Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Greetings. Things come in threes! Over the course of eight days we will be celebrating Louis’ 30th birthday, moving house, and then marking the birth date of the Baby Jesus.

Oh, and working three days between moving and Christmas, and somehow fitting in a few other things like exhibition openings and Playcentre meetings. Oh, and you know, I just finished organising a bake sale for Playcentre. Just a small undertaking, yes?

But you know, the wonders of social media have meant that since circulating this image I have sourced a yard broom and the offer of a potential support group for fellow list-makers. Writing the list also helped remind me to book some strapping lads to move the whiteware. And you’ll notice that I have left my own name off the cleaning duty. That is the beauty of being the boss. And cleaning the house the rest of the time.


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May those spotty fishnets last forever and ever.

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We walked home today in the snow, and later in the afternoon it started snowing again, this time in such a way that it stayed on the grass and the vege garden for a while. Big, fat snowflakes. All coming down at once. Rata was more interested in this stale bun she had claimed earlier. But seriously Rata, it NEVER snows in Paekakariki. Enjoy it while you can! (It also never snows in Wellingon City – well, this storm showed them…)

We stayed outside for ten minutes, and then the novelty wore off. In other words, all that lovely snow we had accumulated on our clothes melted and we were sopping wet! My mum knitted that pink hat. She was quite pleased to see it being rocked by a third generation.

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Well hello, it’s Lotte your Home Ec dork again. It may well be that I am planning to wrap my dorkiness up as a series of household tips. Or perhaps I am just a dork who likes to write dorky posts. About dorky lame things like washing sheepskin rugs.

Rata is nearly two, which means her sheepskin rug is too! She has started sleeping on him this winter, which is kind of a no-no if you listen to all the parenting books, but as my mum will tell you, ‘It’s cosy and warm’. So cleaning ol’ “sheepy” has become more important. Although he spends his time in bed now instead of on the floor, he still needs a wash every month or so, and I think I have perfected the art of it. Maybe.

Many people would tell me how wonderful sheepskin rugs were because you could just throw them in the washing machine and bang! voila! clean! I’ve found this is not the case – even after two trips around the longest cycle they were still dripping with dust and dirt and whathaveyou.

So… a good preparation for their trip around the wash cycle is a nice bath. I might fill the bathtub about a quarter full, plop in a good dollop of laundry liquid and a cup of baking soda and lay the sheepskin face down in the water. I push it about a bit until it is properly wet on top, then leave it for a couple of hours, smooshing it around when I remember to. You can turn it over and have a go at any sticky yuck bits with your hands after it has been soaking for a bit.

Then… I drain the bath, heave the soggy wet thing into a bucket, and arrange it carefully in the washing machine. It’s not quite big enough to go all the way around, and usually I have to rearrange it before it can spin. There are alarming clunking noises. I put a little more detergent in the machine, splash some vinegar over the sheepskin and advance the machine to its first rinse. I set the water level to medium so there’s plenty to get rid of the last of that dust. And I think I also set it to ‘warm’ water.

Once it has done its thing, I hang it on the line in full sun – perfect to kill the dust mites. As it dries, the wool fluffs up again, and my theory is that the vinegar/baking soda combination helps with this. Adding the vinegar to the rinse is my most recent addition to the washing process, and boy is that sheepy fluffy. In all his two years, I’d say this is the closest he looks to his original self. I want him for myself now.

Incidentally, while searching for the above image, I came across this tutorial for the washing of “sheepies”. I’m pretty sure my way is better. At a glance there seems to be a lot less faffing…

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After repeated plays of this song, I now have it on repeat in my head, day and night. It is a marvellous ditty, and almost makes me want to go to Auckland. But not really, because Auckland is sprawling and sticky, while I prefer to dwell in small and perfectly formed villages. Having music on repeat in my head is handy when there is no music in my sewing room.

And I don’t know what instrument is being strummed in the intro there, but as with all of Lawrence Arabia’s music it reminds me of the things we had to play with at primary school. Now, to hit ‘Play’ again…

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A recipe of cheaps!

Do millions of loads of washing in a year* and spend less than $10!

If we are friends on Facebork, you have probably noticed that I do a lot of washing. I talk about it sometimes. I talk about the weather and whether the washing is drying. I talk about the pile of washing on the laundry floor from two weeks of rain. I talk about flooding the laundry. And sometimes, like at this time of year, I talk about how it is too warm to have a fire, but too lame outside to dry the washing. Really, I talk too much about the washing.

But one thing I do not talk about is my laundry liquid. The other day I was looking aimlessly at washing detergents at Commonsense and their stated minimal impact on the environment and the number of washes you would get from the amount of detergent. All for a ridiculous price! Ridiculous, as in, unaffordable for my household and most likely many others. Which is why, I suppose, the benefits to the environment were stressed, as well as the number of washes for the price. I’m not really one for spending extraordinary amounts of money on things that should be cheap and straightforward. And my general experience of products ‘green’ is that they will try to trick you into thinking this is the only way to be green. In actual fact, whatever you want to do, there is bound to be a homemade recipe on the internet. And it probably involves vinegar and/or baking soda.

My laundry liquid does not involve either of those things, actually, but baking soda and vinegar do make up my stain removing bag of tricks (soak in water and baking soda, vinegar in the rinse cycle). Laundry liquid is almost as simple – soap flakes and washing soda. What I do is bring a litre of water to the boil, fill a bucket with eight litres of hot water from the tap, dissolve half a cup of Lux soap flakes¬†(or you can grate a nice bar of soap) in the boiling water, add half a cup of washing soda and stir to dissolve. Then you take the pot off the heat, pour in the rest of the water, stir it around and then pour it back into the bucket. I do that little bit of back and forth with the water so that I don’t have to scrape out the pot with a rubber scraper or anything. You then leave the bucket overnight and it will have set into a white jelly. Then you use half a cup of this jelly sludge in a load of washing.

