I’ve Been A Busy-Bee!

Aloha! I am back in my blogging chair after my husband and I decided we were well in need of a Babymoon: basically our final romantic, responsibility-free break before the two of us become a three-piece set! It has been really lovely though unfortunately this little Bowerbird has officially caught the ‘nesting bug’ and so relaxing turned more into renovating, decorating and gardening. Here is what we got up to.

Stormy Skies

We launched the trip with a family getaway to Yallingup. Unfortunately we probably couldn’t have picked worse timing weatherwise and we were pretty much confined indoors due to some fairly hairy storm activity. This being said, is there anything more humbling and gob-smackingly beautiful than a really stormy beach? Walking along it reminded me of one of my all time favourite songs ‘I Like Giants’ by Kimya Dawson (honestly… treat yourself to this chirpy little tune here).:

I’m smaller than a poppy seed inside a great big bowl.

And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole!

So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul.

But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado.

So I flip to my back and I float and I sing

“I am grounded, I am humble, I am one with everything!”

We did get a few rain free moments though;

And we also managed to fit in a few of my favourite pastimes of pregnant life. Namely… pancakes.

Lots of dECOrating

I never thought the ‘nesting’ phenomenon was a real thing but I can now categorically vouch for it. The greatest part is that you don’t need to sacrifice style or comfort when creating that dream eco sanctuary of yours. Over this holiday I have managed to score the most amazing treasures that are all low impact on the environment – in fact considering I have saved a lot from landfill they actually have done the environment a favour! I will be blogging more thoroughly about Eco Interiors later, but in the meantime here are some of my latest steals;

Finds, Frames and Family – Apart from the 7 black photo frames, everything on this wall has been found kerbside, in a secondhand store or one Gumtree. This was just a boring wall of nothingness and now it is full of treasures – each one with its own story. From my op-shop photo frames ($1 each) to the little brown suitcase that I found in the rain ($0) … this whole wall cost about $80.

The 60’s Buffet – We spotted this beauty on Gumtree for $80 and it was love at first sight. My husband and I are still in two minds whether to upcycle it to be more colourful (there is a certain charm in its original form) and we have already lost hours sitting together in front of it – cups of tea in hand – just pondering the possibilities. We will keep you posted.

Instagram @oliveonblonde

The Only Plastic Allowed In My House! I love colour and I am especially fond of blue! So this rug caught my eye for a number of reasons. Other than the gorgeous paisley pattern I was especially excited to discover it is made from 100% recycled straws. On our morning beach walks my husband and I pick up whatever rubbish we see (Take 3!!!) and I am always upset with the huuuge amount of straws I find. So turning trash into treasure married a lot of my favorite notions together into one bright, happy dream rug. You can see the whole selection of Fab Rugs here or read about them here. They are also reversible and because they are plastic can be used outside and hosed off if need be. Win, Win, WIN!

Instagram @oliveonblonde

The Trunk! – Without my glasses I am blind as a bat which makes me think that this little trunk belongs with me. I spotted it on a kerb, like a tiny snippet between two cars as we drove by at a fairly high speed. I mentioned that I thought I saw something great but the let it go as we were in a frustrating area to turn around. But the more I thought about it the more I knew there was a real diamond that was going to be scrapped so we turned around and I am so glad. This baby needs some love but I cannot wait to add some bright florals, clean up the metal and put it all back together. You literally pay hundreds for these in vintage stores!!!

Instagram @oliveonblonde

Oxfam 3things

I have also been spending a lot of time chatting to a lovely lady named Catherine from Oxfam. We have been chatting because I will now be their official blogger from the West posting about all things social justice, environment and general pop culture. 3Things is a fantastic initiative that asks everyone to consider this simple question;

What are 3things that you can do to help change the world?

It encourages everyday people to take matters into their own hands – ‘do stuff‘ and ‘learn stuff’.  Read all about here or maybe check out some of the 3things that everyday Aussies have committed to already (here). I am so excited to be part of the Oxfam team and after my training finishes will be blogging full steam ahead as of next week. What are your 3things?

Image courtesy of Oxfam

Creating An Edible Sanctuary

Just a light bit of reading.

