I grow vegetables to feed us, make natural ingredient creams, lotion and shampoo, cook all meals from scratch and detest E numbers. I live in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand

Archive for the ‘Natural Skin Creams’ Category

Easy method to clean oven trays.

I am sitting feeling a tad sorry for myself today. For the 2nd time I have had same ingrown toenail removed. The surgery was done early this morning and the painless injection is starting to wear off, so I need some distraction. I got myself  all settled out on the patio in the sun, and wouldn’t you know it…. it clouded over. Ever have the feeling things are against you? Well the toe will heal but it does take a few days to settle down.

Last week, I made up more of my Homemade Gel Toilet cleaner. As per usual I made a mess on the bench getting it into the dispenser bottles, so I wiped it up and sat the cloth on the dirty oven rack I had sitting on the bench, needing attention. After finishing the gel I went back to tidy up and took the cloth off the rack and was astonished to find, that where it had been sitting, was no longer greasy brown, but spotlessly shiny. The little grey cells started churning and I put some cleaner on a clean damp cloth and left it another 10 minutes. Again…. it was spotless under it. Hmmm, I thought, this has real possibilities.

I grabbed my phone and took a photo of the disgustingly filthy trays. (hiding my face in embarrassment) …………


Not quite sure how I could cover the whole tray at once, I wondered how immersion would go, so I filled the sink with very hot water and added 3 Tablespoons full of my Toilet Gel Cleaner and swished it around. I sat the tray in the water and left it for about 10 mins then lifted it out.  I had done nothing other than soak at this stage and he is what I found….


The grime was just falling off. I grabbed my trusty little dish brush and gave it a gentle rub. I won’t say scrub, as no hard work was required. …………


I quickly repeated for the other end and the job was done. I finished the job without the usual broken fingernails and bruised knuckles and associated cursing. There was no hard rubbing or scrubbing, it all just brushed off and washed away.

I did find this worked a lot easier by having the water pretty hot. It is no longer a job I will leave until its a real mission as this was just so simple.

Yet another use for my Toilet cleaning gel.

I managed to get some salad oil spilled down the front of my nice light grey cotton tee shirt the other day. I was not able to change so had to just leave it for several hours until I got home. I knew it was going to stain and wondered what I had that might dissolve it. I grabbed my toilet gel dispenser and spread a little of it on the shirt, rubbed it together and tossed it into the washing machine and forgot about it. The next day it went through the normal washing cycle and as I hung it on the line to dry, I remembered the satin and looked, but could see no trace of it. I looked again once it was dry and ALL traces of the stain had gone.

I wonder what else it might work on. I’ll keep you posted.



Where has all the time gone – I’m Baaack

I am shocked to find it is nearly 3 yrs since I posted on here. Many times I have intended to do a post, but there always seemed to be something more important. You know how it is, don’t we all have ‘gunna do’ lists or ‘roun’tu’its’ that we never get to?? Now that I am here, I realise how much has happened and I am not sure where to start.

Two years ago we moved house. Not just to a new house, but to a different town too. We lived in Timaru previously, a small city on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The house was cold and damp and had a lethally sloping section and the landlord was talking about putting our rent up substantially, or selling the house. We could not afford the new rent and because the house was so cold, the section unusable in winter, and they had imposed restrictions on gardens, we decided to look elsewhere. We were very lucky to find a brand new town house unit to rent in a town half an hour south for considerably less rent than we had been paying.

So I now live in Waimate, a small rural town of about 2700 people, half an hour South of Timaru. Our new home came with a bare section with no grass or topsoil. The landlord said he would bring in topsoil and supply grass seed, but anything else we wanted done, was up to us. As the unit was built for retirees (ok am not quite there yet but getting close), it is long term lease so it has been fun setting up a garden from scratch. I have my beloved vegetable gardens and a wonderful green house and my roses and medicinal herbs. We have done well for the two years we have been here, but of course, its a bit barren at the moment.  I’ll do a post on the progression from bare ground to productive garden.

