lish's blog

Condensation ... a tropical subject in the middle of winter

condensation 1

It's the time of the year where you wonder why you get so much condensation on your windows. 

Condensation happens when warm moist air in your home hits a cold surface.  It turns from a water vapour (water as a gas) and becomes water droplets on cold surfaces. Windows are often the first place you will notice it but it will also be on cold uninsulated walls, metal window frames and sometimes even door-handles.

Chunky Granola Clusters (Toasted Museli chunks ..really)

This is my basic recipe for chunky, cinnamon-ny, crunchy granola and a perfectly tuned start to the day ..or end to it ..or just as a snack on yogurt. You can mix it up with whatever you like. Who am I to say what should go into your granola.

Armenian Nutmeg Cake

My mum made this cake in the 80's. It's got a bit of magic about it in that you make a crumble-like mixture with the sugar, flour and butter then press half of it in the bottom of a tin to make a delicious shortbread base then with the other half you add freshly grated nutmeg milk, eggs and nuts and pour over the base. It is a winner all around ... and to my knowledge contains no Armenians nor has any link with Armenia!

Home-made Masala Chai Tea


This delicious warming blend of spices is easy to make yourself. The secret is in the use of cardamom ... and for a true masala chai, you have to bring the milk to the boil..

The best ice-cream ever (from my fabulous mum)


This ice-cream is the easiest, creamiest and most delicious thing. No crazy churning, no freaky custards, no time-wasting machinations - just 4 ingredients and 5 minutes is all it takes to make. And HEALTHY! It's like egg-nog, only colder!


Electric Dreams - How a heated throw rug had me heating my words.

Heated throw

I’ve always found comedy in the excessive production of utterly useless electric appliances. The butterfly tin opener replaced by the electric can opener, ugg boots replaced by heated slippers, a trip to the pie shop replaced by a pie making machine and only a few years ago rug-crocheting grannies were trumped by the introduction of the heated electric throw blanket.

It's just like an electric blanket but instead of being restricted to your bed, you can use it anywhere there is a powerpoint! 

Oh, how I mocked the early adopters of that technology.  What would our pioneering grand-women make of such folly?

Windows - A pane in the glass to insulate

Window film on and off.jpg

Windows are panes (owwwww, the pundamonium) when it comes to trying to make your house energy efficient. They are the weakest 'thermal' link in your house and account for a huge amount of heat loss and heat gain. 

If you live in a cold climate, you know you have to insulate your windows to keep your house warm in winter.

Double (or triple) glazing works well but is often expensive to retrofit but there are some really simple ways of trapping a layer of still air using plastic window insulation film.

Floriade Recipes: Mandarin, chick-pea cake, blueberry spelt muffins, homemade buttermilk and homemade baking powder


I'm doing a few shows at the fabulous floral festivos of Floriade again this year. In the 'Tasting Plate' kitchen under the theme 'The other flour festival' I cooked up some treats. Here they are. Good luck with them and let me know how you go.



Here is the fabulous recipe from Chrissy Freer's book 'Super Legumes'. If you like the idea of incorporating the super vegetable into all manner of recipes, this is a great book.

Floriade: Baguette recipe: The bread to bake when you think you can't bake bread


"You made this?" is usually the response when I turn up with a few crusty-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside baguettes tucked under my wing. Truth is, I did make the bread, but it is almost easier than going to the shops. And people will be your friend with this bread. Really.

How hot? The joy of indoor-outdoor thermometers

Indoor Outdoor

I'm not at all tech savvy but I do have one gadget I really like - my indoor-outdoor thermometer. It’s simple yet smart, wireless and does its job very well … I aspire to have those credentials.

I love it. It's like watching teli, in fact I think it has a better plot line than some teli.

Marrow transplant: The gift of passing on zucchinis


The vegetables you grow are like your children. While you may love them, others may not find them that enjoyable.

I've got loads of zucchini growing, and growing, and ...

Out with the old, in with the stew

Bottle lid

When I turned 40 last year I was given the ultimate present to preserve my youth. It was a Fowlers Vacola electric preserving pan.  Yesterday I was gifted some vintage bottles full with historical, and unidentifiable, fruit.  I have to compost the fruit and then use the jars for more bottled treats.

My Goodness Green-ness: GIY wins a Green Lifestyle Award

Green Lifestyle Awards

Can you believe it? GIY has just won it's first award for best info site in the online category of the Green Lifestyle Awards. It was a real treat to be recognised.

Not since the Tooma Gymkhana in 1980 have I won anything of note*. It is really rather exciting.



Hot water systems can one of the biggest energy users in your house, especially if it's a giant electric storage system and/or you've got people who seem to get trapped in a hot-water soaked stupor when they are in the shower.

It makes sense then that you insulate the tank and pipes to keep that precious and expensive hot water in and not let it all be lost to the cold winter air.

But can you insulate 'the works'?

Review: EcoSwitch


Stand-by power sucks. 

Most of us know that if you turn electroinic stuff off at the powerpoint  you save around 10% on your electricity bill.  But we don't because it's too darn tricky, and a little bit, well, dull.

There are heaps of technologically advanced things to help you. The EcoSwitch (RRP $19.95) is one of them. Five hard-wired GIY reviewers put it to the test and here's what they thought.

Who gives a crap. Toilet roll with a difference

Who Gives A Crap

I like puns.