What was once a fleeting aspiration has now developed into a full blown obsession – I dream of turning my despairing patch of grass into a plentiful, self-sustaining, wildlife sanctuary. This urge to grow all my own fruit and veg is a culmination of a lot of lifestyle choices – a desire to consume only organic produce, live plastic-free, have my daughter grow up foraging in our garden as well as saving our soon to be single-income. Besides these motivations though, there are also covenants attached to my grand plan. I want my garden to attract birds and bees with lots of native plants. I want it to be extremely water wise – this means goodbye to a fair share of the lawn! I want it to be a place that my family loves to be and spends most of our time together. And I want… for my darling husband… a pond that he can lose hours staring at!

Dreams in lead scratchings

I can’t wait to show you the progress over the next few months and prove to myself that you don’t have to be a green-thumb to be self-sustaining. I have already been out there with my beloved Dad turning my hundreds or sketches and measurements into realities. Unfortunately I may have pushed myself a little hard for a 6 month pregnant lass and that led to the final chapter of my holiday…

…Sick

As a constant reminder to listen to your body I am now very, very unwell. After such a busy busy holiday I am now bed ridden with a nasty cold, the return of the dreaded morning sickness and the onset of Braxton Hicks (which can come on from over-exertion – Whoops!). So (like the Wellness Warrior described in this post) I will for once listen to my body and remain cuddled in bed with my Pug and my Allen and take a bit of a Savasana. But I must say it has been great getting back to blogging (I genuinely miss it when I don’t!) and I can’t wait to share all my upcoming eco-adventures with you!

Perfect Summer Gingernade

Happy Last Day Of Winter!!! Summer is officially on its way which in Australia means some serious sun. Last weekend it actually peeked it’s head out of the clouds (just to let us know it was on its way!) and I made sure I took full advantage of it. I spent the day reclining on some awesome secondhand day beds we recently found and feasted on an amazing Vegan Platter (see that recipe here). The only thing that would have topped it off was some wine. But alas, I am pregnant, so instead I tried to make a drink so toe-tappingly tantalizing that I wouldn’t even miss the sweet grape nectar of the gods. I think I succeeded! Here is the recipe to my Perfect Summer Gingernade…

Ingredients

  • 1/3 Cup Ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 Cup of Raw Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 1/2 Cup Mint, finely chopped
  • 2 x Lemons
  • Water (approx 4 Cups)
  • Iceblocks, slices of citrus and some leftover mint to serve

Method

Put ginger, mint and honey/agave into a bowl or a container with a lid on it.

Pour 2 Cups of boiling water onto mixture and gently stir.

Let it steep (cover the bowl) for at least 30 minutes. I let mine steep over night so it was especially gingery!

Strain the liquid and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

When you are ready to serve, pour the liquid into a jug. Squeeze the juice of both your lemons into the liquid – I like my flavours bitey and strong though so maybe start with one and see how you like it! Then top up with 2 Cups of water to dilute the lemonade.

Serve with ice blocks, finely chopped mint and slices of citrus fruit! When I am allowed to enjoy alcohol again I am going to add sliced cucumber and Pimms for a really English affair. ENJOY!

A Plastic Free Platter (Vegan too!)

On my quest to live a life free of plastic I found myself wondering if having friends over for light nibbles would ever be an easy affair again. Have you ever seen a dip that isn’t found in a plastic package? Occasionally you find them in fancy glass jars but if you are on the run it can be virtually impossible. But – in keeping with all my learning’s from Plastic Free July – I have found that avoiding plastic can send you down the most interesting and delicious of pathways!

The challenge: a plastic-free platter that doesn’t break the budget and can be thrown together in an hour. Impossible you say?

Well I say “Get your sunglasses out because you are about to be dazzled!”

Dip #1: Zesty Guacamole

Fresh ingredients, ready to be mixed

  • 3 x Avocado
  • 2 x diced tomatoes
  • 1 x diced red onion (small)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ Cup Coriander, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Mint, chopped
  • 1 x red chilli, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional – 2 x spring onions

Method

  1. Cube the avocados in a bowl
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix together
  3. Garnish with coriander

10 minutes down… we’re on a roll….

Dip #2: Hummus

  • 600g canned chickpeas, drained, rinsed thoroughly (until the water doesn’t look bubbly)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2 if you like it zesty… i do! Highly recommend!)
  • Optional: Smoked Paprika and or toasted pine nuts to garnish

Method

  1. Place the chickpeas, garlic, olive oil, tahini paste, cumin and lemon juice in a food processor and process until combined.
  2. Add 1/4 cup (60ml) of water and process again until quite smooth.
  3. Place hummus in a bowl and dust with smoked paprika if you have it or toast some pine nuts and sprinkle on.
  4. Swirl with some good quality olive oil when served.

