Mint fly killers, sunscreen suggestions, bring back pot pourri - a recipe to try.
Meet my fly killers - three pots of mint! As you all know I've spent many a summer trying to get rid of the many flies which are attracted to my kitchen, mainly because of the hens outside. I really hate using toxic fly sprays so I've tried fly curtains so that my kitchen looks like a takeaway shop, ribbons soaked in citronella hanging off the lights, weird mixes of black pepper and flour which just went mouldy, boiling couldrons of malt vinegar and fly swats. None have really worked until my friend Faye Niccol from www.herbologynz.com
told me to try pots of mint. It just seemed too easy and to be honest I'd read about mint and other herbs repelling flies but couldn't see the logic in it (sorry Faye). Then I was in my favourite plant shop up on Ponsonby Rd and they had potted up glorious big pots of mint so I grabbed a couple. I took them home, counted six flies in the kitchen, put them on the windowsill and came back half an hour later to no flies. I went back up to the plant shop and bought four more. I now have three in the kitchen, one in the lounge, one in my bedroom and one in my office. And a week later, Not One Single Fly! My family have started avoiding the kitchen in case I ask them for the hundredth time "seen any flies?" And if I do see one I brush the mint leaves to release some of their minty goodness and the fly gets out of there fast. My husband likes having the mint handy for cooking too so it's win/win. I do encourage you to try a pot or two and let me know how you get on. This one's well worth passing on to your friends.
Keeping those babywipes off our shelves.
Some of you may have wondered what has happened to those manufacturers who supplied supermarkets with toxic babywipes which were involved in a nationwide recall after my book Mother's Little Helper
raised concerns. I'm not letting the issue drop and will be having a meeting with Sue Kedgley and Denise Roche from the Green Party on Monday to get some guidance and support. I want to the lack of interest our Health Department has in prosecuting manufacturers who knowlingly flout standards which ban a certain chemical and are able to put these toxic products in supermarkets because if they get caught they will be no action taken. Let's remember that these people were asking you to pay good money to wipe a banned toxic chemical IPBC on your newborn babies. Am I the only person who thinks that's a crime? I'll keep you updated on this issue as I work out what steps need to be taken next.
Coconut Tropical Sunscreen
I am just about to make a new batch of sunscreen for summer and a holiday I'm taking to Vanuatu in a few weeks. But this time I really want it to smell like the tropical sun oil I used to lather on in the 70s. You know that gorgeous smell of pineapple and coconut which just says SUMMER! the minute you put it on. So I've sourced some coconut oil from Lotus Oils which has quite a strong coconut smell and I'm also going to throw in a vanilla pod when I make it. You could add coconut, pineapple and vanilla fragrance but you'd be rubbing on synthetics which kind of defeats the purpose of making a natural sunscreen. If anyone has any other suggestions for giving it some chemical-free tropical madness please let me know. Also I spied this natural sunscreen
on a website which I have ordered to give to Gemma and Joel to use on our grand-daughter's Lila and Emmie. I really hate commercial sunscreen going on small kids and this one looks pretty safe. But I also know that not everyone has the time to make their own so this could be a good alternative. I'll let you know what we think of it.
Knitzknutz Knitting Club
I got a lovely letter fro Ailsa O'Brien who sends out a newsletter every two months full of patterns, stories and puzzles. It started as a means of keeping our knitting history alive by gathering together knitters from around New Zealand. She now as 230 members and charges just $20 a year. She sent me some back issues and I can't wait to sit down and give some of the patterns a go especially one for linen stitch which is really good for knitting blankets. If you'd like to subscribe you can email Ailsa at firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to her: Mrs Ailsa O'Brien, Unit 49, Rowena Jackson Retirement Village, 40 O'Byrne St, Invercargilll 9810.
I have to confess that I don't do much vacuuming these days. Mainly because we pay our daughter Hannah to clean the house once a week which gives me more time for hunting down pots of mint and getting into the garden! Recently I was told about how Electrolux has committed to collecting plastic which is endangering marine environments and turning it into vacuum cleaners. Read more here
. This vacuum cleaner (right) was designed by New Zealand designer Laurie Foon from Starfish, using an array of plastic collected from organised Electrolux beach cleanups around New Zealand. I've since been sent my very own green vacuum cleaner from Electrolux which is not only really quiet but made from 70% recycled material, has an energy efficient motor, is 92% recyclable itself and I was very impressed to see that 100% of the packaging was made from recycled materials. I like to see large corporations like Electrolux putting their money where their mouth is on green issues. It's all very well to implement green policies across a company but actually doing something like keeping our seas clear of plastic makes a tangible difference. Oh, and I've been vacuuming a lot more lately!
I was at the bach recently and a beautiful deep red rose has blossomed with the most amazing scent. I was immediately taken back to the 80s when every house seemed to feature bowls of potpourri and we all had to learn to say "popoori" and stop our drunk uncles from eating it thinking it was some sort of snack food! Potpourri is actually a very old tradition and I was wading through my latest purchase of old books and found a lovely old recipe written in tiny old-fashioned handwriting and so I've made some up using the fragrant rose petals. If you have scented roses you might like to try it too. It's a very natural way to make your house smell nice, or in my case my bach toilet which has always smelt a bit like an old man's pyjama pants - not that I actually know what that smells like but I can imagine!
"Gather flower petals, leaves and herbs. Spread on sheets of paper and allow to dry in a warm atmosphere for two to three weeks (not in the sun). To each cup of ddried petals add 1 tsp common salt, cloves, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg (all ground together), 2 tsp powdered orris root. Mix, cover and leave for a few days to mature. Crush mixture before filling bowls or sachets. Orris root is an essential fixative in potpourri and smells of violets.