We lost our beloved dog Maddy in Dec and her passing left us bereft and with a hug hole in our lives. Thru a series of universal directions, we found (or she found us) a beautiful Cairn terrier/Australian Terrier puppy, called Luna (born under a fill moon). She is now 9 months old, pretty well behaved after going to dog training and full of energy and love. She has an uneasy alliance with my 15 1/2 yr old cat Basil, who will tolerate her and play with her occasionally, but only on HIS terms.

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Anyhow, its time to kick start this blog. I have lots of ideas about posts and have been following several blogs for a long while. I have been disappointed how they have changed from sensible practical information and homemade recipes that have been tired and proven successful, to recipes using ingredients the average low income person can not afford, to things they have not tried, but it was on a blog that takes you thru about 3 others to fine the original recipe. I  am also concerned about the completely stupid and dangerous suggestion that are found on the net and people take as gospel. It concerns me greatly after being in the doctors waiting room recently and seeing a young girl who read that putting orange and lime juice on you face was good for your complexion. She had been burnt but the acid and was in a dreadful mess. She found the so called recipe on one of the Facebook ads. Oh, and the advertising…. lets not forget that. OK I guess its a sign of a successful blog, but I resent the number of ads per page per article. It’s a shame when someones blog seems to become so automated and infiltrated. As in the past I will only be putting up recipes (particularly for my potions) that I have been using for years and  have easy to get ingredients and are not too expensive or detrimental to mother nature.

It’s mid winter here in the land of the long white cloud so not much is happening in the garden. We are getting a lot of super hard frosts which make it a little difficult to dig plus have had a lot of rain this week, so the lawn is a like a skating rink. Even the dog is having braking issues and leaving long skid lines and the cat is visiting the neighbours gardens more frequently – but we won’t elaborate on that!  I still have parsnips, leeks, white (yes white) carrots, NZ yams or oca, (more about them later) and silverbeet (chard) growing in the garden and have lots of stored pumpkins yet to eat. Unlike the northern hemisphere, we store them whole for use over winter and spring. I DID plant more winter veges, Brussels Sprouts, cauliflowers and cabbages, etc, but alas my little gardening assistant Luna, decided to dig and dig and dig in the raised vege gardens. Best thing I can say about that is,…. the soil is very well tilled over and the trip to the UK thru the centre of the earth is shorter!. The vege gardens are going to have to have dog proof covers for spring plantings.

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Pruning time is upon is. I have raspberry, black, red and white currants and a grape to prune in the next week or so, then the roses in about 3 weeks time. I am also waiting with bated breath for the new seasons seed catalogues to arrive so I can drool over all the possibilities. I will be planting tomato seeds very soon too. Last year I had great success planting them in seed trays, putting them inside a mini greenhouse inside my big greenhouse. They grew amazingly and quickly, so I was able to sell good sized plant very early at the farmers market. I plan on dong that again this year. I only grow heirloom vegetable varieties with the exception of sweetcorn.

So what can you expect….. well –

  • a revamp of this site, more photos and (hopefully) things of interest to you
  • questions answered or direction to answers if beyond my expertise
  • more of my own natural skin care recipes
  • my new laundry powder recipe
  • gardening tips
  • the progression of my garden from bare land to my pride and joy
  • My favourite gluten free recipes
  • The wonderful FODMAP diet and how it has improved my life
  • Gardening articles I have written
  • what ever else interests or irks me.

So I hope you will stick with me, or better still join me and see where this all goes.

Love Mari.



What’s happening in my autumn garden

Daylight saving time has finished and autumn is here. Autumn never slid in sideways gently, giving us time to  acclimatise to the changing temperatures,  it hit us full on with a cold change that put snow on them tha’ hills.