 …booyah! that one only takes 10 minutes too…

Dip #3: Fresh Herby Salsa

And mix it! Nom!

  • 6 tomatoes (or 500g cherry tomatoes)
  • 4 spring onions, sliced finely
  • ½ Cup coriander, chopped
  • ¼ Cup Mint, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of 2 limes

Method

  1. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Then dice the flesh.
  2. Gently mix with the spring onions, coriander, mint, chilli, ground coriander, cumin and lime juice.
  3. Stand for 30 minutes (to give the flavours some real zing)
  4. Note: If you like your flavours punchy then add more lime and chilli!!!

 … with some cheating with my food processor that one is down in 10 minute too… half an hour so far and we are almost done…

 Serve With…

If you can, get to a local bakery to get two big Turkish loaves – that way you can specify for it to be wrapped in paper. It is hard at other shops to find it in anything other than plastic! Then when my guests arrived I toasted the bread and sliced it up. The smell of fresh bread was gorgeous and got everyone ready to tuck in. And you thought I couldn’t do it??? This only took me 30 minutes and it was thoroughly enjoyed by all – even the dedicated carnivores. I even got excited and made my own plastic free Ginger, Mint Lemonade to go with it! Best thing was it only cost me $35 and I had enough salsa and hummus to last until the next day when we had more friends coming over.

MYO Cordial – Sugar free!

This is a platter that is utterly brimming with nutritional benefits, is free of the 3 p’s (packaging, palm oil, preservatives) and is all vegan! If you would like to make the trio of dips together I have added a little shopping list below;

Shopping List for entire platter

Fruit and Veg

  • 3 x Avocados
  • 8 x tomatoes
  • 1 x red onion (small)
  • 3 limes
  • 2 x red chilli
  • 1 x lemon
  • Bunch of spring onions
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • Bunch of Mint
  • 3 garlic cloves

Aisle

  • 600g canned chickpeas
  • Olive Oil
  • Tahini Paste

Deli Stores that Allows Bulk Buying – take your own container! 

  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Coriander
  • Pine Nuts – optional

Bakery

  • 2 x loaves Turkish Bread

Voila…

Radio Interview with RTR FM – Living Plastic Free

Sorry about the illustration quality… a quick lunchtime squiggle then rendered with a very outdated Paint program! :)

As I explained in yesterday’s post, I was recently contacted by RTR FM Presenter Peter Barr (Breakfast with Barr) wondering if I would come down to the studio to discuss Plastic Free July. My nerves almost got the better of me but in the end I am so glad I went in and had a chat. Beyond that I am so excited that living plastic free is on the radar!

If you would like to hear the interview the links are below;

Listen – Click here and then click the Listen hyperlink

Transcript Found here!

Interview Introductionhere

Olive on… Radio?

So… I bet you were thinking that now that we are in August my incessant blogging about Plastic Free July would stop? I apologise but it is set to continue for just a smidge longer… though on a different medium this time at least!

On Friday I was emailed by a lovely fellow named Peter Barr, kindly congratulating me on my month of being Plastic Free. What makes this email particularly blog-worthy though is that Peter Barr is the morning presenter on RTR FM (92.1fm) – an independent radio station here in Perth. Much to my surprise (and horror) he has invited me into the Breakfast With Barr studio to chat about the experience and (hopefully) inspire a few people to rethink their plastic habits.

I am ridiculously nervous about the whole affair and shortly after reading the email seriously considered running for the hills… naked and screaming. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But sanity prevailed (this time at least) and I reminded myself that the reason I created this blog in the first place was to start conversations about our habits, create a bit of an online community of information sharing, perhaps offer easy solutions and maybe even (if I really tried hard enough) encourage people to give these little changes a go in their own lives. So I decided that I really had to face my fear of public speaking and jump in.

Every man, through fear, mugs his aspirations a dozen times a day.

~Brendan Francis

Details

The interview was held Tuesday, 7th August 2012 as 8:30am WST on 92.1FM.

Listen to the Interview

The interview has been and gone and I can safely report that it went very well indeed. If you would like to hear a recording of it just click here to get all the links.

Thanks!

We Did It!!! Plastic Free July Is Over.

