I’ve been busy! Just reporting in on the month long Creative Challenge (only a week to go!), I’ve done pretty well this week. This business about being intentional about creativity, or thinking outside the box has been really great on several fronts. It’s taken me out of “making excuse mode” and put me into a “challenge mode”. Those who know me well know that once I challenge myself, I don’t back down, so great things happen when I become determined.
So here’s what I’ve tackled in this Creativity Challenge this week – and a few more words to explain the list (If it doesn’t interest you, scroll on…..I get that it’s not everyone’s thing);
- Challenge – reduce waste – put some thought into what we create and how to reduce it.
- Knit a pair of house slippers for my Grandson Flynn
- Bake using leftovers
- Forage for food in my garden (not the obvious food, but the stuff we don’t see everyday)
- Feed my pets right
1. REDUCE WASTE
As part of my quest to eliminate single use plastic from our (my) lives I’ve creatively reconsidered garbage (the landfill variety, not the recycle or compost variety) and how we create it and how we then dispose of it. What a hit that was! In 7 days we filled only 1/2 of a 10 litre garbage bin in the kitchen, bathroom and office. I walked our big wheelie bin up to the kerb tonight, with about 10cm of garbage in it! I stopped using plastic garbage bin liners. I found that if the bin has a bag in it, you don’t worry so much about what goes in there because you don’t have to deal with the sloppy, smelly mess right? So if the compost bucket is full, and you don’t want to go outside to empty it, you just throw those scraps in the bin. You just lift the bag out and put it in the big bin. The problem with that is that nothing ever decomposes in land fill, so we add to the problem.
But when you have to consider what’s going to be smelly or slimy and how you’re going to dispose of it, because you don’t have a bin liner in your bin, you re-think the whole consumption process. The compost heap has a new lease on life. Cooking quantities change so you don’t create as much waste. Spending goes down. Menu planning comes back so you can find ways to consume leftovers within 48 hours so you don’t have to throw them out. Packaging becomes a big consideration when you’re shopping if you have to consider how to get rid of the packaging and what impact that’s going to have. This challenge led to better eating, wiser shopping & less waste. SO GOOD! I’m so happy with this outcome.
2. Knit A Pair Of Slippers For Flynn
Doesn’t take too much describing, but I owed Flynn a knitted garment, after my last failed attempt at knitting him a hoodie/cardigan. I don’t know how I managed it, but in order for him to wear it, his arms would have needed to come from out of the back of his neck… not my finest hour, so I was pretty happy with this project and how they finished up. I handed them over yesterday and was rewarded with this cute thank you pic tonight!
3. Bake Using Leftovers
With thanks to Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersens, wife of the Ex-Queensland Premier, I whipped up a double batch of Pumpkin Scones today to share with my Mum for afternoon tea. Kinda ties in with my reducing waste quest. I had some leftover baked pumpkin that was headed for the compost in a few days. I was heading down the bake some biscuits track when I went to the fridge and found the pumpkin…. so glad I did. We’ve eaten 1/2 doz, sent another 1/2 doz home with Mum, and still have 15 begging to be eaten.
Here’s the link for the recipe: Lady Flo B-J’s Pumpkin Scones
4. Forage for Food In the Garden
I feel like I’ve discovered new territory this week. Who knew that a patch of totally out of control sweet potatoes would yield a whole new favourite vegetable. Ladies & Gents, let me introduce you to Camote Tops. The leaves that grow above the ground, attached to sweet potatoes that grow below the ground are quite simply amazing. They can be used in salad, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve been chopping and then wilting the leaves just like you do with spinach and they taste amazing. I’ve used them in most meals this week and they even made it into the home made pet food! Here’s a link if you’d like to know more about them and how to use them. Cooking with Sweet Potato Greens . If you’re close by, let me know if you’d like to try them and I’ll pick some for you!
I’d set myself a challenge of foraging for food that’s right under our noses. I’d done a bit of reading a few weeks ago about edible weeds and how so much of what grows is perfectly edible, we’ve just been trained to go fetch our food from the supermarket and pay huge prices for less than fresh produce. What I was reading was telling me that many of the common weeds that we pull out of our garden beds and toss in the garbage are the foods of our ancestors before we lost our ability to hunt and gather. A few months ago, I decided that with a bit of research, I’d find out what parts of the plants in my garden are edible, but specifically, the parts that we throw out, not the obvious parts that we eat. Aside from the obvious things like zucchini flowers & beetroot leaf, which I use in salads and also treat like spinach and kale, I was surprised to find that carrot tops are great steamed, or finely chopped into a salad and make amazing pesto! We now also use the leaves off the broccoli plants & with the next batch of pumpkin, I’m going to use the baby leaves & flowers off the pumpkin vines, having found info on how to use those too. Kudos to the interwebs, that helps me discover a whole new world in my own veggie patch & nature strip!
5. Helping My Pets Eat Right & Heal (not heel!)
My pets are all elderly. I have an 19 year old cat, a 14 year old cat and a nearly 14 year old dog. They have some of the same problems that elderly people have. Not all their bits work as well as they should. They’re cantankerous, they sleep alot and just like Nanna, tucked away in the the nursing home, they rely on their carer/s to look after them and feed them food that will keep them healthy, inside & out.
I’m ashamed to say that almost a lifetime of a steady diet of kibble (which the advertising tells us, is everything a cat/dog needs), hasn’t done my elderly pets too many favours. Just like people, too much grain in their diet has an adverse effect on their health.
Zeus, our dog is a fat bastard. I’m mean you could land a plane on his back he’s so wide. Aside from sleeping 18 hours a day, he also struggles with arthritis and farts alot.
Mia, the 19 year old feline matriarch of our furbaby family members eats all day, eats all her food, all Mia’s (the neurotic 14 year old cat) food and would eat all Zeus’s food too, except that she can’t get at it, because Zeus is an inside dog (yep, a Siberian Husky inside dog) and Mia is incontinent and not allowed inside anymore because she doesn’t respect my furniture! She struggles with a bit of arthritis too, but mainly, we all struggle with her attitude…. anyway, she’s as skinny as a beanpole, regardless of the fact that she eats twice her weight daily (yes, she’s been wormed). Anyway, with all their health issues, that slightly align with mine (not the incontinence bit, mine’s just LBL), I figured they needed the same types of considerations to achieve a healthy weight and to just eat good food that’s good for them. So, we’re ditching (or almost entirely ditching except for emergency days), the kibble from their diet and instead we’re switching to homecooked pet food.
Takes less than an hour every 2nd Sunday, costs about $7-$10 and makes enough to feed 2 cats & 1 big-arsed dog for 10-14 days. Bonus on their health, bonus on my pocket, heaven points for me. If you’re keen to do the same, hit me up for the recipe or just guess your way thru the process like I did. 2-3kg pet mince (all the nasty bits that people don’t like) from the butcher or pet supply store. 3 carrots, 1 potato (not too big), leafy greens (like sweet potato tops!), 1 zucchini, 1 table spoon of gravox (because they deserve some flavour treats), 1 cup rice, 2-3 litres of water. Brown the meat, stir thru the rice, gravox & veggies. Add the water. Pop the lid on, bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 30-40 min. Let cool, decant into jars or containers (not to big), and then sit back and enjoy your pets treating you like a God!