Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Though it’s been a long time since I posted about it, I finally henna’d my hair. And I love it :-). I used Logona Henna and would really recommend it to anyone wanting to give it a go. I had let my grey hair grow out for the last 4 or so months.

So I thought I would give those that are interested a blow-by-blow account of what I did.

They say you should have clean hair and it should be SLS shampoo free. So you can either buy product to strip out the yucks or give it a few days of bicarb action. Not a problem here, I’ve been no poo for ages but I’m an avid believer in colouring dirty hair. An old hairdresser friend told me colour takes better to dirty hair (and if you’ve ever had your hair dyed at a hairdresser you’ll know they don’t wash your hair before colouring it).

But I digress, I then mixed the henna with steeped black tea (which really draws out the colour).

Hair before (very grey)

Forewarning: using henna feels quite literally like putting mud all over your hair. There’s no other description for it. It’s a messy gloopy process (though I think once you’ve done it a few times it gets easier – a handy helper is also good – thanks Granny B). I used Moo Goo scalp cream around the edges of my face and ears to stop the henna staining / dyeing my skin.

I then put on the shower cap that comes with it and wrapped my hair up in a warm towel. I then left the henna in for 2 very long hours (well it felt really long to me LOL).

Now washing it out can only be described as “fun”. It looks like dirt all over the bottom of your shower. My hair (which is shoulder length) felt matted and dread like as I was washing it out. Luckily I was forewarned so I was ready with my trusty Moo Goo conditioner once it felt more or less washed out. I then ran conditioner through it and finger combed the rest of the henna out.

One final condition and my hair felt clean and great. I then air-dried it and it came out really glossy.

NB: I was turning the shower on and off during this process. I’m also told having a bath and soaking your hair in it is another way of doing it. But with a 3 year old and being time poor this isn’t an option for me.

The end result!!

The result has been great. My grey hairs have gone a goldey brown and look like highlights. My hair is really rich and glossy and feels great. In the pics you can see my hair inside and outside (but outside the flash makes the grey hair look much more yellow than it is plus it wasnt quite dry yet).

Would I do it again? You betcha – this is the only way I’m going to be colouring my hair from now on. I’d rather have grey hair than put anything toxic on my body or my hair anymore.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Pic courtesy of http://www.catalogs.com/blog/images/easter.jpg

Easter is nearly upon us and it is our 2nd Easter that Little B is aware of the event. We have already had a taste of it with the last day of preschool. There was an Easter egg hunt, easter baskets, hot cross buns and an easter hat parade. We solved this by making and providing Easter eggs for Little B to find and making and providing allergy friendly hot cross buns.

We aim for easter to be less chocolate-centric here at the House of B (for obvious reasons). For Easter, Little B gets one chocolate egg (home-made), a knitted beanie for winter and a book about Easter. From one set of grandparents, he gets a small wooden toy and the other have chosen a series of books, whereby he gets one to add to his collection each year.

We also spend Easter doing other things – lots of family and outdoors time, Little B and Granny B blow and paint real or paper mache eggs and we like to reinforce the change of seasons by working with him in our veggie garden.

Last year I melted and made chocolate Easter eggs using dairy, egg, soy and nut free chocolate. This year I made Chocolate Crackle Easter eggs (again dairy, soy, egg and nut free) and bought coloured foil to wrap them in. Very tasty and look great. Bonus is they are very easy to make.

Chocolate Crackle Easter Eggs

200g dark chocolate (we use 70% dark Cocolo chocolate)
100g dairy free butter, softened (we use Nuttelex)
5 tbsp golden syrup
100g crisp rice cereal (we use puffed brown rice)

  1. Place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir until melted.
  2. Remove tin from the heat and stir in cereal and golden syrup
  3. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture in Easter egg or shape moulds.
  4. Leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour to set.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- broad beans & carrots (the never-ending battle between me and the slugs)

- Mung bean spaghetti with veggies and butter, leek and basil sauce
- Hot cross buns that are safe for Little B to eat

Last one left out of 12 -  a bit too popular at our house J

- The low GI family cookbook by Foster-Powell, Manning, Brand-Miller & Sandall

- Attending the Apple Tasting Festival at Petty’s Organic Orchard. David Holmgren gave a great talk and Little B loved Peter Combe.

