Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bulk Food Savings Mt Eden - Zero Waste food options

Photo credit:
Today I visited Bulk Food Savings in Mt Eden. I wanted to see what food I could purchase there from the bulk bins to take home in my own containers, since I'm trying to go zero waste.

I took photos of all the bulk bins and here I'm just going to list what they contained so that I (or anyone else who wants to shop at Bulk Food Savings zero waste) will know what's available.

The store manager I talked to was really helpful, and good about weighing my containers before I filled them so he could adjust the price to take them into account. It was a bit of a hassle for him, but he didn't seem worried. He told me they used to have a lot more bulk bin options, but it's actually cheaper these days to buy the food prepackaged in smaller quantities, as that's how it gets shipped by the big companies.

I was still pleasantly surprised by how much is available sans-packaging, although I'm disappointed there aren't liquid options as I'm looking for ways to fill up my condiments.

The food items I bought only came to about $13, and that got me lots of sunflower seeds, baking soda, raw sugar, chocolate drops and pinto beans.

I did, however, splash out on a big bottle of Dr Bronners Castile Soap (pre-packaged in plastic, sigh), as I want to use it for shampoo, hand soap, body wash and possible cleaning product concoctions.

I washed my hair with it this afternoon and only needed a small amount, so I think it will last a while. I didn't use conditioner with it, and my hair feels good, so I'm hoping that's my hair care sorted and I can just do without conditioner here on in.

Bulk Food Savings Mt Eden - Zero Waste food options
Almonds Sliced
Peanuts raw
Peanuts blanched
Walnut pieces
Brazil nuts
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Toover Dhal
Moon Dhal
Chana Dhal
Yellow split peas
Green split peas
Soup mix
Mung beans
Baby lima beans
French green lentils
Red split lentils
Brown lentils
Blue peas
Pearl barley
Chick peas
Barlotti beans
Cannelloni beans
Pinto beans
Black eye beans
Black turtle beans
Haricot beans
Pink beans
Small read beans
Red kidney beans

Chocolate - white buttons
Chocolate - dark buttons
70% Dark chocolate kibble
Chocolate chips
Chocolate bits
Chocolate buttons
Carob powder
Drinking chocolate
Caster sugar
Icing sugar
Custard powder
Baking powder
Baking soda
Maize cornflower
Tapioca starch
Polenta fine
Soya flour
Gluten flour
Potato flour
Coconut chips
Coconut shredded
Banana chips
Golden raisins
Apricots Turkish
Fruit cake mix
Crystallised ginger
Pineapple diced
Papaya diced
Apricots diced
Oat bran
TVP chunks (I don't even know what these are???)

I also visited Commonsense Organics today and took photos of the bulk bins there, but I'll share that list another day. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Going zero waste

Confession time.

Over the past couple of years I stopped thinking about how much rubbish we were chucking out each week. Caring about it went into my too-hard basket and I don't even know why.

If I had to guess, I'd say it had something to do with me feeling overwhelmed in my role parenting three kids. That thing people say about the leap from two to three children being bigger than the leap from one to two is so true.

I actually got rid of our cloth nappies and wipes (too stinky) and haven't been giving ANY thought to what plastic packaging our food and resources come in.

On the positive side, I have kept up with composting and recycling where possible, and grown the eensiest, weensiest vege garden you ever did see.

Last week I had a lightbulb moment though, after reading Madeleine's post about slow living at NZ Ecochick and clicking through to the various books and blogs she recommends.

I don't HAVE to live like the world has an endless supply of plastic and it doesn't matter what happens to it after I'm done with it.

After watching everything I could find by Zero Waste advocates Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer, I decided I wanted to try this Zero Waste thing. I think I've watched YouTube clips on both these gals before, but not been in the space to contemplate Zero Waste for my own life.

It helps that I was on holiday last week, at the beach, in a beautiful bach with beautiful views. (Check out the view from the herb garden I posted up top.)

It also helps that it's a New Year and I want to give it my best this year.

Last year was incredibly difficult and draining for me, but I was supported through it by several amazing women and I feel like I'm starting off 2016 in a much better head space.

Before I go any further, you might want to check out the definition of Zero Waste on Wikipedia, if it's an unknown term for you.

For me it's a goal to aspire to and I'm going to give it my best effort.

For now we are still producing our normal (but should it be normal?) amount of landfill waste because I'm using up what's in the house food-wise, and a lot of that is packaged in plastic. I'm going to try and clear out our pantry shelves as much as possible, over the coming weeks to use up what we already have before bringing in new food.

I will keep purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables as we need them though.