Sorry about the illustration quality… a quick lunchtime squiggle then rendered with a very outdated Paint program! :)

Well, we made it! Today is 1st August which officially draws to a close the Ehlers household’s Plastic Free July Challenge. What an unbelievable month it has been; challenging, eye-opening, exciting, comical and – at times – infuriating! If I tried to get down everything that happened to me this month then we’d need a virtual Falcor to ride through the Never Ending Blog-Story so instead I am going to try get this down to some fairly succint (for me anyway) points. Here is my list of moments and lessons…

Wins

The health kick! Pre-July I was convinced that I only ate wholefoods. Really, there were quite a few things that were slipping through – the sort of things that had numbers in their ingredients list. I have now learnt to make so many things from scratch (I have listed and provided links for some of them below!).

Chips and Gravy (or as I like to call it Yay-vy). My work friend and I like to have chips and gravy to celebrate Friday. We get it from a small deli that is always busy and sells many deep fried food-like substances. I did not think that they would be overly supportive of my challenge but they were amazing. They even started teasing my friend about the fact that he did not bring his own container. Win. Hot saucy win.

Fails

  • Berries. I have not been able to find any breed of berry (unless you count cherries) that is not somewhat plastic wrapped. Trying to recreate some awesome childhood memories, I researched ‘pick your own’ farms but there aren’t any in Perth – boo! I even visited three seperate farmers markets and called two organic delivery services to ask if I could have my berries sans plastic and have them reuse the container. Sadly they all said they would probably just throw away the container. Yeah I’d get them plastic free but that’s hardly the point is it? My only solution here is to grow my own… which I have been wanting to do for years now anyway so I guess I should count it as a win?
  • Straws. Those sneaky buggers got me every single time! When my lust for berries became too much I would head to our pub and get myself a berry mocktail. Maybe it was karma for cheating because every time I forgot to mention “No Straws” and not one but TWO would arrive with the drink. So pointless. I have now ordered some stainless steel straws to add to my plastic free kit.
  • Rice and/or Oat Milk. See below.

Funniest

For context it is important to note that I am pregnant. So imagine the face of my coworker when he asked me what I would do for plastic free milk and I cheerfully replied;

“I am just going to make my own and drink that”

His face was the most perfect mix of shock and disgust that I am giggling while I type. I was of course referring to trying out nut milk (like this recipe here). I didn’t have success with my cashew milk but I will continue to try other recipes.

Worst

Day 3. I spoke about it in this post summing up Week 1 but to recap; the true scale of the plastic dilemma we are in hit me. Hard. Sifting through the aisles and finding perfectly good glass jars shrink-wrapped in plastic, seeing plastic straws wrapped in plastic and not being able to see one trolley (bar mine) with reusable shopping bags in it. Too much for this hormonal little beast. But my mum (counselor/hypnotherapist/all-round awesome lady) has always told me that the 3rd of anything is always the biggest hurdle. For example it is very common for smokers or dieters to relapse on the third day, week, month or year. So maybe this was just that first hurdle?

Apples belong in tummies and trees NOT plastic

Frustrating

Week 2 brought us Ehlers’s a real challenge. Hubby’s birthday meant we had to host 3 seperate dinner parties for the 3 sets of parents. First lunch, Parent “A” asked what they could bring. Feeling awkward about it anyway my hubby explained the challenge and then suggested a garden salad; knowing that was Level 1 in terms of plastic free ease. A plastic wrapped lettuce, a punnet of mushrooms, two polystyrene trays of tomatoes and mandarins all carried in a plastic bag. Jaws literally hit floor. Not one of those items needed to be in plastic… in fact they are the easiest items to get without!

“All great changes are preceded by chaos”

                                                             -Deepak Chopra

Parent “B” is equally well-intentioned and will never leave my house without lamenting that my fridge looks scarce and then proceeding to fill it with whatever goodies she can find (read; packaged nom noms). First world problems? Entirely. In no way am I anything but grateful for the fact that we have such generous, beautiful parents looking out for us! What I am frustated about is that for Parent A and B (who don’t have the word PLASTIC running through their mind 24/7 x 365) these choices were the easiest and most acceptable choices. This perceived convenience is a farce – having more rubbish in your home that has taken time and energy to create and ship is not more convenient than handling only loose produce and putting the peel in your compost. We need a massive paradigm shift!