Earth Hour Update

So how did we go with “24 hours without power”? Quite well I thought J

We hit a small hiccup first thing in the morning with Little B’s porridge. I had pre-soaked the oats overnight and wasn’t sure whether he would eat it that way. But surprisingly he was happy enough to eat it, though not shy in telling me it didn’t taste nice LOL.

Then we spent a gorgeous day with Granny B, hanging out in the garden and playing with Little B. We cooked dinner out on the BBQ (something we don’t do enough of) – veggie shasliks, mock meatballs, lentil salad and baked potatoes.

Finally we wiled away the evening chatting to each other (and friends via phone) knitting (me anyway) and reading.

All in all, we had a really lovely day and night.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jam making escapades

I’m proud to say that I have embarked on jam making.

My first attempt has been organic pear jam. I have been using pureed pears as a “jam” for Little B on his toast so thought this should be our first port of call (NB: Little B can only eat bananas and pears).

Organic Pear Jam

1kg fresh organic pears (for 500g fruit)
1 ½ cups organic raw sugar
1 tbsp organic lemon juice
2 tbsps water
3 tbsp Jam Setta

·      Peel and quarter pears and add to pot

** Now I cheated and used our breadmaker for my first attempt as it has a jam making function. I have electric induction hot plates so cant make jam the traditional way as I cannot get the heat consistent **

Sterilising Jars

·      “Wash the jars and lids in hot soapy water, rinse and drain upside down on a clean cloth
·      Place on a tray in a cold oven
·      Turn oven to 110 degrees. When the oven reaches this temperature, turn off the heat and leave jars for 10 minutes
·      When cooled to warm, they are ready to pour in jam
·      Simmer lids in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and use dry”
(Excerpt from A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise)

The final product!!

I have to say the jam is delicious and I’m a complete convert now to this easy way of making jam. Little B loves it too. Next up is Mr B’s choice of jam contingent on what fruit I can get from our organic f & v shop. But Granny B and I will be able to make marmalade from our orange tree this year :-)

A really great book on preserving is A Year in a Bottle by Sally Wise.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Earth Hour 2010

I'm joining Meagan at EcoMILF in "24 hours without using power" to celebrate Earth Hour on Saturday, 27th March 2010.

Our earth hour resolutions are:
* we will keep all appliances off (bar the fridge for 24 hours) - this includes laptops, television, fans, washing machine.
* we will avoid using the car (unless an emergency should occur)
* all lights off for 24 hours (bring on the candles and hand wound lamps)
* no showers for this house either :-). Little B will be in grotty little boy heaven!! Actually Mr B will be in grotty big boy heaven LOL.
* I'm not as ambitious as Meagan (and its all a bit too complicated with Little B's allergies) but we will easily go vegetarian for the day.

I cant wait to spend the family time together and I'm always first on board to tune out from the buzzy buzz of hectic mainstream life (I so wish we were off the grid). Little B still goes to sleep before the sun goes down but I love reading by candlelight, and am looking forward to spending time with Mr B.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Garden Update

Disaster – a whole bunch of my seedlings where upended and destroyed by Granny B’s cat :-( Just means I have to start all over again with a few. But I’m so glad that we had already planted the majority of our current batch into the veggie patch.

As you can see from the pics we have the full compliment of seedlings in at the moment – peas, broad beans, beetroot, last of the spring onions and beans, leeks, pak choy, brussel sprouts– yum. I’d like to add some parsnips and garlic as well. I’m also not having much luck with the carrots. All the bare spaces are where our carrots “should” be. I’ll just keep soldiering on until we get some :-)

Did anyone see Costa’s Garden Odyssey this week? I’m very intrigued by using edible plants in my mainstream garden beds. I really like their use of thyme and gold marjoram as borders. We still haven’t come up with a replacement for the grasses out the front of our house. So along with the new passionfruit, I might make use of some of these ideas.

PS As a funny side note, you know you’re raising a green child when they net their Lego trees to stop the birds eating their fruit LOL.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- pak choy, beetroot, peas

- no planting today, lots of mulching and weaving home grown bamboo into the trellis for the beans and peas to climb

- Home-made gnocchi, organic tomato pasta sauce & yummy cheese
- Chocolate crackle easter eggs with organic fair-trade chocolate

- The Endless Forest by Sara Donati

- making an Easter bonnet for Little B's kinder parade this week, as well as allergy friendly easter eggs for him to find on the Easter egg hunt being held after the parade :-)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rocket ready to launch

Play School eat your heart out.