Speaking of, have you seen how many fruits and vegetables come packaged in plastic? Cherry tomatoes. Out. Telegraph cucumbers. Out. Even Good bananas have a big plastic Good tape around them. What's an environmentally conscious girl to do?

In time I'm going to become very familiar with what's available from the bulk bins at my local stores, and also what I can buy direct from the deli and butcher to bring home in my own containers.

Looking in our rubbish bin, nappies and wipes are a huge source of our trash. I usually put S in a night-time nappy, because we've been dealing with major bed-wetting problems that I didn't have the energy to deal with in the middle of the night (night after night). Tonight, however, I chucked the Brolly Sheet on her bed to save one nappy from the landfill.

I'm also going to try and give J more nappy-off time during the day, to see if that gets the ball rolling for toilet training.

Check this out...

While at the beach, I raided our bach's vegetable garden for lots of spinach and silverbeet, which I boiled up quickly, chopped finely and froze in little bundles so I could bring it home to Auckland (in a re-used plastic ziploc bag - I tossed up whether that was Zero Waste. I'm reusing. Tick. But it's plastic. Cross. But I plan to keep reusing it as long as I can. Tick.). Shout out to my mother-in-law for planting a vegetable garden at the bach!

Paul took the kids blackberry picking in the empty section next door. They loved it! And it was sweet comfort to me because I was standing there thinking, where am I going to get my berries from? The frozen ones all come in plastic bags. And then Paul rocks up with cups-full of sweet (free) blackberries. None of them made the trip home, sadly, as they were all gobbled up, but hopefully I can find somewhere to go berry picking in Auckland before the season is over.

This little guy could NOT get enough of the blackberries.

We got home from holiday yesterday and I immediately started decluttering. It's part of the process of going Zero Waste. It frees up space and time in your home, and it sends the things we don't need to be re-purposed elsewhere, so there's plenty out there for Zero Wasters to buy second hand.

A car boot load of clothes from me and the kids went to raise money for Child Cancer Research today. I call that a good day.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Crispy chana dal recipe

The New Year is upon us and I find myself wanting to eat healthier after over-indulging during the Christmas period.

This morning I've been perusing favourite websites and recipe books, getting inspired and menu planning for the coming week.

I really should have done it yesterday, before the big grocery shop that restocked our cupboards after the holidays.

But I didn't.

So now I'm making do and getting creative with what I have, which is actually quite fun.

I was checking out this lovely looking soup recipe by Andie Mitchell and wanted to make it, but realised I don't have chickpeas in the house. I do, however, have frozen chana dal in the freezer, so I pulled that out and made this delicious crispy chana dal.

  • 2c cooked chana dal* (or tinned chickpeas)
  • 2T olive oil
  • 2t ground cumin
  • 2t dried oregano
  • 1t smoked paprika
  • 2t ground dried onion
  • sea salt to taste
(Feel free to experiment with the herbs and spices you love.)

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F.
  2. Drain chana dal (or tinned chickpeas) and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a bowl mix chana dal with 2T olive oil, 2t ground cumin, 2t dried oregano, 1t ground smoked paprika, 2t ground dried onion and sea salt to taste.
  4. Spread in a single layer on an oven tray and bake at 200°C / 400°F for around 30 minutes or until crispy but not burnt. Stir and flip once during cooking. 

Allow to dry and store in an airtight container. Use as a garnish on soups and salads.

I'm off to eat my delicious soup topped with crispy chana dal.

* How to cook dry chana dal
Sort and rinse before cooking. Add 2-1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of Chana Dal Beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 25-35 minutes.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Crafty projects around the house

With baby J getting older and more independent, I've had a bit more time and energy to tackle crafty projects around the house.

I love perusing home design blogs like Centsational Girl, Swoonworthy and Style by Emily Henderson, so this year I decided to get my arty butt back into action and do some stuff.

I was never happy with this one particular wall in our lounge. The sconce and wall switch in the centre of it meant any big artwork had to sit off to the side. We had a big painting on the left for a while, but it always nagged at me how unbalanced it looked.

This year I decided to change it up to a gallery wall.

First I checked out Emily Henderson's Guide to a well hung gallery wall and then got busy with existing artwork we already had around the house.

The four large canvases are paintings by my hubby, the centre flower is a tapa cloth artwork we picked up in Fiji, and the other two small paintings were done by Miss S. I framed the three small pieces in white frames to bring some cohesiveness to the wall. As you can see, the colour scheme I was going for was coastal blues and white.

For the lounge I also wanted to freshen things up with some new cushions, so I made this one out of vintage curtain fabric from our bach. It usually sits on our couch with a couple of large, plain turquoise cushions.