I often use a few drops of tea tree oil, always with the tea towels and sometimes with smelly things. I did once try adding essential oils to the bucket, but found it didn’t make any difference to the smell. You should just add drops to each load you do. Because that is something I haven’t mentioned yet – if you like your clothes to smell like washing detergent, you probably won’t like this method. In that case, you are welcome to pay for the smell of your favourite brand. I personally like the fresh, non-perfumed crispness of the washing, especially when it comes off the washing line. It doesn’t smell yucky, and it doesn’t fell yucky. That can only be a good thing if you’re a little baby with delicate skin or a grown up with allergies to any and all synthetic fragrances. And some adults’ skin is sensitive to soap powder, so there you have my family in a nutshell. And not a soap nut in sight.

As for the environmental impact, well, that I’m not so certain on. The box of washing soda lists a wide variety of uses, and says they contain ‘no phosphates, enzymes or bleach, making them environmentally safe’. And soap? Soap is normal… right? Here is where I come undone, but with plans to experiment. My earlier mention of flooding the laundry was no exaggeration – we have the option of either running the water from the machine through the sink and into the septic tank, or into the downpipe which comes out under the deck. The landlord looked at the downpipe, declared it dodgy and recommended I run the water into the septic tank (the reason for the downpipe being that a lot of people don’t like to overload their septic tank with water). But after a few mishaps of leaving things to soak in the laundry sink, then turning on the washing machine and later finding a puddle advancing down the hallway led me to believe that the perceived dodginess of the downpipe was probably from repeated flooding of the laundry by misfits such as me.

But hey! It’s a hodge-podge greywater system! So I’m going to make a garden beside the deck, fill it with thirsty plants (maybe artichokes too) and see if they flourish. My basic theory on the laundry liquid I make is that it is so diluted it’s impact must be minimal, but let’s test that one out. Let’s see if we can grow cucumbers that taste like cucumbers. And not like soap. BUT if you have a laundry liquid recipe that actually feeds your garden without damaging the planet, whilst ticking all my clean clothes requirements, you should leave a comment…

*This ‘year’ thing is unscientifically proven. I last bought washing soda crystals sometime in 2010 and still have half a box, while the box of Lux flakes was purchased in January of this year and the previous box purchased in September 2009. Plus we had flatmates last year…

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Craft Fairs: a grumpy grrface

(Actually that’s not a grumpy face, but it hadn’t started at that stage. The fair I mean…)

Having sat (stood, actually) through five hours of Craft 2.0, I have come to a conclusion I suspect I knew beforehand, given my dread: I dislike craft fairs. Perhaps bullet points will be my friend here:

1. For my own craftiness, craft fairs do not work with my books. People like them, people look at them, some people comment on them, but nobody buys them. This craft fair, I employed the tactic of attracting attention with the pretty, larger spiral-bound books, but provided a mini, cheaper version for those that maybe couldn’t afford the bigger one, wanted a piece of the style but had no use for a journal, or who simply wanted a $5 gift. Still no luck. OK, some luck. I sold one spiral bound book and seven mini books to complete strangers. Other sales were to my mum (2), my mum’s friend (1) and Louis’ uncle (5 mini books). I have also – maybe – secured a swap with my favouritest children’s clothing maker in town, free range baby, who was also selling. But again, that was something organised by Louis, I am always too scared to approach people for swaps. Sum total: $62 of sales to strangers = not worth the hassle of the craft fair.

2. Craft fairs are horrible. Even when the crowds have eased, I find it virtually impossible to properly look at things I might want to buy. (And let’s not even think about the crowded nature of your typical Wellington craft fair). I did a trade with the lovely woman next to our stall before the fair¬†– three mini books for three cards – but once things got going I didn’t even purchase a cupcake! I just couldn’t handle it!

3. If I see another felted/knitted/crocheted/oldsock monster at a craft fair, I will scream. I think the world has quite enough of those now, thank you, and frankly, I’m surprised people are still making them. Say what you like about dated nana craft, I think each generation of crafters sets its own stylistic mousetraps and LET’S MOVE ON NOW PEOPLE.

But you know what I do like? It’s bullet point four!

4. At The Beach Store this weekend, I have sold two books! Sold, as in, they are no longer on the shelf. Sold, to complete strangers! And my remaining stockpile of mini books was snaffled gleefully by Bridey and John, who added another small sum to my hot chocolate and a ‘fluffy’ store credit tally. Having these two events in one weekend has really cemented my indecision about the business of selling my stuff. When it comes down to it, I really do prefer that other people do it on my behalf. Even if it means sacrificing that nice wad of cash for the delights of store credit.

5. I have tried very hard to keep this post diplomatic. Basically, craft fairs do not suit me, my product, my personality, nor my shopping style. I find that level of interaction exhausting, and the combination of bullet points 1,2 and 3 left me feeling rather depressed afterwards. Until I’d had two cups of tea, paracetamol and some corn chips, that is.

6. But you know what? Imogen, with her paper crane earrings, did very well at the fair. And because Imogen had put up posters, her stall fee was waived, which meant I could test the waters of Craft 2.0 without any financial commitment. And Imogen has offered to sell my books for me at future events, so that I may keep my face muscles relaxed and my nerves calm. And my screams of rage at felted monsters to myself, I mean, on the internet. So this post is really about Imogen’s generosity and persistence in having me sell my stuff next to hers. Thank you, Imy.


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