Mission launch in 10 minutes.....10, 9, 8..... :-)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Peppermint Magazine

I love fashion but these days confine myself to the gems that I can unearth in the 2nd hand clothes shops nearby. I used to love reading about fashion too but again am only interested in ethical fashion etc so thought that ruled me out magazine wise.

So I was really excited when I read about Peppermint Magazine on Sonia’s blog. This is my idea of heaven – a fashion magazine that supports my beliefs (ethical and recycled fashion). And its local not international which is even better :-)

I’ve yet to track down a copy IRL but have it down as a birthday gift I’d really like to receive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shrinking the bills

In line with my New Years goals, I thought I would update on our efforts to reduce water, electricity and gas usage:

  • Water usage – 56 litres per person per day

Our water usage is ever decreasing with each water bill. Getting rid of the dishwasher has actually reduced our usage by 15 litres per day. And a) our dishwasher was 3 star and b) we didn’t use it every day.

  • Electricity Usage – 9.43 kwh per day

This was our first bill at the new house and we use less power than the old house. This is great because this house is much bigger. But it does has a few things the old house didn’t have, like skylights, better passive cooling options (big slide windows and good cross breezes), and better sun access during the day.

  • Gas Usage – same old , same old

Not much during summer and many of our appliances are electric. But the old water heater has got to go sooner rather than later. One, its old and we’ve been told it has a short shelf life and two, I think the majority of this bill can be attributed to it (and in that case the bill is horrendous).

So we are on our way and we still have heaps more things to do that will help with reducing the bills.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison

- Pak choy, broad beans, carrots

- Faux gingerbread cookies
- Fresh organic vegie stock
- Lentil Vegetable Soup & Fresh Rolls

- Still knitting my arm warmers :-)

-  See below – too tired LOL

- Not so Lazy Sunday – in the last two days, I have moved over 160 bricks from one end of the garden to the other (and it’s a big garden)…only another 100 to go. Note to self – don’t buy a house with so much rubbish left over from previous owners!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lentil & Roast Vegetable Salad

For Sonia :-)

1 x 400g can organic green lentils
Roast vegetables of your choice (sweet potato, pumpkin, any root vegetable)
Good handful of baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons organic olive oil (or oil of your choice)
good squeeze lemon juice
1 teaspoon organic honey

1. Heat oven to 200 degrees, then mix root vegetables with 1 tsp oil and place on tray. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until soft.
2. Combine oil, lemon juice and honey to make a dressing.
3. Combine lentils, salad leaves in a bowl. Mix through roast veges when ready and toss through the dressing.

We have also done a variation of this with some oil, balsamic vinegar and mustard. It’s also really nice with cherry tomatoes mixed through.

Little B loves this salad without any dressing. The saltiness of the lentils and sweetness of the roast veges is tasty enough on its own, and I quite like it this way too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Brazil Nuts

Recently I was diagnosed with an adult onset brazil nut allergy. I’ve never been allergic to nuts but started eating brazil nuts recently after reading they were good for preventing headaches and migraines. After eating them for about a week, I started to get very itchy all the time. My face particularly but my whole body itched and it drove me nuts (excuse the pun).

I ruled out lots of things and then decided to stop the nuts. My first nut trial coincided with changing hair products so I thought that caused the itching all over my body that started after 30 mins. The 2nd and last trial, I was convinced it was the brazil nuts (so tried nothing else new) then had two brazil nuts. Within 10 minutes I was itching all over, my eyes started stinging and puffing, and I felt awful. Some antihistamines worked after 30 minutes and then I felt like I’d been hit by a mack truck.

My doctor has told me to steer clear of brazil nuts (and possibly all nuts). The fact that my reaction is getting worse each time and happening quicker is a big red flag that I could progress to anaphylaxis.

But it has put me into a bit of a quandary. I know that Little B has an allergy to peanuts though it is very mild. It is also thought that he will outgrow this before he is 5. But with my experience, I’m now very wary of doing nut challenges on him.

Latest addition to the toybox

After some successful ebay sales of a few of Little B's old plastic toys, we have a new addition to Little B's toybox.

It's a recycling truck from Green Toys. It's made from recycled milk jugs and is BPA and pthalate free. It also came in a recycled cardboard box (no plastic ties) and has cute little cut out recycling things (like newspaper, cans).

It's been a HUGE hit and Little B cant stop playing with it :-)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Garden Update

Our sugar snap pea and lebanese cucumber plants have been pulled and mulched into the garden. Our cherry tomatoes show no sign of abating and we have so many ripening every day. Our beans are the same, still charging along – even more so now that I have pulled out the sugar snap pea plants.