I also made two of these floral cushions which are patterned on the front, and blue satin on the back. They usually sit on the two armchairs in our lounge and I love them. In this photo the colours don't look quite right. Those red flowers are more of a peach colour and the pink flowers normally really POP.

Our front entrance area was a bit of a mess, with shoes everywhere and only a little bookshelf tipped on its side to store them in. It never looked tidy, so when I saw Miss L's school giving away the silver bench below, I nabbed it and then kept my eyes open for some baskets that would fit under it for shoes.

I found these blue/green plastic, basket-weave tubs with lids at Kmart and thought they would be perfect. They so are!!! L and S have one basket each, and I share a basket with baby J. Husby-heart doesn't need one since he wears the same shoes every day. 

The cushions sitting on the bench are ones we already had. I did have plans to make a foam squab covered in the same floral fabric as the two matching cushions in the lounge, but haven't got around to it and the cushions are working fine for now. They give us a soft place to sit while we put on our shoes. 

The walls on either side of the window were blank for a long time. I didn't notice too much because I love looking out the window at all the greenery. But then I decided I wanted a mirror so we could check our appearance before leaving the house, and I also wanted some artwork in there for a bit of colour and interest. 

I bought the bamboo mirror at our local op shop. It was a lot bigger in the space than I had anticipated, by the time I got it up. Should've measured first! But it does the trick. I haven't decided whether I'll leave it natural bamboo, or paint it. For now I'm leaving it. What do you think I should do?

I created the following oil painting over a couple of weeks in our garage (oil takes a long time to dry!). It was very much inspired by these Swoonworthy paintings I love, although hers are a lot bigger and done in acrylic paint. I'm keen to do another abstract painting to go with it, and balance out that wall against the big mirror on the other side. 

In the dining room, our glass dining table came to a sudden, crashing end when Miss S tried to shift it and the whole top fell onto our hard tile floor.

I wasn't interested in spending $1000+ on a new table, so kept my eyes peeled for one when the inorganic rubbish collection did its rounds in Auckland this year.

I spotted a wooden table that was missing its top but had lovely heart-wood legs. It seemed the right size for our dining room so I chucked it in our big car (with the help of a friendly passer-byer) and brought it home.

Next step was figuring out how to build a top for it. With some advice from my handyman friend, Lou, I bought the supplies I needed and set to work building a table top in our garage. It wasn't a difficult process, and I just did it in short bits of time over a few months as I could. This is the end result...

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. It was a little bit wobbly for a while, but another handyman friend, James, took a spanner to the bolts underneath and tightened them all. Now it's solid as a rock so I'm thrilled.

Outside the house we hired a builder from church to build a gate and little bit of fence for us by the letter box so that the whole yard would be enclosed and I could let baby J play outside without worrying about him escaping onto the road.

It has been amazing for my peace of mind.

The builder we hired hates painting, so he left that part to me. Painting pickets is a fiddly process, that's for sure, but it felt good to be doing something constructive for the house, and it looks so nice I can't help admiring it every time I pass through.

What crafty projects have been going on at your house?

Monday, September 21, 2015

To-do list magic

It's happening. The To-do list is back.

I'm attempting to get more organised in life, as I feel like I'm constantly flying by the seat of my pants, dropping the ball and never getting everything done that I want to.

Last night I spent a couple of hours perusing homemaking blogs, hoping they would re-inspire me in this role of mine.

It really helped.

I pulled out a little A5 clipboard and started menu planning (based on what we already have in the kitchen as I'm not going grocery shopping this week), and I started a To-do list.

Today that To-do list kept me super focused and motivated, and I accomplished almost everything on it. I've just got a bit of baking and breakfast prep for tomorrow still to do (circled in the image above).

How do you keep yourself on track? Do you use a To-do list too?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Baby J is turning two

Arrested for cuteness.
I don't know if I should still be calling him Baby J, since he turns two next month, but a Mama's gotta hold onto the baby stage as long as possible. Especially when this is her last bubba.

With the girls, I tried to record some of their developments from this stage of life, so it's high time I did the same for baby J. Just because he's the third child doesn't mean he has to miss out on all records and photos of his life.