Because I am not very well at the moment, the vegetable garden is not being attended as it should ((hence no pictures sorry) but I am getting help to pick things as they are ready. My late crop of yellow dwarf beans is finally coming in slowly and I am hoping we will get more sun and no frosts for a few more weeks so I can get some in the deep freeze. I am not sure the dwarf purple beans will develop, but the purple flowers and purple stems and veins are very beautiful.

My heirloom tomatoes are also still coming on and being brought into the windowsill as soon as any colour appears.  I love the black tomatoes -‘ Black from Tula’ and ‘Cherokee purple’. These have superb taste and there have been some weird shapes. The ‘Black Cherry’ is also divine and it was a very prolific fruiter. I find the acid free ‘Roma’ in both red and orange a lot better than I thought they would be. I have a friend who has already put in an order for more plants for spring. But the Amish paste variety are certainly not the best for eating raw, but excellent in sauce.   The mid sized cherry ‘Riesentraube’ with its little point on the base, is another favourite. Alas the white tomatoes  and yellow cherries did not make it over our very hot dry summer. They were planted too close to the trees on the boundary and every drop of water put on was slurped up by the greedy trees.

I gave away many plants of the 14 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes I grew and have had wonderful success stories come back. I have also had tales of triffids taking over the patio or garden. I DID give instructions, telling people to give them room to spread or keep the laterals pruned out to prevent this, but no one seemed to listen or read (men of course he he).

The last of the pickling cucumbers were picked today and when I feel a bit better I will cut and salt them and make more of my Cucumber Pickles. I still have zucchini ripening as well as cauliflowers so will be making more Mustard Pickle  too.

Pumpkins have also been disappointing this year as were the raspberries.  Again, for the same reason as the tomatoes, the boundary trees.

I brought some hessian sacks from Country Trading Co. for my potato storage. I will leave my late crop in the ground as long as I can before lifting and storing them for winter use.  I got the smaller sized bags as the felt they would be easier to (wo)man handle into the basement for winter.

When I am feeling better I want to plant Broad Beans (Fava beans) to grow over winter for an early spring crop. I have winter vege plants needing to go in too, but they will wait now the white butterflies have been kept off them. Oh they have had a feast in the last 2 weeks without my vigilance, my cabbages are full of holes. The caterpillars are being picked off by hand and the chooks are loving them.

The strawberries would have done a lot better in a raised bed rather than the pallet base I planted them in. They produced phenomenal root systems but the roots got too hot under the panels and fried. Strawberries will definitely go in a proper raised bed, along with my asparagus as they are both crops that can be left to themselves for several years.

I have been enjoying blueberries from my two potted trees. I will need to repot them into bigger pots as they have done so well. I brought some variegated cranberry plants and they are still in pots but fruiting nicely and are so sweet to eat. They will go in the very damp garden along the path between the house and fence. The garden slopes and is far too wet for my roses which will be moved in winter to a dryer space. Only cyclamen (I planted last winter) and weeds seem to grow there. I suspect the spring bulbs I planted there may have rotted out. Even though we had a very dry summer, that garden remained very damp.

Carrots, kohl rabi, salsify and parsnips are growing happily, although the parsnips never recovered several visits and donations from the neighbours cats (caught in the act and seen off the property with the water pistol kept for the purpose). I have ordinary orange carrots and also heirloom red and Belgian white carrots. This is the first time I have grown salsify and kohl rabi, but they seem to be doing ok.

As this is the first full growing season I have spent in this house, I now know where to grow things next season – where the sun and shadows lie all year around. I will definitely be making more raised gardens along the south side fence.  A greenhouse for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and chilies is essential. Losing my cheapo greenhouse in the strong nor’wester wind so early in the season, meant the plants got stunted waiting to be planted in the new greenhouse than never happened. I had to just plant them or lose them in the end. I have been promised a new greenhouse by the end of July!!. It has to be up by then so I know where I can plant the raspberries and pumpkins.