I’ve started planting our seedlings. The peas are in as are the beetroots. I’m working hard to stop the terrible snails from committing a massacre LOL. Our biggest stand off is the carrots – I have every barrier known to man in the way and I’m hoping they survive long enough to get some sturdy growth.

We were lucky on the weekend that the hailstorm didn’t do any damage to the veggie beds. More damage was done to the trees (lost branches, leaves etc). I’m very grateful as we saw that some people had suffered major damage to their gardens.

I have learnt though that where I had planned to plant our herb garden is out of bounds. Unless I want the herbs to float away in another potential flooding!! I was calf high in fast running water at the worst point. Instead I can only look at ornamental plants and possibly some fruit trees in raised beds.

Teddy Bears Picnic

We had Little B’s first food related event at kindy last week. The children had a teddy bears picnic and they all iced a teddy bear biscuit and then decorated them with sprinkles.

So I made faux gingerbread cookies and used a similar teddy bear cookie cutter. Then used some allergy friendly sprinkles by Nemar. The sprinkles were such a hit that the kindy will now only buy this brand as they don’t have any nasty colours, gluten or dairy in them.

But I’m very happy to report that Little B didn’t think his biscuit was any different to the others. Also the teachers were fantastic at explaining the biscuit beforehand just in case the other children noticed.

I’m very proud of the way they handled it and it reassured me that we had picked a good kindy for Little B to attend. I stayed and helped out as this was the first time they had done something food related with Little B and it was great fun (twenty 3 year olds playing with icing and sprinkles – there were a few that preferred to lick the very messy tables rather than ice the biscuits LOL) ☺

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lazy Sundays

** bit delayed by all the storms **

Artwork by Art Harrison

- broad beans, leeks, pak choy

- cherry tomatoes, beans, spring onions

- Grilled Fish and Roast Vegetable Lentil Salad

- I’ve started work on some woollen arm warmers. My first attempt, so will see how we go ☺

- Cleaning up from yesterday’s storm here in Melbourne. Our street flooded, part of our front yard flooded and our roof sprung a leak in 4 rooms (luckily two of those were the bathroom and toilet so tiles). The worst was our study – it was awash with water ☹

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Childhood Memories

I have great memories of my mum (Granny B) helping my brother and I build elaborate inside cubby houses from sheets and blankets. So what does a girl do when she is supposed to be working from home?? Build a blanket cubby house with Little B of course ;-) My excuse – it was hot ☺

Another reason though is that I like to spend fun quality time with Little B while he is at this age. He is so interested in imaginative and creative play that I delight in joining in with him while he stills wants me too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mission Impossible

I was told the other day by some mum’s that I have set an almost impossible mission for feeding my family. Our current guidelines for food shopping are:

1. First and foremost, allergy friendly,
2. Failsafe
3. Organic and if possible seasonal
4. Sustainable
5. Frugal (no more than $50 per week), and finally,
6. Fair-trade.

To be honest, the hardest ones of these are to be failsafe and seasonal. Little B can eat so few things (keeping failsafe) that to buy fruit and vegetables in season can be very hard at times. I solve this now by buying what I can in season and freezing it. Its yet another reason I want to get into canning and preserving.

But the rest are fairly easy. Allergy friendly is just the norm for us now (and I cook the majority of our food from scratch), we are blessed to have a very cheap organic and biodynamic grocer 5 minutes from home (which solves organic and frugal), and have a variety of places nearby to buy sustainable seafood (butcher for Lakes Entrance flathead and Aldi for canned red salmon).

The suburb we live in has a strong community feel and heartily supports fair-trade in a number of shops, so again this is a no-brainer. I think part of where we live contributes to the ease of what we buy but also because we aren’t willing to compromise on our guidelines.

It did take me a while to find an organic grocer that didn’t cost the earth. I now spend the same as if I didn’t buy organic, because this grocer believes in making organic food accessible to everybody (eg $2.75 for half a dozen free range eggs).

I dont like to think in absolutes - in my mind nothing is impossible (within reason - no Little B you arent a puppy). I'd rather work on ways that I can achieve what my aim / goals are. I guess after talking to these mum's my aim was to open their eyes to the possibilities, rather than give up at the first hurdle - real or perceived.

Please note, this message will self destruct in 10 seconds….. ;-)