1. Words and sayings
The Three Amigos pulling funny faces.
This lil guy has SO many words and sayings, it's impossible to record them all here. Since about 21 months, he's been giving any word a go, and often surprisingly accurately, so his vocabulary has sky rocketed. Here are some of his more common words and phrases:
  • "Thomas pooter" - means he wants to watch Thomas the Tank Engine on the computer. Duh.
  • "Batman there!" - said whenever he sees Batman, Darth Vader, or a man wearing a motorcycle helmet. Our car has also become the "Batman car", because of its dark colour.
  • 'Nono" is Noddy, who J loves to watch on TV, read books about at creche, build houses for out of Duplo and draw pictures of.
  • "This my Mummy!" - if Mummy is giving too many cuddles to the sisters or holding another baby.
  • "My, mine, mys" - talking about himself and his things, obv.
  • "Meow" - all cats are "Meows" to J, who corrects anyone that dares call them a cat.
  • "Pease" Please - used at all the right times. This week I got a lot of, "Cuddle pease?" as J was feeling so sick with a vomiting bug and just wanted his Mummy to hold him. 
  • "Hungy" - Hungry (this was a heartbreaker this week, as he kept on throwing up and then complaining that he was "hungy".
  • "Tank ooh" - Thank you
  • "Dat one dere" - That one there.
  • "No! Smith pop pop." - blaming farts on his cousin when I ask J if he has filled his pants.
  • "Yay!" - said whenever Mummy agrees to one of his requests.
  • "Where's the remote Mummy?" - because it's time to put Thomas on. 

2. Developments
  • Bed - J went into a big boy bed a couple of months ago and is loving it. It's a King Single, so big enough for Mummy or Daddy (usually Mummy) to lie down next to him as he drifts off to sleep. This is something he always requests, saying "Mummy piyo" as he pats the pillow next to his where he wants Mummy to lie.
  • No more naps - J dropped his daytime sleep at 21 months - just didn't need them anymore. I tried to fight it, but gave up when I realised he wasn't going to budge and it made night-time sleep so easy to achieve.
  • Toilet training - We are in the very early stages of this and won't embark properly until the weather warms up, but J has practised climbing up onto the toilet and can sit himself on it without help. When the weather warms up, he will go around with nappy and pants off at home so he can start connecting the dots between a full bladder and toileting. 

3. Interests
  • Toys - J loves building with Lego or Duplo, and he's just discovered Thomas the Tank Engine, so chances are he'll be getting some of that for his 2nd Birthday. He calls all trains "Thomas" and corrects anyone who tries to correct him. J loves to sleep with soft toys, and has lots of teddies and furry animals in his bed with him. 
  • TV - J discovered the TV a couple of months ago, and now wakes up every morning wanting to watch Thomas, Noddy or Postman Pat. It's been a godsend this week, as all three children have had the vomiting bug, but I'll be glad when everyone is better and we can get out and about again.
  • Swimming - although he hasn't done any official swimming lessons, J has been watching his sisters' lessons for the last year and picked up quite a lot. In the bath he blows bubbles, kicks his little feet and happily floats on his back. We went to a pool party recently and J swam in the pool with Paul, but kept pushing Paul's hands away because he wanted to swim on his own. He had lots of fun jumping off the edge and into the water, going under every time with no worries or fear, before Paul lifted him back up.
  • Painting - I've set up a painting area in our garage, which J absolutely loves. 
  • Drawing - J draws these amazingly detailed pictures, with lots of circles and small shapes completely covering his page. He also likes to draw on walls, which I'm always trying to prevent. We have to keep pens out of his reach, because they are impossible to get off the wall. Everything else comes out with Jif, thank goodness.
  • Reading - J loves to look through books by himself, but doesn't often let me read them to him. He's more likely to let Daddy read them, and they look so sweet reading together.
  • Playgrounds - J loves the adventure playgrounds at his big sister's school, and will happily climb ladders, walk the rope bridge and wobbly bridge, and slide down the slides.

4. Personality
J learns by watching and imitating others. It is amazing how observant he is, and the things he has already picked up. It makes him really helpful because he copies me and knows to put rubbish in the bin ("bim" he calls it), put his dishes on the bench and his toys in the toy baskets.

This boy of mine is super sweet, helpful, cuddly, funny and delightful. I woudn't change him for the world. Happy (almost) Birthday baby J. We love you to the moon and back.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Vanilla smoothie recipe

This vanilla smoothie is my childrens' absolute favourite flavour.

They request it nine times out of ten and always guzzle it down. It's really a banana smoothie with vanilla flavours, but if I call it banana, my kids don't want it as much.

I like to make a big amount so all three kids all have a full cup, and I can use the leftovers to make ice blocks and smoothie pouches in these nifty Kai Carriers for lunch box fillers.


  • 3 bananas, fresh or frozen (frozen will result in a thicker, creamier smoothie)
  • 1c vanilla or greek yoghurt
  • 1/4c milk kefir, optional
  • 1/4c pouring cream
  • 1-2c water or almond milk
  • 3T vanilla protein powder 
  • 1t vanilla essence


Cut bananas into thirds and place in a blender with all the other ingredients. Whiz on high speed until smooth.

Serve immediately.