I have a bag of mustard and also ‘chicken greens to plant on the old ground level vegetable garden. ‘The chook run will be moved to the non productive area near the boundary trees and will wrap around the greenhouse on two sides.  The mustard and chicken greens will be winter feed for  my 3 girls and I will graze them slowly over the area. I will also plant more greens in large seed trays so I can give them growing greens in the tray then remove it and let it come away again and recycle. That’s the plan anyway.

Guess I just have to get better so I can start doing some of this before winter arrives. We will see if it happens!!

Brief Update – Health Issues.

I haven’t been around for the last couple of weeks because I am not well.

I have been having major Postural Hypotension……i.e. my blood pressure drops drastically when I stand up. It shouldn’t drop as much as it has been.. (systolic drop of 30-40) Everything would go black, I would lose my balance, feel nauseous, dizzy and hear my pulse race  and was even more clumsy than usual. So I am confined to barracks and having to rest it out.

Because this postural drop is not good for the body and my blood tests gave no real indication of what’s going on, we have had to resort to drastic measures. But because of my medical background, I am allowed to do this at home. I have had to go off my blood pressure medications, been confined to home and rest and no driving.  Last week I stopped the ‘widdle pills’ and went thru a few days feeling awful. I have had no energy or concentration and am bored, bored,  bored.

Yesterday I stopped the Metoprolol BP meds and today I feel very heavy, headachy and blah and spin out very easily. But I will get there. Next week when I am clear of BP meds, my doctor is going to start more tests to see what is going on. This is not something that can be put down to Fibromyalgia. My fibro pain is a little higher today but I am not bothered, used to that, plus the barometric pressure is high. The funny thing is my resting BP is really good thru all this (except for the drops). I am not to bend over or I lose my balance…. learnt that the hard way!!

Still, I will survive this and be glad when I can get back to (my) normal. I am missing being able to go swimming and exercising…. never thought I would say that!! No doubt all will come right and soon.

Oh One thing my blood tests did show, and I was not surprised, is that I am pre diabetic. But at the moment getting this postural drop sorted is the most important issue.

Will keep you posted.

Farm, Foodie & Fitness

One of the most popular excuses for not making better health a priority is that eating healthy is expensive. That simply is not true, a healthy lifestyle does not require a huge investment, just a shift in priorities. A fast food burger that costs a dollar really weighs much more heavily on the family budget when you consider the health implications of a poor diet. In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are my favorite tips to help you fit healthy eating into your budget.

Waste Less

Getting food to the family dinner table, eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. That equals out to more than 20 pounds of food per person every month

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Homemade deodorant recipe

While I had the coconut oil out, I made more of my beeswax deodorant. This is the recipe I have been using for years.

Now one thing you need to realise is, this is a Deodorant, not an antiperspirant.  The difference is that you will still perspire, but this inhibits the bacteria that give you the sweat smell. This is a very natural product and does not have aluminium in it that commercial deodorants do. The use of aluminium is now being looked at seriously as there are believed to be a serious link to lymphatic and breast cancer.

Because of my age and also fibromyalgia, I have a real sweating problem. I know the common saying is that ‘horses sweat, gentlemen perspire and ladies ‘glow’ ‘. Believe me, I am well past glowing and there are prolonged times when I really ooze sweat. It is very unpleasant for me and anyone else near me, but because there is no way to prevent this. I also use this under my boobs and under all other bulges too. It prevents the awful sweat rash us bigger girls are susceptible to.

Because this is a solid deodorant, you need either a push up or screw up tube to keep it in. I am having difficulty finding a supplier of them here in New Zealand, but I have seen them on overseas sites. If anyone knows where I can buy them here, I would love to know. I have half a dozen that I recycle after a  trip through the dishwasher.

The oils I use have been chosen for their antiseptic and antibacterial qualities. I don’t use tea tree oil because it irritates me, but I love the fragrance combination  these oil make. This mix  is enough to fill 2 x 65 gm tubes shown.



