old-fashioned bottle of wine, then you pull it up again in order to aerate the contents, and corkscrew the other way to let all the material go again.

The problem with composting when you don't have any garden waste or chicken manure or anything going into it is that all the kitchen waste on its own just sits there, compacting into a really horrid substance. This is the case with me (renting a house with a professionally maintained garden) just as it is in an urban environment.

I knew I had to do something with my compost but was a bit stumped. A weekly pitchforking was recommended, but I didn't own one. Besides, where would I put everything I upended with the pitchfork? I could hardly wield one in my 30 weeks pregnant state, either.

Enter the Compost Worm and its amazing ability to turn a solid, slimy smelly mass into aerated, tossed and pleasant-smelling humus.

You can get quite warm operating it (great in the cold weather right now) but it isn't as physically demanding as pitchforking :)