Innovations

I have concocted and experimented and facilitated and implemented so many little innovations in my life and home that I have decided to dedicate part of my blog to it. When I get a spare minute I will be changing the menu’s and have a designated plastic category that will be chock-a-block full of resources, recipes and ideas. Here are some of the changes I have made – they won’t be the last!;

  • DIY Toothpaste – this is a winner. See the recipe here.
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Products. Good for you, good for the environment! Recipes here.
  • DIY Deodorant – easy and so much healthier than the chemical alternatives! Recipe coming very soon.
  • Lots of beauty products like this Facial Cleanser (made from cucumber!) or this simple herbal toner!
  • Get yourself a wrapping pile! I managed to wrap this present using only waste paper that I have save from previous occassions.

  • Or you can make pretty wrapping out of old magazines like this one!
  • Paleo (grain and dairy free) Pizza Crust. Recipe coming very soon.
  • We very rarely put any rubbish into our green bin now and we reuse so much more – whether it is plastic or not! We have a bucket plus a Bokashi Bin for our green waste so we can compost it and use it to enrich our soils. We have a bucket for recyclables. We have storage space for reusables. You would be amazed at the things you can make from old aluminium cans or toilet rolls. Will share the photo’s soon.

Getting a small green waste bin makes it easy to put on your kitchen bench while you cook. Just put the scraps in there and then ferry out to your compost bin! Simple.

Habits

The best new habit I have adopted is certainly “Take 3”. Readers of this blog will be aware of my long standing admiration for environmentalist Tim Silverwood (follow his blog here) and his organisation, Take 3. Quoting directly from their website

“the Take 3 message is simple: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or… anywhere and you have made a difference”

Rubbish from a 30 minute beach walk. TAKE 3!!!

How simple. I always used to take whatever plastic I could hold from the beaches but not I take down a reusable bag and fill it while I walk (whether I am on the beach or not). It only takes one plastic bag to kill a dolphin so I know I am making a difference. I love this campaign by Take 3;

(Here is one my favorite posts from Tim. This post really inspired me to be a bit brave and approach people that I see doing the wrong thing. Be strong and try to educate. Some people may just be oblivious… others may just be old dogs).

Advice

Assemble a Plastic-Free Survival Kit

Make sure you always have on hand whatever plastic free alternatives you may need – a BYO coffee cup, your own knife and fork, your own food container (for chips and yay-vy), a water bottle and/or reusable bags. If you don’t want to lug them around leave the pack where you need it ie; your car or work desk.

Find Great Suppliers and Support Them.

Once you find those stores/suppliers that help you live plastic-free support them! Firstly, it makes it easier on yourself. Secondly, it sets the example of voting with your dollar. It also makes me feel like my grandma must’ve – you know, where they knew suppliers by their first names and actually conversed with them about the produce. My husband will always support our local butcher because they were so supportive of his challenge… one of them went absolutely gang-busters and threw his plastic gloves to the wind and was in there with his hands. A madman – but funny nonetheless. I will but a list up in the coming weeks of the best places to shop plastic free in WA. I will always patronize Planet Ark in Fremantle and Kakula’s  Brothers and Sisters (Perth and Freo stores, respectively). This being said while your ol faithful’s should be supported it is also vital that we…

Speak Up. 

Being interviewed for Western Earth Carers, reflecting on my journey.

I was SO inspired by the Western Earth Carers regular ‘Plastic-Free’ weekly newsletter that was circulated to keep our spirits high. Within one of those newsletters (which for the life of me I cannot find in my inbox) were stories about people who had seen unnecessary plastic being used and had written to the companies to explain why this was a problem and suggest alternative solutions.  If companies do not know there is a demand for something they will not change it so make sure you let them know. This inspired my husband to write to the brand he uses for his Ventalin (and unavoidable plastic casing). He wanted to know why it was that they cannot just provide the canister new to be inserted into the plastic shell rather than having to throw it all away each time. I will update you as soon as we hear back.

Future

Now that it is August I guess I could lock all these experiences away in a dark dark memory box and pretend it never happened but the reality is I am forever changed. I have had a plastic wake up call and I don’t want to go back now. In fact I think that a month is actually the perfect transition time. It takes a month for all your little changes to really settle into an effortless routine.

The big change I have taken from this is a serious interest in ‘growing my own’. My husband and I are planning an entire week off this month to turn our garden into an edible sanctuary. Before I was formulating so many different ideas and options for the layout that really I was just procrastinating the whole plan into oblivion. What a great kick in the butt.

SO… I’d love to hear from you. How did you go? Challenges? Best changes to your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments…

If you liked this article you may like some of my other plastic related posts…