My Homemade Deodorant


30 gm Beeswax

45 gm cocoa butter

45 gm coconut oil

15 gm maize or corn flour


5 gm oil*


10 drops white thyme essential oil (EO)

10 drops rosemary EO

10 drops clary sage EO

10 drops palmarosa EO

10 drops lavender EO

(* I use Hemp seed oil, safflower oil or macadamia oil as they are less likely to absorb into the skin.)


In a 1 cup glass jug, melt all of (1) in short bursts in microwave, or in a double boiler,  until melted.


Add (2) and stir.

Add (3) and stir to combine all oils

If you are using bottom fill  tubes like the ones I use, make sure you have all parts.



Put the little oval cover on the top of the tube, followed by the lid.


Turn the tube upside down and using a small funnel and another hand to hold it steady, start pouring in the waxy mix until about 1/3rd full.


Leave this for about 10 minutes to start to set. Usually there will be a hole form in the wax as it sets. Reheat the jug and repeat the pouring until 2/3rd full. Do not be tempted just fill the tube in one go as the wax will sink as it cools and the hole that forms, will prevent the wind up mechanism from working. Let this new layer set then repeat until it is just below the circle of the winder. Keep any left over wax until you know the tubes are full the next day. I pour it into a large spoon to let it set so it can either be melted again or stored for reuse.P1010517

Carefully move the still upside down tube to the refrigerator and leave over night. This is essential as the winder mechanism will have nothing to grip into if it does not set completely solid.

Next day, check to see if there is a melt hole in it and melt the saved wax and fill it again if there is. Chill again over night. If no need to refill, you are good to go.

Firstly take off  the lid and remove the oval cap that acted as an end cap inside the lid. Save this as you will need it next time you make more. Check to see if the wheel and winder will work. If  it doesn’t, then look at the wheel and thread and using a pointed knife, clear any wax overfill that is preventing it moving. A splash of hot water can be all that’s needed to free it up.

Now there should be a little circular disk that presses into the base wheel, but mine have long since gone. Once everything is working, push in the circle disk to the bottom.

There is no need to keep this in the refrigerator, but let common sense prevail and do not leave it sitting in the sun. Mine resides in the drawer of my bedside table or the bathroom cupboard and the other is usually in my handbag. I have never had it melt stored this way.


Who Am I?


I am Mari, living in urban Timaru, New Zealand. I was born mid last century and have lived around the South Canterbury region most of my life. I am new to the land of blogging so please bear with me as I learn as we go along.

I have a passion for my vegetable and medicinal herb gardens on in a very small backyard. I am changing from growing ‘in the soil full of weeds’ to raised vege boxes. Much easier on my back. My first two have been planted and more will be done this week. The greenhouse will be built over winter. I love growing seeds and always grow far to many so give them away or sell them. My goal is never have to buy another vegetable again.

Over the last few years I have been fiddling with natural ingredients and have now got some extremely good potentially marketable products. I have perfected a wonderful light moisturiser, healing aloe cream, stick deodorant, conditioning shampoo, liquid body wash and hand wash and have several others in the pipeline and being tested by friends. This range will be called Gentle by Nature. It is still work in progress.

I have recently started doing patchwork. So far I have just been fiddling with some  of the different patterns, but I have plans to make a queen sized quilt for my bed. It will be something for me to do over winter months.

I have Fibromyalgia which makes every day different from the other. I manage fairly well with the pain and go with the flow. I work hard on the good days and chill out on the bad days. Its summer at the moment and it is far kinder on my body than winter is.

My best friend is Male of the Species aka MoS who has been building my raised vege gardens for me. My best buddy and little shadow is Maddy my wee dog and Sir Basil Brat Cat reigns supreme over our lives. I also have 3 chooks (hens) who are my resident snail and weed disposal units and wonderful egg layers.

There will be more about us all as I go along.