I like marketing that uses word-play. It draws/sucks me in. Some people would argue that putting a pun into a business name is bad form. Au contaire. You only have to look at the success of such business as The Snuggle Inn, the Thistle Do Nicely scottish gift shop or the Lord of the Fries chip shop to know that puns = punch.

I like products with a good idea and a good heart.  

Review: Eco-washball



Eco-washball reviews 

We hand-picked  four grubby GIYers from the washing basket to review to eco-washball (RRP $37.95) a round plastic laundry-ball filled with 3 types of ceramic pellets. You throw it into the washing machine along with your clothes and ½ the detergent you’d normally use (or no detergent at all). I’d send you onto a link but the eco-washball site is currently down. As to the science in it, and what those little ceramic pellets might be doing, I’ve got a chemist onto it and the results will be posted here soon.
Our reviewers ran it through it’s paces and here’s what they thought.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours: The power of comparing electricity bills

Electricity Bill

I love opening up my power bill. Love the crackle as I tear open the envelope, the chart, the stories!  And now, for added excitement, there’s a competitive element!  A graph comparing your energy use with other folk in your neighbourhood (names withheld!) to see who holds the energy high-ground*.

Comparing energy bills is my equivent of looking in someones bathroom cabinet!

The Grapes of Wrath

Grapes of Wrath

It was early spring and maybe I was too optomistic, but there were grapes ... and I bought them. Surely somewhere in Australia it was warm enought to grow grapes.

Full or half ... a toilet flushing dilemma!

Daily dilemmas confound me.

I'll spare you the details but we've had a blocked loo. After trying to fix it, and failing, I called in the plumber.  While he was here I popped the question - full flush, half flush or not flush at all? What is best for the environment, sewers and my own pee-ce of mind (that is the first and last lavatory joke I am going to do I promise).

Rubber meals - stretching food as far as it will go.


I love to be resourceful – with the food, my time and energy. The more meals I can eek out from one thing and one session in the kitchen, the better.  The other day I cooked up a cracking roast lamb. I’m a country girl and this is my ultimate childhood favourite. With the left-over meat and gravy I made shepherds pie and with the bones and last bits, lamb barley soup – 1 leg of lamb, 3 meals. My granny would be proud – and I really made the most of the meat and its eco-hoofprint.

One Million Women


A few weeks ago I presented a GIY-workshop at the One Million Women summit in Sydney. I did a quick garbled session on DIY fix-its with Bernie Hobbs. What we lacked in clarity we made up for in comedy. I love the whole idea behind this campaign.

So often, climate change campaigns and campaigners give the impression of being hard core and hairy. Unless you are a firm follower, it's hard to get motivated to get involved.

Going Crackers this Christmas

Christmas Presents

Presently I am thinking about presents - I love the idea of giving presents with thought and love attached - something homemade, handmade or lovingly chosen through understanding, listening (or eavesdropping) and knowing.

Fighting stand-by power with stand-by power. A review of a gadget.

Romote control

I used to be very pro-active about turning stuff off at the wall, my career depended on it but now it bores me.

I saw these the other day at ALDI-  the VIVID Remote Control Socket Set (not a good name) for around $25. Four sockets with one remote control that can turn them all off. I've heard about fighting stand-by power with remote controls and here it was.

PowerMate to measure your power, mate.


I'm not your average electricity consumer. I'm an obsessive freak about it.

I own a contraption called a power-mate that, as the name might suggest, measures power ...maaaate. 

I think every family needs access to one.

When the dinner party conversation turns to Carbon Tax

Alan Pears

Do you turn off?

It is a jungle of jargon, BIG FAT HEADLINES and many opinions.

Here is another one - The Pears Report - from the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) Renew Magazine.

The Cow-operative

T-Bone Square.jpg

Some of the best ideas come out of a pun. In fact I often have the pun and then have to think of a clever way to use it in general conversation.

This wasn't actually my pun was my husband Nicks'. He wanted to start a cow-operative - a community meat-market based around a cow.

He established a steering committee and invited around 12 peoples to become steak-holders. A steer, aptly named T-bone, was bought and raised on a small acerage outside Yass. He was a free-rangin', free-lovin', grass-munchin' happy cow until the moment of truth last week when he met his meat maker, Justin Baird, the local mobile butcher.

How to clean your oven without fumigating yourself.

Oven square.jpg

I am not a fan of cleaning at the best of times but my least favourite cleaning job would have to be the oven.

I haven't done it for 18 months. The last time was when we left out previous rental house.

I know there are products that you can spray around but the toxic fumes generated from the the likes of Monsieur Muscle send me coughing and spluttering.

People always talk up the wonder of microfibre oven gloves. I am a big fan of the technical fabric but the muscle power and patience required with this method also make me a little mad. 

Going Green But Getting Nowhere

Green gerkin

A good friend in NYC just highlighted this opinion piece from the New York Times - 'Going green but getting nowhere'.

It got me thinking and now trying to work out what to do with it now that it has set itself up in my head.  It goes against all my ideas that little things do count ...saving a bit of fuel here, reducing a bit of energy there, cooking 10 things in the oven at once.

Sustainable House Day


Sustainable House Day  11th September 2011

If you really want the low-down on what it is like to live in an all-glowing, low-emitting, big-living, energy efficient home then get thee out there this Sunday 11th September from 10am – 4pm and find a Sustainable House near you ... they are all over Australia ... and have a good poke around.

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